Eva-Maria Houben / Bileam Kümper
Field by memory inhabited III & IV
FRANCE RHIZOME.S #05 (2014)
FIELD BY MEMORY INHABITED 3 & 4 encapsulates 2 duets of Eva-Maria HOUBEN and Bileam KÜMPER respectively on piano/organ and viola/tuba.
It goes like this : string drones are being interrupted or at least surprised by the banging of piano keys > a “strings and percussion” piece, indeed. But wait, something lurks in the bathroom (so you get to hear the room). Curiously, the sustained sounds remove all fear of an austere moment. Pizzicati occur, plucked amidst detuning piano scales. After ten minutes or more, no more sound, almost nothing moves, so you get used to silence (although someone is lurking), and you’re fit then to welcome those cascading piano notes, chiming instantly, or later, another whiff of droning strings
A hum. Manifestly, you’re into the “ear and now”, courtesy of such a syntax : the almost inaudible presence of beings makes it an experience, conveys a physicality that goes beyond music, of the instant. A sparse vocabulary through intense and short phases, as if the instruments were defying the otherwise silent soundscape.
While strings are being pushed slowly upwards through a long ascending scale, the piano is ambushed with severe hits, blows, until the two instruments get together to climax violently!
No one is hurt, or so it seems. Things climb upscale a bit further, albeit in a frail fashion. Then, the organ/tuba suite takes over, immersed in an ERASERHEAD-like soundscape, without much human presence. Sparse clattering, foggy horns, sonic blows, and a particularly physical ambience, as if air had been captured and sprayed back, intact.
Air is precisely the main matter, here. Sustain is one of the instruments, as each sustained blow overlaps the other at some point. While the air tapestry blows on, swells up, something even snores loudly, mechanically : the reverberation humming of the room itself. Occasionally, steamy irruptions by horns, industrial signals…Diverse windblows, signals, moves, rumors, more wind, saliva turned into gravel : All of a sudden, you realize a sound poem is happening around and between your very ears!
Then, an endless train signal in a desolate area, though activity can be heard in the surroundings (not the background, mind you). More discreet moves, later a hiss. A lid? A car door ? Inside/outside/ around, we get various points of hearing in one. Field recording, in a way. Much later, a piercing and brief organ cluster, adjusting with the horn, playing over and under, cracklings, and warped attempts at the same, but more focused towards a deranged unison. Creaklings of sorts. The air pulsating
gently, in the distance, around the scene.
Then, what sounds like a whistle, or some suspicious and tense leaking occurs, unstoppable. A terminal leaking, decreasing as an apex. The sleeve offers a mere vanilla paper, and printed information.