THE FUCKLE

Beschreibungen der Gegenwart / Descriptions of the Present

Month: July, 2020

MANIFESTO

 

NORBERT FLAUBERTs Kolumne

Début

Norbert Flaubert am 24. März 2017

Norbert Flaubert am 14. April 2017

 

VORWORTE

theoral no. 13

theoral no. 15

 

TRIPS AUND FESTIVALS

Konfrontationen 2020    by Andrew Choate

Possession, or, Love, Americanized. On concerts by Terry Riley and Anthony Braxton in Los Angeles, August 2019

Velvet Renaissance in the Golden City; Alternativa Festival, Prague, November 2019

Samtene Renaissance in der goldenen Stadt; Alternativa Festival, Prag, November 2019

über Geister und Farben. 40 Jahre Konfrontationen

KONFRONTATIONEN 2016 by Andrew Choate – ENGLISH
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/konfrontationen-2016/

APRIL IN BEIRUT
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/april-in-beirut/
Reisebericht, Irtijal Festival
English version :
part one
part two

Versuch über die Wellen. Teil II – Marokko
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/versuch-uber-die-wellen-teil-ii-marokko/

FOCUS INEXPECTATUS in Dala-Floda
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/233/

FOCUS INEXPECTATUS in Dala-Floda – ENGLISH
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/focus-inexpectatus-in-dala-floda/

Charhizmatic Music, Brief an Andrew Choate
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/charhizmatic-music/
über Music Unlimited 29

Charhizmatic Music, letter to Andrew Choate – ENGLISH
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/charhizmatic-music-2/
about Music Unlimited 29

Response from Andrew Choate
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/charhizmatic-music-response-from-andrew-choate/

 

FICTION

August in Wien oder Auf der Suche nach Ingeborg Bachmann https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/august-in-wien/
gescheiterter Roman

 

PLATTEN/RECORDS

Katharina Klement. DRIFT

Liquid Nights, über Maja Osojniks Let Them Grow
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/liquid-nights/

english version http://the-attic.net/reports/1625/liquid-nights.html

 

POETRY

agua corriente pez saltando

live performance with Radu Malfatti
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/poetry-live-performance-with-radu-malfatti/

A Song. For Hamid.
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/a-song-for-hamid/

EL PUEBLO VENCIDO (jamás será unido)
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/el-pueblo-vencido-jamas-sera-unido/

EL PUEBLO VENCIDO JAMÁS SERÁ UNIDO III
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/el-pueblo-vencido-jamas-sera-unido-iii/

 

 

VOICES

Yo soy como el chile verde

Sonido e intuición. Radio UNAM

William Parker on Billy Bang
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/william-parker-on-billy-bang/

Saludos desde Xilitla
https://thefuckle.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/saludos-de-xilitla/

.

.

Philipp Schmickl
schmickl [at] socialanthropology [dot] net
http://www.theoral.wordpress.com

thursday

by Andrew Choate

the wind he sucks and blows
this heartbeat that he must master
the essence of the work is healing
rebuilding a circle
promoting the life force
uniting the scars to make something beautiful
– Kamau Daáood, “The Lip Drummer”

.

.

As this year’s festival at the Jazzgalerie is postponed, I’m going to share with you, over the next four days—the days the festival was scheduled to take place—how to survive not being at the Konfrontationen in Nickelsdorf. Some of you will be on a small farm in a safe haven; some of you will be in locked-down quarantine in the world’s most obviously and spectacularly failing country; some of you will be in a mid-sized city, cuddling in an ergonomically designed apartment; some of you will be lonelier than others and more yearning for camaraderie; some of you will be so sick of interactus digatilus (the tiresome pursuit of information and experience via a two-dimensional device) that you won’t see these essays for months or longer; some of you know me and some of you don’t; I’m writing these essays to connect anyone whose shared experiences in Nickelsdorf will be absent this year

IMG_20190729_055120

.

A User’s Guide to Surviving Absence From Your Favorite Place on Earth

.

1) Don’t ignore it

The worst thing you can do is try and tell yourself that it’s not real. No. It is real. It might be impossible––an impossible event––but it is real. What hurts the most is when art is used to make a point. The festival is real, impossible, and made of feeling. It’s a time and a place and a collection of actions that change lives. It’s the perfect-size audience––400 people or so––to feel like a momentous gathering, and yet still small enough for everyone to sit quietly outside and listen.

