Fiebig I EMERGE I Bonafini

by Gerald Fiebig I EMERGE I Mattia Bonafini

This triple-split album presents electroacoustic compositions by attenuation circuit label head EMERGE, long-time associate Gerald Fiebig, and – for the first time ever on a physical release – the Italian, Bremen-based composer and sound artist Mattia Bonafini. The final track is a trio improvisation EMERGE, Fiebig and Bonafini played at Hulsberg Crowd in Bremen in June 2019, a temporary art location in a former nurses' home which has since been demolished.

Although the three pieces were composed independently, they seem to share a certain aesthetic feel: Sonic atmospheres stained by constant hiss (EMERGE), vinyl surface noise (Bonafini), and car traffic (Fiebig) pervade the album. Out of this grey sleet of acoustic debris, the composers try to salvage moments of clarity in the form of concrete sounds, melodic fragments or drone chords.

EMERGE works with a variety of field recordings that every once in a while quite literally emerge from the monochrome fog of background hiss that seems to be visualised in the colours of the cover artwork. The 'betamorphoses' of the title could refer to the moments in which the static drone hiss of the piece morphs into more distinct acoustic scenes. One could think of it as moments when the static hum of 'capitalist realism' (Mark Fisher) that muffles the whole of our reality is replaced by the sounds of something different - 'betamorphoses' perhaps being beta tests for a metamorphosis of society at large that needs to take place.

Fiebig's 'Far-end Crosstalk (Augsburg – Jinan)', based on field recordings from his homebase Augsburg and the soundscape of the Chinese city of Jinan (recorded by Nicolai Volland in 1995) spells out this need for change along ecological lines. The piece maps Murray R. Schafer's idea of the urban 'lo-fi soundscape' onto the problem of climate change: With increasing car traffic, cities around the world not only sound increasingly the same, they also face the same problems with air pollution. The Jinan sounds are modulated with a filter based on frequencies of the note C (for China), the Augsburg sounds are filtered around the note G (for Germany).

'Turning Pages' of musical history, or rather turning music around to see its other side, is what Mattia Bonafini did for his piece: He recorded surface noise from vinyl records in the library of Bremen's Hochschule für Künste where he studied electroacoustic music, and thus created the piece by manipulating this background noise of the officially documented history of music. Like the other pieces, 'Turning Pages' is an act of musical upcycling in which apparently non-musical sounds are used to create an aesthetic structure and, through sound, make us think about the world.

The live cut from Hulsberg Crowd – the venue itself being a sort of creative, if temporary, repurposing of an urban 'left-over' – continues this by using 'sub-musical' elements such as no-input mixer and vocal noises rather than speech or song. But the tension felt in the three previous pieces, the feel of a present wedged uneasily between an untenable past and an uncertain future, is exploded in the energetic interaction of the trio, into a 'lightbulb moment' (Lester Bangs) of whatever the listener may perceive in it - utopian or dystopian?

File under: drone, ambient, hauntology

ACU 1038

factory-produced CDr in cardboard sleeve

Released in 2022

limited to 100 copies

price: 7.00 EUR (excl. postage)

photos by Dan Penschuck (
design by EMERGE

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You could regard both of these releases as 'compilations', even when the first is perhaps more of a document of some kind. While it has four pieces, the fourth is a trio recording of a concert from 2019. The other three pieces they made independently. I wasn't looking at the cover the first time around and noted a similar approach between EMERGE and Fiebig; I could hardly tell where one ended and the other started. EMERGE's piece consists mainly of a dark rumble, like a massive obscured cloud of nuclear rain passing and a Geiger counter running amok towards the end. This easily connects to Fiebig, who uses field recordings from Germany and China, filtering car noises on the note of G for Germany and C for China. You could say this is a piece of sound ecology, or rather a protest for climate change. Extreme filtering creates a grey effect on the music, obscuring actions and blurring sight like a polluted city. I don't think I had the pleasure to hear music from Mattia Bonafini before. He uses turntables and records from the library of Bremen's Hochschule Für Künste and lets surface noise of the vinyl mix with orchestral loops. It is nice, but also a bit too obvious. In their collaborative piece, at twenty minutes, also the longest on this disc, they work with sparse sound material, spreading them over the place, but not through any heavy layering. I think that is part of the development and experience of these people. In the old days, they went for the sort of build-up that ended with a massive crash. Now they work with silence, in the first six minutes and the last four. In between there is a good darkened rumble going on, quite split between the left and right channel, with suppressed noise, but all of which becomes quite intense, just because things aren't as loud as could have been. Excellent improv here!



