Manafonistas

on life, music etc beyond mainstream

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Gerade habe ich hier ein ganz aktuelles, total interessantes Gespräch mit Daniel Lanois gehört, wo er u.a. über die Arbeit mit Brian Eno, Bob Dylan und Jon Hassell plaudert, sich aber auch an ein paar schöne kleine Geschichten über die Entstehung von Alben wie The Unforgettable Fire, Le Noise oder auch seine Zusammenarbeit mit Peter Gabriel erinnert. Very entertaining!

 

2020 30 Dez

Aktueller ARD-Tipp (Mediathek)

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»[…] für Hauptdarstellerin Claudia Michelsen, Produktionsfirma filmpool fiction und den MDR ist dieser „Polizeiruf 110“ mit dem Titel „Der Verurteilte“ der bisher beste Film des stets überzeugenden Reihenablegers aus Magdeburg. […] Für den vierzehnten Film der Reihe hat nun Autor Jan Braren eine dramaturgisch klug abgespeckte Geschichte entworfen, ohne viel Personal und ohne Exkurse ins Privatleben der Kommissarin. Mit dem reduzierten Plot gelingt dem Grimme-Preisträger die Grundlage für einen Krimi, der sachlich, unspektakulär, aber sehr konzentriert beginnt und aus seiner Unaufgeregtheit allmählich eine immer größere Sogkraft entwickelt – bis zu einem Schlussdrittel, das in puncto Spannung und emotionale Anteilnahme seinesgleichen sucht.

 

Die außergewöhnliche Wirkung hat bis zu Braschs Höllentrip auf der Zielgeraden viel mit der Erzählweise zu tun. Die Narration in diesem „Polizeiruf“ ist kleinteilig und komprimiert, ohne dabei kurzatmig zu wirken. Im Gegenteil: Aus den zügig aufeinanderfolgenden Szenen entsteht ein (fast unmerklicher) Flow, auch ohne spektakuläre Ereignisse. Dabei wird häufig darauf verzichtet, eine Situation mit einer verbalen Vorankündigung vorzubereiten. Dadurch befindet man sich als Zuschauer stets in einer leichten Anspannung, einer gewissen Habacht-Haltung. Das mag nur ein Detail sein, ist aber ein wichtiger Baustein für die dichte Erzählung und den sich daraus für den Zuschauer ergebenden Spannungsfluss. Früher war das anders im Magdeburger „Polizeiruf“: Wenn sich Brasch nicht gerade mal wieder auf einem ihrer Alleingänge befand, wurde wegen der Animositäten im Team sehr klar gesagt, wer was zu tun habe.

 

[…] Die diesbezüglichen Vorgaben des Drehbuchs werden allerdings noch maßgeblich und eindrücklich von der Inszenierung forciert. Die Arbeit von Regisseurin Brigitte Maria Bertele und die wesentlichen Gewerke, Bildgestaltung und Montage, lassen in „Der Verurteilte“ einmal mehr erkennen, welche Bedeutung für einen Film die spezifischen ästhetischen Möglichkeiten des Mediums und die damit geschaffene Atmosphäre besitzen. Davon zeugt ein Schnitt, der jeder Szene die optimale Länge verpasst für den bereits erwähnten (unsichtbaren) magischen Flow. […] «

 

Rainer Tittelbach

 

2020 24 Dez

Techno-Pop for Everyday Rebellion

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What do you consider to be acts of rebellion?

I consider everything you do to be acts of rebellion in your daily life. Things that come from a place very deep inside you, from a place of freedom, that change something you don’t like or that you are against. Originally, the record’s name was little acts of rebellion, but I didn’t want it to sound shy, so I took out the “little.”
I want to inspire people to revolt. I want people to feel like they have the power to change the world, and that it doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t have to go and defeat Trump immediately; you can do little things every single day. Small gestures add up over time. It is the opposite of a capitalist economy, which is about acting and producing all the time.

 

One of the album’s instrumental tracks is called “let them have the internet,” and it quite literally sounds like the internet breaking down. Where did that title come from, and what is your relationship with the internet in general?

The title of that song came from the media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, who has written a lot of books about the internet and its impact on humanity. He was in Silicon Valley when it all started; he was a punk, doing acid with all the guys that were starting to come up with the idea of the internet.
From a philosophical standpoint, the internet was supposed to be for everyone, free and open. But then it became capitalist, and now we do everything online and everything is mediated by companies. I’ve had this love-hate relationship with the internet because of that. [Rushkoff] has this podcast called Team Human, and in the first episode he has this beautiful moment where he’s like, “At first I was mad because these companies took our internet away. But then I realized the more the capitalistic world goes online, the more free we are in real life, because we can just turn our phones off and nobody’s selling us anything. The hugging, the kissing, the five people sitting in a room and conspiring together—that all happens offline.” So with this song, I’m like, “Fuck it. Let them have the internet, and we can have life outside of it.”

 

[…] When Kraftwerk’s Florian Schneider died earlier this year, you mentioned on Twitter that nothing has influenced your approach to music more than that group.

Kraftwerk was the first time I saw the aesthetic of electronic music and the structure of pop songs put together. If I hadn’t listened to Kraftwerk, I’d never have been interested in electronic music. I would have always stayed on the other side, just listening to it and dancing to it. But when I heard Kraftwerk, it was like, “I can make people feel things in their gut and make them sing songs at home and feel seen.”
It was also that sense of perfect humanity, between being a technician and a musician. I have a very profound fascination with machines. I’m very technical. I can fix all my machines; I know how to solder. I understand the circuitry perfectly. That capacity to understand machines and play them, and have the music sound human, even though it’s electronic, is also part of the inspiration I draw from Kraftwerk. It’s everything I aspire to create through songs.

 

Ela Minus Makes Techno-Pop for Everyday Rebellion

 

2020 22 Dez

Schreiben fürs Fernsehen

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Was Ihnen mit ihren Drehbüchern gemeinsam mit den Tatort-Teams gelungen ist, sind fast schon film-künstlerische Experimente. Wie etwa der Tatort „Meta“, für dessen Buch Sie den Grimme-Preis 2019 erhalten haben.

 

»Der Tatort ist, weil er so erfolgreich ist, eine Spielwiese. Innerhalb von diesem absolut funktionierenden Tatort-Kosmos kann ich versuchen, Dinge, die mich persönlich interessieren, umzusetzen. Ich war vorher kein großer Tatort-Fan, kannte ihn gar nicht richtig. Ich bin zu diesen Produktionen gekommen aus Notwendigkeit – ich musste arbeiten. Es war schwierig, da hereinzukommen, aber bei dem Frankfurter Tatort Das Haus am Ende der Straße mit Joachim Król, den ich zusammen mit Michael Proehl geschrieben habe, unter der Regie von Sebastian Marka, war es das erste Mal, dass ich wirklich einen Film so schreiben konnte, wie ich es wollte – mit Themen, die mir wichtig waren.«

 
 

Erol Yesilkaya schreibt Drehbücher für die Tatort-Reihe. Aktuelle Projekte waren „Sløborn“ und „Exit“.

www.wz.de Drehbuchautor Erol Yesilkaya „Muss mich in viele Köpfe versetzen“

 

2020 21 Dez

Find My Way

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Gute Unterhaltung!

 
 


 
 

Die meisten „2020-Sprüche“, die man seit zu vielen Wochen erst in den Kommentarspalten und sozialen Medien, dann auch in allen möglichen Jahresrückblicken und Interviews lesen darf, fand ich schon beim ersten Mal albern; beim 35. Mal sind sie so abgeschmackt, dass es echt nervt. Da frage ich mich beim Zusammenstellen meiner „Bestenliste“ ein wenig mehr als sonst, ob diese irgendwie von anderen Umständen als allein der Musik an sich beeinflusst ist. Hatte ich, wie einige andere Musikschreiber in ihren Rückblicken kundtun, ein besonderes Faible für introspektive oder ruhige Musik? Eindeutig nein. (Allenfalls Alva Notos Ambient-Epos Xerrox Vol. 4) Verbinde ich irgendwelche „meiner“ Alben mit besonderen Wochen oder Ereignissen im Jahr 2020? Nicht einmal das. Manchmal war zu lesen, Charli XCX habe mit How I’m Feeling Now ein „besonders markantes“ 2020-Album produziert, das aus der „Lockdown“-Stimmung im Frühjahr entstand und damit viele, viele (junge) Leute auf der Welt verbindend ansprach. Ähnliches haben nun u.a. Adrianne Lenker, Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney u.v.a.m. versucht, markanter jedoch spiegeln sich wohl die gesellschaftspolitischen Spannungen um Rassismus und Benachteiligungen in der Musik des Jahres 2020 wider: Leider habe ich die beeindruckend besprochenen beiden neuen Alben von Sault bis jetzt nicht, da sie als Tonträger de facto nicht zu bekommen sind. Run The Jewels’ 4 bzw. RTJ4 – ihre ersten dreieinhalb Alben habe ich und schätze sie sehr – habe ich einmal nach dem Download gehört, und es hat mir sehr gefallen, dann aber ist es, wie bei Download-Musik eigentlich immer, bedauerlicher Weise meiner Aufmerksamkeit entfleucht. Ich gedenke, dies nachzuholen. Sowohl Fiona Apples als auch Laura Marlings digital im „Lockdown“ vorveröffentlichte Alben haben mich erst so richtig berührt, als ich die LPs zu Hause hatte und abspielen konnte. Thematisch in diese Reihe passen auch die erstklassigen Alben von Sevdaliza (Album des Monats hier: „in einer gerechten Welt wäre Sevdaliza der vielleicht größte Star unserer Zeit“), Assata Perkins alias Sa-Roc, Lucinda Williams, Protomartyr, Irreversible Entanglements und der Wiener Band Culk.

 

»Run The Jewels’ fourth album proved to be the protest record the world needed. Recorded before the BLM movement gained its 2020 momentum, it was a prophetic – or painfully inevitable – portrait of a disjointed America. One where police brutality reigned and the people were demanding change. 2020 will be remembered for two things and Run The Jewels’ album, more than any this year, soundtracks the unrest felt on a global scale.« (the fortyfive)

»Conscious-Rap wird in der Trap-Ära, in der es oft nur um Bling-bling geht, gerne als Zeigefinger-Musik missverstanden, weil der Inhalt politisch und sozialkritisch ist. Sa-Roc ist das schnuppe. Sie hat auch keinen Song extra für die BLM-Proteste komponiert, sie will Kontexte schaffen in einer Welt, in der nur die lauteste Stimme auf Twitter gewinnt. Das ist eben doch revolutionär.« (taz)

 