Last year’s festival ended with Hauna taking the microphone to announce, apropos of nothing other than the arrival of the thought, that he thinks “Kamau Daáood is much better than Amiri Baraka,” ending the sequence of the weekend’s performances with an exhortation to read and reread Daáood. The urging proved positively bountiful for me, as I rediscovered the nutrient-rich density of passion in Daáood’s poetry. I don’t mean that the poetry is passionate – that’s too vague and too common a characterization, especially for poetry; it’s the kind of thing people say when they have no idea what the author is talking about or how the writing is structured. Passion here refers to the kinds of expansive sensations and vivid insights that are powerful enough to change your overdue habits, to redirect your soggy orbit. The central thrust of Daáood’s work is passion – giving voice to his appreciation for what artists (including artists of friendship and family) have shared with him. Daáood ruminates on what these heroes have had to go through—what sacrifices, burdens, traumas, soul divisions—in order to create what has meant so much to him, and he puts all of himself into giving thanks. Daáood’s work is an omnipresent analysis and embrace of what it feels like to teach ourselves how to listen to what the people in this world have been so generous with themselves to make for us. The central thrust is gratitude; the omnipresent embrace is passion.

Passion, to deserve the word, requires an inherent gratitude.

received_308518277183421

Hauna (Hans Falb) has been putting his life into the Jazzgalerie and the concerts that take place there, giving thanks not only in his own way to the music that shaped him, but—more significantly in an age of anonymous consumption—creating a space where the audience can share their gratitude as well, and with dignity, more or less. (I’m primarily referring to my sometimes inept, sometimes gushing, sometimes boisterous, sometimes hypercool, sometimes discombobulated, sometimes overly fancifully loquacious attempts to say thanks to musicians over the years.) I connect Hauna to the heroes of Daáood’s poems. Like them, he “promotes the life force/ uniting the scars to make something beautiful.”

To unite the scars, you first have to recognize the scars, a step some fail in hopes of instant cicatrix.

If you want to survive the first day without the festival, you have to look at the scars in your life. Give thanks to what they have made possible for you.

Give thanks to what they have limited for you.

Give thanks to the narrowing of decisions, desires, and dreams; if you have the requisite stamina of imagination, that clarity should be a galvanizing relief.

Maybe even cause for more ample wonderment.

Commingled with bifurcating awe regaled and disappointed in equally-heartless/full measure by circumstance.

received_304108274123277

.

2) Don’t mourn that the festival isn’t taking place

Celebrate what it is, what it means to you.

Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

If you have a chance to spend time with people, tell them you would like to take the time to be quiet and listen to music. If you decide to talk while listening, talk about the music.

If you don’t have a chance to spend time with people, tell someone you love about a piece of music you are going to listen to. See if you can share a listening.

Get drunk with a friend and go back and forth picking out music to listen to.

Options.

received_824775214721111

Without Reinhard and Hilde Stöger, the concerts at the Jazzgalerie over the years wouldn’t have taken place. Think about the people in your life that have made or continue to make things possible. Give thanks, passionate thanks. Some people are empty words, wingless birds, milk-free curds. Not the Stögers. They know what a trumpet is for. Their panache, dedication, taste, and perspicacity have contributed not only to the very existence of the festival, but to the flavor of the entire experience.

We can’t mourn this weekend. We are part of a community of people that wouldn’t exist without the community that Falb and the Stögers began cultivating in the 1970s. This community is made exclusively of people that couldn’t care less about what is happening in the entity known as Culture-at-Large. Zeitgeists are for the gullible losers, profiteers, and swindlers convinced––a priori––that soul and integrity are ever on the wane.

Actually I’m starting to grieve now. It’s the Wednesday before what should be the first night of the festival, the usual day when I arrive in Nickelsdorf. In my time zone it’s the afternoon, but, in Nickelsdorf time, it’s almost midnight. We should all be catching up—you with yours, me with mine, bumping into each other at the bar, intermingling cheerfully—telling each other to go home and get some rest before the ‘real’ festival starts, then having one more drink to quell and spur our elation at existing, even if briefly, in a place and time that supports the artists and art whose power we know is vaster than the sum of all contingencies agglomerated to calculate the impossibility of reality.

IMG_8367

.

3) Mourn

Fuck it. There’s no reason to stay away from grief. It’s as real as a leg and a phantom limb stewed in anguish and harmony. People even cry when they are at their happiest – because it’s so surprising and so fulfilling! And we don’t know what the hell else to do or how to feel! So why not feel the grief of not seeing your friends from Austria, Romania, Sweden, Poland, Germany, America, Hungary, Portugal, and all the places the musicians and audiences come from? I’m sadder than half a jaw trying to express itself. The only flipside of the grief is knowing how lucky we are to know this place, and bathe in the awareness of the distance between the feelings experienced there compared to the rest of life. Maybe you and I should do something about that. Can we?

