Passagen. Werk für Walter Benjamin

Walter_Benjamin_vers_1928SHORT SYNOPSIS IN ENGLISH:

„Passages/Arcades. A Work for Walter Benjamin“ is a tribute to the German philosopher, media theorist, and radio writer marking the 80th anniversary of his death on 26 September 1940. The radiophonic composition consists of several parts which each give acoustic shape to Benjamin’s thought. While the quotes are in German, the piece can be listened to as a sound work whose methods include radio drama, field recording, drone music, improvised sound work, and noise.

Die Uraufführung der radiophonen Komposition „Passagen. Werk für Walter Benjamin“ wurde am 30.08.2020 ab 21.00 Uhr im Rahmen der Sendung „entartet“ live auf Radio Free FM (Ulm) übertragen. Das Stück wurde von Christian Clement für die Redaktion „entartet“ in Auftrag gegeben.

Das Stück wurde speziell für diese Sendung entwickelt und erinnert anlässlich seines bevorstehenden 80. Todestags an Walter Benjamin – scharfsinniger Kulturtheoretiker und virtuoser Prosaautor, polemischer Literaturkritiker und visionärer Geschichtsphilosoph, messianischer Kommunist und antifaschistischer Kämpfer und nicht zuletzt medienbewusster Radiomacher.
Das Stück verwebt Zitate aus Benjamins Schriften mit unterschiedlichen Klang-Szenen. Gerald Fiebig hat sich in verschiedenen Texten immer wieder auf Walter Benjamin bezogen, aber noch nie in einer akustischen Arbeit. Die Bezüge, die er in diesem Stück zwischen Benjamins Texten und seinen Sounds herstellt, sind teilweise inspiriert von dem Aufsatz „Exploding the Atmosphere: Realizing the Revolutionary Potential of ‚the Last Street Song'“, in dem der neuseeländische Noise-Musiker Bruce Russell experimentelle Sound-Praxis mit Bezug auf Benjamin und die Situationistische Internationale in einen politischen Kontext stellt.

Am 20.09.2020 sendete die Radiofabrik Salzburg in der Sendung „Artarium“ eine speziell dafür eingerichtete Fassung des Stücks.

Außer dem „Passagen-Werk“ (v.a. dem Konvolut N) werden u.a. folgende Texte Walter Benjamins zitiert:

„Über den Begriff der Geschichte“

Das Telefon“ (aus der „Berliner Kindheit um Neunzehnhundert“)

„Der Flaneur“

Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit

„Was ist das epische Theater?“

Erfahrung und Armut

Der Sürrealismus. Die letzte Momentaufnahme der europäischen Intelligenz“

„Theologisch-politisches Fragment“

Ghosts and Echoes

For a couple of years now, I have been thinking about how history and memory can be narrated in sound. The new album Ghosts and Echoes collects different approaches to this, ranging from a mixed-media narrative about industrial work with Christian Z. Müller (a companion piece to our Gasworks) to a drone/noise piece involving the voice of my late grandmother, working at the intersection of the very personal and the very political in that she talks about fighting fascism, and an instrumental meditation about decolonisation. In addition to Christian Z. Müller, my thanks go out to Georg Weckwerth at TONSPUR Vienna, Elisabeth Zimmermann at ORF Kunstradio, Stefan Tiefengraber at Tresor Linz, and Julia Zemanek aka The Bassenger, who in various ways contributed to making this album possible.

fiction circuit (LP)


Artificial Memory Trace aka Slavek Kwi and PBK aka Phillip B. Klingler have been pillars of the global DIY experimental music culture for decades. Both of them have released work on attenuation circuit before. Here, they team up with label owner EMERGE aka Sascha Stadlmeier and his colleague Gerald Fiebig. Each one of the four artists contributes one track of about 10 minutes to the album. But while the four-way split LP is a common format in the global sound culture scene, “fiction circuit” is more than just a compilation.

