Transmissions From Revarsavr

Lumisokea is the Berlin based Italian/Belgian duo of Andrea Taeggi and Koenraad Ecker. Their influences “range from dub to musique concrète, various percussion music traditions from Asia & Africa, techno, noise and contemporary classical music, while remaining focused on the key elements in their music: to induce trance-like states, to move bodies and to emphasize the tactile qualities of sound.”

Both artists had solo albums in 2015. Andrea Taeggi produced the beautifully restrained and carefully calibrated Mama Matrix Most Mysterious (out on Type) which saw him working on the Buchla and Serge modular synthesizers from the EMS studios in Stockholm. As he stated at the time, it was more of a case of him needing to adapt to the systems. The fact that he didn’t master them thankfully didn’t deter him, and allowed him, on the contrary, to have fun with the whole process.

Under the moniker Gondwana, Taeggi also released the album ‘Aun’ on Opal Tapes back in 2015. In contrast to MMMM, Aun was a murkier affair, meandering in its approach, but that’s not to say less focused, more prone to melody as tracks such as Right Brainer seemed to indicate, but also inclined to erupt into occasional piercing shards of noise. In its defiant change of tack, ‘Aun’ is sustained throughout by a lingering beat, which gets intermittently buried only to resurface as the driving force of the album.

Koenraad Ecker, on the other hand, went into microscopic mode with Sleepwalkers in a Cold Circus, his majestically chiseled album for Richard’s Chartier’s L–ne imprint. “I’m searching for ways to create an intricate narrative, switching perspectives and voices within one form, to use silences and hesitations, cuts and fast-forwards”, – he explained. SIACC felt disorientating but all the more powerful for it. “I’ve used a lot of extremely close-up recordings of objects and instruments, I like the confusion they create by being intimate and menacing at the same time.”

His second solo release for 2015, ‘Notes from the Panopticon’, was originally part of Ecology Tapes “Vol. 2”, a split tape release with the Berlin-based quartet The Pitch. It combined cello, double bass, microtonal guitar, tape treatments, electronics and, once again, close-up materials. It felt more exploratory in its intention, than SIACC, an album willing to leave its compass at home in order to have the freedom of taking wrong turns to be surprised by the unexpected. With Notes from the Panopticon Ecker seemed happy to embrace discomfort, and to swim into uncharted waters, happy to fail at times, and to find strength in error.

Also in 2015, Taeggi and Ecker, in their Lumisokea guise, closed proceedings on Mnemosyne, an album they’d been working on for two years and which eventually found its home on Helm’s Alter label. Mnemosyne is the product of a weeklong residency at the W.O.R.M studios in Rotterdam, which saw the duo make full use of the studio’s collection of synthesisers from the 60’s and 70’s. “The whole process felt like cultivating a garden of the imagination which is in no rush to be opened to the visitors. With this full length album we explore the more nocturne, narrative and twilight-like angle of Lumisokea. When listening back to it, we had strong images evoking times in an unidentified or unactualized past, like places and events that could have existed, but then didn’t. Hence our reference to “Mnemosyne”, the ancient Greek goddess of Memory.” The aural palette on Mnemosyne becomes more rarified as the album progresses with the due happy to take their time.

After this reflective stepping stone, with its heavily processed recordings of gamelan bells, prepared piano, cello and acoustic drums, Lumisokea’s new effort, Transmissions from Reversavr, returns to the more familiar ground of Evedropping on Pianists, (2014 Opal Tapes, EP). In that case, the duo operated as sonic historians, “The sound sources of most of the percussion come from recordings we made of futuristic ‘Noise Machines’, designed by Vladimir Popov in the 1920’s. These were exhibited in Berlin during the 2014 CTM festival at the ReNoise exhibition at Kunstraum Bethaniën. Besides Popov’s Noise Instruments, there’s quite some material coming from obscure synths recorded at STEIM (such as Böhm Soundlab modular synthesizer, STEIM-built Black Boxes) on top of our own instruments.”

This philological approach has frequently informed the work of Lumisokea and this is what they return to with seemingly urgency and apparent sense of immediacy with Transmissions From Reversavr. Aside from Popov, they reference the work of avant-garde composer Arseny Avraamov, who famously called for the destruction of all pianos “symbolic of the well-tempered system of tuning (popularised by Bach), which mutilates people’s and composers’ musical sense.” Avraamov’s advocacy for a proletarian art and literature was translated into what probably remains his most celebrated work, the Symphony of Sirens, a series of monumental concerts, the most elaborate of which took place in Baku on the 7th of November 1922 and employed “choirs thousands strong, foghorns from the entire Caspian flotilla, two artillery batteries, several full infantry regiments, hydroplanes, twenty-five steam locomotives and whistles and all the factory sirens in the city.”

Music has, among all the arts, the highest power of social organisation…

The most ancient myths prove that mankind is fully aware of that power (…) Collective work, from farming to the military, is inconceivable without songs and music. One may even think that the high degree of organisation in factory work under capitalism might have ended up creating a respectable form of music organisation. However, we had to arrive at the October Revolution to achieve the concept of the Symphony of Sirens. The Capitalist system gives rise to anarchic tendencies. Its fear of seeing workers marching in unity prevents its music being developed in freedom. Every morning, a chaotic industrial roar gags the people. (…) But then the revolution arrived. Suddenly, in the evening – an unforgettable evening – a Red Petersburg was filled with many thousands of sounds: sirens, whistles and alarms. In response, thousands of army lorries crossed the city loaded with soldiers firing their guns in the air. (… ) At that extraordinary moment, the happy chaos should have had the possibility of being redirected by a single power able to replace the songs of alarms with the victorious anthem of The Internationale. The Great October Revolution! – once again, sirens and work in the cannon whole of Russia without a single voice unifying their organisation”.

Naturally, Transmissions from Revesavr is not as ambitious in its scope. Rather than the political stance of Avraam, Lumisokea seem more interested in his approach to sound, which he formalized as early as 1916 in the article Upcoming Science of Music and the New Era in the History of Music. : “Knowing the way to record the most complex sound textures by means of a phonograph – after analysis of the curve structure of the sound groove directing the needle of the resonating membrane – one can create synthetically any, even the most fantastic sounds by forming a groove with the appropriate structure of shape and depth”.

This effectively was predicting the advent of syhnthesised music. Lumisokea’s work has always been preoccupied with texture and structure often achieved through electroacoustic and analog means. With Transmissions from Revesavr, gone is the narrative drive of Mnemosyne. Rhythm is now at the foreground and it is not by accident that one of the tracks on the album is titled Whirling Dervishes. It is not relentless, but a certain degree of physical exertion is required in order to fully appreciate it. This is an accomplished album that achieves moments of trance like states.

Transmissions From Revarsavr is out on Opal Tapes

– Photo by Aleksander Stamatovski

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