It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to get irritated. It’s ok to be irrationally rational about the predictability of broken-to-begin-with social organizing principles fostering worldwide calamity with velvety ease.

This year I’ll also be mourning for my friend Ang. She was going to be coming with me to the festival for the first time. I told her when I got back last year: she is simply too great an improvising musician not to experience the caliber and variety of what happens at the Konfrontationen. (She actually just sent me a message, while I was writing this. She is going on a hiking date at 9am this Saturday, so maybe all this stuff about phantom limbs and stewed harmony and scars and stamina and gratitude can solidify in a new partnership that makes zealousness a minuscule crawl in comparison.) Ang and I’ll be there next year.

In the meantime, let’s mourn. Build things and break things and build other things and then critique those and build again. However you mourn, do it effectively, because you don’t have time to just mourn this weekend.

IMG_20190727_054633

.

4) Stay up late. Catch the sunrise at least once.

Yes, you should recreate some basic experiences of the festival. First, the sun rises pretty early in the Northern Hemisphere, so: no excuses pleated ponies. Take a walk during sunrise. Go out of your way to fray the ends of the cord wrapped around your routine in your home. Slip out, slice through, illuminate skin. The sunrise always starts earlier than you think it should in Nickelsdorf, the bluish bulge of light blooming at you in all directions across the immersive flatness of the farmland horizon. The glow is an authority you respect but still want to ignore as it gradually waves an index finger side-to-side in your psyche, gently taunting “naughty-naughty” to the relentless revelry.

Speaking of efforts to catch the sunrise, I first tried to get to the Konfrontationen in 1996. I failed. I didn’t have the money and couldn’t convince my family of the importance of the experience. But I did figure out a way to get there in 1997 (story tomorrow). The fact that it was so much better than I imagined made it that much more difficult to be absent in 1998. And 1999. And 2000. I had experienced a place where the things I loved lived. And then I slowly recognized that I was having a hard time living in a way that allowed me to get there, to love the things I loved.

Absence made my heart grow tougher, dirtier, thinner.

I couldn’t get back until 2001. But I decided: from then on, even if I could only attend every four years, at least I would do that. It was still industrially painful to miss the festivals in 2002, 2003, and 2004. I looked at the lineups for each, immediately after they were announced, in awe of the excellence in programming, and even more titillated by the names I didn’t recognize. I did get back in 2005, it felt like an injection of basic cultural sustenance after four straight years in the deserts of Los Angeles. I missed 2006, right on schedule, but—and here was the moment when I thought I was making a breakthrough in life, living, and listenership—I went in 2007! “Yessssssss,” I thought. “Now I’m going to come back every other year! I’ve got a new pattern! I’m an amphibian of thriving/decaying civilizations!” Alas, I missed not only 2008, 2009, 2010, but also 2011, and 2012. My life got darker. Missing the festival was a symptom of that darkness, not necessarily the cause. I didn’t decide to attend in 2013 until after my dad’s funeral, less than two weeks before the festival. Once I returned to the Jazzgalerie, my heart and my mind and all the inexpressible parts of being-in-the-universe swelled with vitality and I looked my friends, and myself, in the heart: I vowed to never miss another festival.

received_2654598924752388

I’ve been true this time. And while I wouldn’t necessarily call it a steady uptick in quality-of-life from 2013 to 2014 to 2015 to 2016 to 2017 to 2018 to 2019, I would unequivocally state that my overall well-being and sense of self is radically more at-peace than before the streak began – and then there’s the rise in lucid vigor within my creative practices! Vau Vau Hoot Chirrup Churong!

[Three more days of festival recollection, personal happenstance, interpersonal conjecture, and grateful passion realized will follow]

friday
Paul Lovens’ comment
saturday
sunday

 

sunday

by Andrew Choate

I am not someone whose calm consists of ordinary thinking.
Will Alexander, Diary as Sin

The last day of the festival. Almost assuredly afternoon concerts at the adjacent church. Just have to be upright enough to get in and sit, just have to be upright enough to get in and sit, just have to get in and sit and look upright, enough enough upright sit get just.

There’s a big tree in the courtyard out front that provides enough shade for a dozen, and enough backrests for four. When’s your soundcheck?

Budapest-Nickelsdorf-Bled-Bohinj-Budapest-2005 016

The morning equation is a jigsawing-together of sleep, food, shower, hot beverage. Gamble too far in pursuit of any direction and the juggled balance will teeter.

I’m out of suggestions.

