Our regular readers may remember Ulm’s Andreas Usenbenz from Bells Breath, a lovely time-stretched recording that was also an installation. Last spring he teamed up with Munich illustrator Christoph Lammers for Drawing in Sound, a live performance during which the artists improvised with sound and brush. Now this performance has found its way to vinyl, each copy screenprinted with a segment of the original art.
The video causes one to reflect on the process of inspiration, especially one’s reaction to sound. Music can aid the focus of artists in other disciplines, from the obvious (yet often ignored) dancer in a nightclub to a choreographer to an author to a sculptor. Lammers is literally drawing in sound. Yet the feedback loop also contains Usenbenz, who reacts to Lammers’ art with additional nuances of his own: not just guitar, but tape and “rustling hay.” On the surface, one might ask, “Is this what the sound looks like?” or “Is this what the painting sounds like?” But the release offers only one interpretation; play it at home, and one may paint a different picture.
The title of the exhibition opening was “Wiese (Meadow),” which seems apt given the nature of the collaboration. Something grew out of (a seeming) nothing: curves on a white canvas, notes in a quiet room. But the value of the vinyl goes far beyond mere souvenir or objet d’art. Usenbenz’ piece is gentle and intimate, a perfect score for a new morning or a new year, a snow-covered landscape or the genesis of an artistic project. Flowing water implies life; birds the promise of spring; rustling hay the seeds of inspiration. Soft pings twinkle like stars on a clear night. As a single piece, the music allows listeners to sink into the undulations, providing deep rest or deep focus depending on the setting. When the notes eventually dissipate, the recording ends, but the creative fire has been lit. (Richard Allen)