Luise Volkmann: Rites de passage
What is more alive – the ghost ship that comes to mind when listening to “Rites de passages” or the commodity world in which we ascribe a life of its own to dead things? And what is more sinister – the prevailing conditions or a ghostly music that takes on the real haunting in all urgency?
Luise Volkmann’s “Rites de passage” is music of resistance and transition. It contrasts the life in which we settle with a utopian space that has yet to be established. The musical transformations are inspired by the concept of ritual. But Volkmann’s artistic Rituality Check is also a political reality check that evokes the question: How can we overcome walls that actually exist? Walls in concrete heads. Concrete walls at borders. In doing so, it neither adheres to preconceived genres, nor does it stop at crossing the final threshold of existence – the preoccupation with death.
Luise Volkmann sees herself as an artist with a social image of music. This self-image speaks through the pieces of “Rites de passage” – performatively. They are the first songs that she publishes exclusively under her own name. She started from the idea of foregrounding compositional experimentation over improvisation. At the same time, there is personal history in the collectivist spirit of the album, which is released in two slightly different versions on vinyl and as a CD. The recordings, made with varying ensembles over the past few years in different locations, reveal a distinct signature. They are the soundtrack of a period of life.
Volkmann placed the temporary form of the compositions in the hands of several artists from the extended field of electronic music. They reworked and reworked them. Some with club, others with academy-proven expertise. Now they can continue to work in us as “reworks”. The procedure breaks with release habits. The “reworks” do not appear as downstream remixes of the compositions. There is something thoroughly communal, if not symbiotic, about them. A form in which hierarchies dissolve as far as possible.
The instruments seem to play themselves in an act of ghostly sound appropriation. Impressions blur synesthetically, in the song “Das Meer voller Kinder” one begins to smell the salt of the ocean, to feel the rumbling of the waves. The spirit of departure of exploring new worlds – already you can’t distinguish it from the bitter taste of hopes sinking where life once began. The sea is not only a metaphor, it is a real boundary and element of transition, associated with dying. Under its surface lurks a universe full of mystical secrets, whose whispers can also be heard in the music.
Luise Volkmann is the composer behind “Rites de passages” and plays alto saxophone on most of the pieces. Boundaries, which she tries to overcome together with the musicians involved, also run as a thread through the songs themselves. Be it the border between wish and reality – “Things we’d like to hear” – or between object and designation – “And I name you Teki”. On “Knock” singer Michael Rexen knocks obsessively on the closed door. Behind it could lie the realm of the dead or the world of the living.
To make ghosts of the past audible without exploiting them as references in the present – Luise Volkmann comes close to this pop shamanism called Hauntology on “Rites de passage”. Whereby she touches pop, new music, chamber music, electronica, jazz or improv the most by appropriating their influences in an inspiring mixture of curiosity and negation and transferring them into other contexts. In the search as a ritual – for a new and future spirit – the magic of “Rites des passages” unfolds.
Wei Hung (recorder), Juho Myllylä (recorder), Conni Trieder (flute), Hanna Weirich (violin), Sara Cubarsi (violin), Maria Reich (viola), Luise Volkmann (alto saxophone, composition), Janning Trumann (trombone), Yannick Lestra (piano), Dirk Rothbrust (drums), Estreilla Besson (conduction), Sergej Maingardt (live electronics), Ana Alvres aka. anrimeal (voice and live electronics), Laure Boer (voice and live electronics), Marco Mlynek (live electronics), Benjamin Geyer aka. BernsteinZimmer (live electrics, synthesizer), Polina Stretsova (cello), Jan Frisch (vocals)