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A Retrospective Tribute | 1984-2012

Release date: 27.02.12
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In this compilation you have shared iconic documents of 1988, 1997...
Who were your first influences and - inspirational-feedback - artists you started working with?


"In Hamburg in 1976, a concert by the American musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson left a profound impression on me. Her violin was transformed into a speaking sound-object (the tape-bow violin, where the hair of the bow is replaced by prerecorded magnetic tape) or into a projection surface for photographs (by waving the bow rapidly in the air making a “screen”). This experience encouraged me to study "Fine Arts" at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg."

"During my studies there, with Henning Christiansen, Philip Corner and Claus Böhmler, we would listen several times a week to experimental and many other kinds of music, and discuss sound art and performance art. Henning Christiansen later included me as singer in a number of his projects like “Nynhavstrut” in 1988 (I was singing a "siren" on a boat in the old harbour of Copenhagen with the sounds of ship motors and bells & prerecorded tape)."

"During that period I listened to pioneers of experimental singing such as Demetrio Stratos, Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk, Diamanda Galas, Phil Minton and David Moss, but also to traditional music from around the world. I learned about the people, music and concepts of the North American experimental scene: John Cage (whom I met at an exhibition project in Marseille a few years later), Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, Merce Cunningham, Nam June Paik and the Fluxus movement. Artists from abroad who would be in town dropped in and shared their ideas or would teach a workshop."

"Since 1984 I have concentrated increasingly on the possibilities of the voice. I acquired the technical foundations for this in the course of classical singing studies with the opera singer Arnold von Mill in Hamburg. At the same time I improvised & developed my personal sound language and studied the widest possible variety of singing traditions from around the world."

"After finishing art school I received a grant from the DAAD from 1989 to 1990, to study and follow my research at University of California at San Diego. I worked with Allan Kaprow and Newton Harrison in the Visual Arts department and Carol Plantamura in the Music department, and improvised with the group KIVA (Jean-Charles François, John Silber, Keith Humble and Mary Oliver). There I also met the composer Chaya Czernowin which would lead to future collaborations."

"Ursula Block's gallery and record shop “Gelbe Musik” in Berlin and the concerts organised by “Freunde guter Musik” in Berlin were always important sources of inspiration and places to meet interesting artists and musicians. In the 80´s and 90´s I would travel from Hamburg to Berlin as often as possible!"


Performances & Installations:


"While still a student I worked on short music films, on performance/installation pieces for flute, contact microphones and speakers, on performances using my voice to trigger sounds in "costumes" made from copper sheets attached to speakers, on installation pieces using metal springs and copper sheets as resonating material for my voice, and on a voice-driven gong. I also composed a number of pieces for voice and field recordings."


New Music:


"In the 90's I became interested in working with scores. Putting my vocal language in the context of a composed piece involves intensive rehearsals and sharing ideas with a composer, a process which challenges my possibilities, opens my mind and refreshes my artistic ideas. Mostly I have performed pieces especially written for my voice, ranging from compositions with detailed notation to more open or graphic scores, by Richard Barrett, Chaya Czernowin, Hans-Joachim Hespos, Michael Maierhof, Ana Maria Rodriguez and others. I have also performed concert and theatre works by Salvatore Sciarrino, Michael Finnissy, Gerhard Stäbler, Matthias Kaul and others with various ensembles like KNM Berlin, ASKO, ELISION and especially with L´ART POUR L´ART."




"As a singer I am not interested in performing according to accepted emotions or styles, but in developing my voice into a multi-faceted sound instrument by using the resonators, articulative and emotional possibilities of my voice and body, and the acoustic possibilities of the space surrounding me. I like to think of myself as creating different vocal characters or personae using very simple and raw or multiphonic & "extreme" vocal expressions, or disguising my voice with resonators and whistles. This is usually my starting point for a solo piece, which will also involve spontaneous decisions made in the performance."




"The Berlin based argentinian composer Ana Maria Rodriguez founded the composer/performer ensemble “Les Femmes Savantes” in 2005 with Sabine Ercklentz (trumpet), Hanna Hartman (sound artist), Andrea Neumann (inside piano) and myself. We share ideas and write music for each other or in collaboration. Many of the musical directions present in Berlin’s cultural landscape are represented in the group’s network-like artistic structure. Each of us interdisciplinary artists, variously from Germany, Argentina and Sweden, has developed their own creative language from the spectrum between contemporary composition, jazz, electronics, improvisation, sound art and performance art, so that genre boundaries play no role in our collective work."


Improvised Music


"Through improvisation I am challenged to take immediate decisions, to constantly revise and renew my sound language and find new solutions in all kinds of different situations. Working in an ensemble means to listen and at the same time be active part in a body or stream of sound."

