Blixa Bargeld: The Maker of the Universe

The stage was set in an underground vault, a decorative brick arch served as background for this inspiring evening with mastermind Blixa Bargeld. Beginning with a quick, precise rearranging of his equipment, a joking complaint to the soundengineer, followed by a forgiving look with these huge eyes and an apologetic smile. From this modest point of origin - one microphone and four footpedals - Blixa was now ready to unfold his creative power.

Blixas opening speech was based upon sculptor Alberto Giacometti. In his early years Giacometti had come to Paris, bringing with him miniature figures in his pockets, to be able to show people his art at any time. Blixa also had his art in his pocket: his notes.

Blixas famous lecture in genetics: How to create an Angel.
Most of the soundscapes during the performance were to iluminate Blixas interpretation of a known concept (in this case an Angel). With all the scientific background knowledge Blixa introduced us to, there were no reason to think that this was not actually the way to create an Angel.
Blixa began by explaining the structure of the DNA, with the double helix - he showed us with his hands how the helices are coiled round the same axis. We were told about the four bases: Adenine, Guanine, Thymine and Cytosine. And about the newly found HOX-genes. There appears to be a HOX-gene for every part of the body. A HOX-gene for eyes, a HOX-gene for upper extremities, one for lower extremities and so on. Blixa told us about an article he had read, in which a professor with this knowledge had made a fly with eyes all over the body. In the article there was a photograph of this professor, with a white, assumably normal, laboratory mouse peeking over the brim of his pocket - maybe another piece of art.
Blixa recorded a rapid flowing string of the initials A, G, T and C. In earlier performances he has tried to clone the code for a human being with the code for a pigeon in an attempt to gain wings, but he didn't do that this evening. Blixa formed a multiloop around the letters, which ended when he hit the "destroyer" pedal, which cut the rhythm to little bits. Blixa declared: "Kein Engel - Ich gehe".

He returned soon after and asked for ideas for what to do next. After a while in silence somebody finally suggested "Techno". Blixa just pointed at the door and said "Nehme deinen Stuhl." Nevertheless he started recording a kind of Hip Hop riff, and danced around for a while laughing. A very relaxed Blixa, who is not frightened by the silence. He spent one of those several pauses telling us how he does not consider himself responsible for what he says, like he explains "Die unbekannte Quelle" in "Liebeslieder". He told that he sees himself as a kind of "Medium", and the audience as the one to affect him. He wasn't pleased with the word "audience", but wasn't able to come up with a better word at that moment.
When there were still no suggestions he would introduce us to his soundengineer: "Das ist Faust" he said, immediately correcting it: "NO, no, I mean, he made the sound for Faust." Laughing again. And for the rest of the evening, the soundengineer was called Faust.

Panorama Fenster, Terrarium für die Elemente
This piece was dedicated to the four elements. Represented by: "Schlange, Vögelein, Fischlein und Salamandrina". Blixa said this last word with a twinkle in his eyes. The Salamandrina, our wellknown inhabitant of the fire. To Blixa this subject includes the entire history of alchemy. He also mentioned the alchemists symbol, the snake which bites it's own tail. This piece was very impressive, Blixa took the time for creating a very deep image. Blixas creative zest! First he recorded several layers of hissing sounds, then some bird sounds and some other very realistic animal-imitating sounds. Out of this jungle suddenly jumped a parachutist, I didn't notice wherefrom he appeared, but with his emergence Blixa started singing "High altitude - Low opening" on a very smooth melody line, untill our parachutist suddenly was in great danger of landing in the middle of the Viet Cong. The stories keeps devoloping in Blixas mind.

Der Temple der Astronome
This is an existing temple. Blixa was thrilled by the idea in the structure: 3 rows of 4 pillars bore the temple, each pillar bore the name of an astronomer. 6 pillars on each side of the dome, this indicated some sort of difference between the astronomers, e.g. the younger and the older. Blixa reached in his pocket for a list of names of the twelve astronomers. I remember Johannes Kepler, Nikolaus Kopernikus, Galileo Galilei, Tycho Brahe and Giordano Bruno. With this list in his hand he started a concentrated work of rising the temple in an even more complicated stucture. The fist syllabel in each of the astronomers names formed the first level and the first sample. This way he continued adding syllabels to the sampler, forming the names, increasing the heigth of the pillars. Syllabels, names interweaving, undecipherable words, and then again only the syllabels were comprehensible. Finalizing the temple with the roof and the dome - Blixa screams. This is happening again and again during the evening, what ever Blixa gives rise to, it ends with a scream to tear it down. "Wir haben versucht Giordano Bruno einzuladen", Blixa ended.

