The Eerie Driver

Today’s walk: Unterbersten-Frangenberg-Müllersommer, starting near Landhaus Fuchs and to the left into the deep forest, then along the long path through Müllersommer and up back through the fields towards the car. It took an hour or two but I walked slow, as I do when I’m alone, often sitting somewhere and enjoying. It was cold and blue but I had my hardcore winter coat and felt comfortable. The beauty of the frosty meadows and the wide vistas, and the deep silence eventually brought my mind to a stop. And there were these guys in the rusty car.

jazz standard
not sure if I’d want to get into this car with these guys
I looked around and saw 20 vapor trails

Thursfrostmorning

A late December morning with a cold blue sky and sunshine. Computer work waits for me but there is enough time for a little meditating and a walk. My soul felt different afterwards, thankful and quiet. I seem to get the hang of this more and more as I get older. There is this image of an old man sitting in the sun with his cat, content, quiet, at peace with himself, not having to save the world any more. I would like to be like that. Getting closer to it already.

The Letchworth 7-and-8 (for Georgina Brett)

Here is a piece I improvised in Letchworth (north of London) on Nov 1st, 2014. Maybe you like it

My mini-England-tour was big fun. Thank you so much to Georgina for organizing the concerts in Letchworth and London, and for spending time with me (especially on Halloween evening), to the ladies at Dot to Dot in Letchworth, to Michael Bearpark and his family for hosting us, to Roger Harmar for spending a lovely day with me in Brighton, to Darren Sangita for a lovely spontaneous party, to Mathura Das for letting me be his cooking assistant.



























 
(some photos were shot by Michael Bearpark)

The music that I played and the music that I had recorded during rehearsals before the tour ended up in this album, a very heterogenous collection of musical sounds, voices on the streets, and field recordings that is almost like a diary to me. The days in England were intense and surreal at times, and you can hear it. Listen loud.

Turquoise Coast 3: A Taste of the Orient

We also went to several cities during our Provence/Cote d’Azur vacation: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, and Toulon. We actually went to Marseille twice because there was so much to see and do! Here are some of the things we saw … (and we came back in 2016 to see that the whole harbour area had been renovated and is now shiny and beautiful!)


Some of the architectural details … parts of them still very beautiful, other parts … I guess they were meant to be beautiful …

 









 
Finally, we sat down for a tasty mezze dish containing tabouleh and other treats …





 
The Game is a very serious thing …


 
Soaps are a big thing in the Provence … at least in tourist shops …


 
Taking a short break from the hot day in a cool church, with two women practising on a beautiful organ …


 
Various coffee places …






 
We found the oriental culture especially fascinating … the shops offer an overwhelming variety of oriental food … food and more. So many things I did not know! I thought I could spend weeks here, finding out about all these mysterious things in detail …






 
Toulon contains a military harbour … who would have thought that (at least on the advertisements) French torpedoes are dispatched by good looking young women wearing civilian clothes …



 
This ad promotes “shopping attitude” – yes, I’m sure even the inhabitants of these ugly buildings are more than happy to bring all their money into the expensive clothes shops …


Turquoise Coast 1: Walking in Beauty

We spent a week or two in Bandol, a coast town at the Cote d’Azur east of Marseille. We took walks along the beautiful coast and in the countryside. Of course, lying on beaches, swimming, and coffees were also part of the program. (We also visited the cities – this will be another entry.)

Three days after we came back, my mother Charlotte died. This beautiful little sand building on one of Bandol’s beaches was signed and probably built by another Charlotte:

 
I love Crème de Marrons – something you don’t get often in Germany.

 
a French beauty on the beach … but wait, isn’t this …

 
The coastline is breathtaking!

















 
Why haven’t I been to France for so long? maybe because my knowledge of the French language is more or less limited to “café au lait”. But we found that being here is not difficult even if you don’t speak any French. Looking forward to the next time!

A Forgotten Place

On this ice cold February day, I found myself alone on a remote hill near Berlichingen (a small Southern German town), visiting an old Jewish cemetery while taking a walk. I had been here before some years ago and wanted to feel that atmosphere again.


 
The cemetery (used from the 17th century until the early 20th century) has a very special feel to it, something very old and forgotten (although it certainly isn’t – the cemetery is simply no longer used because there aren’t many jews living in Germany nowadays, for reasons that I don’t have to explain). I walked around on the dry leaves and except for that sound, it was utterly quiet.



