BURKHARD BEINS: Disco Prova - REVIEWS
Burkhard Beins's work with ensembles such as Perlonex, Phosphor, Sealed Knot and Trio Sowari has marked him out as one of
Europe's leading improvising percussionists, and while only two of the seven tracks on this debut solo album feature his distinctive
sonic friction, Disco Prova - the title comes from a battered old italian hi-fi test record abused in "EQ-20" and "Reel" -
is unmistakably Beins. Diverse sound sources, which includes the clicks of a gas stove igniter, rattling radiators in a Brooklyn apartment,
and beginnings and endings of old Joy Division songs, are reconfigured into carefully crafted compositions, all perfectly at home in Beins's
universe of post-Industrial gloom.
The music is austere in it's textures and construction, but far from lacking in depth and colour. Continuous swathes of sound are deftly layered like tiles on a roof, sometimes easily identifiable - the destinctive timbres of rubbed drumheads and rolling ball bearings on "Slope" are classic Beins - but often utterly inscrutable. The chilly, hollow drones on "Sekante", the album's longest and richest track, were achieved by placing two microphones inside a polystyrene box, which was then 'played' by bowing a 30 foot long string attached to it. The closing "For Ian Curtis" is a subtle homage to some of the sounds that marked Beins and his generation, from the first drum machine blip of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control", to the ghostly cricket hiss of "The Eternal" and the shattering glass of "I Remember Nothing".
- Dan Warburton, The Wire -
I have heard percussionist Burkhard Beins in several contexts, and his work has been consistently interesting and enjoyable.
This is the first of his solo projects to grace my speakers, and it's an enthralling listen, proof of the wonders strong conception
and careful editing can accomplish.
I have not looked at the compositional descriptions Beins provides on the handmade cover, choosing to allow myself only track titles to adulterate the listening experience. Vague, symbolic and not overly illuminating in any conventional sense, they nevertheless hint at the compactness and motion of each soundscape; "Reel" does indeed spin itself out across the frequency spectrum as it rides on its bed of turntabled vinyl noise, a recurrent sound motif throughout the disc. Certain sounds crossfade, almost imperceptibly, while others are juxtaposed with deliberate suddenness. "Reel's" finest moment is the anticlimax, where all sounds fade, leaving a sharp rhythmic clicking to slow and stop, the silence enveloping everything.
Silence is another important component of this 36-minute journey; as with many recent discs of electro-acoustic music, it is constantly in the wings, waiting to reassert its authority when each event has played itself out. It sits just underneath each pattern shift in "Igniter," the piece itself resembling a delightfully miniature version of Ligeti's symphonic poeme for 100 metronomes. It also begins the intriguingly titled "For Ian Curtis", before being usurped by yet another blast of vinyl crackle almost masking a gnawingly familiar drone.
Through careful microphone placement, judicious panning and tasteful sound juxtaposition, Beins has created a unified but radically diverse piece of music that never outstays its welcome. His attention to each edit also ensures that no single event lasts too long or demands too much attention. Disco Prova is a well-crafted and engaging disc, awe-inspiring on a small scale.
- Marc Medwin, Dusted Magazine-
German percussionist Burkhard Beins' intelligent use of resonant space is
fundamental, in that his music is built upon a few simple sources that need
a lot of air to deliver themselves from their original citizenhood. For
those who really want to know, "disco prova" means nothing else than "test
record" in Italian; that's one of Beins' elements here, an old test-tone LP
containing analogue synthesizer waves which he puts at good use in two
pieces ("EQ-20" and "Reel") together with location recordings and
environmental matters. The self-explanatory "Igniter" multiplies the click
of an electric gas lighter until thousands of ticks are diffused all around
the listening space, while "For Ian Curtis" uses minimal snippets of Joy
Division's LPs rendered unrecognizable until a thorough dismemberment of any
meaning is achieved in blurred post-industrial visuals. The overall most
satisfactory composition on offer is "Sekante": two microphones are placed
into a polystyrene box, which amplifies the "oscillation and friction
sounds" of a 12-metre string that Beins attached to it; water is also added
to contribute to an impressive electroacoustic potion. This record contains
basic forms of beauty that are there to be discovered, sapiently camouflaged
by Beins within structures that appear more threatening than they really
are; indeed, repeated listenings bring us to a different conclusion, as each
layer reveals minute particulars and disguised codes which the ears find
extremely pleasing to dissect and swallow.
- Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes -
Burkhard Beins est un percussionniste berlionois né en 1964. On le retrouve dans différants groups comme
Perlonex, Activity Center, Polwechsel, The Sealed Knot, Phosphor ou le Trio Sowari. Autant d'approches de l'improvisation et
de la batterie marquées par le détail, l'accumulation, le silence et ce que certains ont nommé réductionnisme,
en opposition finalement à l'improvisation des années 70, au jet expressionniste, l'instrument devenant complètement
détourné, retourné sur lui-meme.
Burkhard aime à frotter une pierre ou un bloc de polystyrène sur son tom basse, exciter une cymbale avec un archet, branler une baguette sur sa caisse claire... Avant de se consacrer à la batterie, il avait pas mal traficoté du coté des bandes et autres manipulations électroacoustiques, aspect de son travail peu documenté mais qu'heureusement on découvre ici.
"Disco Prova", version ritale du disque de test pour la hi-fi. Et le Herr Beins utilise finalement cette idée du test recording à travers sept pièces qu'il nous faut décrire. "EQ-20" où le disque de test déclenche un synthé analogique branché sur le bruit blanc. "Igniter" s'aproprie deux allume-gaz et leurs clicks caractéristiques. "Schaltkreis", suite d'enregistrements qui explore différents buzzes créés par des appareils électriques. "Reel" voit le retour du disque de test initial mixé avac unjeu de percussion minimal et imitatif. "Slope" pour tom basse et cymbale, chaque instrument enregistré différemment et remixé. "Sekante" est la pièce la plus expérimentale avec un longue corde de 12 mètres fixée à un bloc de polystyrène et deux micros à l'intérieur, le tout excité manuellement, et résonne comme une pièce d'Alvin Lucier. "For Ian Curtis", un prélèvement de sons issus de disques de Joy Division, débuts et fins de morceaux, empreintes fantomatiques d'un suicidé et de vieux disques vinyles, mais tout est là, l'oreille du fan reconstruit l'absence.Donc sept pièces qui résonnent comme des tests audio, pas tant pour vérifier le bon fonctionnement de sa hi-fi domestique, que pour tester sa propre écoute, son appréhensiond'un rythme au-delà de mesures précises, les multiples mouvements alternatifs dùne contraction au sein d'un drone apparent. Le test est réussi!
- Jérome Noetinger, Revue & Corrigée -
Perlonex-Perkussionist Beins auf Musique concrète-Pfaden. Mit Analogsynthesizer und einer zerkratzten italienischen Hifi-Testplatte ('EQ-20'),
sowohl out-wie indoors 'Fieldrecordings' aus Brooklyn ('Schaltkreis'), einem elektrischen Gasanzünder ('Igniter'), Schnipseln von Joy Division-LPs
('For Ian Curtis'), mit einer grossen Styroporkiste, an die eine 12 Meter lange Schnur angebracht wurde und Wassergeräuschen ('Sekante'); nur
'Reel' und 'Slope', ersteres weniger und in Verbindung mit der selben Testplatte wie 'EQ-20', letzteres relativ pur, lassen den perkussiven Beins
anklingen. In meinen Ohren besteht der Witz dabei darin, dass bruitistische und perkussive, 'verfremdet' konkrete und handish-analoge Klangkreation,
ineinander fliessend, ihre Verwandtschaft zeigen. Dass etwa Asmus Tietchens oder Keith Rowe bei Nacht ununterscheidbar werden als zwei graue Katzen,
dass das Pluriversum der Klänge und Geräusche nicht pythagoräisch, sondern heraklitisch einem um die Ohren wummert, brummt und plätschert.
- Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy -
Burkhard Beins (is) exploring new experimental worlds on his Disco Prova. Disco? Well, no dancefloor antics on these grooves natch
- instead, seven choice cuts of bewildering percussion and electronic works, presented with lengthy and interesting notes as
to their processes of production.
- Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector -
An introductory quote, a sample from a test-tone record, hints early works for turntable (imaginary landscapes)
and sets the stage for the use of concrete, electronic, or noise materials making up a collage that illustrates a
deep interest and familiarity with the involved. From a development akin to studies in concrete music - both entailing
a reflection on the author's aesthetic ascendancy and a contribution to that particular realm - to concerns with sheer
listening explored through electronic reconstructions - a subsequent reflection on an acoustic listening experience.
Listening takes the centre of the stage, abstracting gesture and immersed in a particular approach to sound, as
evidenced in the aesthetic organisation of the materials.
- modisti.com -
Over the past few years we came across the name Burkhard Beins as the percussion player in various ensembles,
most notably Perlonex and Trio Sowari, but also playing improvised music with people like Keith Rowe and Charlemagne Palestine.
However I don't recall ever having reviewed something by him that was a solo production (I might very well wrong). Whatever I
expected from a solo disc by a drummer, I was wrong. Actually come to think of it: was I expecting something at all then?
Perhaps not. Many drummers and percussion players going solo or working with electronics play something that is far away
from anything overtly rhythmic. Jason Kahn, Gert-Jan Prins or Jon Mueller are just three examples. Beins offers a bunch of
pieces on this CD which are in some way probably being 'percussive' but at the same time also highly electronic. The cover
lists per tracks what it is that he does, which makes an inspiring reading: there is talk of field recordings (water, heating
system, electric gas igniter), analogue synthesizers, a 12 metre string, but also a cymbal and floortom and even, perhaps
the biggest surprise, 'brief snippets from the very beginnings and endings' of Joy Division songs (in 'For Ian Curtis').
That makes this into a highly interesting release, even before hearing it. (...) When I was
playing this CD, I kept thinking: can one hear that this is the work of a percussion player, and between the many layers
of field recordings, clicks and hiss, my answer in the end was affirmative. One can. Probably as much as say Jason Kahn,
it has that similar rhythmic quality, as even when not as ambient based as Kahn, Beins plays captivating pieces of drone like material.
Unfortunately the only let down was the 'For Ian Curtis' piece, which had some faint remembering of Joy Division,
but throughout this piece couldn't bother me very much. Otherwise: great CD.
- Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly -
There's something of the sketchbook in Burkhard Beins new solo album, "Disco Prova" (I believe it's his first solo effort,
as near as I could tell). It's not just the relative brevity of most of the seven tracks but more that each is fairly circumscribed
as to approach, the means of attack on each piece elaborated to some extent in his liner notes on the back of the oversized sleeve.
Of course, sketchbooks can be fine and deep on their own and Beins' recording is perfectly enjoyable in that regard.
The slinky voice of the gentleman announcing the album's title, an Italian hifi test record, feeds into white noise and
field recordings of water; it's brief but does a nice job counterposing a handful of elements. That utilization of just a
scant few types of sound per track is the dominant strategy here, whether it's clicks from a gas igniter, manipulations
of old environmental tapes or more standard instrumentation like cymbals and floor toms. There's a tinge of the laboratory
at play which robs the shorter pieces of the impact they might otherwise have, something that had part of me wanting to hear
a collaborator to jostle things a bit, to upset the Petri dish.
Happily, the longest cut on the disc (some 12 minutes), "Sekante", succeeds marvelously on its own despite apparently having
a similar science experiment bent:The sounds, drones and pulses in Sekante were recorded by two microphones placed inside a large polystyrene box,
amplifying oscillations and friction sounds exerted on a 12-meter string attached to it.
However it's managed, Beins creates a swirling vortex, like frigid air rapidly flowing through large, thin metallic pipes, the speed of flow causing thrums of
sympathetic vibrations. It's a fantastic piece, reminding me a bit of his work on "Lidingö", worth the price of the album. Beins closes
with an effective, somber dedication to Joy Division's Ian Curtis.
- Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen -