MoL Quartetto
Ideal Recordings
Edition of 300, fold-out digipack
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Zurufe’s history is a strange and twisting one, but it’s worth telling here, because the music you hold is very much about the journey itself–the narrative is deeply imbedded in the sound.

The beginning was straightforward enough–recording a live performance in July 2018 by CM, Christopher and Joachim at the Arnulf Rainer museum in Baden, part of Achim and Martha’s wonderful MoL festival. Each played in a separate room of the spectacular centuries-old bathhouse-turned-museum, the sound reverberating through the marble pools and walkways. Unfortunately, two problems arose immediately: Christopher's direct audio feed was accidentally left unrecorded, and the ambient microphones didn't do a good job of preserving the natural acoustic balance of the live sound, meaning all sorts of artificial reverb and processing would be needed to 'replace' the beautiful natural acoustics. For me at least, these issues undermined the most interesting reasons to record it at all. So despite the good intentions and the inspired and sympathetic performance of the trio, the project was shelved.

Stumbling upon these engaging recordings a few months later, just as planning for the 2019 edition of the festival began (to be held in part again in the Rainer!), a new trajectory for the project was conceived. Christopher agreed to re-record a new version of his ‘missing parts’ at his studio in London, using the same sounds he’d brought to the Rainer. Since this was clearly no longer about documenting a live performance, I took the opportunity to re-arrange and manipulate some of the original audio to give him a ‘new’ soundscape to improvise with.

In July of 2019, exactly one year after the original recordings, the sounds of our new re-creation were once again bouncing around the baths of the Rainer. With the museum’s gracious permission and partnership, each performer’s recordings (and the original microphone feeds from locations throughout the museum) were individually reproduced on loudspeakers placed in each musician’s original location. Six microphones throughout the museum captured the new reverberations of each of the 3 ‘takes’. The final mix consists of these 18 microphone feeds from 2019 combined in ever-evolving ways with the 14 original-but-manipulated tracks from 2018.

So this hybrid construction – neither completely ‘live’, nor completely artificial - was made ‘real’ again, the sounds once again reflecting off the physical surfaces of the Rainer, their acoustic waveforms captured in real time by microphones. Faint echoes of Christopher’s initial performance, imprinted by the ambient microphones during the original concert, mingle with his new improvisations. The aural residue of the audience noises from 2018, re-broadcast into the Rainer, create the ghosts of listeners no longer in attendance, intertwining with the footsteps and murmurs of museum patrons wandering the galleries during the re-recording. Each sonic event in Zurufe generates an echo that begins in 2018, and fades away–quite literally–a full year later.

If the original trio were the first ‘performers’, with my conceptual meddling making a quartet, then a logical fifth performer is the Arnulf Rainer Museum itself. If Zurufe compresses a year of time into a moment, it also doubles the Rainer’s physical spaces. With the sounds and reverberations from the museum released once again into the same acoustical space, the beautiful echoes are multiplied, the unique sonic fingerprint deepened. The 30 microphones from locations all across the building combine to form an impossible single stereo perspective – the sound of the entire museum all at once, or rather two entire museums. Again that tug between artifice and reality, neither one nor the other. Hopefully, once immersed in the lush universe of Zurufe, the listener won’t feel at all compelled to distinguish between the two.

  • Tim Story, October 2020

Hans-Joachim Roedelius: grand piano, synthesizers, prepared tapes Christopher Chaplin: orchestral and choir samples, synthesizers CM von Hausswolff: 12 sine wave oscillators, location recordings (Nepal) and treatments Tim Story: sound design, treatments & conceptual