Nunft gegen Binsen
Blixa asked people to come with concepts to take a turn against eachother in the ring. Only very few came with suggestions, and Blixa wasn't pleased with any of them. He told about the earlier matches he had made like this, and who had won, and which side he himself had been on. Finally he settled at the suggestion of "Vernunft", made it shorter to "Nunft" and then I guess it was himself who chose "Binsen", no explanation. (but I believe it's short for "Binsenweissheit" - thanks to my German expert, Nina.)
"In the left side, my right side, with blue trousers and yellow shirt: NUNFT"
"And in the right side, my left side, with blue trousers and blue shirt with yellow sleeves : BINSEN".
I hope I got the colours right here. Blixa saw the colours with the words, so it was obvious for him that those words had to be in those colours, he knew something about colour analysis of words. Though they ended up dressed almost the same, the two words had very different characters in Blixas interpretation. "Nunft" got a very hard sound, Blixa almost had to spit out the word, in short forcible nouns, whereas "Binsen" had some more singable wowels. He also made it sound almost Arabic by singing it backwards, "Nesnib", with a melody line like the introduction to "Interimsliebenden". Some very interesting phrases appeared, and drowned, but it was impossible to tell who won. Blixa recorded three rounds and every time, everything disappeared!

Several times during the evening, there were problems with the sampler, and the "zero-point" (the sample didn't start at the exact moment). Entire recordings simply disappeared. Also the XLR-plug in the microphone cable had a bad lock and kept falling out of the microphone, Blixa showed the two seperated items to Faust with a reproaching gesture. Once he kept a longer despairing speech for the cable, having bound a knot on it. Ending with asking: "Mit wem rede ich eigentlich?"

I love these Blixa attitudes, the way he almost poses. Blixa handled all situations in a most charming way. Made an act out of everything, like finding the right moment to take off his over-sized French beret.
And in spite of all the technical problems, Blixa formed plenty of developing soundscapes out of which we could grasp the greatness of what Blixa is capable of. I believe that Blixa can sound like, or give sound to, anything he wants to, and so, according to the agreement of the evening, Blixa can create all.

Somebody broke a glass further back in the room, Blixa was recording a sample in the same moment, and the sound of the splintering glass now appeared there and seemed to fit the whole beautifully, almost Neubauten like. He then told us how inanimate objects sometimes have an urge to express themselves, and since they are somewhat restrained in this department, they have to explode or do something equally drastic. He personified different items for a while, trying to let them speak through his mouth, ending by saying the unforgettable sentence:"Ich, die Kaffeemaschine!" in wonder.
"Alles war ihn beseelt und alle Seele gleich."

It became the time for the encore, Blixa looked around and asked for suggestions. I wanted to shout "Halber Mensch" having heard that should be quite a hit, with Blixa singing all the voices, but I guess I thought he would choose it himself, so I didn't say anything. Finally Faust suggested "Planetarium", Blixa hesitated, but then he accepted.

The sampler was capable of recording 32 seconds. And Blixa would make us a cross section of the solar system. With this limited time, he would leave out some planets, such as George (?) He explained that George originally was the name for the planet Uranus. And only a little later, he said that this was of course not true. The planets he chose to include were: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus and Mercury. I'm not sure he had all the inner planets there, but I remember that Saturn was the first for sure. We would pass each planet twice on our way, so it would be: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, Mercury, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. First some "Gammastrahlehintergrund", on top of this the names of the planets, with the proportional right distance/time inbetween them. The sound of the sun, rising and falling. Then the correct number of moons pr. planet, their sound was great: "phew" - indicating their quickly passing by. The picture grew very intense, one of the most captivating moments of the evening. But suddenly all the planets disappeared and everything fell to the ground.

Blixa put on his hat, he bowed and said us a low, soft: "bonsoir".