For all the video portraits of music-making out there, this series for The Disappearance of Music is something special – and might just inspire you in your own solo creation.
The premise for the project hews to the ideas about how technology might make artists disappear, but here we might just as easily look to how machines and making help reconnect the self and make them reaappear. Collecting these films comes at a moment when isolation and quarantine are severing travel, contact, connection, and even threatening music – but these practices continue. (HKW is based in Berlin; these artists might all be in Germany this month were it not for the event – but here, the act of filming them brings them together.)
Loneliness and being alone aren’t the same, and aren’t easily measured. You can feel lonely at a party, in a crowd. And you can fight loneliness with solo music making and feel less isolated – crucial in this time of isolation, but also always a part of the studio labor of musical practice.
I remember organist Cameron Carpenter telling me excitedly about how J.S. Bach was never alone – organs required someone pumping the air into the bellows. But there’s a unique state in solo electronic music, too. Your ideas are suddenly there. There’s a spirit world you connect to. There’s… sometimes, honestly, even your own frustration, the struggle, the moment of laughing at something because it just sounds awful or ridiculous. (Maybe in all this idolization we see in the press of solitary genius, music critics miss that sometimes we keep making music because it’s hard, or because we laugh at ourselves, or because music can be meaningless and mindless, too.)
I can try to put that in words, but what strikes me about this video series from Haus der Kulturen der Welt is that feeling is present in all these videos. We see how people work, how they assemble ideas, and somehow we’re there in the studio with them. Maybe like people praying remotely, it’s a reminder that when we’re working away on music, countless other artists are doing the same. We are united in that energy – even before we start streaming or sharing files or whatever online collaboration we fancy these days.
HKW is in Berlin, and its program The Disappearance of Music has run headfirst into Germany’s “lockdown light” – moving us out of their building and online, so stay tuned. (I’m moderating some conversations.)
There’s Kate NV (filmed with Pavel Kling), building up a whimsical earworm bit by bit with charming and relateable captions:
The wonderful Gabber Modus Operandi transport us to Bali and go in deep in revealing the journey from traditional materials to their distinctive singles:
Perera Elsewhere starts with the hudu, an instrument that began as a gift from a student on the Ivory Coast:
Data is the raw material for our friends and regularly featured Interspecifics from Mexico, as they connect modular, Moog, VCV Rack, Pd… honestly I think more or less the top keywords on this site all at once.
Absolutely massive sounds from DJ Raph – Audacity and SP-555 for the win here:
Trip the hell out with Astronauta Pinguim in Brazil, with some images as well as sounds:
Excellent, tangible rhythm and faster-than-light timbres from Congo – watch Rey Sapienz & MC Dogis Mechant in Tati Wata:
Epic Iranian producer SOTE composes a transcendental opus out of wood, in a film feat. Mazda Damadi (tonbak) & Arash Bolouri (video) – also a serious highlight of this series:
Our friend and underrated talent Guido Möbius composes irresistible Zwiefacher:
We need a trip out into nature, and Ale Hop brings it all back in with this eccentric, angular composition! (She’s worth a nod, too, in that her work from Peru to Berlin has also led to the excellent Radical Sounds Latin America.)
The one and only Lamin Fofana’s Note on Planetary Living seems just the kind of meditation we need right now:
The full video project is on. The concerts and talks begin electronically on November 12 and … since people in Berlin can’t go in person, you can go just as easily from wherever you are.
The Disappearance of Music [project]
Curated by Zuri Maria Daiß and Detlef Diederichsen.