Lars Holmer hat von 'gefallenem Kulturgut' gesprochen im Hinblick auf klassische Motive, die, aufgeschnappt von Volksmusikanten aus den Gärten der da oben und den offenen Fenstern klimpernder Elisen, auf die Tanzböden von denen da unten gelangten. Zu 'betamorphoses' von EMERGE, 'Far-end Crosstalk (Augsburg – Jinan)' von GERALD FIEBIG und 'Turning Pages' von MATTIA BONAFINI (ACU 1038) ist dagegen von 'musical upcycling' die Rede. Wenn nämlich 'the static hum of capitalist realism', der den Globus lo-fidelisierende Verkehrslärm und das Knistern von Vinyl als nicht-musikalisches (Hinter)Grundgeräusch zumindest die niederen Weihen von Musik erhalten. Kaum eine Ecke der Spatzenwelt ist nicht durchschnitten von dröhnenden Autobahnen, rauschenden Eisenbahntrassen, Gebabbel und Gesabbel. There is no escape from noise. Kein Komfort ohne Müll. Die einen fliehen davor in die letzten vermeintlichen Idyllen, die andern stumpfen dagegen ab, geben zusätzlich Gas, jagen Blätter mit Laubbläsern, die dritten spielen Laurentius, wollen auf die andere Seite gedreht werden, weil die eine schon gar ist. Alles nur eine Frage der Souveränität, eines zivilisatorischen New Deals neuer Hänse, die, nachdem bereits die Steinzeit verdummt wurde, nun das tönerne Gerade-noch-so ins gänzlich virtuelle Sonntagskinder-Glück meta-morphisieren? Downgrading für Dummies? Oder das wahre Glück dank Positiven Denkens? Nur einmal auf der Welt, na dann doch so irreal wie möglich? In Augsburg in einer gedämpften Klangwolke in G (für Germany), in Jinan dasselbe als Chinoiserie in kaskadierenden C-Wellen. Der in Bremen studierende Italiener, Teil des elektroakustischen Impro-Duos The Grey Nuances, übertönt und überhöht das knurschende Vinyl mit elegisch dröhnendem 'Hörner'- und monoton wiederholtem 'Streicher'-Klang, der sich melancholisch als Kokon ins Kopfhörerohr stopfen lässt, wie einst Philip Jeck und mit nun verdoppelter Nostalgie. Die 20 Min. 'live at Hulsberg Crowd, Bremen, 03.06.19' bringen dann noch den Zusammenklang der drei, zwitschrig und löchrig zu Beginn, mit No-Input Mixer, leisen Atemzügen, subtilen Drones. Als wollten sie einem die Nerven beruhigen und die Glieder mit transzendentaler Meditation einschläfern. Doch zu den wenigen Schnarrern, die da in die fast schnarchende Ruhe dringen, kommen allmählich auch noch schnurrende, knörende, furzelige Impulse und feine Gespinste. Um nach einem Moment völliger Stille, einem komischen vokalen Krrpskra, einer kleinen Detonation, einem undichtem Ventil, einem vorletzten Trillereffekt endlich tiefen Schlaf zu finden.

Gerald Fiebig I EMERGE I Mattia Bonafini Fiebig I EMERGE I Bonafini cover front
Gerald Fiebig I EMERGE I Mattia Bonafini Fiebig I EMERGE I Bonafini cover back
Gerald Fiebig I EMERGE I Mattia Bonafini Fiebig I EMERGE I Bonafini Inlay
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