P16.D4 - Box, Interview, Texte
Gespräch zur "Passagen"-Retrospektive und weitere Artikel
WAR ON STUPIDITY (Teil 3)
Joint ventures have remained central to Wehowsky’s output. “Confronting oneself with changing partners leads to different results from each collaboration, which all throw light on different facets of one’s identity,” he comments. P16.D4’s collaborative projects began as early as 1983’s Distruct. “As our approach from early on consisted of reworking our own tapes, the idea of using other people’s was the next logical step. Back then we didn’t use the term ‘remixing’: we called it recycling; what’s known these days as remixing is in most cases just cashing in, reproducing a commercial product with slightly changed parameters, merely repeating it instead of questioning it to create something new.“
Thanks to contacts made through the cassette underground, Wehowsky received tapes from all over the world and built up a network of likeminded spirits, including Masami Akita, aka Merzbow, whom he discovered through Recommended’s Japanese branch, Eastern Works. “They’d ordered lots of the [Selektion compilations] Offene Systeme and Masse Mensch, and I asked for interesting contemporary Japanese music in exchange. I got about a dozen Merzbow tapes and immediately invited Masami to take part in P16.D4’s Distruct project. Which he did, supplying recordings of his flute playing!”
In 1988 Wehowsky moved to Koblenz, where, at a loft concert, he met Bernhard Günter. “He was working in a local rock shop, and was into that virtuoso jazz guitar thing. I lent him lots of records from my collection, and it was the start of an intense collaboration.” The two first performed together at the Mutter-Beethoven-Haus in Koblenz in late December 1992, and the following year Selektion released Günter’s first solo electronic album, un peu de neige salie, a hugely influential, barely audible album that set a benchmark for subsequent developments in so-called reductionism. This was followed in 1995 by Détails Agrandis and, in 1996, a collaborative triple 3” CD release with Wehowsky on V2_Archief, Un Océan De Certitude. Günter was part of the Selektion team until 1995, when he left to create his own trente oiseaux imprint, one of whose first releases was RLW’s Revu Et Corrigé, another rugged recycling of Nichts Niemand Nirgends Nie.
For Pullover (Table Of The Elements 1996), Wehowsky invited 15 artists, including Actionist noise terrorist Rudolf Eb.er and Chicago post-rockers Gastr Del Sol, to record themselves reading (or singing) texts written by Selektion’s Markus Caspers, using their recordings as source material for a set of eight superbly crafted and evocative compositions. But Wehowsky was already at work on what would become his most ambitious project, and one of the key documents of new music in recent times. On Tulpas, a five CD box set released by Selektion in 1997, a veritable Who’s Who of electronic music – 59 hand-picked artists including Aube, Marc Behrens, John Duncan, Steve Roden, Ryoji Ikeda, Francisco López, Merzbow, Jim O’Rourke and Peter Rehberg – was invited to contribute recyclings of the RLW back catalogue. Wehowsky admits the motivation behind the project was “rather selfish. I’d recently become a father and taken up a new job. It was impossible to continue musical activities as they were before, so I thought I’d sum up by taking what I’d done to a new level, extending the principles of collaboration and using my own music as the common source for all participants. Maybe one of the reasons why early material has a continuing fascination for me lies in seeing what other directions could have been possible. Hence the reissues of recent years.”
At the outset, Wehowsky had no idea how big Tulpas would become. He asked everyone whose work he appreciated, including people he’d never contacted but whose music he enjoyed, including Japanese field recordist Toshiya Tsunoda and The Dead C’s Bruce Russell. “After about three years, I had more than five hours of quality material, but I was completely exhausted, mixing, editing and corresponding with the participants.” One American magazine contacted Wehowsky with a story ready to print about how such a project was only possible in the age of email, but subsequently dropped the idea when told that everything had been arranged by letter or fax. “I’ll never forget the meeting we had at the Selektion office: when I told Achim [Wollscheid] and Charly [Steiger] it would be a five CD box set, they were shellshocked! But Charly did a great job on designing the cover, booklet and labels and Achim surpassed himself organising the release.” It was Bruce Russell who came up with a name for the project, surprising Wehowsky by comparing the whole idea to Tibetan mysticism – a tulpa is an entity that attains reality solely by the act of imagination.
