AN ALPHABET OF FLUCTUATION - REVIEWS
There is a continuous surface of sound woven from manifold pulses, hum, buzz, whirr, and oscillation in different frequencies sometimes stratified and sometimes interacting for beating patterns and perceptual distortions, sometimes as calm as a breeze and sometimes flexing the volatility of its electric air. Cymbal sounds crosscut, scraped, tapped, raked, pawed, their textures patchworked through the piece though played long enough to resonate with the rest and manifest beatings from the ether that hasten and slow with each activating intervention like drops in a pool refracting among each other. As the title suggests, not much changes and everything is always changing, in flux.
- Keith Prosk, harmonic series -
For this alphabet of fluctuation, we find Gerard Lebik handling "pd, ppooll, zopan generator" in front of Burkhard Beins' amplified ride cymbal, to which Beins adds a sine wave and a synth for tracks III and IV, respectively 20:29 and 14:56, over the longest duration of the album. In I (12:29) and II (8:50), during which Beins is credited only with his amplified cymbal, both artists produce a single sustained sound that evolves imperceptibly and is reflected in a hint of electronic vibration that simultaneously crescendos and intangibly glissando into an imaginary harmonic. The quality of the recorded sound is more than excellent and the 'timbre study' aspect of their work is sublimated. This kind of minimalist music, dubbed 'reductionist' some twenty years ago, can be a posture. But with artists like Burkhard Beins and Gerard Lebik, it becomes a revelation of the unspeakable, unreal and sensitive life of the sounds generated for the pleasure of hearing them evolve and hover in the auditory space. A meaningful expression of the intrinsic sound properties of frequencies and textures selected in a very studied and hyper scrupulous way and the experience of a lifetime. The embodiment of an effective sound sculpture rather than a 'piece' of music or an improvisation in the moment.
I is a manifesto in itself, which is metamorphosed in the other three tracks, providing a sense of wonder and the characteristics of an unstoppable logic. Variation of a feeling in infinity, unheard of undulations, reverberations dying in an astonishing silence, sometimes interstellar. At the risk of being boring, our two acolytes ask us aesthetic questions and answer them with a disarming, fascinating conviction. One of the constitutive elements of music is revealed here, observed with a master's hand under a magnifying glass. As always with Inexhaustible, very careful production.
- Jean-Michel van Schouwburg, Orynx Improv' and Sounds -
A jump into the present day, which also reveals the international tentacles of the Berlin echtzeitmusik scene and its connections and influence on the international scene, through which it also regularly scours, will be provided by 'An Alphabet Of Fluctuation', released this year on the local Inexhaustible Editions label. The authors are another Berlin veteran, percussionist and occasional electrophonist BURKHARD BEINS, another fundamental figure of the local scene, and the young Polish saxophonist, electrophonist, sound artist, curator GERARD LEBIK. Lebik works in the in-between fields between free improvisation, composition and sound art, while at the same time immersing himself in electrophonics, in the everyday noise of field recordings, in the random sonority of objects and processes, and generally likes to insert himself into atypical sonic situations, relations and contexts. His sound objects are stretched between electronic apparatuses and acoustic objects, from vhs recorders, video apparatuses and feedback loops, to air compressors, etc. Lebik is also the programme director of one of the more interesting contemporary music festivals in Sokolowkso, Poland, where the present recordings were made. In them, the duo intensely immerse themselves in the fluctuations of sound, expanding it, dismantling it, spraying it around the room. Beins embodies the sound of a sonically amplified cymbal, occasionally also sine tones and the noise and textures of a sound synthesizer, while Lebik uses pd and llooopp software and a zopan sound generator. In their music, a distinctive sonic narrative is based on individual sonic events, which are ingeniously layered and expanded in the sonorities of space, harmonies and resonances. This mirrors, for example, some of the more contemporary approaches in the field marked by the term echtzeitmusik, such as the move into expanded harmonic space that we have witnessed more intensively in the last decade. Although their music comes from the field of extreme reduction of sound material, the duo intensively expands it and subtly extends it into our auditory space.
