Daniel T Eideholm
A new generation …
It’s common to talk about generations, especially in the artworlds. New generations indicate new attitudes and in music: new music. Of course statements like that oversimplify reality, but nevertheless they express some truth. In the world of electroacoustic music, at least in Sweden, this is obviously the case. The history of Swedish electroacoustic music is really the history of relatively well defined generations. And in the history of music making at EMS, the epicentre of electroacoustic music in Sweden, this is certainly so from the start in the late sixties.
This new record from EMS incorporates music from one group within a new generation, the course at EMS (“EAM-linjen”) which graduated in the year 2000 and which after that has kept together and worked on concerts and other projects, as for example this record. It presents eight pieces by eight composers and to put a common label on that of course creates problems – but perhaps one label would be diversity (no aesthetical consensus) and a more relaxed attitude to the concept of Art, not as a piece designed for eternity but for now (and a couple of weeks). Anyhow the music is there, just open your ears, listen to it and forget all this bullshit about generations!
1. Niklas Peterson: To John 4’37″
This piece is related in different ways to a famous song by John Dowland (Lacrimae Pavan), hence the title. The overall form, as well as the rhythmic structure in the beginning of the composition, is abstracted from the Dowland piece, albeit perhaps not obvious at first hearing. When the “concrète” end section is reached there is not much left of Dowland (other than it formally corresponding to the last section of Lacrimae).
Niklas Peterson was born 1977 in Stockholm. 1987-96 studies in piano, classical guitar and violin. Private composition studies 1995-99. Attending courses at EMS (Electro-acoustic Music in Sweden) 1997-98 and the EMS composition class 1999-2000. From 1996 onwards studies at the University of Stockholm in philosophy, political economics and mathematics.
2-6. Jan Liljekvist: The Arkham Quartet (1997) 10’27″
This is a time when politicians handle social problems of society by ignoring them. In Sweden, for example, one has shut down mental hospitals and thrown out the patients into a reality they are unable to cope with. One sees them wandering about begging, hounded by the public transports security guards.
When you encounter these people, remember – this situation might not be selfimposed on their part!
This is music as played by the mentally wounded for the criminally insane!
2. Allegro 1.55
3. Allegretto (col legno) 1.33
4. Adagio 1.37
5. Non troppo lento 2.39
6. Allegro – Andante 2.35
Jan Liljekvist was born in Stockholm (Sweden) in 1962. Started out learning to play woodwind instruments (flute, clarinet, saxophone) at an early age. Continued with percussion, guitar, violin and viola. Played in big bands, chamber- and symphony orchestras, composed theatre- and filmmusic. Been touring in Europe, singing and playing the guitar in rockgroups. Collaborates with the artist and painter Sten Backman in freeform group Planlos Irr plus in electro/improvisation project Bugman. Does sessionwork playing the violin on Deathmetal records (Månegarm, Mortifer). At present working as the musical director of a theatre company and touring with the group TVÅ FISK OCH EN FLÄSK, playing swedish medieval folkmusic. Meanwhile studying electroacoustic composition with Lars-Gunnar Bodin, Rolf Enström, Anders Blomqvist and Erik-Mikael Karlsson at EMS in Stockholm.
7. Daniel T Eideholm: Voice of Eye 7’45″
8. Bo Halén: Pulse/Breathing 1989 5’08″
9. Johannes Bergmark: Saw Octet 12’12″
First performance on Fylkingen, the 15th of October 1999 during the concert of the EAM-composition class.
Hal Rammel, the US musician and inventor, introduced me to the musical saw in 1987, and from 1990 on, we got the chance to experience this magic together. In musical saw ensembles, a special acoustic phenomenon easily appears: combination notes. They can be experienced as a confusing disturbance, as if the volume is louder than it actually is, as if the ears are blocked. The sum of two frequencies create an audible interference, a lower tone that appears in the air.
This became clear in another saw duo, with Catherine Christer Hennix, who explained about this phenomenon which she had specialized in since decades. I have noticed that this phenomenon also easily appears in other ensembles of high-pitched instruments or soprano voices.
In 1994, I recorded a saw quartet on a porta studio, performed it in 1997 with some Norwegian saw players, and in 1998 recorded this octet on eight channels which should make the appearance more easy of the combination notes in the air, preferrably performed with myself live.
It is the same instructions for every voice. The more saws, the better. It starts in a shocking manner and goes on with a “beautiful” section, open for the soloist’s improvised cadenza with many techniques – e. g. flagolets, double tones and mouth resonances.
Johannes Bergmark is an improvisor, instrument inventor, writer, electroacoustic music and text-sound composer, sound poet, piano technician and surrealist. He tours internationally and collaborates with musicians, performance artists, actors, poets and dancers worldwide.
He lives in Stockholm, Sweden.