I guffaw at my own haughtiness in thinking I occupy a place from which good suggestions might emanate. As a maxim: I abhor advice. I’m instinctively skeptical of the transferability of knowledge. Naturally contrarian. If given solid insight shared with the best of intentions, my gut will say to look in the opposite direction first. It’s not that I don’t trust people. It’s that most perspectives aren’t wide enough. Including my own. And the best way I’ve found to widen it, so far, has been to listen and examine the premises from which we participate in each other’s lives.

No one knows what I say. I myself cannot know what I say. And when I say this there exists no form of deception, no pre-concluded spectre burnishing a rational code for ingestion.” Will Alexander again. He’s my favorite living American writer. I’m lucky to call him my friend as well. In fact, he called me on Friday and asked if I could help him out with recording a poem. So he came over yesterday and we took care of it.

Budapest-Nickelsdorf-Bled-Bohinj-Budapest-2005 062

When Will and I talk, we form a community of two. That two quickly becomes two thousand and more, because the people he has within him and the people I have within me—past and future and in many more directions than time—isn’t containable. We share a basic premise: we value the imagination above all else. Our humanity arises from this premise. The valuing of imaginative acts spurs humane behavior. Alas, the flipside is also true, the devaluing of imagination spurs inhumane behavior. In a culture that foregrounds transactional relationships and transactional lifestyles, the imagination adapts to that environment. It puts itself in service of the transaction – prioritizing conquest, advantage, subterfuge. In a word, persuasion. When the imagination is called on to actualize an already-known goal, its power and value have been handicapped. The imagination isn’t the force to call on when you simply need to reach a certain endpoint. That conception of the imagination does it a disservice. Exercised for limited ends, the imagination withers, calcifies, and hides, appearing only in brief, controlled glimpses, a disarrayed remnant of its former self, eking out manifestations within pre-defined windows.

That’s not how Will’s imagination works, and it’s not what I’ve learned by paying attention to and investing—existentially—in the works created by people performing in Nickelsdorf.

The provincial [has been] misread through the catastrophe of power.” Also from Diary as Sin.

Will and I get along because we are each aware that the other one is working hard to foster a different level of prioritization for the imagination. Looking at the Humanity of Imagination with a capital ‘I’, seeing if it’s possible for societies to stop failing and help humanity warrant a capital ‘H’.

My relationship with Will is a microcosm of my relationship with Nickelsdorf. The music, the people, the place, the food, the campground shower, the Kleylehof coliseum, the fulfilled yearnings and the unyearned-for unfulfillingnesses of first finales. When I said that Will and I are a community of two but really many more, I was also thinking about the community in Nickelsdorf. Our community isn’t just the people and the culture, but the entire ecosystem of philosophies, farms, lineages, borders, transportation department decisions—the choice to build that highway, and when, was a big deal!—, political accidents, enthusiasms, cornstalks, vineyards, loves, lovers, loving, loaves, Lovens.

received_346411762901010

I was convinced that the music I heard expressed the most exalted truths; 
in my efforts to comprehend them I struggled upward, I yearned towards them, 
I drew the best out of my deepest self to offer up to them.
– Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower

I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about today. I haven’t been sure what I wanted to talk about any of these days. I’ve just wanted to be honest about the difficulty of not having the festival this year. And to say thanks in a lot of ways. First to the musicians for making music so compelling that it generates an inexorably compelling whirlwind of passion. So much culture is so radically unequal to the absurd vitality of existence, but thanks to you and your forebears—musical and otherwise—we are treated to honest communion with the fact of living.

DSC02926

It wasn’t until the 2007 festival, when I walked into the office for the first time, and saw the giant French movie poster for Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil, that I realized just how intangible yet precise the connection with the Jazzgalerie was. I felt like every part of my being was home, possibly for the first time in my life. It wasn’t just that this specific film was deeply influential on a few friends and I – the proper nouns of art—referentiality—doesn’t matter to me at all. It was the ideas that the film represented and soberly—but wildly—dramatized that made an impact on us. (At the time, I had no idea the level of impact the film had made on Hauna – recreating the peregrinations of the director, wow!) 
It’s not about the nouns in art. It’s about the verbs. The feelings, the living, the hungry bewilderment twisting perplexly within existing. But being alive isn’t the biggest boon of being alive. The biggest ride might be the gift of empathizing so strongly with others that you sacrifice every part of yourself that you can spare to create maximal beauty, truth, energy, and resonance for the benefit of others and the adamant vibrancy of otherness. Make beautiful truths! Be resonant energy! Be true resonance! Make energetic beauty! Turn it up, rewind, combine, play. 

I think I’m done here. Let’s end where we started, with Kamau Daáood – a longtime friend of Will Alexander’s, of course.


