Monthly Archives: November 2010

Long Distance Echo

Broken_Telephone

I recently participated in a chinese-whispers-style mixtape organised by Greek disco she-wizard Mari-cha. Each track was picked by hearing the preceding track only, so there was some potential for a crowded party line. But the mix turned out very nicely – without any unpleasant interjections or garbled reception. It features contributions by quite a few RBMA suspects. Luciana Da Costa Amorim, Baris K and Brennan Green threw in tracks, as did my homegirl Sassy J and Fred Cherry of Canyons.

Broken Telephone Mix

when Cluster played Köln

cologne school

Notes from when the duo played at the Stadtgarten.

A small number of folding chairs were set up in front of the stage, populated by a scattering of quiet ladies & gentlemen of a respectable vintage.

We stood at the back, drank coronas and snapped on cinnamon chewing gum.

Cluster came on stage in button down burgundy and dark grey shirts, said a perfunctory “Hallo!” (to which the small audience chorused back “Hallo!” as if we were at a school recital), flipped on a projector, and began to play their music.

Doling out songs in a predecided sequence off CDs, they tweaked frequencies via two small mixers and bleeped, chortled and blooped on top with a few small synths. Could not see what type as it was dark, besides the light of their projection.

The projection was an image of a white-washed house, a tree’s leaves moving a little in the foreground, nothing happening on screen apart from a gardener who transported tools or watering can across the frame. Perhaps this was one of the three houses built in the 1600s where Herr Roedelius and Herr Moebius worked on Sowiesoso and Harmonia, the house where Brian Eno stayed and was taken into the forest to pick up wood – a house beyond time. Or the place where they made Curiosum on a four-track machine, on a farm in the north of Austria.

Much electronic music in Germany, kraut, psychedelic or techno, cites pastoral influences. Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS project ostensibly draws inspiration from walks in the woods, boiling this romantic botanic ideology down into vague sonic sheaths and screen-saver-like computer generations of alienated leave formations.

Cluster’s image of a plain white house by contrast, surrounded by immovable trees and a dead sky, was more honest – an image of total inertia. Staring at that house in the darkness was stifling, as if we were buried under those white stone foundations.

After perhaps 20 minutes of crackling soundscapes, a slow, thudding pulse began, and Hans-Joachim’s body began to vibrate, almost imperceptibly, in time with the beat. At the end of each tune, a big crashing kerrang-clang swallowed the pulse, as if to say NO DANCE.

Sliding tones whistled from left to right and Detroit’s rejoinders haunted us in heavenly fragments, even as the old stone building pressed on our eyes.

The audience were sufficiently pleased that they performed an encore, after grumbling that old men need a lullaby to go to bed.
The track fizzled to a halt and both men looked surprised. Dieter shrugged. “Schluss, hmm?” (The end, huh?).
The crowd laughed, then gave their thunderous applause (well, a community centre-sized squall).