The invitation to Leipzig’s Seanaps festival gave us the second opportunity in this year to play a trio with Chris Cutler. This encounter felt like we’d played as a group for decades, something that seemed to translate to the audience as well if the appreciation and after-show comments are anything to go by.
The festival made use of a great number of cultural spaces within the district of Plagwitz, one of which inhabited the studio of Sphere Radio, a nascent local radio collective that tried out its first steps during Seanaps with the help of a few seasoned practitioners and airtime from Radio Corax and Cashmere Radio.
Our contribution to the radio programme consisted of a handful of bespoke Johnny Head in Air mash-ups, a discussion on radio futures and a new radio experiment by Knut called The Compression Chamber.
This situation/installation/composition consisted of two microphones in the room which were patched through a chain of compressors so that any sound nearby would gain the same volume, no matter how quiet or loud. Visitors to The Compression Chamber were handed headphones that conveyed this unique form of listening and their behaviour changed immediately. For one hour the room turned into an alternate reality in which people crawled around the space and played with the minute sounds of floor boards, carpets, plastic wrapping, camera shutters, the door of a wood burner and anything else that could be found, underpinned by the chatter of guests in the adjacent room. A short excerpt can be found below, the full hour and many other Sphere Radio transmissions are accessible here.
Knut Aufermann, ‘The Compression Chamber’ radio experiment, photo credit: Leon Seidel
This must have been one of the most unusual locations we have ever played a Tonic Train concert in: the Hallraum Worringer Platz in Düsseldorf. The venue is a small glasshouse that is situated on a heavily frequented traffic island close to the city’s main station. The setting was intimate, with the curious audience crouched around us listening intently. However, the guiding theme for the performance emanated from the outside, from the constant car traffic and the electromagnetic disturbances from the busy adjacent tram stop that Sarah could pick up with a scanner. And then there was a secondary audience, just outside of the glasshouse, that didn’t care but also didn’t mind us being there while they were drinking and injecting. It was a memorable event, the last warm evening of the year, and strangely life-affirming.
The Młyn dzięków / Klangmühle / Sound Mill concert was the culmination of a two-year project called Ortsgespräche by the Goethe Institut in Warsaw for which Knut was the artistic director. Five German sound artists (including newly-naturalised Sarah) had been working throughout 2018 and 2019 in five medium sized Polish cities with Polish counterparts to produce workshops, events, concerts, talks and interventions in public space. These proceedings are documented and contextualised on a dedicated website and Facebook page.
For the final event of this project all the artists were brought together to inhabit a giant former industrial flour mill turned museum in the town of Dzierżoniów (where Sarah´s project in collaboration with Stowarzyszenie Edukacji Krytycznej had already taken place). The short video documentation above gives a glimpse of the varied mini-concerts which the audience encountered in various locations around the building. Due to the unusual cultural offer, brilliant organisation by the Goethe Institut team, and the previous project in the mill, a buzz developed around the event. We had to add a second run of the performance due to a stipulated maximum of 80 audience members per show, and both were sold out. Health and safety rules meant that everybody had to wear a hard hat, and the surprise final course of each show consisted of a buffet of sausages, pierogi, compote and beer. Needless to say everyone went home delighted, unfazed by the strange and at times hilarious music.
With the help of Udo Noll’s Radio Aporee the event was broadcast live on Resonance Extra in London, Soundart Radio in Dartington and WGXC in New York, reaching audiences around the globe. Below you can hear a recording of the first show in its entirety, and the edited individual performances from the second show.
Our contribution, besides being responsible for the overall dramaturgy of the whole show, was an atmospheric 10-minute live Hörspiel featuring childhood memories of Dzierżoniów resident – and leading light of the local pensioners club who had taken part in Sarah´s earlier project – Barbara Kuźmińska. This was profoundly moving for the audience as the stories ranged from listening in live with her father to Russian space mission communications on a domestic radio set, through to his role in aiding Jews fleeing the Nazis. She also read out parts of a poem sent to him in the 1920s, a precious document which she brought along.
Frequencies & Fragrances was the theme of a night of broadcasting at Datscharadio, which took place in an allotment colony in the south east of Berlin (rather than at its regular venue of Gabi Schaffner’s own datscha). We brought along a present from the Mosel in the form of an on-air wine tasting featuring six of the most remarkable Rieslings we could get our hands on, plus recorded interviews focusing on the issue of smell with the respective winemakers. While the entire 2-hour midnight tasting is probably better left to the imagination, the unconventional interviews could be of wider interest as well as pricking up the ears of wine nerds. Half are in German, half in English, and they can be found here:
The night’s events were many and varied, with a whole host of acts approaching the topic of fragrance from various angles. Towards the early morning hours Sarah and Kate Donovan joined forces for an impromptu reading of a story by Gabi Schaffner.