Auf jeden Fall fiel mir beim Rückblicken auf, wie viele sehr gute Alben ich in diesem Jahr erworben und gehört habe; weit mehr als die unten genannten 30; ich hätte locker auch 50 nennen können, die mich sehr bewegt haben. Nur ganz wenige würde ich als „Fehlkäufe“ einordnen, die mich nicht packen konnten. Es gab zugegeben allerdings auch so gut wie nichts, was mich beim ersten Mal rigoros umgehauen hat. Franck Vigroux’ neue Platte ist eine markante Ausnahme. Nach dem Kauf eines neuen Tonabnehmers in der vergangenen Woche habe ich einige 2020-Platten zum Festnageln meiner Liste noch einmal durchgehört, und Ballades sur lac gelé hat mich erneut so umgehauen, dass ich es direkt ein paar Plätze nach oben bewegen musste. [Beim Suchen nach einem schönen Link stelle ich fest, dass über das im Sommer veröffentlichte Album nirgendwo etwas geschrieben wurde!] Alles in allem, das unerwartete und unerwartet große Album der Neubauten, und Lost Prayers, die erste Kammermusik-CD von Erkki-Sven Tüür sind zwei weitere Fälle von „Umgehauen beim ersten Hören“ und nach wie vor „Fünf Sterne“. Andere Alben sind mit der Zeit gewachsen, manche schnell und eindringlich (Waxahatchee, Oded Tzur, Charli XCX), andere langsam und schleichend (Phoebe Bridgers, Jon Hassell, Ambrose Akinmusire). Aber – da ich das Gespräch über „strategisches“ Listenschreiben gerade mit einem anderen Blog-Autor führte – meine Auswahl folgt allein und rigoros jener Musik, die mich von Januar bis Dezember am meisten und nachdrücklichsten bewegt hat. Die meisten dieser Platten habe ich wieder und wieder gehört [Saint Cloud habe ich sogar, nachdem ich zum Veröffentlichungsdatum die CD erworben hatte, im Herbst auch noch als angemessene Vinyl-Ausgabe gekauft, wie die übrigen Waxahatchee-LPs], und sie bewegen und berühren mich nach wie vor. In jedem Fall handelt es sich um Alben, die für mich persönlich in den 12 Monaten großen Wert hatten. Ein wenig hoffe ich natürlich schon, dass andere dadurch etwas Neues entdecken, denn wenn sich bei mir durch die Musik ein emotionaler Resonanzrahmen einstellt, können das ja auch andere erleben.

 

Zu meiner eigenen Überraschung fällt mir auf, dass ich zum wiederholten Mal ein Album aus der US-„Provinz“ als Favorite des Jahres wiederfinde. Wie mich die aus Georgia stammende Mattiel Brown mit ihrer leidenschaftlich alle Moden ignorierenden Platte Satis Factory durchs Jahr 2019 begleitete und begeisterte, auch bei zahlreichen Langstreckenfahrten inklusive langen Autofahrten quer durch die Vereinigten Staaten, so wäre die Musik von Katie Crutchfield aus dem benachbarten Alabama, mittlerweile in Kansas City lebend, aber seit zehn Jahren vor unter dem Alias Waxahatchee auftretend (sie wuchs in der Nähe des Waxahatchee Creek auf), eine perfekte Begleitung für meinen für den Sommer 2020 gebuchten, knapp zwei Monate langen USA-Aufenthalt gewesen. Bekanntlich konnte ich die bereits bezahlten Flüge nicht antreten, hoffe daher dass sich diese investierte Summe in der Zukunft noch effizient nutzen lassen wird; ich habe die Ausgaben bis jetzt nicht zurückfordert. So gesehen ist meine Verbindung zur Kultur der USA sogar stärker, als sie mir bewusst war — zumal bereits 2018 und 2017 die Bands Low (aus dem nördlichsten Minnesota) und Algiers (aus Atlanta) Spitzenreiter der jeweiligen Jahresliste waren.

 

Die USA finden sich nun auch in dieser Bestenliste auffällig häufig wieder, in aller Vielseitigkeit: Washington, D.C. (Assata Perkins), Louisiana (Lucinda Williams), Detroit (Protomartyr), Chicago (Irreversible Entanglements), Oklahoma (Flaming Lips), Arizona (Avalon Emerson), Los Angeles (Phoebe Bringers, Fiona Apple), Oakland/ New York City (Ambrose Akinmusire), Memphis (Jon Hassell, heute in California beheimatet), auch die Kolumbianerin Gabriela Jimeno alias Ela Minus hat (nach dem Berklee-Studium in Boston) ihr Debütalbum während ihrer Zeit in Brooklyn aufgenommen; und nimmt man Prince dazu, dessen exzellente, umfangreiche Wieder- und Erstveröffentlichungen ich 2020 viel gehört habe, ist auch Minneapolis in der Liste. Die übrigen Alben sind in ihrer geografischen Herkunft äußerst weit gestreut:

 
 
Top 30:
 

