Absinth's Berlin Series

absinth.jpgThe love that goes into producing music should always be so apparent. Putting aside all that comes from assembly line production techniques, Absinth Records has emerged as a label with a different kind of ideal. Like so many big city communities, Berlin has its own burgeoning, distinctively voiced music community with a fair share of support in its resident lovers of sound. Marcus Liebig saw Absinth as an opportunity to document cross-sections of his city’s scene, and is doing so in a deceptively simple, perhaps even cost-effective way. Packaged in unique, hand-crafted booklets, each of Absinth’s volumes consist of four 3” CD-r’s, a brief amount of supplemental discographic information, and various photos of the featured artists.

Berlin Reeds, is the first in a series of recordings that serve as snapshots of selected artists and their current trajectories on new lines of improv. Pulled from studio tapes, DATs, and sound boards from live performances, Reeds shows a significant amount of range in the four musicians featured. The four discs, all close to twenty minutes in duration, exhibit excellent production for music that isn’t necessarily easy to translate.

breeds.jpgPerhaps by design, Reeds and Berlin Strings both begin with challenging sets of music. Alessandro Bossetti’s “Unplayed Saxophone” is a wild walk through feedbacks and playbacks: soprano saxophone prior recorded and manipulated real-time in a second run through the use of separate recorders and the apparent use of pitch attenuators. Bossetti’s disc is one of the more boisterous sets offered, where the four pieces offered by Andrea Neumann on inside piano and mixing desk, while more subdued, are demanding of attention for all of their static crackles and jarring transitions. The sounds are foreign enough, but Neumann characteristically leaves the sense that her gear has been around forever and you’ve just been away a little too long.

Further lifting the Reeds set, Kai Fagaschinski’s solo clarinet takes are two tracks that focus on extended techniques within composition and Fagaschinski’s talent for some seriously surreal soundscaping. “I’m Afraid of Americans Too” hits early on with what might be called aural illusions: brief sets of multiphonics you’d swear were overdubs, given the extreme dynamic range. Gregor Hotz’s “Friendly Fire” is the least approachable of the bunch, though by no means throw-away. The Hotz disc consists of twenty minutes of techniques for bass saxophone, yet it is hardly comprehensive. Using circular breathing and only one or two modes of attack, the piece is far more meditative than it is actively engaging, but there is a treat in hearing how different speeds of blown air affect the super-deep register of the bass sax. And one of the most interesting and truly identifiable instrumentalists at present, Rudi Mahall closes the set with some tame bass clarinet work that seems to be searching for its place in the whole affair, but polishes up nicely and significantly raises the bar for the Reeds series by disc’s end.

bstrings.jpgIf Berlin Reeds is cohesive for the range it presents, then Berlin Strings is held together by its serene atmosphere, save for a few rowdy moments on Neumann’s disc. Michael Renkel is one of the younger improvisers here, yet his guitar is beyond its years if “Trans Oronez” is acceptably representative of his work. Also playing zither, Renkel’s disc is incredibly charming, if not with a little subtle neurosis. Olaf Rupp follows on guitar, channeling Latin progressions without actually nailing a one, arpeggio or otherwise. Finally, the guitarist Serge Baghadassarians’ disc has those minimalist tendencies that feel like an aural negative of sound. Using tones from his mixing desk and a guitar of the table type, the Baghadassarians track seems the most improvisational of all that is offered, even in austerity. He’s certainly someone to listen for.

Reeds and Strings are a sharp beginning for one of the latest tiny labels hosting electro-acoustic music and the new improv. Each little disc sits cutely, cozily within its unique artwork, and I admittedly feel like I have to have the whole package nearby when I sit down with the music. It’s completism of another sort. But there’s only so much energy one can put into hand-stamping, painting and threading each set, so these are limited editions of 200 copies. Rumor has it that a third helping of “Berlin” music will be released in Spring, Berlin Drums, and then a series from another European hub, London Strings, all four-3” sets. Even by then, the resonance from Berlin’s first couple of salvos should still be hanging in the air.

