on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2022 19 Okt

Wolfert Brederode: Ruins And Remains

von: ijb Filed under: Blog | TB | Comments off


It made me very happy to be was asked if I would like to / was able to be present at another ECM production at the Sendesaal in Bremen to record video and take photos, as I had not expected to hear from ECM again at that time. Apparently, that was because my documentary at Sendesaal during the recordings of Erkki-Sven Tüür’s chamber music album, Lost Prayers, – one that I had mostly talked about with the composer himself a while before the recording date was scheduled – had been received well.

I wasn’t present during the first day of recording (even though I would have liked to, as I always do when I am filming album recordings), and when I came in for the second day, they seemed to have recorded everything they had planned for the album already. Fortunately, though, the recordings continued for another two days, and so they started working in a more open way, encouraged by Manfred Eicher to improvise more freely, play some free improvisations, and to move further away from the scores. 

In the end, when I received the finished album and went through my footage, I noticed that, to my surprise, most of the selected tracks were from the second and third recording days. Of course that was really helpful for me to sync the finished music with my video footage. It would have been very tedious to edit a nice documentary about an album recording if the album had been compiled only from music from the day I was not present to document.

I have been present during a few album recordings with Manfred Eicher, and, even though they were all very different from each other, they were all very inspired sessions — and also very inspiring to me, even though I am not able to play any instrument myself (unless one considers the camera an instrument, as I tend to do). What was very different this time around, though, was that Manfred Eicher was present right next to the musicians all the time, while his assistant was doing all the organising work in the background and was up there with the engineer, Stefano Amerio – whom I was very pleased to meet, finally, after I have spent some time in studios with some of the other regular ECM engineers, Jan Erik Kongshaug, Martin Wieland, Gérard de Haro, and even the great Audun Strype, who unfortunately did not record as many albums f0r ECM, even though I feel it would have been terrific if he did. 



Wolfert also told me that it had been the most relaxed and inspired recording he had experienced with Manfred Eicher to date, and he also said that this was due to the circumstances mentioned above. Manfred Eicher was in a good mood and I felt that he had a very positive influence on the musicians and their performance, even his rare critical remarks were conveyed and welcomed with a sense of humor.

As with my previous short documentaries for ECM, it was gratifying to be very free to shape the final clip as I saw most fit; and I wasn’t pressured into any creative decisions I was uncomfortable with. I would love to do more similar short documentaries about album productions, even if I wouldn’t get paid to do those. It’s just always very rewarding and a great, invaluable inspiration.

However, unfortunately –even though I feel I shot a bunch of genuinely accomplished photographs I was quite happy with– none of them were used for the album. These photographs bear further witness to how close Manfred Eicher’s collaboration with the musicians on this album actually was. A large number of musicians I have spoken to in recent years like to point out that, for them, Manfred Eicher is always an equal to one of the musicians playing on an album recording, like the „third man“ on a duo recording (remember that album, The Third Man, by Enrico Rava and Stefano Bollani – and its telling cover image?) or the fourth member of a trio etc. I would have loved to see those photos be part of the finished album. Regardless, Ruins and Remains is a great album, and I sincerely hope it will be recognised as such by many listeners interested in music that is truly unique, falling somewhere between jazz and chamber music.

Here’s the short documentary about the Ruins and Remains recording.

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