Flowers pressed on black vinyl
flying saucers for the ears of the future to decode
bebop bloodlines that circle the heart
now is the time
a man in a wrinkled five-hundred-dollar suit
sweats diamonds and
exhales the ancient futures
up from the gut memory, the foundation
the fire of the raw soul dripping
the source of song
up from the pure bowels of heaven
the deep well, the naked nervous feeling
the ground truth, the stone, the root bone
the other side of the bellybutton up
[…]
genius will ride a human being
fire him up, use him, burn him out
then seek a new soul to exploit
for the greater good
– Kamau Daáood, “Bird Droppings”

Thank you to everyone involved in the Konfrontationen Festival. You’ll never be able to measure the positivity that your life has made real.

thursday
friday
Paul Lovens’ comment
saturday

.

 

Andrew Choate is the author of Learning, Stingray Clapping, Language Makes Plastic of the Body, and Too Many Times I See Every Thing Just The Way It Is. His two new books, A Rational Arrangement of all the Senses and I Love You More: Collected Performed Texts & Living Librettos, are ready and waiting for publication, if he ever decides to stop composing and start focusing on selling.

saturday

by Andrew Choate

“My worthy constituent”
Bird said, “The universe is a
spiralling Big Band in a
polka-dotted speakeasy,
effusively generating new light
every one-night stand”
Ishmael Reed, “Poetry Makes Rhythm in Philosophy

.

.

Reach Out to the Jazzgalerie.

Write a letter to Hauna. And all the cooks.

And all the bartenders and waitresses and cleaners and drivers and tech folks and office stalwarts – without all of whom the musicians would be unable to whisk their intimate, vulnerable devotion to meringue-like heights of resonant warble that wriggle in our ears—tickle drip tickle sploosh—and give grip to our bones as they seek purchase on the shifty terrain of enjambed earthen geography.

Budapest-Nickelsdorf-Bled-Bohinj-Budapest-2005 082

You really can write a letter. Make an ode to your favorite seat, and send it. Praise the roof of the stage and all the wafted vapors of notes and applause it has absorbed into its wood. Correspond with the grapes spiraling around the lattice above all the picnic tables where so many meals are masticated, where so many cigarettes are sucked, where so many lips open in search of so many different kinds of fulfillment.

Write to the people, and the place, and the things that make the place as miracular as it is. The meter-wide doorway through which every person at the festival passes multiple times a day on the way to the restaurant or the bathroom or the stage or the office. We all have favorite parts; pick up a pen and praise one. Paint (and drawing) allowed!

That verse from Reed was the first piece of poetry I memorized.

I don’t even memorize my own poems – that would add a hurdle for new thoughts I don’t need.

.

Are You From the Dream Farm?

My body, when I pause and convert my time zone and my mentality to Jazzgalerie time, starts feeling fungus-like. Fungal tendrils reaching subterraneanly through the oceans—high-fiving some cephalopod buddies with our mutually outstretched tentacles along the way–-to sprout in the backyard of the restaurant. I feel the roots within my arms. My arteries fractalizing to become infinitely tinier and infinitely more connected to a stronger root system. The tiny hairs on my body are kelp for urchin transmissions journeying to alternate galaxies, magnesium-based lifeforms nibbling on this derma-nourishment.

I feel connected. To this place.

IMG_20190729_143818

I feel connected. Because of this place.

My strongest bond with the people behind the festival began forming at the 2005 incarnation. Technically, the festival was over. But the friendly kids running the back bar had a pal drive his car into the yard so we could listen to hip-hop and dance. I took my sandals off and shimmied around. I don’t know what it was, but, at a certain moment, I got a sensation that something was happening in the downstairs bar. I couldn’t hear anything, but I sensed it.

My traveling companions had already gone back to the campsite, so I started ambling towards the bar on my own. I didn’t bother to put my footwear back on, because all I was doing was walking downstairs. Well, in those years there was a little more broken glass on the ground than there is now—yay! maturity!—and I stepped in some on my way. It didn’t feel too bad, and I was feeling compelled, so I kept walking.

Sure enough, as I turned to go down the stairs, I could hear Gustafsson’s distinctive bellowing baritone saxophone. I stepped inside, found a place to sit, quickly looked at my foot, and noticed a few chunky shards of glass sticking out of it; I casually removed the largest pieces, and decided I would take care of the rest after this sumptuous bonus music subsided.

