Sonntag, 1. April 2012

Catching images on our balcony

It's strange that a camera is nothing but a hole in a box of paper.

Donnerstag, 29. März 2012

A violin, a car

Christoph and I just listened to this song in his car.

The scenery reminds me of

but then, wait:

Dienstag, 27. März 2012

a performance in steinmaur, someday

Two years ago I've been working as an assistant of a sculptor.
He works in a shed in a forest.
There is a whole quasi-shanty town of studios.
Some of the sculptors work in rusty hangars.
(Actually, why are there hangars in the forest?
Was there an airport?
Do forests grow that fast?)

In the early spring, only two artists were around.
There was a late snow, it was very cold.

But then the snow melted, the sun came out,
and I immediatly knew that I wanted to play music there,
bring some folks there.
The sculptors think that they make sculptures.
But I think their most precious work is their space.

Sonntag, 18. März 2012

She's a lady

For a few days, Jérémie is taking care of his sister's dog.

So for now, a black dog lady is hanging around in our flat, forcing us to go for walks.
Every time we eat she's sending us reproachful glances from below the table.
Every night she's laying her big black head on our bed,
trying to reach any limb to lick.
Sometimes she sings in her sleep.

A few minutes ago I undertook an effort to record her.
She was laying peacefully by my feet.
But the very moment I reached for the microphone, she changed.
She got up instantly and stared at it with a very stern face.
She brought her body in a safe distance.
Then she just watched me, warily.
She felt that I had an agenda.

The more suspicious she grew, the more I felt guilty.
In the end I felt so sorry that I brought her a cookie.

She didn't eat it, until I had left the room.

Dienstag, 13. März 2012

A ceremony for caged birds

Another story, another song.

One day Dea took me to the river.
She had heard that a buddhist ceremony was going on there.
A little crowd gathered on the riverbank.
Some participants were wearing jeans and colourful T-shirts,
some brought an umbrella against the sun.
I cracked a smile.
Since I had landed in China a few weeks before,
I accepted everything. Nothing had made sense for days.
What the crowd was about to perform
didn't actually look like the religious rituals I knew.
There was nothing stern about it, nothing quiet.
Some were chattering, some were chanting.
It didn't seem much of a difference.
They assembled in the midst of some blocks of flats.
There was not much nature around,
just the bored water of a tamed river.
The men and women were in good spirits.
They took pictures of their monk with their cellphones.

On the riverbank they had parked a tank full of living fishes.
Everybody grabbed a fish.
Nobody minded me.
Except the fishes – they gazed at me with their empty eyes, gasping.
They carried the fishes down to the river and threw them into the water.
Some of the fishes appeard again on the surface – belly up.

There were other animals, packed in stacks:
Mussels, about as big as the palm of a hand.
Were the women singing for the mussels?

Then I saw the birds.
There were about hundred little bamboo cages.
The birds inside them panicked.
They sticked their claws and beaks outside.
They made an incredible noise.

The women opened the cages,
caught the birds with their bare hands
and threw them up in the air.
Some flew away in a haste.
One of them fell right back on the pavement.
For that one, the chanting was in vain.

I did some recordings of the birds. Later on I wrote a song for them, and in doing so,
I guess I behaved like a superstitious old lady.

When I got home to switzerland, my friends actually liked the song.
Though, in fact, I later thought of it as slightly... declamatory.
A long friend of the band, the DJ & Producer Strobe-L, came up with the following remix of it

I noticed that the birds were gone

Dienstag, 6. März 2012

Recording "A chinese roof"

It begann 2007 in China.
It was the year of the fiery pig.
I was living in the campus of the 中国美术学院,
the chinese academy of fine art in Hangzhou.

It was midday.
Not much moved outside.
Dea wasn't there, so I had the room for myself.
I stood by the window,
staring at the roofs of the lower buildings.
I had a microphone sticked onto the top of my i-pod.
I recorded some cats. They were strolling around on the roof of a temple.
The cats were singing. They fought over something.
There was the sound of somebody hammering.

I listened closely. I don't remember my thoughts.
After a while I left the room and went upstairs.
I stepped out on the flat roof of the art school.
In my memory, I was alone, but maybe I wasn't.
I walked around recording.
I recorded the climate control unit of the building.
There were fans, ventilators –
They sounded like the blood in my ears.

The next day I woke up very early.
My bed was soaked with sweat.
Dea was fast asleep.
I tossed the mosquito net aside and put my feet on the floor.
I took my microphone and my guitar.
I was afraid of wakeing her.
I played a series of faint flageolet tones.
Then i sung a short melody. Or maybe two or three of them.
They sounded like little groans or snores.

Later, when Dea was gone,
I recorded some louder guitar parts.
I recorded part by part, line by line,
without knowing how all of this would go together.
Then I assembled everything on the computer.
Everything had the same pulse.
I didn't woke from what I was doing until it was done.
I was oblivious to me. I could have been a fan on a roof,
a cat fighting over something with someone.
I could have been someone hammering.

I brought my noises back to Switzerland.
It now seemed like a very strange and busy place.

I had to form a band because Daniel Fontana invited me to play a show.
Christoph joined in as he always did since I was sixteen.

We only played the song live twice, at the Bad Bonn and at the Mehrspur.

Confidence comes and goes. Thank you,

Christoph Isler,
Christoph Brünggel,
Jérémie Bochet and
Hans Peter Gutjahr.

It took us four years until we recorded the song.
We recorded it with our new bass player Jérémie Bochet
in an abandoned shoe factory next to an atomic powerplant.
This was so much the place to record a song like this.

Things disappear.