~Alan Jones

Posted by al on February 8, 2004 7:47 PM
Comments

I'm also trying to persuade Marcus to turn his attention to Paris. Nothing confirmed as of yet.

Posted by: dan warburton at February 8, 2004 9:40 PM

The performers on Absinsth's forthcoming 'Berlin Drums' and 'London Strings' are both given at http://www.absinthrecords.com/seiten/schedule.htm.

If Paris is a possibility, perhaps Marcus Liebig should consider setting up franchises!

Posted by: Wayne Spencer at February 9, 2004 6:04 AM

yeah, big money in those, alert Sotheby's.... :)

Posted by: Jon Abbey at February 9, 2004 10:32 AM

Absolutely, Jon. After "London Strings" we'll be moving on to "Barcelona Accordions", "Zurich MiniDiscs", "Sydney Sushi Chefs" and "Tokyo Shoeboxes".

Posted by: dan warburton at February 9, 2004 9:43 PM

A mate of mine just lent me the Berlin Reeds set, and I'm listening to the Bosetti now for the first time. Rare that I actually listen to recordings discussed here. I like the idea a lot, and the Bosetti is interesting so far.

Posted by: Nat at February 11, 2004 5:41 AM

Noisy isn't it?

Posted by: dan warburton at February 11, 2004 6:10 AM

Yeah, it is.

Posted by: Nat at February 11, 2004 6:36 AM

hey, I am interested in that sheboxes theme, can anybody get me in contact?

nono. I am a disappointment, I am afraid. I consider ...no I am working on a pure brass duo, doerner and hayward. mostly live recorded, a killer cd, believe me.

@ nat: do you like hotz and fagaschinski too?
make sure not to smoke herbs before hotz and avoid to listen to kai´s stuff in the total darkness ,-))

Posted by: marcus at February 11, 2004 7:48 AM

Welcome to the Pleasuredome Marcus!
Let's not forget the Will Gaines of Berlin Reeds, Rudi Mahall, either

Posted by: dan warburton at February 11, 2004 8:39 AM

"I am working on a pure brass duo, doerner and hayward. mostly live recorded, a killer cd, believe me. "

ooh, I'm looking forward to that one, marcus!

Posted by: Jon Abbey at February 11, 2004 10:43 AM

Speaking of Hayward, there's a really righteous solo track of his on the new (and pretty uneven) Charhizma comp, "Labor CD."

Posted by: Jason at March 18, 2004 2:03 PM

It is an uneven set (the video disc especially) but a good cross section of the Berlin scene. My own favourite recent outing from Berlin is the No Furniture CD on Creative Sources (Dörner, Fagaschinski, Baltschun). Mr Wayne Spencer has reviewed it for the forthcoming April PT, and has also written a long and no-holds-barred review of Christof Kurzmann's Uchiage! Festival there in February.

Posted by: dan warburton at March 18, 2004 9:58 PM

Dear friends,


We are the authors of the encyclopedia The World of Another Music (Svět jiné hudby, Volvox Globator publishing house, volvox@volvox.cz), which counts 962 pages and several hundreds of entries on creators and music publishers from the whole world from Muhal Richard Abrams via Bill Frisell to John Zorn, from Daevid Allen via Gong to Zubi Zuva, from Ambiances Magnétiques via Cuneiform, Emanem or Leo Records to Tzadik. Presently we are working on a second volume, where we want to map numerous other areas of non-conventional and non-commerical music: musicians, ensembles and labels, festivals, journals and other acivities.

