Vital Weekly 703 I Franz de Waard
Steve Reich is ‘Different Trains’ connects his own childhood experience of train traveling with the deportation of the jews in nazi Germany at roughly the same time. The links of nazis and trains is also made by Gilles Aubry on his new CD ‘s6t8r’, in which he recorded the empty rooms of Stralau 68, a former venue in Berlin. To amplify the sounds he had to put the levels of recording all the way, thus also capturing the trains outside. The press release reads about the various cultural meanings of train travel, but I merely see that in this work as an extra layer of sound. Aubry records ‘empty’ spaces and then treats the resulting sound into a massive block of sound. Quite minimal and drone like in the first part, but the second part, which starts out as an expansion of the first, develops into an almost musical piece, with sounds bouncing in and out, almost like a factory starting up, machines being switched on. A great menacing piece of music. In the third and final part it seems as water sounds play a part, but no doubt here the trains play an important role. Quite a great CD of drone music that stems from the world of field recordings and surely one of the best works I heard from Aubry so far.
Richard Pinnell | The Watchful Ear
Today I have been listening to a CD by the Swiss sound artist and composer Gilles Aubrey. Now I know that somewhere amongst the masses of discs on my shelves here that I already own something by Aubrey, perhaps a track on a compilation or something, but I know I recognise the name. Damned if I can track it down however, and looking at Aubrey’s website doesn’t help me. I might be wrong, but not knowing is annoying me. Anyone own anything by him that I might also have?
Anyway this new solo CD from Aubrey is a release on Ben Owen’s excellent Brooklyn based Windsmeasure label, an album with the title s6t8r, which refers to the Stralau 68 music venue in Berlin where Aubrey collected the sounds used to make this album. The Stralau venue was the site of many experimental and improv concerts, several of which have appeared on CDs, but is now closed and stands empty. Aubrey recorded the sounds of the various rooms in the empty building, which serve as a resonating vessel for external noises, many of which come from a nearby railway line. There have been a number of CD releases in recent years that seem to use this technique. One that really caught my ear last year but somehow I never got around to reviewing (I’ll try and put this right soon) was Jez riley French’s excellent Audible Silence release. s6t8r works in a similar way to French’s disc in that it is constructed using sounds taken from empty rooms, water pipes, vibrating surfaces etc… While Audible Silence’s approach was somewhat minimal in style though, allowing sounds just to be themselves for much of the time, Aubrey has utilised a fair degree of editing and collage techniques to make the three tracks here. The end results are still very good indeed however.
On the whole, the sounds used are alien enough as to be easily recognisable, but they still reflect the a sense of cold, empty space. Vaguely whistling hums and dull, discreet roars make up much of the sounds we here, but there are some metallic clattering, albeit quite muted, and a number of high pitched whistles and half-throttled squeals. How these sounds were recorded, and to what degree (If any) they might have been treated, looped or layered is unclear, but they certainly do not sound like they were made by a machine or like they have been processed significantly. I suspect that while the microphone gain dial may have been turned right up during some of the recording that there has actually been little to no alteration of the sounds themselves here and that Aubrey’s input has been one of cutting, pasting and layering alone, but again I am not certain.
The three pieces then each have an individual character. The opening Part 1 is very calm and simple, with sounds allowed to sit in place for quite a while as other join them and then drop away after a while. the general tone is quiet, slow and the beauty of the music comes from the sliding of grey textures over each other. The track is very nicely done, subtle and underplayed, allowing the sounds to make an impression of their own. Part 2 begins with the very softest of rumbles somewhere on the borderline between silence and audibility. Two minutes pass before a blast of white noise appears suddenly and the track begins to bloom outwards with further tones, hisses and distant train sounds. A continuous straight line seems to exist through the music, that seems to change almost imperceptibly as the track moves on, and while the music never seems to feel like a drone it takes that form for much of the time, only really altering significantly around eight minutes in when a series of deep arcing booms cut through everything and signals a period where new sounds appear and disappear quickly, giving the music a dense but rapidly changing feel. Here the listener’s appreciation of where the individual sounds originated goes out of the window and the music has an intensity and fluid form that overrides this.
