Curated by argos staff member Ive Stevenheydens Politics of Noise focuses on the friction between clamour, ‘noise’ and music – the hardly distinguishable transitional point when ‘uncalled for’ sound becomes ‘intentional’ – and/ or the point when noise trades in its intrinsic ‘noisy’ characteristics for meaning. Four concert evenings offer an outline of possible artistic approaches to noise and the ‘political’ strategies or issues that might arise from it. Attention will be paid to performances of historical scores, as well as concerts by radical rock and underground artists who left their mark on noise decades ago already (for instance Whitehouse, Merzbow). More concerts and performances by intermedia artists Philip Corner & Phoebe Neville, by laptop composers of very different feathers (Pita, Massimo), by important representatives of analogous electronic (dance)music (Pan Sonic), by tabletop guitarist Kevin Drumm and by the electro-acoustical composer-musician Zbigniew Karkowski attempt to re-define noise in an even broader context. Apart from cinematic works and deejay sessions Politics of Noise hinges onto the Coded interference programme with multimedia performances. It is an explosive blend of venomous sound sculptures, pulsating dance rhythms and cutting-edge (and way beyond) performances.

on Wed, 22 Oct 2003 20:00

Logos Ensemble (B)

Godfried-Willem Raes (1952) studied musicology (Ph.D. in 1993) and philosophy at the State University in Gent and took lessons in piano, clarinet and composition at the Royal Academy of Music in Gent. He also attended classes by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Gyorgy Ligeti. Today, Godfried-Willem Raes teaches avant-garde chamber music and composition at the Royal Academy of Music and he is a professor at the Orpheus Higher Institute for Music, both located in Gent. His scientific research focuses on issues regarding human musical expression and the development of technical equipment used in both research and performances. He is also a composer and musician, exploring a multitude of techniques. Among other works, Raes wrote works based on sonorous moving holograms, compositions for large ensembles, street and chamber opera’s, and electronic, algorithmic and electro-acoustic works. Since 1968 he has also been designing ‘music automatons’, electrically or electromechanically powered devices that play a trick on the friction between composition and improvisation. Together with his spouse, composer, performer and violin player Moniek Darge, Godfried-Willem Raes makes up the performance and music tandem Logos Duo. Moniek Darge (1952) studied music theory and violin at the Academy of Music in Bruges, painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Gent, and art history, philosophy and moral science at the University of Ghent. In her work in sound she concentrates on field recordings of ethnic music, soundscapes and intermedia performances. She also designs light and sound sculptures, installations and alternative music boxes. At the request of argos these precursors of experimental music in Belgium have formed a quintet with Karin De Fleyt, Marc Maes and Leonaar De Graeve. Logos Ensemble presents a programme of works that illustrate the broad historical context of Politics of Noise.

Philip Corner & Phoebe Neville (IT/USA)

Information (film) by Bill Viola (USA) 30’ 1973

Noisefields (film) by Steina & Woody Vasulka (USA) 12’50" 1974

Fluxusanthology (film): documents on performances and happenings by Wolf Vostell, Mercedes Vostell and others by Fluxus 2000

DJ Prairie

on Thu, 23 Oct 2003 20:00

PITA (AT, Peter Rehberg)

Peter Rehberg (1968) is regarded as one of the founders of the so-called glitch movement, a group of laptop musicians who integrate the mistakes which are generated during the work process in their techno related sound. For ten years now Rehberg, under the alias Pita, has been composing razor-sharp sound sculptures on his ‘twisted harddisk’, a laptop that misses essential files. Always steering a middle course between silence and the threshold of pain, his electronic solo works create three-dimensional spaces that attract and repel at the same time. Pita’s digital horror is not unlike a suffocating form of melancholy. His confrontational and innovative work breaks down the genre barriers between techno, pop and experimental electronics. For his album Seven Tons For Free he was awarded the Prix Ars Electronica in 1999. In his various collaborations with other musicians Peter Rehberg also searches for a new digital aesthetics. Among others, he has worked with Christian Fennesz, Ramon Bauer, Jim O’Rourke, Zbigniew Karkowski, Keith Rowe, and with MIMEO, the varying Music In Movement Electronic Orchestra. He has also collaborated with visual artists, such as Viennese designer Tina Frank and Parisian choreographers Gisele Vienne and Etienne Bideau-Rey (under the name DACM). Rehberg is also a performer of contemporary composed music, like the graphic compositions of Cornelius Cardew. Since 1994, together with Ramon Bauer, Peter Meininger and Andreas Pieper, he leads Mego. This record label and platform for electronic communication, booking office, and now also bureau for motor sports (!) has been a point of reference within electronic experimental (pop) music. Mego releases music from, among others, COH, Hecker, Massimo, Kevin Drumm and Tujiko Noriko.

