Monday, 20 October 2008

new release of note: Greta Hoheisel & Norbert Lang

Bukarest Bucureşti – fragmente Greta Hoheisel & Norbert Lang (Gruenrekorder 068) - cd + book - limited to 500 copies
Nicely presented project for a start ! - so, let me get the cynical comment out of the way first: I'm really interested in photography & indeed the 'snapshot' style of some field recording & so in terms of the images it's fair to say that Greta's style is one that i'm familiar with - it's one that most creative photographers explore at some point - the focus on detail and the transformation of the everyday object or scene into a framed and revitalised image. Having said that it's not something everyone can pull off & in terms of this project at least the images do work & do convey a creatively pleasing impression.
When it comes to the recordings it's fair to say that they do fall into the 'snapshot' catagory & as they are well recorded then they do the job so to speak. I always hope to hear individual when I listen to recordings, something that reflects the interests of the recordist & with this approach that is both difficult to achieve & also not exactly the point. However I really believe that, like with the 'eye' of an interesting photographer, it is the 'ear' of the recordist that hopefully will come through. I think these recordings show something of that & certainly the collaboration between Norbert & Greta indicates a shared artistic searching.
I suppose if I had to say anything negative about the recordings it's that I personally crave for simplicity in snapshot recordings. I get a bit tired of discs that try to capture various odd or 'evocative' sounds - I feel that it can sometimes edge over into cliche. However, this is a personal viewpoint & no doubt has something to do with the sheer amount of recordings I listen to. I reckon most folks would find the recordings interesting & a fair portrait of certain elements Bucharest. There are plenty of the usual street scenes, snatches of music & prayer of course, giving a definate experience of the 'fragments of Bucharest' project aim but also recordings of music students rehearsing at the university (track 12) which I for one would have liked to have been much longer.
Reading back my comments so far I realise that it sounds like i'm giving this release a negative review. which is not my intention. It's another quality release from Gruenrekorder & is well worth the price. It certainly made me want to hear more of Norbert's recordings & to hunt for more images from Greta.
'Bucharest - fragments is a journey through a metropolis in continuous flux. It is a hybrid of exhibition catalogue, book and compact disc; containing photos, texts and soundscapes - three obstinate elements that reciprocally comment on one another.

The constant humming sound of the city, house walls that we pass by, the snatches of a conversation which we hear on the streets – fragments, that we are confronted with every day, but to which we nevertheless pay hardly any attention. It is not just the pompous and spectacular view on the city, that forms our relation to it, it is also the seemingly incidental and fragmentary occurence.

To seek for those fragments, the german photographer Greta Hoheisel and the sound-artist Norbert Lang stayed in the capital of the new EU country Romania, in Bucharest for almost one year. What they found was a complex urban realm between consumerism and tradition, between turbo-capitalism and religion. The outcome of their continuous striving through the sound- and cityscapes of Bucharest is a multimedia exhibition called »Bucharest – fragments in a box« and also »Bukarest Bucureşti – fragmente«, a hybrid between foto-catalogue, sketchbook and audio-CD.

The basis for the book-CD are 20 fieldrecordings that tell about the life in the city: About sudden horn concerts during rush-hour as well as about the rural idyl in the backyards of the city. Each of the 20 chapters in the book is dedicated to one fieldrecording on the CD, consisting of a sketchy text and photographs, showing deserted places around the city. The combination of those three elements generates a city mosaic full of gaps, that needs the pre-text of the observer and listener to be put together. Thus »Bukarest Bucureşti – fragmente« can be understood as a universal work about urban sound- and cityscapes in the 21st century.'

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