Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Noid - 'you're not here' (Hibari-12 cd) - click here for mp3 extract

I met noid (aka Arnold Haberl) for the first time in Lisbon during 2006 and had a chance during that visit to perform with him in an improvised concert. If memory serves there were at least 10 people performing in the group that night, yet it was noid's minimal contributions on cello that stayed in the memory. So when I received the info about this release I had no hesitation in ordering up my copy.

Writing about music is always a delicate balance between conveying the nature of it and keeping hold of the simple pleasure of being a listener. ‘you’re not here’, released on Taku Unami’s Hibari imprint features recordings of empty rehearsal rooms and concert halls. Throughout the main 65 minute composition it's possible to experience that all too rare thing in field recording, having a music drift in and out of ones conscious perception. In this way noid has managed to produce a work that does indeed retain something of an architectural presence, a work that can be listened to closely or can mingle in with the ambient sounds of our surroundings, wrong footing our perception of what we hear.

Of course all of the ‘empty’ spaces recorded are far from silent and like all good field recordings this cd allows us to re-listen and to experience aspects of these environments that one can often filter out.

‘you’re not here’ is essential listening.

mp3 extract: http://www.ftarri.com/cdshop/goods/hibari/yourenothere2.mp3

Interview by email – March 2008

JrF: firstly, some background info. Until the release of this cd I knew of you mainly as a cellist. Can you briefly explain when and why you started to make field recordings ?

noid: In fact I was experimenting with field recordings since I started to work with dancers which was around 1995. I was using it first as material for this work, not being satisfied with samples I could find on my very small music-collection or in other available resources. Also it became clear quickly, that sample collections are not an option, focusing too much on special effects and acoustic clichés. Also these samples are always way too short and soon I discovered the great field of using microphone and headphones as a listening experience, as a tool to understand better what I hear, to research differences in listening directly or using technical equipment, or remembering a scene and listening to a recording of this scene...

JrF: Do you see a connection between the highly focused listening process of playing contemporary improvisation / composition and your interest in listening to spaces ?

noid: definitely! as I see it listening is the only base for music you can rely on, not only for contemporary / improvised music, but for any music.

JrF: Indeed. So on 'you're not here' you have captured the sound of empty rehearsal rooms and concert halls - what, for you, is the importance of the spaces you chose to record ? Were these, for example, chosen because of their sound or because they were spaces that you knew already in their original context ?

noid: I don't think the selection of the spaces is important, it could be any. I didn't really choose them, I made this recordings when ever I had the opportunity. More important is that I know these places, I was working in most of them. This is also not important for the listener, it was only important for me in the compositional process. Also I can say that I wouldn't know how to choose, the recordings were surprising me every time. It was more the curiosity of "how is this one" rather than a specific searching.

(note from JrF: this way of recording, a sense of exploration appeals to me very much too and I can say that noid has managed to capture this element of his approach in the finished composition)

JrF: This sense of exploration and surprise is, as far as I’m concerned, very often the difference between good and not so good field recording works. I wonder if, as a cellist too, you can see a parallel between the process of ‘learning’ an instrument and the occasional need to allow that learning to subside in order to move forward as an artist and the fact that as we spend more time recording we, of course, become more knowledgeable about the possible results but for some aspects of ones creative work we perhaps endure those times and wait for the sense of discovery to return naturally ?

noid: well, yes, I think learning processes are pretty much the same everywhere, but i don't have anything against skills and knowledge. Also I think a perfectly predictable result can still be a very good result. Curiosity can take place in various layers of a project. the recording process itself can be totally functional, that doesn't mean anything for the quality in the end. As well as the playing skills on an instrument can be the matter of interest or just a necessary tool, in the end it's all about composition.

JrF: Yes, I guess the aspect of explorative suprise is a fine balance and of course not always part of the process. It is perhaps an obvious question, but was your idea on this recording to capture the sound of empty spaces or to highlight the fact that no space is empty ?

noid: There were quite a lot of ideas crossing my mind during this work and I found the complexity of the setup fascinating. There are a lot of possible readings, but I didn't work on the readings, I was working on the text. The reason for starting the work was pure fascination for the recordings themselves, for the variety and complexity of the sounds where I didn't expect them. Also the really nice balance between perceptibility and abstraction that offers various layers for imagination.

JrF: In you liner notes you state that your aim was to 'construct an imaginary building' - alongside the sound of this building did you have in your mind a visual picture of it ? If so how did this effect your approach to the recording process ?

noid: This building was the key for the composition and I am in fact referring to a real building from which I saw the reconstruction. It's the Mies Van Der Rohe pavillion in Barcelona. In the composition process I was mapping the sounds and the silences to specific areas, spots or views of this pavillion and then following a path along that. I have to admit it's a very traditional way of composing though...
I was even thinking of mentioning the reference in the liner notes, but I don't think it is important for the listener to know, and also i'm more interested in the idea that listeners can construct their own building.

JrF: I find listening to this cd a joy & in many ways it's hard to ask you questions about it. I wonder if you had any hope for how it would be heard ? Did you have any idea of what you were creating by releasing these recordings to the public & did that act transform them in any way for you.

noid: as mentioned above I don't think I can predict readings or listenings of what I produce. I'm only offering an object. The only thing I can do is be as clear as possible in the object itself. I'm happy that people find something like joy in approaching this object as well as they find things, that for instance, that make them ask me interesting questions.

For further artist info + a great selection of mp3’s take a look at: http://noid.klingt.org/

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