case studies: Sertão – CD
Two generations cross over two countries. Milena Kipfmüller uses tape material of the 70ies done by her father Günter Kipfmüller in north-east Brazil: recordings of popular travelling musicians in the sertao that transform news and stories in virtuously improvised poetry, the “violeiros”. The source material enters a nowadays process of electronic transformation in dialogue with the three other string instruments. Viola and cello are played by father and son, Guilherme and Ernesto Rodrigues, thus by two generations that compose in their own, different (analogue) languages. Klaus Janek at the contrabass, combines both aspects in his artistic practice, the analogue instrument and electronics – bridging the two duos of generations and transformation processes.
editing and mixing: sounding situations
recorded in Berlin 2019
sounding situations [SNDNG STTNS]
Milena Kipfmüller – Tape and electronics
Klaus Janek – contrabass and electronics
Guilherme Rodrigues – cello
Ernesto Rodrigues – viola
artwork: Marion Burbulla
Creative Source / ALMENRAUSCHEN
Milena Kipfmüller / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Klaus Janek case study: Sertão (Creative Sources, CD 2020)
We end our today’s Portuguese story in… Berlin! Milena Kipfmüller (tape and electronics) and Klaus Janek (double bass and electronics) as Sounding Situation some time ago recorded intriguing material that consumed the sounds of a live double bass, electronics and field recordings from Brazil, from the 70s of the last century (songs called Violeiros; we wrote about this idea when discussing the double bassist’s 5-disc epic). Now we get a kind of reprise of this project (recorded last year), and for its implementation were invited – Ernesto Rodrigues on the viola and Guilherme Rodrigues on the cello. The whole musical journey (one track) is 46 and a half minutes.
We are invited to the land of electro-acoustic non-obviousness when we are invited by stringed instruments that flow low (double bass) and extremely high (viola and cello) – rumble, squeal, seem light, elusive, but also extremely massive. The whole thing, although a bit gentle at first, has its own rhythm, its sometimes hidden dynamics. Electronic sounds do a lot from start to finish. In general, they create a mysterious background, sometimes they are the result of some live processing activities, they never go out of line, and most of all, they force field sounds into the stringed narrative in an interesting way. The latter appear after a few minutes. They are looped, mutated, as if they came to us from a completely different world. Kind of chamber with field electronic taste! The Portuguese are perfectly stuck to this German idea – they prepare sounds when necessary, other times they flow in long, charming passages, and they do not look for silence on the fingerboards of their instruments.
The first real exciting moment is around 14 minutes, when this electro-acoustic bundle of sounds falls into an almost meditative pulse, not without a dark ambient flavor. After another few minutes, a lot of good comes to us from the double bass neck, which rumbles and rumbles connected to the cables, like a mutated bass guitar. Soon after, as a result of a combination of several circumstances, flow takes on a dub echo, and the atmosphere of post-techno Berlin from 25 years ago seems to be triumphant. There is no end to the kaleidoscope of intriguing and surprising sounds. The strings fall into a demonic dance, beautifully plunging into the pulsating drones of electronics and heavily processed field recordings. At around 22 minutes, the artists offer us a moment of breathing and sensual passages of purely acoustic string sounds, after which the splashes of violeiros enter the action again, which sow anxiety and seem to ask existential questions about the place of sound in time and space. Just before 30 minutes is over, we have a real pile of sounds and emotions. The string orchestra and electroacoustic ambient take a wonderful toll! Before this great story finally resounds, we still have a short descent into silence, passages of string sawing and grinding, and a drone phase that seems to build up like a thunderstorm in lightning. The final of the recording is full of electro-acoustic sound pearls, it fades to the accompaniment of live sounds and another reprise of voices straight from the Brazilian jungle.