  1. Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud
  2. Franck Vigroux: Ballades sur lac gelé
  3. Einstürzende Neubauten: Alles in allem
  4. Erkki-Sven Tüür: Lost Prayers
  5. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters
  6. Sevdaliza: Shabrang
  7. Sigurd Hole: Lys/Mørke
  8. Ela Minus: Acts of Rebellion
  9. Sa-Roc (Assata Perkins): The Sharecropper’s Daughter
  10. Lucinda Williams: Good Souls Better Angels
  11. Protomartyr: Ultimate Success Today   
  12. Culk: Zerstreuen über euch
  13. The Bug ft. Dis Fig: In Blue
  14. Irreversible Entanglements: Who Sent You?
  15. Kateryna Zavoloka: Ornament
  16. Tricky: Fall to Pieces
  17. Phoebe Bridgers: Punisher
  18. Flaming Lips: American Head
  19. Oded Tzur: Here Be Dragons
  20. Jasper Høiby: Planet B
  21. Tigran Mansurian / Kashkashian, Pogossian u.a.: Con anima
  22. Charli XCX: How I’m Feeling Now
  23. Meryem Aboulouafa: Meryem
  24. Nubya Garcia: Source
  25. Avalon Emerson: DJ-Kicks
  26. Arca: KiCk i
  27. Jon Hassell: Seeing Through Sound – Pentimento Volume Two
  28. Shabaka Hutchings and the Ancestors: We Are Sent Here By History
  29. Ambrose Akinmusire: On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment
  30. Laura Marling: Song for our Daughter

 
 
Außer Konkurrenz:
 

 
 
(Wieder-)Entdeckungen:
 

  • Mika Vainio aka Ø: Kiteet (1993-95)
  • John Surman: Such Winters of Memory (1983)
  • The Charlatans: Between 10th and 11th / Isolation Live at Chicago Metro (1991/92)
  • Underworld: Drift Series (2018/19)
  • Prince: Rainbow Children (2001) — völlig zu Unrecht unterschätztes Album in bester Hancock-Tradition
  • Prince: Sign ’O’ the Times Super Deluxe Edition (1985-87)
  • Prince: Up All Night (2002)
  • Nicolas Jaar: Sirens (2016)
  • Alice Cooper: Love it to Death / Killer (1971)
  • Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) – nicht direkt Neuentdeckung, aber es gab wieder eine Neuauflage, und das Album ist einfach immer klasse!
  • Brian Eno: Film Music 1976-2020

 
 

 

Interview with Kateryna Zavoloka, Ukranian sound artist, composer, performer, and visual artist, who is now based in Berlin. Living in Kyiv in 2006, Zavoloka founded the label Kvitnu with her partner Dmytro Fedorenko (aka Kotra) and designed and curated the visual appearance of the label’s releases, while also releasing her own music through the label. Cluster Lizard is a duo project with Dmytro Fedorenko.

 
 

I mainly became really aware of Kvitnu and of your visual design work with the release of the Pan Sonic concert album Oksastus – Live In Ukraine. It was released in 2014, but Mika and Ilpo had already ended the Pan Sonic collaboration a few years prior, so for their fans – like myself – it was a great surprise and event to hear some new music from them (and the album had been recorded at the end of their collaborative years). Can you talk a bit about how you approached that album design? An impressive artwork, it’s just as unusual for Pan Sonic as it is mysterious, opening up a really strong atmospheric world, before one actually listens to the music on the album. It’s a peculiar combination of organic, abstract and artificial elements; the image on the front reminds me of a seed of some sort of grain, but also of an egg from the movie Alien. What’s the story behind it?

 

We invited Pan Sonic to play at the Kvitnu_live event in 2009 in Kyiv, and it was an amazing and very powerful concert. We recorded it properly and asked them if we could release it on Kvitnu, and five years after the concert we made the double LP. The first release was on 20th of February 2014, and it was the last days of the Maidan revolution in Kyiv, Ukraine, during the clashes of protesters with Berkut special forces, police troops, and that day the snipers shot protesters. Those were the most tragic days and a transformational period for Ukraine – and of course for us, and I will remember this day forever. Pan Sonic called the release Oksastus – the Finnish word for process of grafting or cultivating of plants. That is why I decided to use some plants in the design for the artwork, I wanted to make it abstract and organic. I found the slide films of different seeds made by my grandfather Oleg Kozlov, who was a biochemist, scientist and inventor. In the 1960s he made the “scanning microscope” that could make very sharp images of very small objects like insects or seeds. So I used his slides, transformed the images and added textures and special print techniques like UV-lacquering, bronze paint and foil to create a metallic effect. The vinyls me made in white for a contrast, and Dmytro then stamped each LP label with the Pan Sonic logo by hand. Real art work.

 
 


 
 

Can you talk about the relationship between your visual work as a designer or graphic artist and your work as a musician/composer? Having the mission and the chance to come up with designs for other artists’ musical worlds must be a bit of a challenge sometimes, I guess.

 

I always asked musicians if they wanted anything particular, and most of the time they answered that they trusted me. While I made artworks, I always listened to their music, kind of sinesthesia. Sometimes musicians would give me some image or photo and I would transform it, and we would add some special effects, like hot foil pressing or the glitter, metallic paint, embossing or silk-print. I’d the say musicians have been happy with my designs for them, as we always would listen carefully. But we never compromised our visions of Kvitnu.

 

You grew up in in Kyiv when Ukraine was still a Soviet Republic – so you experienced the changes from the 80s through the challenging years after 1991. Where did your path as a visual artist and musician start?

 

Yes, it was during the Soviet Union, and I hated it. I was a kid when the union collapsed and Ukrainians were very happy to have independence in 1991. It’s true that those were challenging years for us, but it was wonderful; finally, we we allowed to travel abroad, have private property or make business, listen to music in the end! From my childhood I was interested in visual art and music, my father and mother were painters and designers and I went to millions of different art workshops for kids and sang in a children’s choir. Somehow from my childhood I already knew that I would design artworks for other musicians.