Kevin Drumm (USA)

Like the active British pioneer Keith Rowe, Portuguese Rafael Toral and Oren Ambarchi from Australia, Kevin Drumm (1970), who lives in Chicago, belongs to a group of contemporary guitar players who treat their instrument anything but conventional to make ditto sounds. Like the aforementioned gentlemen, Drumm is known as a self-taught tabletop guitarist. Horizontally, flat on a tabletop, he improvises on his instrument that is prepared with cables, springs, wires and other implements or utensils. Connected to contact microphones, a laptop or a synthesizer, he incorporates consciously and accidentally obtained sounds in his unique and highly abstract output. Drumm touches upon a scale of emotions by eliminating the formal points of recognition between computer music and electric guitar music. His non-linear work navigates between cautious silence over cuddly moments through to coarse-grained and dazzling epics. Kevin Drumm has played with a multitude of bands, including Brise-Glace, a project with Jim O’Rourke and Darin Gray. He also worked with renowned improvisational musicians such as the American Ken Vandermark, Canadian Martin Tétreault, Austrian Werner Dafeldecker and the Japanese Taku Sugimoto and Otomo Yoshihide. At Documenta 11 he presented, together with the architect-duo Simparch, the sound installation Spec. For his album Sheer Hellish Miasma he was awarded a honourable mention in the category digital musics at the Prix Ars Electronica in 2003.

POP (J/AT, Zbigniew Karkowski & Peter Rehberg)

Zbigniew Karkowski and Peter Rehberg together make up the iconoclastic noise duo POP. The twosome only gave very few concerts, in Vienna, Tokyo and Paris, and released only one album, the laconically titled Album. That long player shows the idiosyncratic input from both musicians, as POP is a perfect symbiosis of Pita and Karkowski’s solo works. With repetitive, techno related accents and thickly piled up, almost moulding layers of sound, POP builds a sonorous landscape that evokes both steely terror and intimate moments.

DJ Prairie

on Fri, 24 Oct 2003 20:00

Halli Kalli (IS, Haraldur Karlsson)

Halli Kalli (1967) was born in Reykjavik and studied multi-media art at the Art School of Iceland, at AKI in Enschede (NL), and sonology at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Currently he is working on a project called Little Solar System, a multi-media art project in progress. Halli Kalli is teaching full-time at the Icelandic Academy for the Arts where he runs an audio/ video laboratory. He has shown his installations, and has given concerts and performances in museums, galleries, theatres and cafés in Iceland and abroad.

Zbigniew Karkowski (PL/JAP)

Krakow born composer and musician Zbigniew Karkowski (1958) has lived in Gothenburg, Amsterdam, Berlin and Los Angeles. In 1994 he took up domicile in Tokyo where he is an important figure in the underground noise scene. Karkowski considers his nomadic, political and social exile as an essential condition for his art. After having studied at the academies of music in Gothenburg and Amsterdam, and having attended courses by Xenakis, he has followed very varied musical paths. He is a composer (pieces for large orchestras, operas, and various pieces of chamber music) as well as a performer of contemporary composed music. As a musician, Karkowski works solo, although he also likes to collaborate with unpredictable artists such as Tetsuo Furudate, Merzbow, The Hafler Trio, John Duncan and Helmut Schäfer. With Sensorband, the rather physical performance trio that includes Dutchman Edwin van der Heide and Japanese Atau Tanaka, he explores the boundaries between control and un-control within the field of tension between body and technology. In al these different projects Karkowski treats sound ideally as a physical experience. Based on, among other things, field recordings, electro-acoustic techniques, electro vibrations or the direct output of equipment from our daily life (antennae, fax machines, short wave signals); his works are dense soundscapes full of vibrating low tones. They offer a sometimes wry, sometimes brightening but always hypnotic experience, like a massage for the brain. Theorizing, the conjuring of concepts, the development of a style or the search for aesthetics: it’s not Karkowski’s bag. When he plays music or composes he consciously takes a risk, taking into consideration (in his own words) only the variables time and sound. But even these he finds of minor importance.

Merzbow (JAP, Masami Akita)

With a discography of over two hundred albums, singles and other releases, Merzbow is regarded as the king of noise music. Japanese born Masami Akita (1956) studied art history and painting in Tokyo. He has been strongly influenced by freejazz, Dada, and the process of ‘écriture automatique’ from Surrealism. His alias is derived from Merzbau (1920–1936, also known as Die Kathedrale des erotischen Elends), the architectural, never completed sculpture by Kurt Schwitters that ‘grew rank’ from his study to the nearby rooms, the basement and the upstairs flats of his apartment building in Hanover. Masami Akita is extremely interested in bondage and in the highly imaginative erotic Japanese representation art. All these elements meet in Merzbow’s sound works. With found footage sounds – samples, field recordings or programmed instruments – Akita designs sound sculptures, very much like Schwitters constructed collages from disposable materials. Working with both analogue and digital electronics – in the late seventies Akita initially experiments with broken cassette players and feedback pedals – Merzbow’s enormous, almost immeasurable output seems to be a statement of the transitory and exchangeable nature of his noise art. This is only partly true: Merzbow’s often formless work is very diverse, sometimes referring to unconventional rock structures or even repetitive and rudimentary rhythmics. Above all he centres his intentions in a determined conviction to attack all of the listener’s senses. To appreciate the often crumpled, shrill peaks of Akita’s noise, the listener has to be susceptible to a submissive state of mind. In Japan’s bubbling noise scene Masami Akita fulfils a headstrong and dominant position besides eminent artists like Masonna, K.K. Null and MSBR. In 2000 he releases Merzbox, a box containing fifty CDs (including his very first cassette releases from 1979), a CD-ROM and a compilation of his writings. Masami Akita has worked with lots of experimental musicians, including Asmus Tietchens, Achim Wollscheid, Thurston Moore, Russell Hasswell, Pan Sonic and Kapotte Muziek.