On this occasion we are turning to you for help. We would much welcome your materials, biographies, discographies, bibliographies, interviews, photos or even references, but most of all sound media, because we are not echoing other people´s evaluations, but we want to hear the music we are writing about, and, at the same time play it for wider audience in our radio programme of the same name World of Another Music (every Saturday, 45 minutes, vltava.rozhlas.cz). We would appreciate both new and older CDs, CDRs (with descriptions), DVDs, LPs, etc., which we would also write in music magazines (UNI, His Voice), where we are regular contributors. This request also applies to those we have written about in the first volume, as we intend to update and expand these profiles.

Please let us know if you can assist us in this way, so that our entries on you would be as comprehensive and initiated as possible, or, if we are not to count on you in that matter (in that case of course we will not bother you anymore). Please let us know if your shipment will be single or if you can put us on a list of those you are sending promos regularly. In that case we will inform you on the published reviews, send play lists and messages on finalizing your entry. At the same time please inform us about the materials you intend to send, so that we can verify delivery at the post office.

In case you need further information, we will be happy to answer your questions.

With Best Regards,

Zdenek Slaby + Petr Slaby

Address:
Dr. Zdenek Slaby
Ke Strasnicke 15
CZ 100 00 Praha 10
Czech Republic

Posted by: zdenek Slaby at January 29, 2006 1:45 PM

the piece "i'm afraid of americans, too." from the sold out BERLIN REEDS-release can be found for free download in the klingt.org-jokebux:
http://jokebux.klingt.org/

there is as well a recent live recording of a trio with gunter schneider and barbara romen.

load down & enjoy the listening!
bye |

Posted by: kai fagaschinski at April 30, 2006 9:42 AM

Hi I was wondering if you know anything about this. I got a similar email today.
Thanks

We are the authors of the encyclopedia The World of Another Music (Svět jiné hudby, Volvox Globator publishing house, volvox@volvox.cz), which counts 962 pages and several hundreds of entries on creators and music publishers from the whole world from Muhal Richard Abrams via Bill Frisell to John Zorn, from Daevid Allen via Gong to Zubi Zuva, from Ambiances Magnétiques via Cuneiform, Emanem or Leo Records to Tzadik. Presently we are working on a second volume, where we want to map numerous other areas of non-conventional and non-commerical music: musicians, ensembles and labels, festivals, journals and other acivities.

On this occasion we are turning to you for help. We would much welcome your materials, biographies, discographies, bibliographies, interviews, photos or even references, but most of all sound media, because we are not echoing other people´s evaluations, but we want to hear the music we are writing about, and, at the same time play it for wider audience in our radio programme of the same name World of Another Music (every Saturday, 45 minutes, vltava.rozhlas.cz). We would appreciate both new and older CDs, CDRs (with descriptions), DVDs, LPs, etc., which we would also write in music magazines (UNI, His Voice), where we are regular contributors. This request also applies to those we have written about in the first volume, as we intend to update and expand these profiles.

Please let us know if you can assist us in this way, so that our entries on you would be as comprehensive and initiated as possible, or, if we are not to count on you in that matter (in that case of course we will not bother you anymore). Please let us know if your shipment will be single or if you can put us on a list of those you are sending promos regularly. In that case we will inform you on the published reviews, send play lists and messages on finalizing your entry. At the same time please inform us about the materials you intend to send, so that we can verify delivery at the post office.

In case you need further information, we will be happy to answer your questions.

With Best Regards,

Zdenek Slaby + Petr Slaby

Address:
Dr. Zdenek Slaby
Ke Strasnicke 15
CZ 100 00 Praha 10
Czech Republic

Posted by: Martin at January 30, 2007 1:39 PM

Martin? As in the Martin we all miss?

If so: How the heck are you?!

Michael

Posted by: Michael Schaumann at January 30, 2007 2:36 PM


Post a comment










Remember personal info?




Please enter the letter "t" in the field below:

NOTE: there will be some lag after you hit the "submit" button, but not much. That lag is our badass spam deterrent software at work. It is not necessary to use the submit button more than once. Thank you.



.................................................. © 2003 - 2006 bagatellen ..................................................