Contact with Bruce Russell led Wehowsky back to his old guitar and triggered off a new phase in his artistic life. As a self-declared “devoted consumer of advanced music”, Wehowsky had been following developments in Russell’s native New Zealand for a while – and is still doing so: he’s part of Campbell Kneale’s Birchville Cat Motel Orchestra on last year’s With Maples Ablaze (Scarcelight). “That whole family of New Zealand abstract free improvising electric musicians picked up the loose ends where others had stopped in the 1970s, coming from a completely different angle.” Wehowsky was also “blown away” by the occasional series of essays entitled Logopandocy – The Journal Of Vain Erudition that accompanied Russell’s first releases on his Corpus Hermeticum label. “Such a combination of intelligence, knowledge and good taste is extremely hard to find,” he enthuses.
In 2003 Russell travelled to Europe to visit friends and fellow artists, including Wehowsky, who “started thinking about what we could do besides sitting in front of my computer. I unpacked my guitar, keyboard and amp – something I hadn’t done in a decade – and when we played it was as if we’d been working together for years.” The results of that encounter, released on Corpus Hermeticum the following year as Sights, remain some of Wehowsky’s most thrilling music. “It was the first time since P16.D4’s musique concrète improvisée period that I could release pieces as they were played, without significant edits.”
Sights wasn’t the only album that resulted from the Eggenstein session. By the time Russell arrived, Wehowsky had already recorded over half of what was to become Views (Anomalous 2004). The instrumental palette is similar, though the musicis quite different. The vast seething soundscape of the first track, on which microtonally tuned oscillators process material culled from 1992’s Acht, is followed by a clattery collage of toy percussion, disarmingly intimate musical boxes and glistening, Sachiko M-esque feedback. Toys and teacups reappear on Sights, but the lo-fi twiddles of Russell’s clavioline and the melancholy duende of his guitar imbues the music with a progressively overwhelming sense of mystery and menace, and the spidery scribbles of Wehowsky’s guitar complement the New Zealander’s prismatic blues to perfection.
The blues were in the air that February, as Russell arrived chez Wehowsky with an early version of a piece that was to become “Kate’s Blues”, subsequently reworked and released on the new Russell/Wehowsky collaboration, Midnight Crossroads Tape Recorder Blues on A Bruit Secret. Needless to say, it’s light years away from what most punters would consider as blues, about which Wehowsky has characteristically contentious opinions: “In the early 70s, ‘blues’ seemed to be a synonym for the pale, lifeless, reactionary stuff that went under the flag of ‘progressive’ and ‘expressive’. Not exactly what Robert Johnson dreamt of, more like repeated acts of necrophilia performed by the self-declared heirs of one of the greatest popular artforms of the 20th century. The decent thing to do would be to steer clear from the cadaverous smell,” he states flatly. However, in true Hegelian fashion, he was keen to explore the antithesis: “On the other hand, dancing with the dead has been a legitimate concern since the surrealists, and digging in the sediment that our culture is built upon is certainly a fascinating subversive activity.” It was Russell who eventually reconfigured the raw and transformed recordings, using the hiss and grain of analogue technology and ‘old school’ musique concrète techniques to evoke a fantastic imaginary encounter between Robert Johnson and Pierre Schaeffer.
Shortly after the session with Russell, Wehowsky recorded another set of duos with double bassist Johannes Frisch, recently released by Korm Plastics. On Tränende Würger, in addition to his electronics, Wehowsky plays electric harmonium, guitar, oud and sitar on four characteristically dense, thorny workouts, as beautiful and deadly as the poisonous plants referenced in the near-untranslatable album title. A project with Boston based saxophonist and composer Bhob Rainey is also nearing completion. Wehowsky was familiar with Rainey’s work in nmperign with trumpeter Greg Kelley well before Selektion released their fourth eponymous album in 2001, and remained in regular contact afterwards. Rainey and Kelley’s extraordinary explorations of space, silence and the limits of instrumental technique owe much to the music of Wehowsky and Günter, both of whom Rainey acknowledges as influences. “Our collaboration has evolved very organically,” Wehowsky explains. “One of us works on something and sends it to the other, who says: ‘Great. How about a small change just after 17 minutes or so…’ and two or three months later a whole new piece based on the earlier one arrives! Every new version makes the CD better. You’ll appreciate the amount of work and passion we’ve put into it when you hear it. Whenever that may be.”=> weiter zum Artikel über die Kassettenszene
Michael We. für nonpop.de
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