As a musician he plays live electronics, instrument inventions, the musical saw, toys and objects and he uses the voice. Sometimes he also acts, uses objects or does jester tricks.
Bergmark also makes sound sculptures, interactive sound installations, electroacoustic compositions etc.
On this web site you’ll find more about Bergmark’s activities.
10. Lennart Westman: Sweden 10’14″
An electroacoustic text-sound expression manifesting Swedens’s maltreatment of certain humans; its discrimination of fathers and children. In addition to the music there is also a video of Sweden made by the architect and visual artist Gunnar Jutelius.
Lennart Westman was born in the countryside of Sweden, in an environment characterized by silence and distant barking dogs in wintertime, the sound of thawing brooks and breeding curlews in springtime, by singing swallows and larks in summertime and the majestic blowing wind in autumntime. From the age of 19 he studied music, harmony and counterpoint in Sweden and also spent some years in France and Spain. A growing interest for the sonic art brought him to EMS (Electroacoustic Music in Sweden) in the late 80s where he wanted to acquaint himself with electroacoustic music. Not until 1995, however, did he dedicate himself to this genre. Lennart Westman has completed the professional composition programme at EMS with teachers such as Lars-Gunnar Bodin, Rolf Enström and Erik Mikael Karlsson. His electroacoustic music have been performed at various venues in Sweden and on the national radio, as well as in Greece, England, South Korea, the USA and France. From 1999 he is collaborating with the Swedish visual artist and architect Gunnar Jutelius. They have completed four pieces together.
On this web site you’ll find more about Westman’s activities.
11. Paul Savage: Fall 10’48″
12. Mikael Konttinen: Untitled 6’20″
This piece was composed when I had a lot of things on my mind. I was very conscious of time and in some great stress. The first was due to a shortage of time. The latter was concerning some choices that had to be made. Choices that would mould my future.
When it came to music, I wanted to compose something different. Something that I had not done before. I needed to get some distance and figure out what I was doing and why.
When I started, all I knew was that it would be something in a repetitive moment-form. I now realise that the use of pulse-waves, the resemblance of rhythmic focus and the over all pulses are not a coincidence. Neither is it a coincidence that I’ve conciously distorted and “dirtyfied” it in the mix.
It was not intended to be programmatic -
But it’s all about time.
Eight times falling is a compilation of tracks from young Swedish electro-acoustic composers, published by EMS/Elektron. There are already a lot of connections between “High culture” experimental music (if this can be classified as such) and “underground”, especially in Sweden, which immediately raises a question about what this genre’s possible contributions, if any, to industrial music and its listeners might be. The album starts with Niklas Peterson’s disturbingly familiar-sounding To John. It could be described as electro-acoustic “thriller music”, in which electric squeals and bangs create a fine, effective emotional experience. Opposed to that, Jan Liljekvist’s five-part Arkham Quartet doesn’t feel like anything except self-serving trickery with classical instruments. Daniel T Eideholm’s Voice of Eye sounds even more familiar than the Peterson track – deep booming sounds, bubbling water, ominous melodies in the buzzing of flies… the piece reveals itself to be the first track of L.E.A.K’s (in which Eideholm is apparently a key member) album The Old Teahouse! That’s not a drawbak, though, since I consider L.E.A.K. to be experimental music at its best.
Bo Halén’s Pulse/Breathing (1989) is very minimalist humming/buzzing which basically works but dosen’t give much. Johannes Bergmark’s 12-minute Saw Octet could with its disturbing screaming be a good example of the kind of more innovative material many dark ambient -artists might do instead of just endless recycling. A many-shaded, weirdly intensive piece made by beautifully simple means. Another very impressive track is Sweden by Lennart Westman. It’s an epic construction made out of electric sounds and extremely weird choral-like singing, weakened only by its (possible) social message – is it performed in earnest, or is it a just an objectified text not connected to the composer? I hope it’s the latter, as I do not like art being used as a medium with so bluntly issued opinions.
Paul Savage’s Fall is an extremely typical example of what this kind of high-culture experimental classical music is at its worst – annoying trickery and playing that leads to absolutely nothing. As an ending to the disc, Mikael Konttinen presents a track made out of truly magnificent analogical droning. Unfortunately that track is too restless and eventful to my ears that are a more used to industrial built with less grand gestures. I would have preferred a more monotonous version of the piece, even though it’s not at all bad the way it is now. I must admit that this album alone contains a huge amount of the kind of innovation that would benefit the self-repetitive industrial / dark ambient scene, in the form of new sound elements at the very least. And it’s delightful to see both that some of these artists are moving towards industrial, bringing it new perspectives (like L.E.A.K. has done) and that within the industrial scene there are artists who independently practice the same kind of experimentalism, such as the Finnish Mnem who sounds very much like Mikael Konttinen here.. On the other hand, as I suspected from the beginning, there’s also a lot of such fooling-around that I would personally call purely “pseudo-artistic crap”. Despite those this album had many tracks that I really enjoyed.
