RGB01 – fennesz wozencroft “Liquid Music”

Touch.30 USB flash drive + title card in velvet string bag
Flash drive contents: .mov + text & images (2GB) – 32:30

Track list:

1. Liquid Music

Jon Wozencroft writes:

“Liquid Music was made in 2001, in conjunction with the music Christian Fennesz was developing during that fertile period when the future was still a good idea. The first version – this is it – was premiered during the Touch tour of 2001, the time of Fennesz’s Endless Summer and the steady movement towards Venice.

The footage for Liquid Music originates from Prague, Paxos, Crete, Cephalonia, Messinia, London and one short clip from Monterey Bay. It was filmed on Hi–8 and mini–DV between 1995 and 2001. The main idea was to film everything through the lens, with no post production other than the compilation of many years work into a coherent whole. Fennesz’s music, and its ascendent quality, made that a pleasure. The optical quality is on the cusp between analogue and digital resolution. In many respects it’s an exchange of values as much as working methods.

I feel it’s one of the best works we did in the last 10 years. The Brighton concert, where the audio comes from, was a key moment on the Touch 2001 tour. The PA was Loud. Everything worked. The film, as on all nights, was played in parallel, it is not sync’d in the conventional sense. Every time is was shown it was different. On this night, the second night of the tour, the audience was shocked in a way that shock rarely happens these days.

This very same year, industry experts got together in California to set the MPEG compression codes for DVD mastering. MPEG4 algorithms basically sample 3 frames out of the PAL 25 frames-per-second standard, and interpolate, which is OK if you’re trying to get a drama onto a DVD, but hopeless if the film involves very fast movement and transitions. Liquid Music is in some respects a laptop response to the celluloid flicker film from the 1960s – Paul Sharits, Tony Conrad, Stan Brakage – Peter Kubelka’s Arnulf Rainer. We tried everything Soho facilities houses had to offer but there was no way the film was going to master accurately onto the DVD format.

The movement of water is a difficult thing to film, and to sonify. For years the only way Liquid Music could be shown was either as a live projection or a dedicated screening – these have taken place at Tate Modern, the BFI, Austria, Hungary, Germany… Ten years later, the satisfactory outcome is to see what it looks like on an iPad or an iPhone, and then to imagine it on the big screen.”

Thanks are due to: David Metcalfe, Kamal Ackarie, Steve Connolly, Andrew Lagowski, Philip Marshall and Denis Blackham.

See also: Callum Coats, Living Energies – An Exposition of Concepts Related to the Theories of Viktor Schauberger, Gateway, Dublin 1996.


Lend Me Your Ears (UK):

Even if it’s old, new Fennesz has to be heard, clearly. Especially if it’s old, some might say…

Judgemental nostalgia aside, though (mostly a reaction to last year’s hit-&-miss Seven Stars, anyway) , a new oldie – Liquid Music – is deeply beguiling & indisputably prime (“premiered during the Touch tour of 2001, the time of Fennesz’s Endless Summer and the steady movement towards Venice”, according to Touch). A buzzing, scratchy fuzz, pinging tones, a restless, pulsing base: & a whole vastly more than the sum of the parts.
Oh, & it comes as a USB stick “in velvet string bag”. Even without the object porn dimension, though, Liquid Music would stand out among this year’s releases – & tower over many. Hear a clip of its ebbing, bobbing riches below…

Bubblegum Cage (UK):

The shelf life of the humble USB stick as a format for audio/visual art seems limited at best but – for now, at least – it’s a pretty nifty way to package high-res content. The frame rates of these releases’ visual components are so high that the viewer might be forgiven for starting to feel like s/he could reach right into the screen. And the packaging is, in both cases, certainly remarkable.

Liquid Music is a collaboration between Touch head honcho Jon Wozencroft and Bubblegum Cage III hero Christian Fennesz. Wozencroft’s visuals consist mainly of digital video close-ups of rushing water, often with a “stripey” effect similar to what you might see were you sitting too close to a tube TV. Very evocative, actually.

It seems to be the same set of visuals Fennesz used at Seattle’s Decibel festival back in 2006. The audio portion, though, comes from a live set dating back as far 2001 and draws heavily on Fennesz’s never-bettered Endless Summer album. Basically, it sounds like a less noisy version of the great man’s Live in Japan album, which may seem a little redundant but who cares when the quality’s this high?

The packaging is another matter. The drive comes in an appallingly tacky black velveteen back with a lace drawstring. It looks like it should contain plastic unicorn models for an off-brand role-playing game. What were they thinking??? The drive itself is more appealing, being the general size and shape of a credit card, with a neat little section that folds out to plug into your computer.

In any case, if you’re a Fennesz fan, you’ll want to own this.