 

Then at some point in time you moved to Vienna and later to Berlin, so in a way you are now in between here and there — also artistically?

 

Dmytro and I moved to Vienna because we wanted to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. A year after graduation we moved to Berlin. It was the most transformational period for me. I think it is very important for any person to have such an experience, and especially for any artist. Living in other countries shifts your perception of everything, removes clichés and patterns in your head, causes tectonic transformations in your consciousness; you start to question your reality more and more, and therefore make more right choices for yourself. This is so important for creativity when you have a more clear vision, of what you want, and what you would not accept anymore. This period made me more balanced and happier after all these stormy times, and this first year in Berlin was actually shiny fruitful in my art.

 

Usually it’s rather the other way round: People from stable Western countries like Germany say how transformational it has been for them to live in much more unstable and messy places for a while. In what way have Vienna or Berlin had such a transformative impetus for you?

 

Maybe it was not very clear: I meant that moving to any other country from your own home country and living there would shift the perception and would offer you different perspectives. We moved to Vienna in 2014 to study and we lived there for five years; and in the middle of 2019 we moved to Berlin – actually, not so long before all the lockdowns. I think when you live in your homeland you have some vision of some sort of spherical happiness in a vacuum about another countries, which is not true for sure. For us, living in Austria was not stable and not comfortable at all, as for immigrants with a non-EU passport it has been extremely tough.

Transformational experiences don’t come from the country itself, but rather from extreme situations, more like a shock therapy that wakes you up, like if you plunge yourself into boiling water and then have to pull yourself out of it. My album Promeni from 2018 is about that.

 

So what kind of things – in art – do you not want to accept anymore?

 

In general, I don’t want to accept compromises with myself, I would rather think and meditate a thousand times and ask myself intuitively: does that resonate with me? Does that what I really need? And after that make better and calm decisions.

 

You had already several years of experience, working as an artist, working with music, sound, visuals, as well as, through the label, with lots of different musicians and artist. What caused both of you to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna?

 

I wanted to learn more about video and motion graphics, Dmytro had math and economy educations and wanted to study at an art academy, that’s why we applied. Well, it was my second art education, as I also used to study at Kyiv State Institute of Decorative and Applied Art and Design before, where it was more academical and technical, whereas in Vienna it was more conceptual and ideological. For artists, it is important to be free thinkers, and free from any ideology templates installed in the head by educational institutes, and I am very glad that I don’t need to study anymore.

 

Earlier you worked with vocals on some releases – you even made a whole collaboration album with AGF, who is a well-versed vocal artist, and I also like your remix of Колискова Для Ворога (Lullaby For The Enemy) by Стасік (Stasik).

 

Стасік is a young Ukrainian singer, songwriter, and a veteran of the Russian-Ukrainian war. She doesn’t have many songs yet, but all of them are like the sharpest knife into the heart, very strong. When Lullaby for the enemy came out, I was so strongly impressed that I immediately wrote to her and suggested making a remix. Then we decided with my partner Dmytro to release these two remixes on Kvitnu as an exclusive EP.

 

On my new album Ornament I also worked with my voice, but it was kind of hidden, and I didn’t want to draw attention to it, but rather work with the voice like an expressive sound source, untraceable in the sonic fabric.

 
 


 
 

On the last few albums your music on the one hand seems to have become more reduced, compositionally – but on the other hand, sound-wise, also more high-energy“. I often find a curious combination of smooth, or mellow elements in your music – while it is still very energetic, these more recent releases, too. Did living in Berlin have an influence on the new album?

 

I don’t think it’s influenced by Berlin, because the music came from the period of the album Syngonia, which was written around 2016. Just before that, I spent several years looking for the sound I needed. I even wanted to stop composing music, I was not satisfied and thought that I was tired. I think it’s a natural evolution, and it’s natural for an artist to have such peaks of negativity and positivity, and it’s really great to find a middle way and balance in creativity.

 

Right before Syngonia I was going through a difficult period. Syngonia and Promeni were the last two volumes of the series of “Purification by Four Elements: Air, Water, Earth, Fire” and I felt relieved when I finished them. Ornament was written in 2019–2020 and is a stand-alone album with a different concept, where ornament is the coding element for the unique algorithm that modulates an intention, path, state, and a space.

 

Since you commented on your art or process becoming clearer: The artwork of Ornament is probably your most reduced and minimalist cover – at the same time it also seems to be inspired by some sort of extreme contrast, it’s almost aggressive.

 

The artwork of Ornament is more minimalist because I wanted to make it like a colourful contrast of extreme states of consciousness, where balance is the key. As it is contrasting sonically.

 

The album is very contrasting in atmospheres and in sound, it is like travel.

 

And Prophecy, the 2018 Cluster Lizard album, was the last one you recorded in Vienna? What’s the main idea behind it? I notice the tracks are quite long (as are the track titles, which are quotes from poetry). What kind of prophecy does the album title refer to?

 

Prophecy is like a message of revelation. The tracks are as long as their poetic titles, we wanted to create narrative atmospheres, sonic trip.

 

So Kvitnu has been running since 2006 with around 70 releases. So what caused you to start another label, Prostir, in 2018? 