 
I certainly didn’t have any morbid or even eerie feelings, it was rather peaceful here. There were actually just trees and stones here; the distant history of many lives existed only in thoughts. But there was something here that I can’t quite put into words.








 
In the far corner of the cemetery, this stone said, ‘in this area tender children lie’. I was happy that there weren’t any Nazi victims lying here, that would really have been creepy. The last funeral was 1932. All the jews buried on this cemetery were respected citizens living in times when this madness hadn’t begun yet.






 

I eventually had to leave as the sun was setting and it was getting really cold. The light rays were almost horizontal, lighting up the beautiful lichen patterns on the stones.









Ladybug Chapel

Her birthday, a day off together, the sun was shining and it was very warm for an end-October day. We went to see an unusual little
chapel on a field somewhere west of Cologne. It was designed and built by Swiss star architect Zumthor for a family of farmers who felt grateful for a long and good life, and wanted to build a chapel.


 
We were not the only visitors on this wonderful day. We would have loved to have this very unusual place for us alone for a while, but so did the others. Maybe I’ll eventually come back here on a grey day outside the school holiday period.




 
The building is shaped like a tent, originally built out of 112 spruce trunks with layers of concrete on top. When it was finished, a drying fire burnt inside for three weeks. The trunks dried off the concrete and could be taken out. The walls on the inside, under the open roof, still show the shapes of the trees.


 
Lots of glass tubes connect the dark interior to the outside, creating dots of light in the walls. Sitting on the tiny bench beside the candles, it was totally quiet. The place has a very special atmosphere, but I found that I felt much more in a meditative mood outside, on top of the open field near the chapel. Somehow it seems to be slighly unsettling to me to sit in a dark little room with no way to see if any other people are approaching. Some part of me feels safer alone on a hill where I can see in all directions.


 
For some reason, there was an invasion of ladybugs, flying around and sitting on the concrete of the chapel, hundreds of them.


 
We walked through a village nearby that turned out to be less interesting than we had hoped, but at least they had very good cake on offer.


 
In the evening, some shopping and dinner in Cologne. We saw the first signs of Christmas approaching, but also of the carnival season that officially starts on November 11. A big thing in Cologne, even more important than the puppets of the classical Hänneschen theater.





 
A stroll down the Rhine. We were too tired already to take a closer look at the amusement park on the other side. A nice day out!






A Suitcase Full of Stars

Another Livelooping festival, this time in beautiful Florence …

 
Some of you might remember the sentence “my god, it’s full of stars”. Another situation, but one could also say this about my new suitcase that I had to buy because the airline that calls itself “Easyjet” allows for only one piece of cabin baggage. For me as a travelling livelooper (well, occasionally), this is a bad restriction: I need to carry the laptop in one hand and the small Hohner G2 guitar in the other hand. I wouldn’t check in any of those two of course, and to put the laptop into my suitcase didn’t feel so safe. The solution for this was finally to get a large new dark blue suitcase that could contain not only my toothbrush and t-shirts but also the guitar, squeezed in diagonally. And to be able to recognize it at the baggage claim, I put lots of little fluorescent stars on it, on all sides. It looks really nice, and they glow in the dark!

 
Massimo Liverani the hero had organized the 4th International Livelooping Festival in Florence. And as if that wasn’t enough, he also housed us, fed us, drove us, and showed us around the town.

 
Among the liveloopers I met in Florence: Gareth Whittock, and his wife Emma, from Bristol …

 
Willie Oteri and Dave Laczko (WD-41, and I know the secret story behind this name now) from Austin, Texas …

 
Fabio Anile from Rome, with his friend Michela …

 
Rainer Straschill from Munich with Michéle …

 
Enrico Coniglio from Venice (right) who turned out to share some unusual passions with me (such as, wandering around with binaural microphones, or dipping a hydrophone into the sea and listening to fish) …

 
We walked around the old city after midnight … Roman statues, old bridges, cafes that were the birthplace of the futurist movement, and of course breathtaking buildings …

 
We drove up a hill to take the tourist look over the valley of Florence … the city and the area of Tuscany are amazingly beautiful, I want to come back and spend a vacation here!

 
The venue was an open air stage in a beautiful park. It was very warm, and families and kids were all around until very late.

 
My set was the last one on this day. I replaced Randolf Arriola from Singapur who couldn’t come.

My set had some weak moments, but all in all, I was very happy with how it developed, and I felt that this gig had been a significant step. Too bad my long pants had disintegrated unexpectedly the day before, I look a bit sloppy with my short pants, but it works if one closes one’s eyes and just listens to the music 🙂

The Sunday after the Saturday before. Massimo and his wife fed us with pasta, and we all sat together in a small garden under a fig tree, eating and having coffee and talking.