Cristina Vetrone was sitting on the short stage steps, singing an Italian folk song, while Tristan Honsinger was playing long, playfully mournful arco lines on cello, fez hat on head and eyebrows punctuating the emotional displays. Gustafsson hummed through his bari, thawing out the lonesomeness the song seemed to bemoan. I listened, transfixed to the perfectly serious, perfectly carefree, perfectly encapsulating improvised ballad. Then I looked at my foot as the song faded away and realized that a not insignificant portion of blood was bubbling out. I hiked back upstairs, sat down, and before I could even decide what the next step was, had Toby and Friederike Kulcsar on both sides of me, taking me into the kitchen to wash my foot, clean it with hydrogen peroxide, and wrap it up. I spent the bulk of the rest of the evening getting to know this beautiful mother-son duo, likely doing a lot of quizzical laughing at my expense – “why did you completely ignore the multiple shards of glass in your foot until the song was over?!?” I remember being asked with total jocularity.

Budapest-Nickelsdorf-Bled-Bohinj-Budapest-2005 072

Art is nothing but enthusiasm without bones and ashes, pure enthusiasm that burns for no reason and nonetheless is stuck in a frame or in between the covers of a book, as though nothing had happened […] Great art has never really fit that well in the society of the living,” wrote Robert Musil in the short essay “Art Anniversary.” Without my urgent need to discover what new music was being conjured in the basement—way after the official acts on the festival had ended—I don’t know if I would have ever met the Kulcsars. The fact that they became family—with all of the complexities that family entails—over the course of the last fifteen years is a testament to the strength of the bonds that form when your arms are made of fungus and your brain is made of rice, and you can smell the ragout simmering as the knödel is sacrificed.

Without the integrity of honoring our enthusiasms, we don’t become the people we want to spend time with.

Send your correspondence to:

Jazzgalerie/ Café Restaurant Falb
Untere Haupstr. 13
2425 Nickelsdorf
Österreich

.

Take the Time to Think About What You’ll Really Miss About the Festival.

I miss being around so many people that make me feel like my thoughts are valuable. I’m not talking about my opinions or preferences. I’m talking about thoughts as in speculations, like “when dying fish were brought to Roman banquet tables to delight diners with their changing play of colors, what do you think the sequences of colors was like, and how did the diners react when the colors stopped?” Basic stuff like that.

Or, simply being encouraged to articulate new sequences of words that I enjoy together, like “doubled by fire” or “more lummox of paean, less continental divide.”

IMG_20190728_055012

What else are you missing this year?

What’s the simplest thing that you miss?

What can you do now and what can you do in the future to nurture the sensation that you are missing the most?

How can you nurture the proliferation of that sensation for others?

What’s 5q + 5q?

Koalaloha

(You’re welcome.)

Bacon will do anything to deflect or disrupt the boredom of storytelling.” Anne Carson again.

A dance floor without knock-knock jokes? No thanks.

received_285812789194430

Before I came back to the festival in 2007, I knew I had to shave off some of the expenses of the trip. Couldn’t avoid the plane ticket so…maybe I could avoid paying for a place to sleep? That was my idea! But why I wrote to dieb13 to ask for a place to stay for a few days – I have no idea about that choice. We had never met, I had never seen him play, and we had never even emailed. I certainly knew his music and was definitely a fan. But I honestly cannot figure out why I picked him, out of the blue, of all the people in Vienna, to ask if I could come stay for a little while, before heading to Nickelsdorf.

Oh, and one other thing,” I added, “it’s not just me – I’m traveling with my friend John too!” (Sometimes I really wonder about myself…)

Dieter said yes and, within 24 hours of our arrival, I made sure he doubted the wisdom of that decision. The introductions were lovely, this was going to be great. Billy was out of town, so it didn’t actually seem that inconvenient. After an invitation from the Kulcsars, fielded immediately upon arrival, we were out of his way rather rapidly. We spent the night out, hearing music at Celeste, and I woke up early-ish the next morning, eager to make some tea and read and write. I traipsed into the kitchen, filled the kettle with water—just like home, ah!—and then proceeded, instead of returning the kettle to its station and flicking it on, to set the kettle onto one of the burners on the electric stove, and turn the burner on.

I returned to the room to get fully dressed, gather my book and notepad and see if John was awake – maybe he’d want some tea also? When I began making my way back toward the kitchen, something seemed a little off, a little blurry. A little smoky perhaps? Yes, that was it! The kitchen was filled with the smoke of burning plastic! I turned off the burner, raced back to the room, grabbed my socks, yelled at John to wake the fuck up and help, raced back to the kitchen, and started wiping down the melted plastic that was now congealing into the surface of the stove.

