The highlight of the trip was Carolina Eyck's CD Release and 21st Birthday Party. It was excellent to meet Randy George while I was there, and to catch up with Barbara Buchholz. OK, I'm a dreadful name-dropper. Sosumi. They are three people I have so much respect for. Just wonderful.
Carolina played a couple of pieces - one duetting with Randy and the second accompanying him on the piano. Her brother Roman played a mean double bass. The first was something classical that I forget the name of. Unforgettable You was the second piece. Barbara played a couple of her own compositions with a looper. You don't need me to tell you how good it all was. Do you? Really? Oh, OK. Very Damn Good!
I also played a short set. Hadal Zone, Articulator and something that was basically a loose idea and not much more. I'll get to that in a moment, but first... this was me facing any scrap of performance anxiety head on - an audience of the afore-mentioned top-rate musicians and me with a few years of figuring it out by myself and a knowingly obtuse, even perverse, approach, launching into a piece that is begging to fail. And of course it was not my finest moment. But there you go. Afterwards I slumped against a wall and explained a bit to Barbara about the last piece - title: A Point Of Collapse.
This is the thing - I'm interested in boundary conditions, interim states and transitional phases. Of course I was mindful of the Berlin Wall and its destruction and the associated changes. But more generally, for instance, people settle on land near water - a boundary - how many towns have a river? Why do we go on holiday to the seaside and sit on the beach - the place between land and water? We duck our heads as we walk into rooms - even when we will clearly fit easily. And so on. I enjoy things that are in the grey area between sense and nonsense, structure and chaos, reason and irrationality. So the question is - how much can I allow things to fall apart whilst playing, without crossing the line irretrievably. Musical chicken. Theremin brinkmanship. As you might have guessed this is a panic-box piece. By the end of the performance I felt I was not so much taking it home as dragging its corpse to the river.
I felt fine about it. The point of playing before an audience is to empathise - to hear it through their ears, and that's a good thing.
And the moral of this story is; If you eat a live frog before breakfast, nothing worse will happen to you all day.
That night, back in the pension, in hypnagogic reverie I decided the piece needs an anchor, something to take it out of the theatre of the imagination and make it specific. In short, a few words.
One experiment we did at school was paper chromatography, splitting out the pigments in black ink to find a wealth of colours there. So I imagine a technique for opening out a momentary sound, unfolding it to find the richness therein. Not literally, of course - an "artist's impression".
Most of the words of the anchor followed from that idea. One line - the pistol shot - was from a dream I had later that night. Someone in a long coat asked me if I knew of a particular book by an author he named. I did not. He quoted that phrase from the book and it was clear that it had special significance.
So here it is in full.
the slow explosion
the pistol shot
a point of collapse
I think it should be spoken by a chorus of computer generated female voices.
I brought home some trophies - Carolina and Barbara's new CDs and a tourist t-shirt - black, with a white silhouette of an East German border guard leaping the Berlin Wall when it was just a stretch of barbed wire. Based on this photo.
More info here.