It has now been a little more than four years since a novel virus made its rounds in the world and it quickly became apparent that we would have to deal with that for months, if not years. Being hurled into this pandemic created all kinds of hurdles for the cultural scene, but at the same time emphasised its knack for innovation. Events were outsourced to the internet or entirely new formats were developed in order to stay resilient and offer safe social togetherness through cultural means. What has actually remained of this now that all restrictions in public and private spaces have been lifted?
Very little, one might think. But a new series launched by the label 901 Editions shows that innovative concepts such as the online festival Amplify were indeed formative for experimental and electronic music. To mark the 15th anniversary of the Italian imprint, owner Fabio Perletta is organising a »virtual residency programme« in which musicians from all over the world reveal their creative work processes. The series offers a glimpse into the studios and working processes of various artists as it was the norm in 2020 and 2021. This doesn’t happen out of lockdown nostalgia, of course, but with a heightened interest in what happens behind the scenes and remains hidden from the public.
Elena Kakaliagou kicks things off with »9⁰ (7),« on which it sounds as if the Berlin-based horn player is speaking through her instrument for a minute and a half. Her words however are barely intelligible; they remain an attempt to communicate through aesthetic instead of verbal means—while posing the question whether aesthetics can be self-effective communication. This short piece raises many questions about the boundaries of art and how meaning can be conveyed, how a connection of the soloist (even solipsist?) to her environment and fellow human beings is being made through the means of a medium. This also brings back memories of a time four years ago and serves as a reminder that it remains worthwhile to reflect on and discuss these questions.
The Releases of the Month, as always selected by field notes editor Kristoffer Cornils, offer even more food for thought and discussion. New releases by Ben Glas, Eiko Yamada and the late Phill Niblock as well as a new issue of the Blank Forms magazine with articles and conversations with Amelia Cuni and Akio Suzuki, among others, provide plenty of mental nourishment for the new year.