John Björkman, Kuolleen Musiikin Yhdistys
Almost inconspicuously, without blowing the whistle very loudly; yes, almost unnoticed, a small Swedish record company – Elektron – is slipping some of the very best of modern music in the field of electroacoustics and sound art onto the scene. This issue is no exception. Ulf Stenberg, Director of EMS, explains the background of this release:
It’s common to talk about generations, especially in the art worlds. New generations indicate new attitudes in music; new music. Of course statements like this oversimplify reality, but nevertheless, they express some truth. In the world of electroacoustic music, at least in Sweden, this is obviously the case. The history of Swedish electroacoustic music is really the history of relatively well-defined generations. In the history of music making at EMS, the epicenter of electroacoustic music in Sweden, this is certainly so, from the start in the late sixties.
This new record from EMS incorporates music from one group within a new generation; the participants of the course at EMS (EAM-linjen; the Electroacoustic curriculum) that graduated in the year 2000, and which has kept together, working with concerts and other projects, and this record. It presents eight pieces by eight different composers, and putting a label on this output creates problems… but perhaps one characterization would be diversity (no aesthetical consensus) and another a more relaxed attitude towards the concept of Art. […]
There is no verbal guidance into the works by the composers. They simply let the music work its way into our perception and imagination, which is honest and carefree, and very much to my liking.
Niklas Peterson opens the set with his To John. It seems to be an electronically generated piece from the outset, different timbres clashing and dispersing, deep forging rumbles emitting rays of high pitches in a crystal world with references to Michael Obst. The soundscape that opens is one of gravitational forces in a crackling layer of inland ice, placing my mental preparedness somewhere in the vicinity of Kebnekaise, perhaps near Tarfala, which is sitting in a rock desert surrounded by glaciers, some calving into the green lake. Deeper into the piece the electronics start a mimicry of gestures of human conversations, but in the fashion of a shadow play, just lining out the contours of messages, without the messages themselves. Finally – surprisingly – a concrete soundscape is attached, like the cans attached to the car of departing newly-weds, with the ambience of a day with wind whispering through leafy crowns, and passenger jets passing high above in a sense of absentmindedness and hypnosis.
Jan Liljekvist presents a piece called The Arkham Quartet, in five short movements with indications from the world of classical music. Indeed the actual sounds of a string quartet are used, sampled, and then twisted and turned, bent out of shape and out of whack, in the machinery provided by EMS. There are not so few examples of this method and string quartet instruments in new music, but this seems to be one of the more humorous. Part 1 is pretty wild, levers moving fast up and down, strings attached (!), the cello – or perhaps the lower strings of the viola – sounding like a motorbike and then like the nagging of an old man inside his senility, eventually adding the fast spin of a spinning top and the growling of a wild boar… inside my private imagery, that is… Part 2 is more gentle at first, the tender, tingling possibilities of the strings used, even very short part of the strings, making sounds like winding an old clock driven by a spring, and Liljekvist also makes the music sound like zithers and santoors. Part 3, again, is more serious, exposing deep, forceful timbres that are elongated, stretched into a drone, on which mumbling creatures growl and turn, trying to edge over the rim of reality, without ever succeeding completely, rags and tatters of the unreal flying ‘round their minds like Tibetan prayer fliers in the mountain passes. Part 4 of The Arkham Quartet staggers in ominous doubles into a dark chamber of held back thoughts, more in the vein of dark ambience, with the added features of playing on plastic combs, or so it sounds; very peculiar, but we like it strange! The last section again rises above the seriousness into a funky cartoon-scape with funny shadows flaring up above the walls, like Dylan’s light in I Shall Be Released… but the ominous feelings of part 4 re-enters, bringing with it a flurry of flaky, springy, gluey, even elastic sounds, soaring or bouncing on a standing wave of timbres that grows in strength.
Daniel T. Eideholm’s contribution is called Voice of Eye. A swooping, wheezing ambience opens the piece, and dark thuds and the sense of a watery environment makes for a mix of modern dark ambience and some of Luc Ferrari’s Presque rien pieces, or even something out of the famous Hétérozygote – and you can hardly have better role models for an electroacoustic piece. The soundscape is mysterious, perhaps a little reminiscent of the sound world of a computer game like Myst. Choir-like, distant sounds, or sounds of soaring swarms of bees (?) heighten the mystery even more, or maybe I’m totally wrong; perhaps this is a future machine world, long past the extinction of the humans, even past the electronic age, into a great unknown of unfathomable intelligences in clouds of sulphur rolling across the planet… All these possibilities shows how interesting and diverse this electroacoustic piece is. Your imagination is the limit.