The smoke was thick with obvious toxicity. When John entered and asked the inevitable, “what the fuck did you do??”, I handed him the sock rags and told him to scrub; I needed to tell Dieter. I knocked on his door. No answer. I knocked a little louder. No answer. One more time. Nothing.

Back in the kitchen, all available windows open, I explained to John what happened. He responded with, “Dude, you have an electric kettle at home; you use it every day; what happened??” “They just seemed to fit together, somehow,” I remember saying. After there wasn’t anything more to be done other than wait for the smoke to get thinner and thinner by mixing with the fresh air from outside, John went back to bed. I tried to wake Dieter again, but had no luck. I boiled water in a pot—very carefully—and had some tea and tried to read. Billy’s teenage daughter came home to get a few things, poked her head into the kitchen, looked at me—smiling, trying to explain the situation—rolled her eyes, shook her head, and exited. Americans!

IMG_20200715_091816_738_2

John and I made it to the festival a few days later, after DJing what became an impromptu post-Depeche-Mode-concert after-party soul-and-funk throwdown at the Rhiz – and after I replaced the kettle! It takes a lot of helping hands and gracious gestures for anything vital to see the first whispers of existence—much less thrive—in a (cultural) ecosystem designed to squelch generosity, innovation, vulnerability, and playfulness. Hug an exception!

[Friends and readers—the two are interchangeable for me—we are doing our best to survive. I don’t know what kinds of writing I will do tomorrow. I’m still mourning, I’m still celebrating. “Grape the taste” Ishmael Reed says in “I am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra,” so that’s what we shall do. Grape the taste, grape the taste.]

thursday
friday
Paul Lovens’ comment
sunday

Paul Lovens sent an e-mail

Subject : that and this

Dear Andrew :

While waiting on this Saturday for your Saturday report of  “Adventures in Burgen-Dream-Land”, let me supply two footnotes that were pushed to daylight when I read your wonderful idea of collecting those magic silences before the first sound is being played.

Heinrich Böll, German postwar-writer, published in the middle fifties of the last century a short story named “Doktor Murkes Gesammeltes Schweigen” ( = in English : “Doctor Murke’s Collected Silence” – although in fact it should be silences”, but that would give too much of the plot away). A sound-engineer of a radio station, oftentimes busy with recording interviews, has to edit the tapes and cut out the silences left by the interviewed in their answers. These snippets of recorded nothing he collects, organizes them, glues them together and every once in a while he listens to them…

That’s that.

And this : The (original!) Schlippenbach Trio played at a festival in Pisa in 1981. The concert was recorded and put out on double-lp on my “Po Torch” label. (“Detto Fra Di Noi”). Audible there is what Evan mumbles just before we start the first piece : “The ritual moment of silence”…

I read your words only two houses next door to “the place” and nevertheless :

> You made me here <

Paul

thursday
friday
saturday
sunday]

friday

by Andrew Choate

it’s so diffuse
being alive
– Amiri Baraka, ”Look for Your Yesterday, Here You Come Today”

.

.

Drink a beer with breakfast.

Have a white-wine spritzer at 15:00. Better yet, a Billie Holiday.

Sit and read and get up only to eat or refresh a drink.

Flirt with a stranger by saying hello.

I don’t want to number my suggestions in the User’s Guide anymore.

received_1152986861761773

I went hard on the first night. It’s easy to do: so much anticipation, everyone finally together, the weekend becoming every holiday, hope, birthday, and blessing of an entire year wrapped into one short stretch of days. OF COURSE we stayed up too late on the first night!! We miss each other!! And we finally heard, after the year-long wait, the sensuous silence of ecstatic calm that frames the beginnings and ends of music performed in the Jazzgalerie. There’s no silence like that Nickelsdorf silence. The trees even lean closer to the stage.

I have an idea for an album: document all of the silences that occur right before a band begins playing. You’d hear audience shuffling, casual banter, cords shifting and landing on the stage, music stands jostling, but then––you’d feel it––everything settling into place, musicians’ ears perked, invisible eye contact confirmed, thick silence. And then the recording would stop. (Because the actual music would have started.)

I’d like to hear an album of nothing but introductory silences. With credit to the onstage musicians of course, as they are essential to the nature of the silence, and the audience for these silences would want to know what kind of silences they are, and the silence before The Globe Unity Orchestra being of a different fundamental character than the silence before Tiger Trio.

Foto 2019-07-25 14 13 15

So we were up late last night. Hoot hoot. Might have an early beer with that garlic soup, edge into the delight of a Friday criss-crossed by comrades and cosmic sonics. Or, if there are afternoon concerts at the Kleylehof, wander the garden with a white-wine spritzer. If you’re like me, however, it’s Campari and soda that offers the sensation of waking up to a new day like nothing else. Even if I don’t sip it until 18:00, it’s like an alarm clock ringing “good morning” and “woof-a-doodle-doo!”