The third piece follows a similar route, but its train-heavy first ten minutes eventually shifts into patterns of very high, piercing tones that again slide over each other continually for the last four minutes of the album. Where or how these final squealing sounds could have been recorded naturally I have no idea, and it is only with these last few moments of the album that I suspect a degree of processing of the actual sounds might have taken place.
Ditching the blow by blow description now then, s6t8r is a good listen on two fronts. The sounds themselves here are well recorded and will be thoroughly interesting to those with an interest in field recordings and acoustic phenomena of this type. rather than just being a catalogue of interesting sounds however the music itself is well constructed, building a tension throughout through the use of gradual layering contrasting with sudden stops and starts. I found this CD to be particularly good to listen to via headphones while travelling to and from work, and in particular while on trains. The way the sounds on the CD reflect the sounds of our everyday modern environment but then also sound just abstract enough to stand apart is amplified when combined with the exterior sounds punctuating my journey today. A strong release anyway, one that should appeal to field recording fans and admirers of modern electronic composition equally. As always, the Windsmeasure packaging is also great, a white thick card sleeve with subtle letterpress design. Very nicely done.
Toneshift – TJ Norris
Berlin-based Swiss artist Gilles Aubry has recently launched this powerful recording in a limited edition of only 300 copies (take note) on Brooklyn-based imprint, Winds Measure Recordings. These small editions are packed in incredibly lovely letterpress packages which are elegant. On S6t8r the music is broken into three parts. The proceedings start off as a wide-open windy cavern, rushing air through spaces, like tubes and empty corridors. In fact, the recording was made at Stralau 68, an empty building. With this flow going strong Aubry adds a percussive clanging of something being played with, say on a concrete floor, and handles the crackles, hiss and unexpected quite expertly.
His minimal cadences shift just enough to keep you alert for further listening. As things progress to Part 2 the sudden heightening in the curve of decibels becomes readily apparent. Like an elongated warble of organic scraping, muted in a gray mix that is as once warm as it is somewhat frightening. This would depend on your own personal space or backdrop of course, but it is an encompassing, if not monotonous work that fills the room to its perameters, but knows when to quit. It’s like riding bareback on railroad tracks that are only partially greased. Further listening draws the ear to something sparking the extra terrestrial, glowing, pulsing. And about 3/4 into the piece something extraordinary happens at this juncture, something cinematic, anticipatory, yet completely mysterious.
A rush, a gush of powerwashing hiss, but only in brief, draws you into this dwindling falling sensation. A great recording for headphone listening as there are so many augmented branches in the changing atmosphere, taking appropriate breaths between these steps, dousing you with an artful mix. As in much ambient/drone music this one has plenty of lead-in build-up, heightening the fullness of each of these 13-minute plus tracks before he starts to tinker with the brighter tonalities, as heard in the final track here. Aubry adds sine waves that polarize and part the quietude, and waits until nearly the end to do so. It’s laced with such a high tone taking you outside the entire spectrum of everything previous, fading out in the final seconds, leading the listener to believe that perhaps there will be a sequel….
Swiss sound artist Gilles Aubry, based in Berlin since 2002, uses field recordings, computer programming, and electronics as a basis for his sound installations, recordings, and radio pieces. His three-part s6t8r is a site-specific piece based on recordings made inside rooms within the now-empty Stralau 68 building, which formerly operated as a venue for experimental music in Berlin. The space is hardly silent, however, as the sounds of trains passing by on a nearby bridge are prominent in the mix. A steady train-generated thrum persists throughout the opening part’s first five minutes, until its abrupt cessation allows the material to reposition itself for a subsequent battery of hollowed-out emissions and smears. A low-level rumble inaugurates the second part until it’s joined by a louder flow of white noise, whose sudden onset is much like a valve being opened. Subtle transformations ensue as the gaseous sound becomes a high-pitched stream of whistles punctuated by intermittent clatter. The third part finds the train sounds re-emerging, asserting themselves once again as a forceful presence, until the work quietens as it enters its final minutes.