 
After this, most of the tired loopers went to bed again, while Fabio, Michela and me set off to Rome for the next adventure. Fabio had invited me to stay with him for a few days, to make music together. Because he had to work early on Monday, we missed the second day of the festival. Too bad but the first day had already been very enjoyable, with very nice sets of Giovanni Lami, Enrico Coniglio, Fabio Anile, and Rainer Straschill. (And me.)

Nuraghe Island 5: Paper Strip Beach

The coasts of Sardinia are quite beautiful. We found a couple of spots that looked like the Caribbean. And I found that the colors of the sea are much more convincing when I take photographs through my polarising sun glasses. This is how it looked when I was wearing these glasses:

 
Wind surfers riding the mistral …

 
A coastline full of natural sculptures (you can see the coast of Corsica here – the white line is the chalk cliff at Bonifacio) …

 
Some adventurous people had climbed the top …

 
Another beautiful beach with interesting snorkeling areas … unfortunately, there were some small, almost invisible jellyfish in the water that burned our skins when we touched them while swimming …

 
On the small island of La Maddalena: Lobster sculptures, glorious mysteries (vanished), heads of animals, a beautiful balcony …

 
Not sure what this butterfly is called …

 
One of the more beautiful beaches where we spent some hours was full of the dried leaves of some underwater plant. There were soft heaps of them that really looked like paper strips, shredded East German secret files maybe …

 
And on the last day, on arriving at the Alghero airport, we were greeted by lots of swallows who had turned all the lamps into houses …

Nuraghe Island 4: Close To The Edge

 
Bonifacio, sitting at Corsica’s southern end (in a way, the most southerly point of France) and one ferry hour away from northern Sardinia, is one of Corsica’s main tourist spots.

The old city is perched on top of a high cliff in a quite breathtaking way. Its large natural harbour is home of dozens of yachts, and in the summer, it is visited by giant cruisers almost on a daily basis. From our temporary base in northern Sardinia, we could see them slowly approach like spaceships.

 
The harbour part of Bonifacio is full of restaurants and very expensive t-shirt shops. We had a salade italienne and a jus d’orange after we arrived, and marveled at the various million-dollar-yachts, but to get to the old town on the cliff, we had to climb the steep road.

 
The city walls and the outer houses are sitting directly on the edge of the cliff. I wonder what it is like to live in such a house and maybe have breakfast on a balcony above the sea, with lots of nothing below you.

 
The old city itself is picturesque of course, but we really wondered why some of the money that gets spent by the thousands of daily tourists isn’t invested in renovation. Many of the houses were in a very bad shape. Obviously, the money disappears in the hands of people who find better ways to spend it. After all, tourists continue to come, regardless of the condition of the old town!

 
A short look at Christian violence fantasies, mostly because the church was a good place to sit and cool down for a few minutes after walking around in the heat … this life-sized wooden martyr scene, weighing hundreds of kilograms, was sitting on a platform that could be carried around for some Christian ceremonies, hopefully taking place in a cooler time of the year.

 
After climbing down to the harbour, we felt justified to dedicate ourselves to these two extremely delicious little beasts …

 
Time to go back to the ferry. This lovely lady in the waiting hall caught my attention because she was busy loudly browsing the frequencies on a Sony short wave radio. She seemed to really love this little box, and continued playing with it later on the ferry back to Sardinia. I enjoyed being treated with this unexpected avantgarde sound installation.

 
Leaving Corsica and France, back to Italy. It was good to have been back to this remarkable place. I had visited it once in 1988 together with my American girlfriend (a year before I met Sabine). We had been on a round trip on Corsica, and while visiting Bonifacio, we had even met her older sister and her sister’s husband, who happened to be here on that day during a cruise tour of the Mediterranean. Looking at my photos again from that time, I am surprised how young I was then … and how distant it feels. A different self.

Nuraghe Island 3: Towers of the Sky

Eastward across very windy plains full of large rocks surrounded by colorful flowers …

 
… towards a small place called Burgos which lies under an impressive castle … we wanted to take a closer look at it, or take a look downwards from the surrounding hills, but we got lost in the tiny streets of Burgos, couldn’t find our way, and were relieved to eventually find out again!