 

Yes, we started Kvitnu in 2006 in Kyiv and made it for 14 years, until 2020. At first, it was only for Ukrainian experimental electronic music, but soon we received so many demos from around the world, so Kvitnu became international. We helped many musicians to release their music, it was truly an honour for us to discover wonderful artists and to help them from the heart. We have decided to close Kvitnu, because it was an art project, like an art movie with a good ending. We already heard several melancholic stories about other labels, and it was extremely important for us to make a positive finale at the highest peak of development. We became friends with our artists, we have a very grateful audience, and the release of Kotra & Zavoloka Silence became the final endless silent loop with the question written on the EP label: What do you hear, how much you hear nothing?“


Prostir me and Dmytro started in 2018 for only our own music and arts with the second release by Cluster Lizard, Prophecy. So it was natural that I wanted to release my solo album Ornament there. We consider Prostir not only as a music label but also as an art space (“prostir” / “простір” means “space” in Ukrainian) for any other art forms and other dimensions we might imagine.

 

Which direction would you like to see your music moving towards?

 

Our plan is to release the new Cluster Lizard album, which will sound different from our previous albums. We already composed several tracks. Dmytro has played on his guitar and bass with various effect processors and pedals, so the new album will sound more bright and fresh. And after we finish the album, I want to compose for my solo work – I have some thoughts already.

 

How is your view on the situation among your friends in Ukraine today? Would you consider moving back sometime, or do you think the political situation is too dire — and you prefer to stay in Berlin?

 

We moved to Berlin for music. Now, of course, it’s a bit quiet everywhere, but I hope it will change soon. Somehow now I play more often in Ukraine than before and love to travel there. And I am very glad that so many very good events and professional promoters have appeared in recent years; it’s wonderful! As any Ukrainian has a cherry-blossom garden in their heart, whenever I will be bored here, I will move back.

 
 


 
 

Finally, which music has been the most evocative and inspiring for you in 2020?

 

For me, 2020 has been precious as the most productive and intense year in my own music and I believe for other artists too. I liked the new albums of my friends – Kotra’s Namir and Ujif_Notfound’s Neumatonic. Amazing new album by Liturgy, Origin of the Alimonies, Simon Posford‘s Flux & Contemplation – Portrait of an Artist in Isolation, and Extrawelt’s Little We Know and many others. Of older music, I opened for myself this year Japanese collective Geinoh Yamashirogumi and the last album by Jack White, Boarding House Reach, and Muslimgauze’s Salaam Alekum, Bastard are great.

I think we are currently in a time of beautiful transitions and transformations in music.

The conversation between Kateryna Zavoloka and IJ.Biermann, was conducted in Berlin, in December 2020.

2020 15 Dez

Unbedingt anschauen!

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Nur noch heute und morgen (15./16. Dezember) in der ARD-Mediathek: Expedition Arktis.

Hochinteressanter Dokumentarfilm, nicht entgehen lassen! (Da weiß man, dass die Rundfunkgebühren gut angelegt wurden.)
 
 

(C) rbb/UFA Show & Factual/AWI

Es ist die größte Arktis-Expedition aller Zeiten: Im September 2019 macht sich der deutsche Eisbrecher „Polarstern“ auf den Weg zum Nordpol. An Bord: die besten Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler ihrer Generation. Ihre Aufgabe: Daten sammeln über den Ozean, das Eis, die Atmosphäre und das Leben. Die Mission: den Klimawandel verstehen. Denn die Änderungen in der Arktis haben Auswirkungen weit über die Region hinaus.

Der High-End-Dokumentarfilm „Expedition Arktis“ liefert eine spektakuläre Nahaufnahme der MOSAiC-Expedition unter Leitung des Alfred-Wegener-Instituts, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung (AWI). Er reist in eine Welt, aus der bislang kaum Daten existieren: die Arktis während der Polarnacht. Und er zeigt das wissenschaftliche, logistische und auch menschliche Abenteuer einer Gemeinschaft aus Forschenden und Crewmitgliedern, die sich mit dem Schiff für ein Jahr in der Eiswüste nahe des Nordpols einfrieren lassen, um die natürliche Drift des Eises zu nutzen. Extreme Temperaturen unter minus 40 Grad Celsius, Dunkelheit, starke Winde und brüchiges Eis erfordern immer wieder neue Lösungen. Die Corona-Pandemie stellt alle vor zusätzliche Herausforderungen.

 
 
(C) rbb/UFA Show & Factual/AWI

While pondering endlessly over my 2020 „top 20“ or „top 30“ or „top 33“ of the year that is drawing to a close, I thought I’ll quickly share a few comments on jazz albums I stumbled upon in 2020, but which no-one has mentioned on this blog at all.

The popularity of RareNoiseRecords (RNR) has noticeably been on the rise here this year, and several contributors to this blog have paid a considerable amount of attention to some of their albums of late. So there is no need that I should add my two cents about Stephan Thelen’s string quartet album or J. Peter Schwalm. I can profess, however, that David Torn’s third album with Sonar left me pretty much untouched – and to my surprise so. One album that, on the contrary, has remained completely under the radar is aptly titled Hiding In Plain Sight and was recorded by a British outfit that I have not (knowingly) heard of before; yet this is apparently already the fifth album by the WorldService Project. RNR classifies the album as „psych-jazz“ and draws comparisons to The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet – which seems to make a lots of sense to me. Interestingly enough, Hiding In Plain Sight is ultimately the better album, – because it is more stimulating and imaginative – compared to what Sonar and David Torn have delivered of late, where one did not hear anything genuinely surprising, sadly enough. Totally different here: A whole lot of distorted instruments – keyboards, sax, bass and percussion (and a trombone added on a few tracks) – as on many RNR albums, there’s banging energy and diverse progressive punk-jazz craziness that may remind one or the other of Django Bates.  It comes across somewhat punkier, snottier than Shabaka Hutchings‘ projects, but firstly it’s kind of about Brexit and Europe, and secondly there are also a few softer, more conciliatory pieces in the latter part, so there’s something for everyone in this bag.