"In the area of improvised music, I have worked in many regular duos, for example with Richard Barrett (electronics), the late Peter Kowald (contrabass), Aleks Kolkowski (phonograph, musical saw, Stroh instruments) and Birgit Ulher (trumpet). Groups I work with regularly include Speak Easy (with Phil Minton, Thomas Lehn, Martin Blume) and the fORCH octet."




"I lived in Berlin between 1996 and 2007, and worked in many different musical contexts there. Between 2007 and 2009 I lived with my partner and child in London, and became part of the improvising scene there, performing regularly in John Russell’s Mopomoso concert series and Fête Quaqua at the Vortex Jazz Club, and at the "Freedom of the City" festival. I enjoyed being part of the open minded and diverse British scene, and have continued to perform regularly with musicians from London. Returning to Berlin in 2009, I found that the scene here has changed, seeming to be more diverse and open rather than being divided into "Echtzeitmusik" and "Free Jazz". I am happy to perform as an improviser in both cities. Being involved with improvised and experimental music has given my life a sense of mobility and flexibility, and of sharing ideas with other artists in a small but international community."




"In recent years I have focussed on exploring the possibilities of masking and extending my voice with birdcall and palate whistles (which has led me to investigate bird songs). This forms the basis of my current solo performances, which I am intending to document on a new solo CD in the course of 2012. At the moment I am working on a programme that presents various “voice Xtensions” on stage."



Ute Wassermann. 26th February 2012,Berlin





01.Skvala [excerpt]
CD: squall line
Aleks Kolkowski: Stroh violin
Ute Wassermann: voice, palate whistle, lark call
Recorded at St. Peter´s Church,
Whitstable, UK, 15 July 2009
Label: psi (2011)

2.Volume [excerpt]
CD: fORCH: spin networks
Rhodri Davies: celtic and concert harps
Ute Wassermann: voice
Recorded by SWR in Dec 2005
Label: psi (2007)

03.Failed Experiment part 7
from Failed Experiment
by FURT (Richard Barrett & Paul Obermayer: live electronics)
Ute Wassermann: voice
Friedrich Gauwerky: cello
Recorded at Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, October 1997

04.Subsong, 13.Nightcap, 07.Glottal Song[excerpts]
CD: birdtalking
Ute Wassermann: voice
Recorded at Radio Bremen, 23-27 February 2004
Label: nurnichtnur (2006)

05.Small Words
by Ute Wassermann
Les Femmes Savantes:
Andrea Neumann (inside piano, mixing desk)
Sabine Ercklentz (trumpet & voice)
Ute Wassermann (voice)
Recorded at AUSLAND, Berlin, 28 June 2011

08.Stoff 1 [excerpt]
CD: Kunststoff
Birgit Ulher: trumpet
Ute Wassermann: voice
Recorded in Hamburg, August 2003
Label: creative sources recordings (2003)

06.Backchat 2, 11.Backchat 5 [excerpts]
CD: Speak Easy / backchats
Phil Minton: voice
Ute Wassermann: voice & whistles
Thomas Lehn : analogue synthesizer
Martin Blume: drums & percussions
Recorded in Bochum and Cologne, March 2008
Label: creative sources recordings (2009)

09.Gurkenstern, 14.Gwylan [excerpts]
CD: Pollen
Ute Wassermann: voice
Richard Barrett: electronics
Recorded in Berlin, December 2005
Label: creative sources recordings (2006)

10.Splitting 26 for voice and soundtrack
by Michael Maierhof Ute Wassermann: voice
Recorded in Berlin, 2007

12.Singing Stick 5
Matthias Kaul: Glass Harmonica
Ute Wassermann: voice
Recorded at Hochschule der Künste, Berlin, 1999

Photographed by Wolfgang Kahle (2008) | performance of "mirli (Hans-Joachim Hespos) with L ART POUR L ART




propositive projects with voice<:




body & music:

MaerzMusik Festival in Berlin





A Retrospective Tribute 1984-2012




Selected tracks shared by Ute Wassermann.
Promotional Compilation curated by Julian Bonequi

Special thanks to Ute Wassermann, psi label, creative sources recordings, nurnichtnur, Ausland, Hochschule der Künste Berlin, Radio Bremen, SWR, to Aleks Kolkowski, FURT, Richard Barrett & Paul Obermayer, Friedrich Gauwerky, Les Femmes Savantes, Andrea Neumann, Sabine Ercklentz, Ana Maria Rodriguez, Hanna Hartman, Phil Minton, Thomas Lehn, Martin Blume, Matthias Kaul, Michael Maierhof, Birgit Ulher.

Picture by Carola Hölting at Territory.Echoes. Festival Theater in Bewegung, Theaterhaus Jena 2001. Design by Aniana Heras.

Contact: ute[at]birdtalking[dot]de