Berlin Livelooping August 2016

I am in Berlin now for a week, on my way to the “Bohemian Polyphony” event – more of this later. Of course I met my old friends Leander Reininghaus and Markus Reuter who both live in Berlin now.

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I had met Leander and Markus on a Guitar Craft course with Robert Fripp in … 1991 I think, anyway, about 25 years ago. We played together as “Trio Gitarristik” for a few years during the mid-1990s, performing various Guitar Craft tunes plus our own compositions, and also ambient soundscapes.

This week, because I came to Berlin, Leander had organized a livelooping concert for us at the Galiläa church, a beautiful abandoned-church-turned-into-performance-space, and we performed together again for the first time in about 20 years.

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Leander framed the evening with a number of beautiful short pieces by Erik Satie (from “Musique d’ameublement” – the first time I ever heard this music) and Philip Glass (“North Star”).

Leander Reininghaus

I used analog vintage gear and my “Frippertronics” setup based on tape delay. Even though my energy had been low during the day, it went up as soon as I was on stage, and I was pretty happy with my 20 minute solo set! As often, I had no idea what I would do until I started with the first note, and I felt carried and led by the music that slowly developed. How this works never ceases to amaze me.

I heard from someone in the audience afterwards that my music sounded autumnal to him, and at the same time, he sensed a dry kind of humour. I liked that. Interesting how the same piece of music can elicit such a wide range of responses in the performer and in everyone in the audience.

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Markus created one of his amazing ethereal soundscapes on Touch Guitar and Ableton Live. I had occasionally seen him on stage over the years but this piece felt especially intimate and personal to me.

Markus Reuter

At the end, we improvised together on the chords of Eno’s “An Ending (Ascent)”. Leander had chosen this beautiful piece (that, incidentally, I had played on my mother’s funeral four years ago) to finish this thoroughly enjoyable “Berlin Livelooping Session”.

Trio Gitarristik after 20 years

Thank you to everyone from the venue who made this evening possible!

 

An Absurd Weekend

25 years ago, a guitarist from Cologne called Michael Frank started a band called The Absurd. Their mixture of rock (often including odd meters and political lyrics), jazz, and free improvisation was always open-minded and full of crazy ideas, experiments, and fun. Many musicians (including myself) were members of The Absurd for a while.


 
After 25 years, today’s incarnation of this band is still alive and kicking. We met for a hot July weekend in Berlin to record in the Andere Baustelle studio that belongs to a member of Berlin’s most famous experimental band, Einstürzende Neubauten.

We were 16 musicians this time, some from Berlin, some from Cologne – a real big band, with several guitarists, several drummers (one at a time) and percussionists, several bass players (two at once at times), lots of singers and brass players, plus keyboards and vibraphone. When all these people were all in full flight, the sound was mindblowing. I was reminded of jazz orchestras like Centipede at times.


 
Travelling to Berlin by train was already fun 🙂


 
We were very happy with the studio personnel and gear (although it was so hot in there at times that the air conditioners had a hard time to cope).

 
My workstation was an ancient Marshall tower. I played the Turkish Cümbüs during the piece “Zukkaattakk” and my little Höfner Shorty guitar (with an inbuilt speaker!) into my modified Ibanez UE400 multieffect – so I was mostly using real vintage gear this time.


 
Studio work is exhausting …

 
A wonderful weekend, big fun with good friends. I haven’t heard the studio recordings yet, and I don’t know how much of it will end up on the silver jubilee vinyl that is planned. I think there was lots of incredible energy, I hope it got caught on tape.

On Sunday night, we did a “video concert” in the studio. We played all pieces while being filmed by several cameras. For some reason the realtime video podcast didn’t work but we have the video material. Here’s Sercan Özökten’s video cut of “ZukkaAttakk” (play it VERY LOUD to get an idea of the energy that was in the room) and “More Miles per Hour”.