on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2019 18 Mai

ECM Double Take (12) – „Serenity“ (1999) & „Ad Lucem“ (2012)

von: Manafonistas Filed under: Blog | TB | Tags:  Comments off





Um es kurz zu machen mit der Ewigkeit: Ja, für mich hatte das Stück so etwas.



Eines der wunderbarsten Piano-Bass-Schlagzeug-Werke der ECM—Historie ist nun zwanzig Jahre alt. Es entstand in einem grossen Haus in einem schwedischen Wald, SERENITY. Kein Wunder, dass Manfred Eicher die Gunst der Stunden nutzte und gleich ein Doppelalbum daraus formte.



Aber warum hatte das Stück für die Ewigkeit dort keinen Platz gefunden?



Ich erinnere mich, wie ich mit Konrad Heidkamp am Telefon über SERENITY sprach, und wie wir selbst erstaunt waren, was da, verdammt noch mal, immer noch ging, immer wieder, in diesem betagten Format. Konrad schrieb eine Rezension für „Die Zeit“ (in seiner kleinen, an Büchern und Musik überquellenden Redaktionsstube), und ich interviewte den Bassisten Ander Jormin, zu seiner Zeit mit Charles Lloyd, diversen Trioaktiviäten, ersten Soloalben etc. Natürlich sprachen wir auch über SERENITY. Ich hatte ihm meine Fragen gemailt, und er schickte mir eine DAT-Kassette mit seinen Antworten. Daraus wurde ein 45-minütiges Porträt im Deutschlandfunk, dessen Skript leider verloren ging.

Während ich seine Antworten bearbeitete, entdeckte ich, dass da noch etwas war auf der Kassette, nämlich eine kleine Pause, gefolgt von einem kurzen skandinavischen Dialog, und einem mich vom ersten Ton an faszinierenden Stück, aus der Session im schwedischen Wald. Ich liebte es, und plante, es in meiner Nachtsendung zu spielen, es war federleicht wie ein Kinderlied, ein Traum.

Dann unterlief mir ein technischer Fehler, ein fahrlässiger Knopfdruck, ein kleiner Blackout – und das Stück war Geschichte. Gelöscht. Over and out. Die Komposition oder Improvisation lebte von steten Wiederholungen, umkreiste ein einfaches Motiv, schlicht und ergreifend. Als hätten The Necks an einem Balladenalbum für ECM gearbeitet. Vielleicht fiel es etwas aus dem Rahmen, und fand darum nicht seinen Weg ins Werk. Ich erzählte Anders am Telefon die traurige Angelegenheit, und er musste auch einmal tief durchatmen.



Viele Jahre später erschien AD LUCEM –  hier mein Gespräch mit Anders Jormin, aus dem Jahre 2012, über eine besondere Lateinstunde. 



Michael: I read you have written most of the lyrics in Latin! Though the pieces have titles that refer somehow to sacral traditions, the music seems to be free of a very strong bond with liturgies and catholic ceremonies. Did you want to liberate the music a bit from typical „latin associations“? Making more use of the „aura of that language“?


Anders: The lyrics, short poems or haiku-like reflections, I wrote directly in latin. Remembering old studies, using a classical latin dictionary , using time and a true personal fascination. As you point out yourself, I really do look upon the music as being free of liturgies and catholic ceremonies, it is contemporary music -even though gregorian chant and the sacred atmosphere we can find in a quiet church full of lit candles has been present in my mind while composing. When composing, I always listen inside of myself to find a sound relevant for my hart and emotional aspiration. I also very often compose specially and directly for the carefully choosen artists being part of the music- so whatever comes out is a result of my hopes and thoughts concerning the ensemble chemistry- as well as of my inner voice. The choice of latin was the choice of an eternally international language, understood -and yet not understood- by so many. A language we intuitively associate with afterthought and reflection as well as a carrier of light and of something essential to convey.(I can add that ECM at an early stage suggested me to have the lyrics written in the inner sleeve. My reaction was not to reveal all depths and layers at once… Having already had so many questions about the words, I realise I maybe should have thought that over again…)


The music seems totally organic which surprises concerning the fact that one song is sung in English, one in Danish, and two in worldless „language“… in fact the latin language appears like a living thing. Was it a basic idea to make this old language sounding so natural? By the way, listening to the music (and I had my latin hours at school) makes you more listen to the sound than to the words …


It is always my absolute aim to find an organic structure and development in my music. Thank you! Even though also english and danish/swedish is used besides the latin, the meaning of and the reflections in the poems sung, organically approach the same territories of life, death and love. Of light and darkness. Latin IS a very musical language, I agree. Not, maybe as intimate as portugese (which most vocalists love), but with an extremely dignified aura and humanistic character. As a composer, I will never know if the listener hears and experiences only the sound of syllables and lets her own hart interpret the music- or if he/she directly understands every single word. There is so many ways of listening…


Was it new territory for the two singers, too. I have no idea where their stylistic roots are. Was this moving between stilistic boundaries another idea during the writing of these pieces?


Composing for a certain ensemble for me means both imagining what each artists contributions could be- and how I as a composerat the same time can challenge them. Erika and Mariam are both ”originally” working with electronics and with a multi-instrumental approach, with free improvisation pointing towards contemporary creative pop- and they both lead groups and compose with strong integrity. It was for them totally new territory, yes. They have worked hard, I know, to find a way of singing together. Finding a mutual character they found relevant for the material and, at the same time, still being able to stay personal and intuitive. This, they have very much achieved working together only the two of them- once I had choosen and asked them, my trust was complete. The same goes for Jon and Fredrik.


The piece ”Clamor”, is it totally ”wordless”? Fredrik´s playing works fine in this old, contemporary music. He seems somehow to move, not through centuries, but through different eras of jazz, from a touch of Sidney Bechet to free playing?


Clamor (Call/Scream) starts without words, but when bass enters (and during sax solo) the vocalists sing, like an invocation: ”Mare vastum, scopulosum. Mare caeruleum. Mare infimum”. (Infinite sea. Frightening sea. Ocean of blue. Waters of eternity) And, well, Fredrik is a true improviser with an ear, instrumental knowledge and a sensitive focus of exceptional level. For me he is unique, totally Fredrik – but I understand your thought: from Bechet to contemporary music. Tradition, love, respect – and true revolutionary personality in one.I really want to point out that this my deep admiration and gratitude goes to all my four artistic contributors on Ad Lucem!

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