 

 

During the first half of 2020 I listened to a lot of Edition Records releases, less so during the last few months – I haven’t listened to any of the new releases by the big names on Edition, such as Chris Potter, Tim Garland, Misha Mullov-Abbado or Rob Luft. One album I missed to far, but which I’ll still need to check out is Atlântico by the Portuguese-English-Norwegian trio Mário Laginha (piano), Julian Argüelles (sax) and Helge Andreas Norbakken (drums); I very much loved Setembro, their first album, so I expect their unique blend of ECM-like chamber jazz, Iberian musical poetry and a slight touch of Norway to have matured even more on this new release. I am even more excited about pianist Eyolf Dale’s new album coming out in early 2021 – a new trio with two ingenious „big names“ in the Norwegian jazz scene: drummer Audun Kleive and bassist Per Zanussi. I really like Eyolf; I was lucky enough to join him on tour in the mid-Norwegian coastal region around Molde and Ålesund once, and a year later I was invited to spend a few days filming him recording in the nice studio The Village in Copenhagen, when he was playing in Hayden Powell’s trio. I am sure his new trio project is going to be a great live experience — if the tour will be actually be allowed to take place.

Like quite a few others, Pablo Held released two discs this year; Ascent came out in spring, and Descent a few weeks ago. Funny that no-one on this blog has cared to discuss his inventive jazz albums so far. I find it tricky to find good words for his art, too, but I acknowledge there’s a lot to admire and enjoy. Norwegian tuba master Daniel Herskedal whose amazing work I have been following for at least ten years, has just released a full-on solo album, Call for Winter, which builds on the basic idea of his solo piece The Mistral Noir, a highlight on his excellent Edition album Slow Eastbound Train a few years back. Eyolf Dale played on at least three of Daniel’s albums, by the way.

I listened quite a lot to Kurt Elling’s album Secrets Are The Best Stories. It has just been nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album at the Grammy Awards 2021. There is something deeply intriguing about his style of singing, and the selection of songs on this album is as fascinating as the band he assembled for the recording – Roman Diáz, Danilo Pérez and Johnathan Blake are among the marvelous players interpreting an alluring selection of songs that include tunes by Jaco Pastorius and Sidsel Endresen. On top of that the album has a fine mystifying and untypical painting on the cover. To be honest I am usually not a big fan of this kind of jazz singing, but this was able to catch my attention. I like this quote from Downbeat: „Elling sings lines that seem impossible. Dystopian dissonance and nightmarish musical images feed dense metaphors wrapped in poetic camouflage. The passion is earnest and pitch perfect.“

Two Edition albums I found very fascinating and which I still feel I have to spend more time with, as there is a lot more to discover, are the latest Dinosaur album, To The Earth, and the mysteriously titled AuB by, well, a band called AuB (supposed to be pronounced „Orb“). The latter includes two British tenor saxophone players who also bring synths into play, Alex Hitchcock and Tom Barford, rounded off with Fergus Ireland (double bass and synths) and James Maddren (drums). Strangely enough, even though this sounds very much like a band effort, and the label website presents AuB as a quartet, the album design pictures only Hitchcock and Barford. However, the rhythm section often comes across quite vigorously and should not be held in low esteem. Funnily, the first track on the album is tiled „Not Jazz“, but no doubt the music on this album is jazz; the synths were woven in very elegantly throughout the whole album, so this is no futurist or retro-futurist fusion stuff, but rather a fine contemporary update of this „classic“ line-up, with a kind of rock-ish punch and live situation feeling. While the album is not exactly outstanding, it is enjoyable and catchy, and I quite like how the band keeps it clear at all times, never just drifting off into anything, which to me seems to be a noticeable pitfall here.

The Dinosaur album, meanwhile, is even better and surpasses their widely praised 2016 debut album (I don’t think I’ve heard the second one, Wonder Trail, which came out in 2018, but trumpeter Laura Jurd’s separate ensemble project Stepping Back, Jumping In, released in 2019, was truly dazzling) and I’d love to hear them live sometime. I can only imagine that they must be terrific. Pianist Elliot Galvin is the only one using synths here, so the whole project has become pretty much an elegantly acoustic affair after the more electric predecessors. The concise 41-minute album is also very versatile, with engaging rhythms and captivating melodies and performances by all four members; featuring almost exclusively tracks penned by Laura Jurd, To The Earth sounds almost like a timeless classic, taking the influences and energies of acoustic jazz quartets from the fifties and sixties and making them feel very much alive in 2020. Speaking about the album, Laura says:

 

“My discography to date, as Dinosaur and albums under my name, is the result of an unavoidable necessity to express and share a wealth of musical interests – from folk influenced counterpoint, to song-writing, Stravinsky-inspired harmony to the use of analog synthesis and looped grooves. Whilst this may well dizzy the narrative surrounding my output, jazz (in its most typical form) has always played a huge role in my life and the life of this band. ‚To The Earth‘ is simply a collection of joyfully crafted melodies, which we can dive into and explore as improvisers. It makes so much sense that this is the music to surface after a decade of playing together“.

