Grenzen des Hörens


((english below))

Wie klingt das Politische? Auf welche Weise werden Macht und Widerstand hörbar? Mit welchen Begriffen lässt sich eine Theorie des Akustischen entwickeln, die diese Kräfteverhältnisse berücksichtigen kann? Grenzen des Hörens widmet sich jenen verdrängten Seiten des Hörbaren, die als Lärm, Rauschen, Geräusche und Störungen vernehmbar werden und die sich mit dem englischen Wort Noise zu einem differenziellen Begriff zusammenfassen lassen. Ausgehend von Noise als einem subkulturellen Genre, das die traditionellen Parameter der Musik dekonstruiert, wird der Begriff bis in Diskurse der Akustik, Thermodynamik und Informationstheorie nachgezeichnet und eine politisch-ästhetische Theorie des Auditiven entworfen. Dabei stützt sich die Arbeit auf die im angloamerikanischen Sprachraum erschienenen Schlüsseltexte zu Noise, deren Kernthesen so erstmals in einer deutschsprachigen Publikation versammelt werden. Der philosophische Ansatz wird in einer Auseinandersetzung mit den Protagonisten des Poststrukturalismus und der kritischen Theorie entwickelt: Spuren von Noise werden in der Dekonstruktion Jacques Derridas, in den Arbeiten von Jean-Luc Nancy, Gilles Deleuzes Differenzphilsophie und der Ästhetischen Theorie Theodor W. Adornos aufgespürt.
Ein zentrales Konzept der Arbeit ist das Auditive Feld des Sozialen, als ein begriffliches Tableau konzipiert, auf dem das Politische hörbar wird und auf dem Sound und Noise in einen Widerstreit treten – nicht als antagonistische Prinzipien, sondern als Bezeichnungen und Zuschreibungen, die ihre Plätze tauschen können und die sich mit Machttechniken und Widerstandskonzepten verknüpfen lassen. Eine kritische Ergänzung zu den Sound Studies, die Geräusche und Lärm als irreduzible Bestandteile des Alltagslebens und der Musik beschreibt und einen Hörraum abseits der glatten Fassaden des Sounddesigns erschliesst.

Mein Buch Grenzen des Hörens. Noise und die Akustik des Politischen ist erhältlich und kann u.a. bei Transcript bestellt werden.

Hier eine überarbeitete Version des dritten Kapitels als radiophonische Vorlesung:

What is the sound of the political? In what ways do power and resistance become audible? What terms can be used to develop a theory of the sonic that can take these power relations into account? Limits of Hearing is dedicated to those repressed sides of the audible that become perceptible as noise – both an acoustic phenomenon and a differential concept. Starting from noise as a subcultural genre that deconstructs the traditional parameters of music, this concept is traced to discourses of acoustics, thermodynamics, and information theory, and a political-aesthetic theory of the auditory is sketched. The work is based on the key texts on noise published in English, whose core theses are gathered together for the first time in a German-language publication. The philosophical approach is developed in an examination of the protagonists of post-structuralism and critical theory: traces of Noise are found in Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction, in the works of Jean-Luc Nancy, Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of difference, and Theodor W. Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory.

A central concept of the work is the Auditory Field of the Social, conceived as a conceptual tableau on which the political becomes audible and on which sound and noise enter contestation – not as antagonistic principles, but as designations and attributions that can exchange places and be linked to techniques of power and concepts of resistance. A critical complement to Sound Studies, which describes sounds and noise as irreducible components of everyday life and music and opens up a listening space beyond the smooth facades of sound design.

Jugendwerkhof | Genus Inkasso split tape


One of the members of Berlin’s Genus Inkasso approached me to write a review for their new split C30 with Jugendwerkhof, here’s the result:

Harsh Noise has, from the time of its conception, always been the perfect soundtrack for times of crisis. If there is any metaphorical connection to be drawn between social and musical harmony, then Noise is both an aesthetic representation of breakdown and the rupture of aesthetic codes at the same time. Crisis derives from the old Greek krÍnein which can be translated as ‘to disrupt’ or ‘to disconnect’ and this is a central characteristic of Noise: it disrupts the notion that everything is fine, in order or harmonious. When crisis becomes a perpetual mode of social existence like in the personal isolation, health inequity and dawning economic breakdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic then Noise becomes an aggressive mimicry of this misorder. It does not simply imitate the crisis; it reflects on it as its own aesthetically autonomous bitter self. Shitty times require negative music.

