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.

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.

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.

Double CD released on Econore


Now available is the 2x CDr No Audience Participation on Econore records. The 5 tracks were originally released as a series of downloads under the title Culture’s Cancelled in March/April. It’s a documentation of concerts I played pre-COVID 19 in late 2019 and early 2020.

Econore turned my collection of recordings and collages into this amazing thing with lots of goodies like show flyers, a 12 page booklet and a button. Limited edition of 20.

Inconvenient – new tape out on Industrial Coast

recording, release


The four track tape album Inconvenient is now available on Industrial Coast.

C35. Jcard. Onbody labels & presentation envelope.

These recordings were assembled in a rather inconvenient way during a period in 2019 when the audio interface on DW’s computer did not work properly. All sounds had to be recorded on mobile devices and then transferred to a DAW for mixing.

The pieces revolve around impossibilities – transducing and transposing inaudible events into the hearable spectrum and mixing unrelated audio from different locations to create the simulacrum of a place that never really existed.

The détournements of song titles by Bob Dylan and Don van Vliet act as a reminder to the possibility of deconstructing your own memories and archives.

The aesthetic choices made during the recording process were influenced by the collage work Une Semaine de Bonté by Max Ernst.

Radiophonic lecture on noise

lecture, radio, release

amorphes silizium

Radiophonische Vorlesung über Noise: ein Begriff, der die Grenzen seiner eigenen Definitionen sprengt und ein semantisches Rauschen in den Apparaten der begrifflichen Sprache freisetzt. Als Lärm, Geräusch, Rauschen und Störung durchquert er verschiedene Wissensgebiete, insistiert in ihren Zwischenräumen und zieht neue Verbindungslinien. In diesem Beitrag wird Noise als chaotisches Bindeglied zwischen Diskursen der Akustik, Philosophiegeschichte, Musikwissenschaft, Politik, Thermodynamik und Informationstheorie vorgestellt.

– – –
Ein Projekt des Online Musicking Call Mai / Juni 2020 des Verbands für aktuelle Musik Hamburg, gefördert von der Behörde für Kultur und Medien Hamburg.
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[Radiophonic lecture on Noise: a term that breaks the boundaries of its own definitions and releases a semantic noise in the apparatuses of conceptual language. As hissing, sonic disturbance, entropy and acoustic violence it traverses different fields of knowledge, insists in their interstices and draws new connecting lines. In this feature, noise is presented as a chaotic link between discourses of acoustics, history of philosophy, musicology, politics, thermodynamics and information theory.]


Rosaceae – Efia| LP out now

release, text

This Pudel Produkte/Noisexistance co-release of Rosaceae’s first LP is now officially available:

rosaceae efia

Written and produced by Rosaceae, 2019
First performed on March 29, 2019 at the
Noisexistance Festival at Kampnagel, Hamburg
Mastered by Rashad Becker
Additional Mixing by Anders Fallesen
Additional Vocals by Jesseline Preach, Mazlum Nergiz
Liner Notes by David Wallraf
Layout by Markus Izzo
Released by Pudel Produkte
In cooperation with Noisexistance
Released June 26, 2020

Wallraf/Jetzmann joint-release


This collaboration was originally intended as a live performance for Hamburg’s Blurred Edges festival in May. Now two spoken word/noise tracks are available as a joint-release on Jetzmann’s and my respective Bandcamp accounts. The project started with Jetzmann providing lyrics and me developing soundtracks based on the texts, using material recorded during sessions originally intended as preparations the performance.

Wahrschau is a reaction to the current pandemic situation, Nizza NY is a travelogue. English translations are provided with the downloads.