 
A few miles later, in the middle of nowhere, we saw this group of buildings and stopped to take a look. Sabine was delighted – it is called St. Sabina, mostly consisting of a beautiful little 10th century Roman church and a Nuraghe tower, one of about 700 on the island of Sardinia, dating back to perhaps 1800BC. The tower was in good shape, and I climbed up the dark stairway inside of it, built of huge uneven rocks. Being on top of it felt more like standing on a small hill.

 
Further northeast, we had seen an unusual looking plane flying back and forth at low altitudes, several times, and we had already wondered about it. We eventually found that our road led across a strange artificial lake filled with green water, Lake Coghinas. The plane came back, touched the water surface for a few seconds, and took off again – it was a fire fighter plane that was loading new water, probably on a training mission because we didn’t see forest fires anywhere.

 
We eventually reached Tempio Pausania, our destination for this day. The sky was very blue, but it was very windy and unusually cold – Mistral weather. Fortunately it ceased after two days.

 

Nuraghe Island 2: Fish Out Of Water

The name of the place was Bosa, the river was called Temo. I have never seen a river that was so full of fish – large ones, tiny ones, everywhere you looked there were fish, and in the evening, the surface of the river was criss-crossed by fish that swam around with their heads out of the water. They didn’t tell me why they did that (I spent two hours at the riverside with a hydrophone and headphones – the results were disappointing: the fish of Bosa don’t talk).

 
The old town of Bosa, beneath a large castle ruin, is a maze of picturesque cobblestoned paths and colorful little houses. The view from the castle over the beautiful wide valley is definitely worth climbing up there.

 
In the evening, we found a real good restaurant at the riverside, right opposite the decaying tannery buildings that were one of the sources of Bosa’s wealth many years ago.

 
The next day, on the way to the east, a visit to a medieval church, extramuros … a friendly dog followed us for a while … red poppies and hissing crickets in the heat, and a last look back to Bosa.

 

Nuraghe Island 1: Excited Shouting

Every evening there was a flight show in the Alghero old town, starring hundreds of excited swifts flying high speed manoevres above the roofs, while shouting loudly.

Alghero, which is considered the prettiest town on Sardinia, was our first base during the two weeks we spent in the north of Sardinia. We had a nice flat in the old town (but we had to close all windows and use ear plugs during the night because tourist activities were quite loud until about 3 am – excited shouting of another kind). 



 
After a few days, we got a car and started exploring the surrounding region – hills with a view and beautiful beaches.

 
We drove to see the cragged rocks of nearby Capo Caccia and climbed down (and later, up) hundreds of stairs to a stalactite cave; on the next day, we took a boat to the same area and marveled at it from the sea. On the way back to Alghero, we were accompanied by a group of dolphins which jumped out of the water …

Soft Drugs in Antwerp

I did a Saturday/Sunday trip to Antwerp to visit the Livelooping Festival, the 3rd one organized by Sjaak Overgaauw. Except for the bad traffic jams that I got into on the highway, I found that Antwerp is not really far from here – less than 3 hours.

 
I had booked a hotel that looked cheap and good on the website. Well let us say I will look for another hotel should I come back to the next loop festival. But the area was interesting – it was a Jewish quarter of town, and I saw lots of Jewish couples walking around the place wearing very traditional cloths and very strange cylindrical fur hats that I haven’t seen before anywhere.

Living in Germany, I’m not used to seeing traditional Jews because understandably, very few of them live here. I saw lots of people from many countries in Antwerp, and I heard many languages. A young man talked loudly into his mobile, in a language that I didn’t recognize, while taking a leak standing beside me in the toilet of some cafe. Antwerp somehow reminded me a little bit of Manhattan – even the relatively small city park with its ponds and bridges reminded me of Central Park. I liked that a lot.

 
Lots of interesting shops, some of them selling things that I didn’t recognize. And the chocolateries – oh my god. Soft drugs (I am clearly addicted to chocolate), and beautifully set up. And expensive.

 
I visited the bank of the Scheldt, a broad river flowing by the city into the nearby Atlantic.

 
A ponton made loud and deep water noises. I recorded a few minutes using my little digital recorder (this time it was wearing its new wind protection, and looked like a muppet with a wild hairdo) – click the arrow to hear water, seagulls, church bells, and traffic noises of Antwerp.


 
Hungry from walking. Apple pancake and coffee. Good. Then back into the city roads and early evening. Time to walk to the venue.

 
I first met with Kirstin, Facebook friend, synth player, and fan of Sjaak’s music. It was nice to talk face to face instead of using facebook (we hardly knew each other in real life). Then to the venue together for a couple of hours with ambient music, drones, and loops.