- Luca Zagoricnik, Radio Student -
drüüüü dongngngng... Gerard Lebik bringt als Sound-Installateur Klangobjekte zum Klingen und operiert improvisatorisch mit seinem Zopan Generator. Er war mit Piotr Damasiewicz oder David Maranha auf Bocian Records zu hören, betreibt in Wroclaw Zopan Records und organisiert zusammen mit Zuzanna Fogtt das Sanatorium of Sound Festival im einstigen Kurort Göbersdorf, heute Sokolowsko. Statt wie einst Dr. Brehmer TBC-Kranken hydrotherapeutisch zu behandeln, wird dort in den kulturell verwandelten Räumlichkeiten seit 2015 mit EA, Improv und Sound Art rumgedoktort. Dort entstand 2018 mit 'Gliss' auch schon ein Zusammenklang mit Beins. 2020 fand sich unser mit Perlonex, Polwechsel, Trio Sowari und The Sealed Knot aktiver Sublim-Perkussionist dort erneut ein, mit amplified ride cymbal und teils noch sine wave & synth, während bei Lebik pd, ppooll & zopan generator notiert sind und er von surgical instruments and a victorian synthesizer method spricht. Es wurden vier R&äuml;ume des Dr. Brehmer-Komplexes beschallt, in einem waren die beiden umstellt von anthropoiden Skulpturen von Bozenna Biskupska, archaischen 'Bischöfen' ('Misterium czasu) und 49 hieroglyphischen Drahtskulpturen ('Od materii do materii'). Deren drahtige Materialität schlägt schneebesig ans Cymbal, ratscht übers Messing, zu raumgreifenden Dröhn- und Wummerwellen und selber raumgreifend verstärkt. Motor und Pulsar, surrend verhaftet und glissandierend ausgreifend, im zweiten Track durch einen Schlaghagel aufgemischt, doch vom harten Metall emaniert weicher Sound, immaterielles Mysterium, pulsend, schwellend, bebend, ein Uuuu, spektral zerlegt, metalloid getönt. Scharfe Akzente schlitzen den dritten Zusammenklang, Gongsound verdunkelt, Glissando erhellt ihn, Generator und Synth surren und sirren, Noise erscheint als Okkupant, die Phantasie sucht Nahrung - Gombrowicz, Kafka. Zuletzt mischte Beins ins raumhaltige Endergebnis monochrome und metalloide Tönungen, pfeifendes Sinusgeflacker, das den einen die Synapsen von Unrat spült, den andern die 'Gedankenverbrechen' weglasert.
- Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy -
'An Alphabet Of Fluctuation' focuses on creating a sonic air of slowly constricting unease and pressing stark tension. The four-track album is built around airless and oppressive drones, coldly reverberation tone detail, barrenly ringing percussive, and nerve slicing sine wave swoops.
The release appeared in August of this year on Slovenia label Inexhaustible Editions - presented as either a CD or digital download. I'm reviewing the former, and the CD comes presented in a monochrome six-panel digipak - on its front cover we get a close-up picture of what looks like a bent and buckled air vent. Inside we have texts discussing the album and its concepts. The CD had an edition of three hundred copies, and as of this review the label still have copies for purchase.
The line-up here is Gerard Lebik - Pd, Ppooll, and Zopan generator. Burkhard Beins - amplified ride cymbal, additional sine and Synth on tracks 'III', 'IV'. The tracks are simply named with Roman numerals, with each having a runtime between eight and twenty minutes - with over the album's length the sonic tension nicely swimming and building throughout, so this is certainly not an album to in any way relax or mellow out too!
We open with the just shy of twelve and a half minutes of 'I'- here we start off with airlessly simmering and drifting drones, sudden slicing percussive detail, and fading tone falls. As we move on the elements nicely dip, ebb, and stretch into moments of drifting reverb and fading hover - and even at the barely heard moments the feeling of tense unease remains highly firm and focused. By 'III' we initially find sinister percussion combs and gong chimes, meeting frigid drone hoovers, underfed by grain detail. As we move through this nearing twenty and a half minute track we barren reverb trails, sine wave drift and latter searing, and more forking-to-coldly striking percussive detail. The album is finished off with the just shy fifteen minutes of 'IV' - this opens with a sudden high and grainy noise wash, before moving into pressing pitch and sine wave hazes, which is ever so often is edged by piecing and nerve stretching percussive pulling and ebb.
With 'An Alphabet Of Fluctuation' Lebik and Beins have created an album that ebbs and builds airless tension, constricting unease, and pressing starkness. Like the sonic equivalent of being in an oxygen depleting and stark white light dimming ultra-modern tower block - so not easy listening by any means.
- Roger Batty, musique machine -