Throughout the forty-two-minute recording, Aubry keeps the material at a steady pitch that, while generally loud, never rises to an uncomfortable, ear-splitting level. The work’s constant mutations in character ensure that one’s attention doesn’t stray, and one comes away from the work with an appreciation not only for the acoustical resonance of the building’s room spaces but a sharpened awareness of how a physical space functions as something alive as opposed to static. Adding to the appeal of the release (300 copies available) is a distinctive letterpress sleeve presentation.
Also from New York, Gilles Aubry is the latest contributor to the winds measure recordings label with his s6t8r (WMR 16), three pieces of minimal sound art derived from field recordings made in Berlin. As with Margolis, the transformative process allows for results that are both beautiful and horrifying, as if all humanity had been bled from a street-ful of active and happy Germans, resulting in a collection of grey, mottled statues who bleed black tar from their empty eyes. If you want to feel like the only person alive as you wander through a monochrome version of a de Chirico landscape not knowing what surreal threats await you, this record is just the medicine you require. The embossed cover art on this release is very suggestive of rusted sheet metal, as if the process of decay had somehow managed to migrate onto paper instead.
Neural.it I Aurelio Cianciotta
With a title that looks like a captcha, a hardbound, all-white, material design (developed by the designer Ben Owen) and a publishing volume of only 300 copies, Gilles Aubry commits his latest project to the catalog of Winds Measure Recordings – a label from Brooklyn appropriately focused on experimental productions in limited edition and handmade packages. In the sound elaborations of the Swiss artist – now based in Berlin – the formal structures stand out clearly, rigorously maintained in the stream of drones, field recordings and computer programming, fascinating in the repeated swelling of sequences. The work was recorded in the rooms of the Stralau 68, a very popular space – now closed – in the capital city of reunified Germany, and one dedicated to experimental music. The peculiarity of these recordings resides in the different “environmental” components of the spaces, the open, diverse soundscapes, each with a specific “color” quality. The citation of the dull rattle must refer to the “death trains” of the Nazi era, as well as to a more universal concepts such as “being on a journey” or – conversely – to everyday life, inspired by the repetition of acoustic events.
Musiquemachine.com I Roger Batty
There’s a real feeling of sonic control, mastery & focus through-out all of the four near on fifteen minute tracks on offer here. To build the tracks often hypnotic & at times creeping air Aubury takes recordings of: distant train noise, low room drones, glass tinkling, outside road noise, rain on roofs, wind & all manner of muffled sound matter. Which he all rearranges in an manner that keeps the sounds original depth, clarity & identity; but also forms atmospheric, harmonic & sometimes slow rhythmic work-outs and rewarding textural dwells. He also adds in here & there elements of harmonic feed-back, drone matter & subtle musical elements.
Certainly one of the most rewarding & re-playable field recording records I’ve come across in sometime. It’s up there with some of
Tarab’s best work like 07 ‘Wind keeps even Dust Away’ in it’s mixing of balanced composition , original sound richness, general atmospheric air, & sonic artistry. 4/5
Touching Extremes I Massimo Ricci
This is a fine work, despite its obviously unpretentious nature. It might belong in the category of favourite listens for undisturbed moments in the early morning (now) or late evening, being mostly made with remote urban echoes – the title and the cover photographs say it all – which were recorded in 2006 by Aubry who glued, looped and stretched the results in the studio. Thus a 48-minute piece was generated, in which the predominant sound is that sort of constant drone typical of the big cities especially at night, a murmuring whirr that – enjoyed in the right circumstance – functions as a wrapping tissue, a protection against negative influence and, occasionally, a stimulator of profound reflections. Therefore, this is not a record that can be subjected to any kind of critical analysis: either you like it or you don’t, and this writer happens to love it. There’s a narrative quality emerging from these obscure soundscapes: one figures human activities going on incessantly while we, as external observers, ponder about the roles carried on day by day, often unconsciously. The whole is tinged with a sense of ineluctability and steadiness at the same time, hundreds of intersections among different life conditions creating a widespread texture of whooshing low frequencies that seem to increase our inner safeguard.