Whitehouse (UK, William Bennet & Philip Best)

William Bennett (1962) was eighteen when he started his project Whitehouse in 1980. Fourteen year old runaway Philip Best (1968) joined Bennett two years later. The band originated on the fringes of the industrial scene. Their extreme noise sound, made with analogue electronics, inspired a wave of mostly Japanese noise artists. ‘Power electronics’ is a phrase that is often used in reference with this sound. Building on the sound of contemporaries Throbbing Gristle, but also on the work of composer Alvin Lucier, Whitehouse developed its own style consisting of fat layers of high and low frequency tones, sturdy subsonic bass and unpredictable, abrupt electronic effects. This, combined with William Bennett’s vocals – a vocal technique hesitating between either growling or shrieking – gives Whitehouse an aggressive sound that has lasted for more than twenty years. Their group name bears no relation to the American White House but is derived from a British porn magazine and also from Mary Whitehouse, an English activist who crusaded her whole life against violence and sex on television and in other media. Whitehouse released a batch of albums on their own label Come Organisation. ‘The most extreme music ever made’, in their own words. A remarkable and important aspect of their releases and concerts –which they prefer to call ‘live actions’- is that the band never ceases to provoke discord. The band was repeatedly the victim of censorship, and stores and distributors also refused to handle their material. In spite of the discussions on taboo related subjects this radical libertine band time and again initiates, the members of Whitehouse deny being politically active. For their album Bird Seed Whitehouse received a honorary mention in the category digital musics at the 2003 Prix Ars Electronica.

MAZK (JAP, Masami Akati & Zbigniew Karkowski)

Since the late nineties Masami Akita and Zbigniew Karkowski are working together as the duo MAZK, a name derived from their initials. MAZK’s sound is built from twisty, mostly warm-blooded noise frequencies, which are buttressed by heavy sub basses. Their releases explore a principally digitally constructed form of advanced, sour tasting noise techno.

DJ Kapellmeisters Schallplattenparade (B)

on Sat, 25 Oct 2003 22:00

Massimo (IT)

Sicilian Massimiliano Sapienza (1975) studied communication and political science at the University of Catania and works in sonorization and postproduction of video and film productions for Italian television. Besides that he also designs (entertainment) software for several international companies. After playing in several noisy (rock)bands, including White Tornado, this self-taught artist has been producing his solo work using digital electronics since 1999. His first releases – rhythmically arranged itty bitty clicks and buzzing tones – demonstrate a link to the turn of the century wave of techno minimalists. In his second phase the Sicilian breaks free from this conceptual movement. He develops a raw and unfinished noise sound that partly takes an example from the most brutal of power electronics, but also incorporates repetitive and danceable rhythms. With a handful of releases, a long series of concerts and some satisfactory collaborations – with, among others, Pita, Kozo Inada and Dat Politics – Massimo made his name as a notorious noisehead in a very short period. The artist prefers to work fast, so his tracks preserve their purity, brutal power and enthusiasm. The combination of coarse-grained tones, unrefined production and sometimes pumping rhythms give Massimo’s releases a primitive drive.

Pan Sonic (FIN, Ílpo Väisänen & Mika Vainio)

Under the alias Panasonic, Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väinsänen have been tinkering with the conventions of techno ever since the early nineties. Sami Salo also was part of the band in the early days and a first collaboration between Vainio and Väisänen was under the name Ø. With almost surgical precision the duo builds from mainly analogue synthesizers a unique sound that makes good use of low and high frequencies. The work of Pan Sonic (the ‘a’ is removed in 1998 after a dispute with the namesake electronics giant) is based on idiosyncratic rhythms and sometimes dallies with coarse-grained noise tones. As a whole the sound always evokes an architectural dimension. Although the duo works within a hyper minimalist framework, their output triggers a motley pallet of emotions. The very versatile Pan Sonic represents condensed funk or virile electronic rock as much as it does the missing link between sine tone minimalism and tightly drawn techno. Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen are also active for years already as solo artists and have collaborated with such unconventional pop icons like Alan Vega, Bruce Gilbert, Merzbow and Barry Adamson.

DJ Nurse (B)

DJ Lucifera (B)

Closure Party argosfestival 2003  
on Sat, 25 Oct 2003 22:00

This event is part of argosfestival 2003

Kevin Drumm  
  • Wed 22.10.2003 - Sat 25.10.2003
  • Practical info

    Urselinenstraat 25
    1000 Brussel