3. Free music is the way
Friday I woke up around noon and met my companions in the Jazzgalerie
bar/restaurant. I had a garlic soup. We unsuccessfully tried to have a swim in a lake nearby, but we couldn’t find it. We returned to the bar, had a peak eye on a shelf with records and played 'Tibet'
of Don Cherry
(actually a reissue of the ’74 album ’Eternal Now’
), while preparing for the first concerts at Kleylehof
(a cultural space located about 6 km away from Nickelsdorf, where you could find an amphitheater, in a beautiful garden and two barns where modern contemporary art installations and sculptures were intriguing the visitors).
There were three solos: first, there was the Australian double bassist Mike Majkovski
, followed by a solo of the avant-garde electronics wizard Bob Ostertag
and a solo of Israeli born (now Swedish resident) musician and activist Dror Feiler
(whom we had the chance to talk with). In the cool room we enjoyed outstanding performances and sonic experiments. Trance-like listening experience. Abstract, noise, it was all experimental.
controls the sound from a joystick. Dror Feiler
begins his performance with a short speech on the freedom of music, concluding that ‘’free music is the way; one of them’’. At some point, it becomes so brutal; now, back in Bucharest, while it’s raining outside, I wonder how long it takes to get there, to that point of free art fighting programmed art. After a short pause of silence, a dramatic saxophone solo - with ethnic feel - starts, out of nowhere.
Back in Nickelsdorf, the first concert that I confront is Ashes, a project combining the forces of four versatile musicians: Julia Reily
(a guitarist, composer and improvisor from Sydney), Richard Scott
on modular synthesizer, Hilary Jeffery
on trombone and electronics and Steve Heather
on percussion. Elaborated, partly psychedelic rock, partly free improvisation.
Maybe the beauty of improvisation is the quality of being so unique; it captures a single moment, it never sounded like this before and it will never sound like this in the future either, ever again. Like in life, we improvise everything, in any way, no matter how hard we planned certain things and circumstances before. Things will never be as planned, you can’t fight this.
Fleeting thoughts: a birth of a child; sounds of meat beaten with passion coming from the kitchen; extremist radical brain massages; changing the world; don’t fight. The more you fight, the less you’ll succeed. Don’t resist. Let it breathe.
The second act seems a bit softer. Watussi is a trio composed by Ingrid Schmoliner
(an Austrian musician, composer, pedagogue and curator) on piano, Joachim Badenhorst
on reeds and Pascal Niggenkemper
on double bass. One of the highlights of the night was Trio Kimmig (violinist Harald Kimmig
, Daniel Studer
on double bass, Alfred Zimmerlin
on cello) plus John Butcher
on reeds. Butcher is one of the most influential musicians in free-improv, known for his subtlety, expansions of the vocabulary of saxophone and acoustic exploration of spaces. The concert was simply flawless, with complex relationships between the four players. It managed to captivate everyone, even though it was very quiet and subtle most of the time. (Also, check his essay on Freedom and Sound
This music is crazy and everybody seems to enjoy it. I see wild animals running from the stage through the public, elephants getting out of the trumpets, drums burning, faces of people coming here and using music as a pretext of escaping from their own existence, just losing themselves in the sound. Maybe it’s the wine that gives me an overall feel of comfort in searching for the sync. I want to get up and scream loudly, trying to cover the harsh reeds coming from the stage. They’re like whips hitting my ears, while everybody sits mesmerized, with a grimace of solitude on their faces. Can anyone hear me? Sometimes music makes you feel lonely.
There were two more thought-provoking concerts (Nuiversum
) that followed during this long and intense night. It’s hard for me to decide if I really liked some concerts more than the others, since it’s all novelty and excitement. When people were asking me which concerts did I like the most, it was hard for me to think in these terms. But the highlight of the day (and one of the high-points of the entire festival) was the solstice concert on Saturday morning with Hamid Drake
on percussion and Pasquale Mirra
on vibes and percussion. This was a truly special moment, that never happened before at this festival; as we were all laying down in the grass, the sun was rising, coming out, and Hamid and Pascal were playing the most amazing music, in a spiritual atmosphere, with a candle light guiding the sun up to the sky. At a certain point, we all started repeating after Hamid one of John Coltrane
's meditation mantra: "may there be peace, and love, and perfection throughout all creation.
’’ I slept happily that morning.