Le suisse Gilles Aubry est inlassablement attiré par les ensembles urbains et de tout ce qui les entoure. Nous l’avons constaté sur Berlin Backyards dans lequel il avait restranscrit la vie urbaine quotidienne des berlinois au moyen de ses field recordings. Autre endroit mais mêmes outils, s6t8r est le résultats des résonances récoltés dans différentes pièces de l’immeuble Straulau 68 à côté duquel les passages périodiques des trains ont eu une importance cruciale. Ici, c’est bien l’acoustique de ces pièces vides (l’immeuble étant désaffecté) qui est le point central des recherches sonores de Gilles Aubry. Utilisant donc du field recordings (le passage massif et sourd des trains et les différents bruits collatéraux constatés dans cet environnement) et des éléments électroniques minimaux mais lancinants et étirés, Gilles Aubry a construit trois pièces dont l’intensité est saisissante. Massif et résolument industriel, s6t8r fait ressortir un ensemble sonore qui rappelle à quel point chaque endroit peut avoir un intérêt acoustique si l’on arrive à en tirer tout le potentiel. Ce potentiel, Gilles Aubry l’a exploité pleinement et en a tiré une oeuvre sombre, grisâtre, dépourvue de chaleur et ne tenant compte que ce que le Straulau 68 lui proposait.
Comme pour Berlin Backyards, s6t8r n’est pas un disque facile d’accès. Son côté claustrophobique, clinique et souterrain n’aide certainement pas. Cependant, son approche, ici, est des plus intéressante. Les créations de Gilles Aubry sont comme une représentation d’une vérité environnementale. Il repère les lieux, écoute, écoute encore, mesurant toutes les possibilités de l’endroit tout en cherchant à recréer son ambiance sonore et acoustique. La chose n’est pas toujours aisée et tout dépend de la perception de chacun. Ce que nous entendons n’est pas forcément ce que les machines enregistrent. Et cela, Gilles Aubry l’a parfaitement compris. Les machines sont neutres et donc plus à mêmes de percevoir le réel. Et les pièces de Gilles Aubry ne sont rien d’autres qu’une représentation du réel. S6t8r, limité à 300 exemplaires dans sa forme physique, est quasiment un cas d’école. Ce disque fascine, subjugue dès les premiers instants vous laissant dans un état proche de la paranoïa. Cela tombe bien, nous vivons dans un monde où les paranoïaques sont rois.
Le son du Grisli – Pierre Cécile
La musique de Gilles Aubry est comme un souvenir que l’on traîne : ce souvenir n’est pas le nôtre, mais le sien. La musique de Gilles Aubry est donc un souvenir que l’on traîne derrière lui.
S’y accrochent ceux qui croient qu’il est des vies analogues à la leur, des existences qui habiteraient les mêmes endroits et qui en viendraient aux même conclusions qu’eux. Ceux qui croient faire face au chef-d’œuvre dès qu’il se pourrait qu’une part de sa conception leur est allouée. La lecture de s6t8r, par exemple (les field recordings agencés par Gilles Aubry ne sont-ils pas ceux d’une pluie sous laquelle nous sommes nous aussi passés, d’atmosphères dans lesquelles il nous est arrivé de nous assoupir ou des bruits de générateurs multiples que nous rencontrons partout ?).
Sans doute est-ce pourquoi les souvenirs lancinants vous assaillent à l’écoute de ce disque. Vous regrettez déjà d’avoir ouvert la boîte et l’oreille, mais au même moment vous foncez dans le bruit : infrabasses et dérapages, dans la nuit avance un carrosse à clochettes. La rumeur de la mer aussi, semble-t-il, encore qu’il faudrait demander au Suisse expatrié où il trouve la mer en plein cœur de Berlin.