All of the artists on this album share a love of creating electroacoustic music from field recordings or found sounds. Therefore, label manager Stadlmeier invited Artificial Memory Trace (AMT) and PBK to supply source sounds from their archives. These were then used as the basis for the compositions. Leaving the source material identifiable was not the task – it was to be used as raw material to be sculpted, very much in the spirit of acousmatic musique concrète. On the AMT side, we find the tracks by PBK and Gerald Fiebig. They both used AMT’s source material to create their tracks. PBK delivers a dense, rather rhythmic track with a decidedly “industrial” feel. Fiebig’s track, on the contrary, uses the front cover artwork – a digital collage by EMERGE of visual works by Kwi and Klingler, with other works by them reproduced on the lavishly printed LP insert – as a graphic score for realising a rather harmonic ambient piece. On the PBK side, Artificial Memory Trace and EMERGE “play” the source sounds supplied by PBK. The piece by Artificial Memory Trace qualifies as exuberant rhythm noise, while EMERGE goes all the way into rather meditative laminar lower-case drone minimalism. Therefore, regardless of which side of the record one plays first (“AMT” and “PBK” are engraved on the vinyl itself to guide the listener), one will experience, thoroughout the whole album, a change between very different sonic textures and temperaments that showcase the wide range of expressive possibilities of electroacoustic music. This is not the product of good luck, but of planned collective composition: AMT and PBK, as the “guests” on the label, were invited to create whatever they liked without any formal restrictions. As it turned out, both of their works were rather intense and direct in character. Therefore, EMERGE and Fiebig both made an effort to complement each side with a more subdued, quiet piece.

File under: Electroacoustic music, musique concrète

Orientalism: „Ali’s Riot Men“

Orientalism was a conceptual collaboration project of Sustained Development (Gerald Fiebig) and EMERGE (Sascha Stadlmeier).

Field recordings from China
Processed by EMERGE
Stereotyped by Orientalism
Deconstructed by Sustained Development

cover image by Michael Herbst
released April 14, 2013

This side project of Sustained Development processes field recordings from the Far East (with some help from label mate EMERGE) to such an extent that they become hissing, granular sheets of sound resembling, for example, abstract Mille-Plateaux-style electronica rather than anything „concrete“. Reverb and time-stretching make the so-called „real“ sounds recorded during a trip through China into something very different, calm yet faintly ominous, far from the pseudo-documentary pose that is common in “field recordings” as a genre.

To quote Edward Said, who invented the term, “Orientalism is a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient” by creating stereotypical images of “the East.” This release by Orientalism (the title of the album and all tracks being anagrams of the word to hint at the ideological limitations of orientalist clichés) aims to subvert the stereotyping that is latent in a lot of field recordings of more or less “exotic” places because they tend to fix a limited sound image of what “the” Orient (or India, Kyoto, etc.) sounds like. In a certain way, the compositional treatment applied to the Chinese field recordings on this album insists on the right of every sound to become (abstract) music instead of just standing in as a tourist snapshot.


The fascination for drone phenomena and the wish to actively examine them were important incentives for my path into Electroacoustic Music. „Pulsar“ is the attempt to make a repetitively pulsating noise loop function like a drone texture by treating it tonally. / Ein wichtiger Impuls für meinen Weg in die elektroakustische Musik war die Faszination durch Drone-Phänomene und der Wunsch nach aktiver Auseinandersetzung mit ihnen. „Pulsar“ ist der Versuch, einen repetitiv pulsierenden Geräusch-Loop durch klangliche Bearbeitung wie eine Drone-Textur wirken zu lassen.

Gerald Fiebig feat. Re-Drum: Live @ K15, Augsburg, 2017-05-27

Gerald Fiebig (poetry, voice) and Re-Drum aka Pavel Aleshin (electronics) meeting in a live improvisation.
Poems (in German) by Gerald Fiebig are from the books geräuschpegel and normalzeit, quotes are from Samuel Beckett, Phil Ochs and Martyn Schmidt.

If, Bwana / Sustained Development / elektrojudas / EMERGE: Crossgrained

The three solo tracks performed by If, Bwana on this live recording are based on sounds played on the bassoon, flute, and guitar and make a wonderful introduction to his work with layered, pitch-shifted acoustic instruments. This stuff is among the best you can get in contemporary drone music – rich in texture, sensuous, emotional, and still abstract enough to “clear the mind.” On another two tracks, If, Bwana is joined by his local support group at this July 2012 gig in Germany for an unlikely but happy marriage of his layered sound textures, 50 Hz hum, and lots of electroacoustic sound gadgetry.

Supporting If, Bwana at his concert in Augsburg, Germany on 4 July 2012, local artists Sustained Development aka Gerald Fiebig, elektrojudas, and EMERGE teamed up for a free improvised set using sampled bass guitars, miked-up wave drums and induction coils, monotrons, and smartphone apps, also documented on this 2 CD set. Another two tracks resulted from the trio joining If, Bwana for a demonstration of the possibilities of experimental music, which are endless provided they are approached in an open-minded way. In this case, two very distinct idioms – calm, contemplative drones and fidgety, highly interactive glitch/noise improvisation – fuse perfectly thanks to the alertness of the players.