 
Some of the livelooping music was quite amazing. Sjaak’s ambient synthscapes were deep and hauntingly beautiful. Welsh guitarist Simeon Harris also created sounds and textures that were very beautiful, shimmering and complex – I wish I knew his trade secrets … but I think gear is involved that I cannot afford at the moment. Flute and sax player Theo Travis used relatively modest gear, but his playing technique and compositional skill was outstanding. A very enjoyable and inspiring evening.

I walked home to my less-than-convincing hotel, slept for a few hours, and got up early. I drove through the Schelde tunnel and visited St. Anna, a popular recreation area for Antwerp citizens. You can see the city from there. If you walk around a bit, there are also views of, er, modern architecture and chemical industry areas, maybe not quite as beautiful as the Antwerp skyline, but in the early Sunday sunshine, everything looked shiny and fresh.

 
After a croissant or two for breakfast, I drove to Sjaak’s and Ingrid’s place for coffee. The boys had just gotten up and were busy transferring video files to portable hard disks. I also met Coco again, the cheese loving red tomcat that can make funny faces.

 

Walk The Dog

We took a long walk near Lindlar with my old friend Thomas and Chikai, his friendly Akita Inu dog, past the quarry where I had recorded a few midwife toads a while ago, and beyond it into a very beautiful open landscape of large fields and hills that I wasn’t familiar with although it is just half an hour away from here.


 
The sky was amazingly blue. Sabine couldn’t stop exclaiming how beautiful it was everywhere around. I had to agree.

 
What a beautiful walk. We came home happy and very hungry and ate lots of chocolate.

 
Bonus track:
This looks like a Porsche covered in red, and fast asleep. It was parked near a house that we walked by during our walk. I thought you might like it too, so here it is.

When The Wind Quiets Down

 
when the wind quiets down
there is a vast stillness all around.
some very distant sounds
of a crow or a car –
tiny streaks on
an wide empty blue canvas

from the hilltop
far away horizons, timeless
and silent.
mid-February sun begins
to warm up the world
stirring up fragrances of soil and grass

there is a promise
not only of spring
but also of something much larger
that my little brain can’t grasp
something too huge to take in
something wonderful

Above The Inland Sea VI – Fog

Last day of our 1-week vacation at Lake Constance, and the sky was all grey everywhere.

Everywhere? As we could see on the webcam image of the Säntis mountain …

 
… it was just the Lake area that was covered with high fog. We had been on top of the Säntis already so we decided to drive to Bregenz, the Austrian city on the east end of the lake, and take the cable car to the Pfänder mountain – this mountain is not as high but its top still looked out of the fog layer on this day.

View from the ground …

 
… (fruits of the season) …

 
… and the view from the top of the Pfänder over the lake and the fog layer towards the Säntis range on the other side.

 
The Vorarlberg area of western Austria is famous for its beautiful mountains, forests, and the cheese made of the cow milk.

 
It was as warm as in summer up here …

 
We walked for a few miles and met idyllic little villages inhabited by friendly people …

 
Eventually we took the cable car down into the fog again …

 
What a nice place – so many very different landscapes can be found around the Lake Constance area. We just had one week but we easily could have spent more time!

Above The Inland Sea V – Wine

Ravensburg is famous for a number of things, one of them being the publisher of games and children’s books that is named after the city. Ravensburger is very famous in Germany – all children probably know their logo, have played their games, have read their books. I am no exception. We went to see their beautiful new museum which shows how the company evolved and how games and books are made.

One game that is part of my childhood is the original Memory game from the late fifties. This is how it looked.

 
Another interesting museum, this one about the history of the town, is right across the street. I’ve never seen nor heard about these beautiful large medieval guild member wheels. They had the names of their members painted on them, complete with their emblems. This is a wheel for the wine grower’s guild.

 
On the next morning, the fog was very dense over the lake.

 
We took a round trip walk to a village called Baitenhausen. It was very warm, almost like summer (in October!). The orchards were full of apples, pears, and plums, and the leaves all around already wore their autumn colors.

 
Baitenhausen has a very nice pilgrimage church.

 
We always thought that the little angels sing all the time, but we found that some of them prefer to practise martial arts.

 
The view over the valley …

 
Back in Meersburg, we went to that wine restaurant with the terrace and the incredible view over the lake. We were reminded of Italy, maybe of Cinque Terre. Life was good.

 
When the evening came, the sky was burning …