Electronic music – pandemic or no – can often become a solo endeavor. And people working in different genres get to interact even less frequently. A series out of Hamburg has been delightfully messing up that order.
Yes, isolation is a good reminder of what we miss in sharing a space with other people. But I notice the general diet of streams and online videos has tended to shy away from more experimental, avant-garde pairings.
4fakultät not only bends to the adventurous but does so by creating scenarios where people play together who otherwise might not. (“Konzertreihe für stilübergreifende Improvisation.”)
There’s a structure, set up to ensure balance and encounters, for two and a half hours of combined improvisational and compositional trajectories. “It really puts a focus on the interaction between the most different people and musical styles,” says Konstantin Bessonov, who co-produces the events.
Twelve sessions have taken place so far in Hamburg – with Derya Yildirim, Kate NV, Anna-Lena Schnabel, Svetlana Maraš, Robert Lippok, FOQL, Jimi Tenor, Andrea Belfi, Andrew Pekler, Yves de Mey, Nika Breithaupt, Sven Kacirek, Jawad Salkhordeh, Fee Kürten, and various others.
The format, explained by Konstantin, is a relay – ensemble start and close, with individual solo sets overlapping in improvised duets:
It is a continuous concert of four different musical acts with no breaks or stops. The single sets are connected by improvisation. This way it is a steady change of artists — something like a relay race in sports.
It all starts with a tutti (a shared improvised session of all four artists [together]), leading into the solo sets of [each of the] individual artists.
Once one artist is finished with a set, she/he invites the next artist to join, creating an improvised transition (a duo of two artists improvising together). After a while, the first artist leaves the improv, which subsequently leads into the second artist’s solo set … and so on. this continues for two rounds, finishing with a [final, closing] second tutti.
By the end of it all, artists played two solo sets of approximately fifteen minutes each and shared at least one improvisational part with every other artist.
It seems a really logical and balanced way of doing things – and maybe a model (whatever your genre) for sharing a concert lineup without only dividing into isolated solos. I suspect after we’re all out of isolation, whenever that is, we may have a greater thirst for such things.
See the artist statements for some reactions.
And if you’ve been missing experimental concerts, now you can stage one whenever you like for yourself. Pour yourself a glass of wine or a tea, sit back, and for now you can get video (of two) and high-quality audio (of all twelve). It’s all free – good for the impoverished purveyors of experimentalism – though if you do have some pockets, of course donations to the artists are encouraged.
Streaming audio – there’s a full playlist:
And there’s more – one of the best ways to explore is to page through the Bandcamp offerings, which are available as high-quality downloads and broken down by track:
There are love songs, too, which in these isolated times have some deeper beauty, somehow:
For instance, I adore this song by Lena Geue, listening to it on repeat:
Lovely lady, how does it feel /
to know that distance is a spinning wheel
It has me feeling wistful. Certainly, finding some way to play together from a distance is necessary. But I also realize we may need to use some of this time to try to imagine and build the connections so we can be in the same room again. Maybe that was what mattered most.
Plus you’ll find the visual team: