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Polwechsel | Archives of the North

an evening of new and experimental music featuring Vienna/Berlin based ensemble Polwechsel


Fields of Knowledge
  • Performance

Organizing Institutions

Soundfield NFP, Slought


Gene Coleman


This program was made possible in part through the generous sponsorship of the Austrian Cultural Forum, Sound Field NFP and grants from the Argosy Fund for Contemporary Music and the Philadelphia Music Project, a program of The Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts, with media support from Bowerbird and Philadelphia Sound Forum.

Opens to public







4017 Walnut
Philadelphia, PA 19104


25% Formal - 75% Informal

Slought Foundation and Soundfield NFP are pleased to announce an evening of new and experimental music featuring Vienna/Berlin based ensemble Polwechsel on Friday, October 3rd, 2008 from 8:00-9:30pm, with an opening set by Will Guthrie (Australia). The group features Werner Dafeldecker (double bass, electronics), Martin Brandlmayr (percussion), Michael Moser (cello, electronics), and Burkhard Beins (percussion). They will be performing new compositions as well as selections from their recent HatArt CD release "Archives of the North". This concert is part of the 2007-2008 Soundfield@Slought series. The concert will feature a special opening set by Will Guthrie, an Australian drummer/percussionist who uses home-made instruments, amplified found and junk, microphones and electronics alongside more conventional drums and cymbals.

"Over the past two decades Polwechsel's output has thrived on a democratic process of specifically composing for the abilities and techniques of its cast with each member possessing a unique and developed voice in instrumental performance. During this period Polwechsel has produced divisive compositions, structured improvisation and electro-acoustic works which have all spoken intricately and explicitly on the organization of noise, the locus of technique, and the dynamism of the ensemble." - Dean M. Roberts (December 2005)

"lucier and lachenmann are namechecked in roberts's sleevenotes, but polwechsel's music, though clearly indebted to both, navigates a steady course between the complex virtuosity of lachenmann's self-styled aesthetics of failure and lucier's pristine 'it is what it is' minimalism. the processes at work in moser's 'datum cut,' which opens the new album, are evident enough if one pays attention, but they're half buried under a textural moss peculiar to the group -- 'a webbing made of a hundred roots, that drink in silence,' to quote robert bly's translation of rainer maria rilke's celebrated poem in das stundenbuch. which takes us to the album title, archives of the north (rilke would surely have appreciated it). unlike its three generically numbered predecessors, this one has a title, and its double reference to archives -- library, catalogue, documentation, classification, the weight of cultural tradition – and north, with its attendent associations of harsh climate, protestant asceticism, cold black lakes and dark forests, resonates perfectly with the music. polwechsel albums are solemn, sometimes downright forbidding affairs, but compared to the austere lucier-like harmonic drift of 'toaster' (on polwechsel 2) and the gristle of 'government' (on polwechsel 3), archives is suffused with, if not warmth, at least radiance, thanks in no small part to the colours brought to the group by beins and brandlmayr. percussionists as opposed to drummers, both are here more concerned with continuous sound production than with seeking to impose any kind of rhythmic element, further distancing the music from any distant origins it might have had in free jazz. even the flurries of log drum clatter on 'core cut' sound more like silvio gualda than paul lovens. it's significant also that three of the five tracks on archives have been penned by moser, a classically trained cellist who works frequently with prestigious new music ensembles including klangforum and ensemble neue musik wien, and berlin's zeitkratzer, who have arguably given contemporary classical music at the turn of the 21 century the same shot in the arm that the kronos quartet gave it a quarter of a century ago." - dan warburton, the wire