Friday, October 17, 2014



Late September, airport of Orly, outside, me with a suitcase, freezing in the dark, drawing on a rolled cigarette, killing time before the flight to Berlin. Too early in the morning for enthusiasm, and the little energy I could gather got quickly spoiled by the security investigating on my electronic devices through the intranet while I'd stand without shoes and jacket. Aleatory pick they said, a good start I whispered in a tone that wasn't sarcastic.
I headed to the plane thinking it would most likely be a lonely one. I had no idea of what little haven I would fall into in Lichtenberg and the kindness my contact would offer as curator and host. Here I was walking in the cold with a runny nose, realizing I was back on tour.

I woke up on the plane - strange silence, little light, had a look at the clock. We were about to land already. I would soon do my first steps in Germany. I had repeated the stuff in my sleep, I didn't sense I was so anxious, well, I didn't know how I would feel while playing my new solo concert and how my encounter with musicians I'd never met before would go. I wasn't yet aware that they would come up being so open-minded and good quality listeners on stage.

My duo performances with Magda Mayas on prepared piano and Axel Dörner at the trumpet and electronics ended up being very contrasted though I used the same digital sound pallette. My computer manipulations happened to be very morphological and plastic so I was able to leave some space to my musical partners, allow them in.

West Germany Club, Kreuzberg

At Ausland, I played with raw segments, launching and stopping them which was making traces in the air, wrapping Magda's nervosity into some bright stormy atmosphere, her precise scraping noises and sliced harmonics doing little phrases and interruptions. I enjoyed the urge of it. Our music was spreading like thick trails and drops. From the stage, the audience was like splashed with acid colours, they stood on their chair as involved in the listening as the staff behind, I would even say that's one of my best gigs.

I took a different angle at West Germany in Kreuzberg, the day after. The low-key atmosphere of the club which used to be a dermatologist operation room and which is still permeated with it might have somehow affected me : deep bass, long agony with cries and screams, the trumpet of Axel shining over my repetitive noisy background, then yelling together in crescendo like endless sirens. We felt the people amusement with the little fight we got to get the lead in places, and they seemed like enjoying a long sunny ride in the desert, a journey from where we used to be to where we are now, always learning and willing to learn as Axel wisely told me beforehand.

Lovesick, Solo In The Dark sounded very well on both PAs, the first movement slowly emerging as from the deep bottom of the speakers to the most bizarrely chaotic transition, then raveling its net with large space and grain, clear high frequencies which gave it a sacred feel for a little while, like a suspension before the agitation of what could be an army of microscopic beings crawling at some leaning irregular surface to finally reach the top, a crash course to some static peace, a happy ending in a way.

As happy as the face I saw in the reflection on the S-Bahn on my way back. Furtive visions of people I chatted with after show together with images from what I caught from Tier Garten on a nightly bicycle ride with the amazingly gentle and subtle Freerix my host on our way to for a live interview; the memories of the conversations I had with Günter Schickert at his place then at the club, the lovely way he speaks, the opinion he has on how we could collaborate, the optimistic vision of the future of humanity with spirituality and taste for risk and nanotechnology (agreed!), on how music should remain primitive, as obscure as some prayer together with a bit of theatre, costume and parades.

Bérangère Maximin

The week Bérangère spent in Berlin gave me the occasion to come back to listening to German favourites and as she reported on her journey on a daily basis, I had a foray on the improv scene both Europeans and Americans have built with the Germans in the incredible city.

Magda Mayas

Nice coincidence BM made a duo with Magda Mayas straight after working with Christine Abdelnour in Paris, for Christine and Magda have released two albums together on Andy Moor's Unsounds label. Magda Mayas also does Spill with Tony Buck, the drummer in The Necks. She utilizes both the inside and the exterior parts of the piano, using preparations and objects. Alongside, she has been performing on a Clavinet/Pianet, an electric piano from the 60s with strings and metal chimes, where she engages with noise and more visceral sound material.

Axel Dörner's been an integral part of the Berlin improvised music scene since the 1990s and known for his avant-garde extended playing techniques with the trumpet. He has performed with the likes of Otomo Yoshihide, Phil Minton and Mats Gustafsson. 

Axel Dörner © Juan Carlos Hernandez

Synchronized with other European horn players like Radu Malfatti, John Butcher, and Franz Hautzinger, he developed a completely different language for the trumpet, starting anew by focusing on the sound of his breath. But what distinguishes Axel Dörner is that instead of turning this “new way” into a religion, he integrated it into his arsenal and continued to perform with maximalist free jazz groups.

Günter Schickert, the pioneer of the echo guitar, where the repeated guitar tones create unique, multi-layered textures that take the instrument quite beyond the ordinary. He recorded on the legendary Brain label as well as Sky Records. He worked and inspired Klaus Schulze, and they played live several times together and has recently released a new album with his band Ziguri

Samtvogel is a truly inventive and well conducted album, comparable to Manuel Göttsching's Inventions for electric guitar. He and Bérangère were due to perform in duo at NK but for organizational issues this hasn't yet happened. Anyway, they both seriously discussed the possibility of a collaboration when she's back next spring, now this would be excellent ! Here is a track off Überfällig :

I'll finish with Pole and the track Berlin which sits nicely with our last 'Right of Imperfection' post as well.

Second round in June.

Cindy Stern