Parce que s6t8r est une composition réalisée à partir d’enregistrements faits dans les pièces d’un immeuble de la ville dans lequel on programmait (hier encore) beaucoup de concerts de musique expérimentale. Aujourd’hui, on n’y entend plus de musique. Mais reste le souvenir – celui-là ou un autre – auquel l’auditeur ne manquera pas de se raccrocher.
Every day I travel with the train to and from work. I really enjoy this kind of travelling. You can sit back and enjoy the environment, read a book or as I do very often write reviews. Same goes up now, while listening to the album S6T8R by the musician Gilles Aubry. For this recording it adds an extra dimension, because the pieces on this album are based on recordings done in the old venue Stralau 68 in Berlin, Germany which is located next to the railway. The occasionally passing train adds to the sonic dimensions heard in the pieces here.
S6T8R is a documentation of the building and its surroundings in sound. Not only the trains but also other sounds from outside have an influence on the different sound colours you hear. With recordings from the different rooms Aubry worked to create the three pieces on this album.
During the pieces we hear a gradual change in sound. Things start out with the softer sounds, the wind running through the building and distant sounds. During the first piece it is as if you are near steam pipes that are blowing of their steam. Slowly other sounds are added, building up a creepy feeling.
In part 2 things already get more dense, a very low bass is prediction a tense experience. Not long in it starts to rain as if you are near a huge waterfall. The sounds of clattering water fill the rooms. The music leaves an uneasy feeling, though in a good way. The reworked droney soundscapes sometimes sound as if you are in the middle of a factory, while at others you the appear to be in the abandoned spaces. The transgressions used in this piece are well worked out and grab the attention from the listener at the right moments. It is creepy, though it makes you want to explore more.
In the last piece the same strategy is continued, though the sounds are different. Slowly the sounds build up to the nasty ending that makes this almost into a nightmare.
The captured sounds used for S6T8R are mysterious and creepy and the resulting pieces are intense excursions. It is good to sometimes hear back those original sources, like that passing train. It adds an extra dimension to the music. And if you are like me a lot in the train for once you do not have to put the volume completely open to hear and enjoy the music. The environmental sounds from the train do not really bother.
Gilles Aubry schafft es stets zu polarisieren. Für die Leute, deren Hände im Plattenladen auch durchaus ins Fach der Neuen Musik und Installationssoundtracks greifen sicherlich ein Muß, für den Liebhaber ungehörter Klänge ist Aubry ein gewissermaßen gerissener Künstler, der sein Scherflein Arbeit auf bisweilen wackeligen Boden pflanzt.
Das Cover ist alleine schon ein Anreiz, die selten gewordene Technik, die Buchstaben in den Karton zu schlagen dürfte allenfalls denen noch geläufig sein, die Visitenkarten auf Bütten drucken lassen und mittels Stahlbolzen eine grazile, feinlinige Typographie aufpunktieren. Geschmäcklerisch eine schöne Verpackung, die fast ein wenig elitär der Downloadmentalität gegenübersteht und sich dennoch mittels minimaler Graphisierung nicht komplett dem Zeitgeist verweigert.
Sicherlich passt Aubry gerade deshalb ausnahmsweise in diese Hülle, die die Komplexität seines Klanges geradezu passend umschließt. Drei Stücke sind versammelt, alle mehr oder weniger prozessierte Aufnahmen aus Räumen in einem Berliner Altbau, deren sonischer Duft geradezu das Stadtbild derer in die Ohren trägt, welche sich just in der Nähe des vermutetermaßen empfindlichen Mikrophons bewegt haben. Straßenlärm wird zur fernen Illusion, die im Raum selbst vorhandenen Frequenzen verstärken sich zu minimalen Feedbacktönen, deren klangliche Sterilität das fast schon Weißrauschartige Klangbild der Räume selbst übersteigt.
Soundtechnisch perfekt, eine gute Anlehnung an Toshiya Tsunoda und eine große Hommage an David Lynch meisterliche Nachbildung thematisierter Räumlichkeiten in seinen Filmen. 4/5