Bo Halén brings his Pulse/Breathing, but his work is not new, stemming all the way from 1989. The structure, if not the content, is of the late 20th century chamber mode, so to say, with a method of sparsely dispersed fractions of audio making as much use of the nature of pauses as of the sound that comes and goes, cranky, screechy, plucked and dominantly rumbling, as well as conscientiously sawn into the soil of the music. It’s, however, a rather artistically thin piece, which doesn’t really call for more.
Johannes Bergmark is one of the more prolific figures on the modern sound art scene, active in many sectors of contemporeana, not least textsound and sound poetry, in addition to electroacoustics. His piece is the longest on the CD. Saw Octet is about 12 minutes long. It starts magnificently with a high pitch choir section, perhaps indeed rising out of eight channels of saws! The sounding result is nothing short of angelic, though, and could well have been extorted out of some part of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Licht cycle. I am impressed! The angel-saws are gradually pitched – and slowed – down, only to rise again into the thin air of high skies. Eventually the choir starts wobbling and dancing, dizzying and intoxicated, like a spinning top about to loose speed and stamina and topple over, but never quite, because the high pitches keep on keeping on, later winding down into bumblebee hums. Even later the sounds take on new characteristics, reminding me of a multiplied progression of the tricycle my son had when he was two years old, which was in bad need of an oil-down… The sounds of Bergmark’s piece – right up your face like a gang of insistent humming birds – are all but invasive, but also filled with a peculiar lust that sort of drivels and slobbers off of the timbres. This is a tight, dense texture of high pitches and mounting timbres, in glaring spectra of overtones. Beautiful!
Lennart Westman delivers a piece called Sweden. The piece starts with that word in a self-made chorus, joined by a repetitious shortwave extortion in different layers. As the voices die down the shortwave sounds keep up, but then a voice returns with an accusation against… Sweden. He screams, quite beautifully, but with the characteristics of many Sten Hanson pieces, the words “I accuse” – but in French! Also in the choice of language Westman makes a reference to Sten Hanson. The electronic sounds; rippling flows of bubbling spheres, remind me, instead, a lot of Lars-Gunnar Bodin. Hanson and Bodin are two main figures in Swedish sound art, so nothing wrong in an homage in their direction! There’s always been a tight connection between the French and Swedish sound artists, so the French is quite appropriate. Just think of Henri Chopin and Bernard Heidsieck! Yes baby! Westman makes the most of his experiences of Swedish sound art, and adds his own fury against all discrimination, as he accuses politicians, social secretaries, psychologists and the judicial system. Yes, I think of Åke Hodell and even Rune Lindblad in this great tradition. Lennart Westman’s work evolves into a very qualified continuation of the best of Swedish sound art, with clear references to the predecessors, while he adds something of his own characteristics as well. I must say I truly and honestly enjoy this piece immensely. For me, this piece and Johannes Bergmark’s before it, plus Paul Savage’s piece (next) are the three highlights of this issue, and three of the highlights of Swedish sound art as such, even historically! Great stuff! Inspiring to the last whimper of sound! The comic and exhausted exclamation in Swedish at the end (“Hur kan det bli så här?) doesn’t make things less great. Wow!
Paul Savage has brought in some ammunition from a text by Poet Laureate Göran Sonnevi, from his Det oavslutade språket (The Unfinished Language). Sara Ljungberg has lent her voice, and Martin Küchen plays the saxophone in the work Fall. Small sounds, a coin whirling on a table… then Sara’s voice in a dramatic exposure of Sonnevi’s text… as the transparent and fastidious electronic music – really very diligent – paints the duration in, probably, the most careful and intelligent sound environment on the CD. Mr. Savage knows what he’s doing, and he’s doing it very well indeed. His voice woman and saxophone man are well chosen participants, too; she as crazy and innovative as Hebriana Alainentalo, he as ingenious as Wolfgang Fuchs, and Mr. Savage’s electroacoustics functions like an amplifying, grainy glue. The different strata of sound are either inserted above and underneath each other, or tilted this way and that, reflecting a massive amount of moaning cat shrieks and jittery nano worlds of crystalline audio matter. Magnificent!
The last piece is Untitled by Mikael Konttinen. A grainy horizon, misty and jagged, open for sharp industrial jabs, sort of heard over a telephone, but close, clear, tingling stereo sound arrives, like permuted rain fall on corrugated sheet metal. An apprehensive, circling, waiting feeling hovers like a hesitant thought in this music of infinitesimal details. The telephone industrialism returns like an echo of 1920s Russian factory echoes, until Rune Lindblad contact percussion meets all ends, like someone is playing with sticky pins on your tympanic membranes… You name it, we like it!