SOUND INSTALLATION by Irmin Schmidt & Kumo
Commissioned by the Barbican Centre London - as part of the "Electronik" Music festival : 13 - 18th
October 2001 also featuring Karlheinz Stockhausen, Talvin Singh, Craig Armstrong & London
Sinfonietta, Aphex Twin & William Orbit.
ELEKTRONIC - Programme Notes
by Robert Worby:
Irmin Schmidt studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen during the early 1960s and then went on to form
the seminal rock group Can. In 1998 he composed the opera 'Gormangahst' and Kumo assisted him with
audio engineering and programming. They have been working together since that time.
This installation, especially commissioned by the Barbican Centre for Elektronic, focuses on the
idea of transformation - transformation of sound, transformation of space, transformation of
perception. A loudspeaker array sonically defines the installational space and familiar soundworlds
dissolve into the imaginary through electronic processing. The babble of conversation becomes the
buzz of insects, private spaces become public, one voice becomes many.
16 channels of sound on tape will be projected through 20 loudspeakers and in addition several
microphones will capture the ambient sounds of the Barbican foyers. This real-time material will be
processed by the artists and fed into the system creating layers of temporal shifting much like the
'Studio Conversation' in Region II of Hymnen. The presence of the artists and their manipulation of
live sound lends a strong element of performance to the installation. There is also a layer of
pre-recorded choral material that Irmin Schmidt compares to Roman columns plundered and recycled in
later European building work. Again this material is presented as 'found' and then transformed into
a completely new artefact. A strata of rhythmic material, with a regular underlying pulse, is
generated from electronic and concrete sounds but this pulse is grouped into irregular metres
creating isometric and polyrhythmic structures that glide in and out of the texture.
This piece has strong links to many of the works being performed in this festival not least in its
articulation of space through sound, a concept employed by Stockhausen in the late 1950s and
continued through to the present day by many of the artists appearing in Elektronic.