 

Dinosaur keyboardist and pianist Elliot Galvin has also released his first solo piano album on Edition in 2020, and like quite a few albums by the on this blog very popular Keith Jarrett, it was recorded live in concert and improvised entirely on the spot. The eponymously titled Live In Paris At Fondation Louis Vuitton presents the multifaceted young pianist as an ardent student of Jarrett and Craig Taborn, but with his rather unique voice: This concert was created completely in the moment, nothing was pre-prepared or pre-planned. I was responding to that moment in time, to that audience, in that space. You have to be willing to share your complete soul with an audience, trusting them and yourself totally, making the deepest most human connection you possibly can. This record is a document of that moment we all shared. Strangers unified by sound“. Personally, I often find it a little hard to appreciate such freely improvised piano albums adequately, but I am confident that the admirers of Jarrett and piano solo productions with a penchant for classical chamber music will find a lot to like with Galvin’s playing.

 

 

Last but not least, a truly fabulous jazz marvel, designed to be the first of a four-part series on the theme of humankind and our planet and future, and released earlier this year, was Jasper Høiby’s Planet B with bass and electronics, saxophone (Josh Arcoleo) and drums (Marc Michel). It’s downright unjust that this LP has received so little attention. I bought the beautiful LP in eco-green vinyl out of respect for Høiby’s achievement alone. Stefan Vinaricky praised the work on Nordische Musik:

 

„How is jazz influenced by social and political issues, and how can jazz musicians use their art to enrich this discourse? These are questions that have become gradually less significant in recent years and decades. Long gone are the days when John Coltrane’s „A Love Supreme“ was something like the soundtrack to Martin Luther King’s „I Have a Dream“ speech; without mentioning the fact that the very emergence of jazz as such is already highly imbued with socio-political connotations. Danish bassist Jasper Høiby tackles this depoliticization of jazz and, on „Planet B,“ raises big questions of our time, including ecology or climate protection, sustainability and social justice. He does this by placing speech excerpts given by cultural philosophers, professors of psychology and civil rights activists as speech samples under his music.

These might be annoying for one or the other who simply wants to listen to music, and indeed one might argue whether or not Høiby thereby lives up to the undoubtedly pressing concerns. But he is quite clever in his use of samples: The pieces with larger sections of speech are kept rather simple in terms of composition, and the resulting musical flow gives the speeches an almost soundtrack-like character. In addition, he repeatedly reaches for his bow and effects devices when playing the bass and by layering the sound he creates a dense sonic tapestry that supports the vocal elements. In the purely instrumental pieces, on the other hand, he proceeds much more vigorously with his fellow international comrades-in-arms (…) and presents us with a sometimes quite free trio jazz, without the album falling apart into two disparate parts.“

 

Edition released 19 or 20 albums this year, and I just have to add that I don’t like many of their recent cover design decisions. Some of them have a kind of tediousness (at times even a cheap feel) that doesn’t really feel inspiring to pick up and buy the albums. Which is a bit sad, because the label has evolved into an essential force in the European jazz scene. The photos are often great (see To The Earth), but the designs, the choice of graphical elements, fonts, and letters don’t exactly work towards their advantage. Similarly, with Herskedal’s latest album, they have decided to break with the fabulously coherent series of his beautiful covers, and graphically deform the photo on his latest album. The same thing with the cover of  Høiby’s Planet B: Basically a gorgeous photo, but the oversized letters and the garish colorful framing are rather disruptive and unnecessary. On the inside cover you can find the picture again with a white frame, and that makes it so much stronger and more appropriate than the over-designed front cover.

Another label I have followed closely for many years is Losen Records, operated out of Oslo by Odd Gjelsnes, but by no means does he solely focus on Norwegian projects; he maintains close bonds with the Barxeta studio near Valencia („music studio situated on the top of a hill in the middle of a gigantic orange plantation“) and has a long history of keenly exploring many other parts of the world, releasing between 20 and 40 albums a year.

A few years ago, he issued the second album by the trio Anders Jormin, Karin Nakagawa and Lena Willemark, whose dreamlike avant-traditional debut, Trees Of Light, had been released by ECM. Now the Japanese singer with her 25-string koto, who lives halfway between Bavarian towns Landshut and Passau, scored a magical album of her own on Losen Records: Tamayura features soprano saxophonist Hans Tutzer and Oregon bassist Paolino Dalla Porta; Marco Ambrosini guests on nyckelharpa. Karin Nakagawa’s nicely designed and enchantingly written and performed album draws geographical as well as spiritual lines between (Northern) European and Japanese folk music, between jazz and chamber music, past and present. A truly lyrical and poetically enriching album for winter 2020 and for contemplation – and very much in line with the above mentioned albums by Anders Jormin and Marco Ambrosini et al. It’s really one of my favourite records of the many dozens of Losen albums I was invited to listen to, and I certainly hope this imaginative artist will find a bigger audience – among ECM fans for example. The album title, by the way, is a poetic Japanese way to describe a short, fading moment, as of the explanation on the cover: „treasure of resonance in a fully experienced, yet impermanent moment“.

 


 
 

Two talks with New York City musicians, combined with a lot of images from the Big Apple:

This composer turned 78 last week. And this saxophonist celebrated his 55th birthday earlier this month.

 


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