The photos for this post were taken from the Datscharadio website, which features a much more detailed report of the the proceedings.
The above work was our answer to a rare request to create sound pieces for a private birthday party that was taking place in the construction site of the Alte Weinbauschule in Bernkastel.
Sarah created the sound installation Birthday Bash. The sounds, recorded two days previously at the site, are of various building activities or were made by playing in the empty resonant spaces with found materials such as metal bars, bottles and sheets of polystyrene. Audio transformations were made to short excerpts of the recordings, which were then played randomly over two radio transmitters to 30 radios. As it was very noisy on site, the recreation you can hear above was made afterwards to give a clean sound.
Knut placed field recordings of fermenting wine barrels at the bottom of the building’s staircase, referencing the former use of the premise as a school for apprentice wine makers.
Sarah travelled to London to join the other members of Unhappy Fly for a gig at Mau Mau Bar in Portabello Road. The following morning they set up for a live session on Resonance FM’s Hello Goodbye show, which was captured on video.
The self-titled LP Unhappy Fly including a rare see-through lathe cut seven inch single can be bought from Rough Trade, and a growing list of songs can be streamed through Spotify. Other tracks can be found on Youtube and Soundcloud.
Radia representatives from Radio Orange, Radio Helsinki, Resonance FM, Soundart Radio and Radio Študent
An invitation to join in with the celebrations of 50 years of Radio Študent in Ljubljana brought some of the Radia network members to the Slovenian capital. We could only glimpse a part of the amazing programme that honoured five decades of self-determined broadcasting. Much appreciated was the detailed tour of the station and the experimental music festival that ran at the Cirkulacija2 venue, which also hosted a discussion round on Radia.
Lucinda Guy from Soundart Radio explains their way of making radio at Cirkulacija2
The music library of Radio Študent
Radio Študent alumni meet up before the big anniversary concert
In the long run-up to the release of their first album Unhappy Fly had their first live gigs in Berlin with a two-day residency at Bar Bobu. The line-up consisted of Xentos Fray Bentos (vocals, guitar, entertainment), Richard Dudanski (drums, percussion), Sarah Washington (vocals, harmonies, circuits), John Glyn (saxophones), Christian Schmidt (bass) and Owen Ross (electric guitar). It was a blast! Due to a yes-smoking policy all tunes had to be transposed down five semitones for the second night.
Two celebrations coincided at the cafe of Halle’s opera house: the long awaited book “Radio Revolten: 30 Days of Radio Art” had arrived from the printers just in in time for its launch, and in addition the artist André Damião from São Paulo was starting his radio art residency with Radio Corax.
Seeing as this event marked the very end of the Revolten project which we had been totally wrapped up in for the past five years, for our performative broadcast we decided that we would tidy up live on stage in a symbolic attempt to put our house back in order. The elements included Knut cleaning the cafe floor with an amplified mop, live streams (displayed on computer screen) of DinahBird washing dirty dishes in Paris and Anna Friz sorting through old boxes in Vancouver, and recordings of other cleaning-up processes which were all mixed together by Sarah for the audience.
The evening event included a performance by the above mentioned André Damião as well as a tightly choreographed radio play by Ralf Wendt and Tina Klatte, with remote live-streamed performances from Steve Bates, Marold Langer-Philippsen, Sally Ann McIntyre, Sol Rezza and Claire Serres.
The images below were taken by Radio Revolten photographer Marcus-Andreas Mohr, visit the link for more photos from the event.
Sarah and the remote viewing of a Parisian kitchen sink
Our first public concert as a trio with Chris Cutler happened as part of the Opening 19 festival in Trier and we enjoyed it so much that we decided to publish the entire set on Soundcloud (see above, including the option for a high res 24bit 96kHz audio download, file size 1.5GB). Before the gig we were interviewed for Luxembourg’s national public radio where we had to pretend that the concert had already happened due to the later broadcast date. You can listen to the subsequent podcast of this radio show here. Our photographer friend Susanne Schug took very nice images of the concert and the festival, some of which you can see below.
In conjunction with Luxembourg’s community station Radio Ara we ran a Radio Art workshop at the Centre National de l’Audiovisuel in Dudelange. During two day-long sessions the twelve participants recorded and constructed the first contribution of Radio Ara to the Radia network: