Three unreleased field recordings from August 1990, documenting a sound
installation made from a damaged piece of the Berlin Wall.
Günter Schickert, krautrock maestro of echo-driven psychedelia, returns on
Marmo one year and half after the release of the Labyrinth LP. Mauerharfe
consists of old and special material, which has officially never seen the
light before. It is due for release on the eve of the 30th anniversary of
the Berlin Wall fall, as 12” LP with CD, CD and digital formats. The
physical versions contain exclusive pictures, liner notes, a prose poem by
Peter Unsicker and some draft writings by the artists with reflections on
Berlin, August 1990, first post-wall Summer. Two friends, the locals
Günter Schickert and gallerist Peter Unsicker perform a spectacular yet
symbolically intimate interpretation of those epochal changing days by
building a sound installation with a damaged piece of the Berlin Wall.
They persuade the patrol “Feliks Dzierzynski” of the DDR army to transport
and relocate a the piece outside Peter's Wall Street Gallery on the Zimmer
Strasse, in the borough of Mitte, where only a few months back the intact
structure actually passed through.
Once the wall was positioned, they bend down the bars of the
iron structure that crop out the concrete, bind piano chords to them,
stretch the strings down to the bottom base of the construct and connect
guitar amplifiers to the set up. The Berlin Wall is ready to be played as
Günter Schickert's Mauerharfe are executed between August and
October 1990, resulting into three long field recordings.
As Günter Schickert claims, the idea behind the project was the one of
representing, in a personal musical way, the feelings and sensations that
he – as well as many others experiencing the division and eventually the
removal of the Wall - felt through the decades around the presence of this
monstrous separator. The wall becomes an instrument, seen both as an
object and executor of the experiment, while the human and artistic
presence almost vanishes. The atonal and harsh sounds embody the ugliness
of an inhuman separation, the terrible echoes of prisons and the lament of
its prisoners. The pulling of the strings suggests the repression of a
regime, while releasing these it indicates a dash of freedom.
You can get lost into the intensity of the Mauerharfe, find always new
sensations and a countless amount of details. If you approach the
listening with adventurous spirit and a good dose of curiosity, it can
really throw you back into the past, a past of segregation, austerity and
suppression, yet of an urging desire of liberation.
Side A features a 19 mins long piece. The tape-induced background noise
lays down a carpet of haunting atmospheres and introduces the experiment.
Günter starts to test the chords by pulling out, with his fingers, dry and
acid timbers. The warm up evolves by investigating wider sinusoidal waves
and dilated metallic riffs. The track takes the form of a more
conventional music narration, as the artist bangs the harp with a sort of
rudimental violin bow creating marching percussive paderns. Layers of
psychedelic ambience take over the scene before mixing up with roaring
industrial spasms. Lunar sceneries seem to emerge, paving the way to
sudden strings feedbacks, crackling distorted clicks and menacing reverbs.
Flip-side, a similarly long take opens up with ferocious urge, like being
catapulted into a warfare between iron and cement, sounding like a real
military operation. As the strings get hit and pulled, the metal seems to
crash into thousands of pieces, dissolving into merciless distortions. Yet
it is intriguing to notice how these dynamics of madness occasionally
generate wavy and gentle sub-harmonics. This piece adds up intensity in
comparison to the previous one, containing enhanced abrasive and distorted
frequencies. The final part is marked by monstrous echoing rhythms, before
drijing back to a chaotic rumble of fire, metal and concrete.
The third piece, Mauerharfe 3, is a 30 minutes long performance
dated August the 13th 1990. As Schickert recalls, 29 years before exactly
on that same date, the construction of the Berlin wall was accomplished.
This take appears exclusively on CD, with copies included inside the vinyl
package and as a separate CD format release. The recording is cleaner than
the previous two, giving more width and definition to the sounds. As
opposed to Mauerharfe 1 and 2, where the wall of sound
is overwhelming, in this 3rd take human presences can be heard: fragments
of women voices, a baby crying, the siren of a police car. The
compositional approach is more sober, the tones of the harp warmer, closer
to an actual one, its notes more gentle, discrete and meditative,
sometimes resulting into deep, gong-like percussive timbers.
Günter Schickert (born 1949 in Berlin) is a German musician, guitarist
and trumpet player. A seminal figure of Krautrock and Berlin's early
scene, he recorded solo albums as well as with bands GAM, No
Zen, and Ziguri Ego Zoo.
Peter Unsicker (born 1947 in Heidelberg, Germany) is a German sculptor
gallerist, associated with West Berlin's art scene in the