Which brings us to this split cassette by Jugendwerkhof and Genus Inkasso, released one year into the pandemic by Berlin’s Low Life High Volume (the first tape by this label that has been around since 2018).

Jugendwerkhof, named after the infamous orphanages of the GDR, starts off this release in a claustrophobic aural space composed from synth jabs, low frequency rumble and distorted screams. It almost makes you think of 80s Power Electronics for a moment, but it aims into a completely different direction. Over its 15-minute duration Gnadenverheerer (approximately translatable as ‘Mercy Ravager’) constantly accelerates, tightening its sonic thumbscrews but at the same time gradually dissolves into a splendid mess. The more the notion of a basic rhythm gets overtaken by washes of disorderly noise, the more uplifting the whole thing seems to become (uplifting in the sense that violent Free Jazz can be, but only within the space set by the parameters of the song itself). This progression morphs into a second movement during the final four minutes of the song when it slowly grinds to halt, as if exhausted. The whole thing sounds so dirty and lo-fi that it makes one wonder how it was recorded. It’s this quality of the recording process that contains the chaos in a way, isolating it beneath a threshold of mid-frequency muck that keeps it intimate and distanced at the same time.

On the B-side we have Genus Inkasso, a project active since 2009, with The Dirt, The Quiet, The Peace. This is a different approach to Noise that seems more composed (in every aspect of the word). For the first 30 seconds you get lured into the idea that this could be a slow build up, only to swiftly get bludgeoned by something that is almost Harsh Noise Wall – almost because the static is only temporary, a dissolution of form that gets itself dissolved by aural movements and cuts. This is a texture-driven thing, sort of like 90s Merzbow but grittier and at the same time more contemporary. The unexpected and genre-defying shifts and cuts fuck with your sense of time in a quite enjoyable way (if you enjoy disorientation that is). Towards the end there is even a somehow ambient texture hidden in this asynchronous turmoil, but of course it is more on the gloomy and threatening side of the ambient spectrum.

With this tape you get something that completely fits the atmosphere of early 2021. It is a good time to stock up on Noise-tapes for aforementioned reasons anyways and this split seems like a perfect choice for people who like their musical escapism in a more complicated and challenging way. Challenging in a way that it hardly can be called escapism.

The cassette is available here for 5,- Euros and also as a name-your-price digital download.

New limited edition tape

recording, release

I’m wrapping up this sickening year with a new release. |​|​| || | |​|​| is the second in the ’skull series‘ of tapes, containing two tracks recorded in 2020. On the A-side there’s Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair. The title is taken from Patty Water’s 1965 version of the song. It’s not a cover by any means but listening to her song is highly recommended. The high pitched sounds on this track were generated by plucking human hair attatched to a contact microphone (taken from a very special person with black hair). The B-side contains Year Of The Plague which sums up some of my impressions of the last 12 months. The limited edition of 20 tapes with individual covers and/or a digital download is now available through my bandcamp account.

INCONVENIENT by David Wallraf


Here’s a write-up for the Inconvenient tape by ANTI : Music Review. Very happy abou this…

A n t i : Music Review

Spanning nearly a decade in ambient-noise music – and with a flux of ingenious releases, being the most recent a split-tape with Jeans Beast, and a ’no audience participation‘ double-CD with 5-live recordings, all in October – David Wallraf courses his noisy, musical journey into wild experimental releases, mainly cassette’s. But, one exceeds his work, above all others, as getting to writing this review has been racking in my head for a while.
Terrain blossoms worlds tempered only in conflict and unease. Atmosphere is made applicable to the iconic, harsh noise architecture, blending into unity and chaos occupying the presence of laden strength. David Wallraf accomplishes an album intriguing but never-lasting, so I set this album to repeat as much I can, as it’s a perfect force of contemplation. 
Inconvenient was released through Industrial Coast, premiering only the first song on July 25, 2020, and self-releasing in full-length July 17…

Ursprünglichen Post anzeigen 447 weitere Wörter

Wilted Valid Space – Let It Burn A Million Times

event, installation, recording, video

Wilted Valid Space Let It Burn A Million Times is the title of a video installation by Rosh Zeeba, exhibited at Galerie 21/Vorwerkstift in Hamburg on September 5th 2020. The three channel installation was accompanied by sounds specifically assembled for this event. The resulting audio piece consists mainly of loops edited from 1970s Iranian popsongs that were suggested by Rosh Zeeba. These loops were played through a modular synthesizer, creating a ‚hauntological‘ soundscape – the aim of the work being to create an uncanny atmosphere that functions like an anachronistic radio broadcast from pre-revolutionary Iran. The exhibition and accompanying performance by Joscha X Ende (aptly titled Noise Reduction) lasted for four hours. Below you can find a recording of the soundscape, edited down to 48 minutes, videoclips showing the installation and a foto of the performance.

blurred edges: Jan Jelinek & Wallraf/Jetzmann


Fr. 23.10.20, 20:00 in der Hörbar/B-Movie, Brigittenstr. 5. 20359 Hamburg

Im Rahmen des Blurred Edges Festivals. Einlass nur mit Kartenvorbestellung an csh44[at]

Jan Jelinek

Jelineks Arbeiten befassen sich mit der Transformation von Klang bzw. mit der Übersetzung von populären Musikquellen in abstrakte und reduzierte Texturen. Dabei kommen keine traditionellen Musikinstrumente zum Einsatz, vielmehr werden Collagen aus winzigen Klangsamples konstruiert. Diese Samples kommen aus den unterschiedlichsten Aufzeichnungsgeräten wie Tonbandmaschinen, digitale Sampler, Mediaplayer.
Die Aufnahmen werden zu repetitiven Loops verarbeitet, reduziert auf die wesentlichste klangliche Eigenschaft des Originalmaterials, wobei das Ausgangsmaterial in den meisten Fällen nicht mehr dechiffrierbar ist.

Jetzmann / Wallraf

Jetzmann, bei diesem Konzert mit Mikrofon für Texte und Sampler für Sounds, macht sonst Radioarbeit und Bühnenmusik. An diesem Abend interessiert an den Möglichkeiten von Text und Noise.

David Wallraf forscht seit 2010 zur Theorie und Praxis von Noise. Besonderes Interesse für die verdrängte und unheimliche Akustik des Alltagslebens, an diesem Abend in Relation zu Jetzmanns Texten.

A Model of Infection at Gallery ONKAF

recording, release

New Delhi’s gallery ONKAF comissioned international sound artists and musicians to produce works for their Life Inbetween series, running 03-12 October. My contribution, the 09:30 min. track Psyche – A Model of Infection is now available on ONKAFs website and on YouTube.

The Greek word psyche, analogous to the Latin spiritus, originally meant breath as well as soul or spirit. The invisible and ephemeral phenomenon of inhalation and exhalation connects the inside and outside of the body, it is both a carrier substance of language and of airborne diseases and also a sign for the liveliness of bodies.
Breath is the starting point of this work: a single and solitary breath, recorded with a throat microphone. The inside corresponds to the body of the individual in a symbolic isolation, which becomes a social reality through the distancing measures against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This isolated sound, a reference to the desire for interaction with others, is linked to field recordings. These sounds were recorded during the recent years in places that are no longer accessible or difficult to visit due to travel restrictions (a collage of street sounds from Tel Aviv, Istanbul, Tokyo and Warsaw). Due to the currently unbridgeable distance, the acoustic reminiscences of these places are charged with nostalgia.
On a further level of the work, an interplay of four different waveforms produced by analog oscillators unfolds in the stereo image – sine wave (left channel), triangular wave (right channel), square wave (half left) and sawtooth wave (half right) appear in a fixed frequency ratio and form a chord. At minute 03:45 a noise signal begins to modulate the first oscillator, the random voltage distribution ‘infecting’ the homogeneous sine wave. The resulting ‘symptoms’ are fluctuations in frequency, a distraction from the normal or ‘healthy’ state. This audio infection is passed on to the next oscillator, while maintaining the characteristics of the sinusoidal oscillation – it is no longer the same noise signal, but a ‘mutation’. This process is repeated until all four oscillations are infected. At the end of the cycle, the output of the last oscillator is fed back to the first – an exponential growth of modulations/infections that changes the characteristics of the whole system.
What remains is the sound of breathing, but no longer as an isolated sound event. By using a vocoder, the sound of breathing becomes the envelope for the collected field recordings, a hybrid sound event that refers to the singularly plural dynamics of the social.