AMN Reviews: Christina Kubisch & Eckehard Güther – Mosaïque Mosaic (Gruenrekorder)

The cornucopia that is Gruenrekorder continues to spill out the most imaginative field and sound art works. It does an absolutely phenomenal job of recording and playing with our world and everything in it. While its back catalogue has long been proof enough, just look at one of its latest batches, including the untreated, spellbinding Morne Diablotins by Rodolphe Alexis, a brightly-feathered, humid hike through Guadaloupe and Dominica, a small island in the Lesser Antilles; or The Hebrides Suite, quite the contrast insofar as its author, Cathy Lane, hopscotching across the isles, treated and arranged her field recordings into a kind of aural equivalent of the classic oral histories of Studs Terkel, I-Chinged into a Celtic circus under the same big top as John Cage´s Roaratorio.

Sound artist and professor of sculpture and audio/visual arts Christina Kubisch found in Cameroon a society connected by speaker wire. “In the cities people are surrounded by distorted sound systems” playing lo-fi, bootlegged pop, where “church services, instruments and voices are all amplified as well – the louder the better”. She also discovered a local population that had developed a sensitivity to the most subtle of sounds, too. During an artistic residence in Douala, its largest city, Kubisch and countrymen Eckehard Güther (who mixed and assembled the album with Kubisch) and Dieter Scheyhing attempted to capture this listening.

Together they´ve captured the march of a brilliant parade. From the bilingual fire and brimstone sermon (the English translator seeming far more firey than the French preacher), down the street past market stall touts, traffic jams and festival processions, they enter soft nights where the clamour carried by the air comes not from men but beasts and insects. By the sea, they witness the bell ringing, horn tooting festival in which the Sawa of the coast implore Jengu water spirits for prophecy. Epiloguing with rainfall spattering on a tin roof before subsiding as all the wildlife it refreshed raises its voice, Mosaïque Mosaic assembles the tesserae of a journey ranging widely east and west, and south from a metal shop in the capital to the Waza National Park and its elephant reserve in the far north, finely balancing the sacred and the profane, in vivid, living colour.

Stephen Fruitman

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