Blacklisted

On 15. July I held a talk at Spektrum in Berlin in which I explained why it is a bad idea to perform at that very artist-unfriendly venue. Here is a résumé of the talk.

I arrived to sound art relatively late. It happened right at the start of the century. In the last century I dedicated all my time to writing. Zan Hoffman and Jeff Surak, two artists deeply involved in the sounds of noises (or the noises of sound) accepted my presence immediately. I was amazed how open-minded they were. Playing together with them, being a complete newby, went without hindrances or comments. It was a joyful excursion and one big pleasure.

It took some years, before I knew how to get my sound work out on stage.  I arrived late, so I needed to make a lot of experiences and encounters to get to know the marginal world of sound. I criss-crossed Western Europe, got hosted by a lot of people, slept at their apartments, sometimes in a hotel. I played jeux-de-boules in Bordeaux. In Porto we had drinks in the bar where, during the Salazar regime, the police seated on their horses entered to chase the demonstrating students. Everytime I landed in Bilbao we went to a loft and played for hours, thinking we were transmitting to ships passing in the deep of night. I met good people. They tried everything to make a good turn out. And everywhere I went, I got a good share of the door money, which covered for my expenses.

Living in Berlin I came to the conclusion that after so many encounters during which I was given a lot, it was time to return the favor. I started to organize shows myself. And I set up a lot of shows. I always sat at the door, making sure that everyone paid. I was more tensed than the artist. I felt terrible when there were only ten people or less in the audience. This meant I could only pay a handful of euros. But it felt so good if I could give 100 euro from the door. And it was ALL the door money that went to the artist.

I never exchanged emails on a personal level with the people who run Spektrum in Berlin. When I was invited by Robert Pepper of Pas Musique, I got a mail from Spektrum that directed me to their website. I had to fill in a form. A series of yes-answers took me to the final page. One of the yes answers was in relation to their condition regarding the door money. They would keep a minimum of 60 euro plus 35-45 euro for GEMA (The copyright police in Germany). After that they would take a 33% share. But maybe I do a miscalculation here, and the 60 euro minimum is not taken in account once the door money exceeds 225 euro. Entrance fee is 6-10 euro.

I considered not playing.(Because why drag a 20kg suitcase all the way from Krakow to Berlin and back again and spend extra time on setting up and packing again?)Knowing myself I would keep on talking about it. I decided to go, not play, but talk about it in the place itself.

In comes the guy who runs Spektrum. It is still early. There are four people sitting at the bar. They are the musicians after they did the soundcheck. Did the guy say hello; did he introduce himself? No. He walked straight to his place behind the bar. Now he was facing the people who were to play at his venue. Did he say hello? Did he introduce himself? Did he say anything at all? No.

Shortly before PAS Musique goes on he speaks his first words to me, still from his comfortable position behind the bar. I needed to pay the entrance because the show would start. I bent a little bit over to him and whispered that I was performing this evening.

I stood up. Three of my friends had just arrived. The guy who runs the place was making an attempt to have them pay. I told him they were my guests. I noticed how he froze for a tiny instance. And it was in this very instance that he showed his greed.

Robert got 80 euro. We were four performing. I took 20 euro. If places like this can spread their philosophy, it will become impossible for artists to go on tour. Some say that this place Spektrum is the new NK. That’s an insult. The only thing NK and Spektrum could have in common is that they both finished their activities.

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The Gracious Depression – Out Now

C42, released by Das Andere Selbst. Soundtracks here


price of 9.50€ includes worldwide shipping

Released by Das Andere Selbst

Artwork by Elia Buletti

additional information

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Bringing Tapes to the Post

Sent out today to reviewers these two packages. The (Polish) post office across the road still uses stamps, which makes for a beautiful finishing touch. Today’s choice was two big stamps showing a (Polish?) pope blessing the masses and a smaller stamp with a picture of orange flowers.

Any advice on who/where to send copies for review is most welcome.

Also, If you order your tape directly from me, you can expect this kind of packaging.

Of course the tapes are also available directly from Kris Limbach, Ben Roberts aka Eclectiktronik Live and from Guillaume Siffert at the Staalplaat shop in Berlin. Midøri Hiranø‘s personal copies have sold out.

address side of packet for The Sound Projector

Address side of Packet for Cassette Gods

Back side of packet for the Sound Projector

Back side of packet for Cassette Gods

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Working on Tape Releases

I had the idea years ago. The C60 The Last Day on Earth had to become the follow-up of The Four Corners of the Night. I asked four artists. Each artist got a different score. The score was either a short story or a kind of poem. I never got four satisfying contributions in return. Two pieces were in line with the concept. I thought that I could use those two compositions, some fragments from the others and create an audio-book. My ambition was obstructed by reality. I put the release on hold for a long time. Midori and Kris were incredibly patient.

I had to think again of his contribution when I listened to Kris’ release begin_if_(3). I liked his cinematic approach very much. Desolation and optimism, a burning landscape, industrial wasteland on a blackened horizon, two people who probably didn’t know anything about their fate, all these elements were present. I listened to Midori’s work. I encountered the quality I needed. She was absent in her piece. The piano talked. The notes floated gently. There was a hint of happy sadness that defines life once youthful years start withdrawing in objects. There was silence in between those notes, like there can be silence, when a distant feeling of calm pushes emotional ties aside.

The two pieces made me think. Burn Midori’s piece to ashes, the remains would sound like Kris’ composition. Treat Midori’s piano work with x-ray and what you will see is Kris’ work. I found the similarity striking and decided to pick up the original concept and make it a C30.

A long process started. My first concern was the look of the tape. Once that problem was solved, partly by coincidence, the idea for the artwork came. I knew it had to be a plastic bottle. It was impossible to do the sixties pop-art thing I had in mind. Maybe I will use this concept once I start creating artworks that measure at least one square meter. I think, though, that Geert-Jan Hobijn’s work in progress -plastic souls- pushed me to the plastic bottles.

The Last Day on Earth, with works by Midori Hirano and Kris Limbach is a C30 of chrome quality. It was duplicated at home, in real time, using a Marantz CP430. The inlay is an A4 with the complete texts of both scores and the credits.

You can buy this tape directly from the artists, at the staalplaat shop in Berlin, or from me. Price is 8.50€ ex shipping.

The Last Day on Earth is released in a small edition of 26 copies. I will make a new edition once the first one has sold out completely.



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Polish Journal

I started to record observations, thoughts, descriptions directly on tape. I use a Sony Walkman of very modest quality, that still is able to capture sounds of a more delicate nature as passing cars or screaming children produce.

I recorded the first tape in Wroclaw, in April 2017. I describe the neighborhood where I stayed with its prison and school with bullet holes, walk the old streets and reflect on the pre-war nature of it, when the city was German and called Breslau.

I watch the neighbours in the courtyard, the destruction of a cupboard, but poets reading their poems in an anarchist bar, or an avant-rock combo playing were also captured.

Radio On will broadcast the one hour journal.

 

Polish Journal might be released as a limited edition of twelve cassettes .

The second tape of the Polish Journal is well on its way.

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