It must be grapefruit-breakfast nostalgia: the flavor of Campari triggers dawn down my spine, and back up, zig-zagging a little bit until finally wriggling out of my head through the stereocilia of my inner ear.

Anne Carson, in “Variations on the Right to Remain Silent,” says that Francis Bacon, the painter, “wants to defeat narrative wherever it seeks to arise, which is pretty much everywhere, since humans are creatures who crave a story.” No wonder I like Bacon so much.

received_570153050276991

Now back to my origin story in Nickelsdorf. Frank was the first person I knew who attended the Konfrontationen. I vaguely recognized the name of the town from the Spencer Barefield/ Anthony Holland/ Tani Tabbal trio record on Sound Aspects, Live at Nickelsdorf Konfrontationen. Frank had already had a significant impact in co-shaping my musical tastes, along with his roommates Mark and Chris. In the early 90s, we were all discovering jazz together, especially post-bop (and beyond). With no internet, we gathered together at least a couple of times a week to share our recent musical discoveries, each of us in our own personal way trying to follow the line to find the perfect sound. For me, I was seeking one that could encapsulate the emotional chaos of growing up in the South while being fundamentally alienated from its culture. (Even a child recognizes when injustice is rewarded, even if they don’t yet know the level of its institutionalization.)

Hey! This is an essay about a music festival in Austria! You act like multiple issues are at play here!
– Yeah? Yeah! It’s all connected my wide-eyed wombats! What do you wanna do about it?

Frank attended the Konfrontationen in the summer of 1995, and I heard all about it, in exasperatingly poignant detail, later that year, on a mild December night in South Carolina, over a long listening session at his apartment. He saw so many of my heroes and so many artists that I considered to be the essence of contemporary vitality that I wasn’t even jealous for long: I moved quickly to fascination. Who was behind the festival? How did it work? And where the hell was it again??

Just as swiftly, I shifted to yearning desperation: I had to get there. But how could I pull it off?

.

Anticipate.

Spend time anticipating.

Go somewhere, and anticipate.

Think about what you’re anticipating.

It looks like waiting. It’s not.

The foundation of the Konfrontationen is building blocks of anticipation. You’ve got to figure out how to work with them. The anticipation of the lineup announcement in May each year. The anticipation as you book your travel and coordinate with friends. The anticipation as you journey by foot, taxi, train, plane, bike, and breath. (You know you can’t stop breathing right? That the little exhalations actually propel you forward a little bit in space right? That your breath is actually intergalactic energy-jelly infinitely flattened and recomposed for the sake of chugging you along one poof at a time right?)

received_582904052613888

The anticipations build once you arrive, and you hold the schedule in your fingers for the first time. But once you are within the experience of the festival, a delicate tempering operation must be performed, regularly, based on the balancing of two ideas: the calm cohesion of the fluidity of experience and the raging childlike joy at the imminent fulfillment of the highest level of aesthetic pleasures. These pleasures—because the music is improvised—won’t be known, defined, or real until they actualize themselves, afresh, within your body.

I studied Comparative Literature at university, which had intensive language requirements. To get to Nickelsdorf, my plan was to convince the department heads that I needed to take an intensive summer-school class, in France. It worked. However, I discovered that my school only offered immersive summer classes in French through a partner school…in Canada. In Canada!¡?¿ Holy buffalo nostrils beam stickers, that would not work. I talked to family and friends in my hometown and, using an entrée from my high school French teacher, found out about a program I could do through the University of South Carolina that would put me in Tours for two months. I checked the dates: would the third weekend in July be within the dates of study for the program? Yes? I signed up.

My entire reason for enrolling in the program, as you know, was to get to Nickelsdorf. I arrived in Tours on a Sunday night and unpacked. Monday morning, before meeting with teachers or finding groceries, I went to a travel agent to book my ticket. I was going to be on my way, all I had to do was study and milk the time away. Forget carpe diem, I woke up and squeezed the days away.

Over the course of the school program, I befriended two Austrian guys. When I told them about my Nickelsdorf plan, they looked back at me, asked me to repeat the name of the town I was going to, then looked at each other, completely baffled. Then they gave me my first taste of the Red Bull they had imported with them in their suitcase. I had never heard of Red Bull and they had never heard of Nickelsdorf; 1997 was a time of strange ignorance. Actually, the fact they didn’t know where I was talking about shocked me. How could they have never heard of Nickelsdorf? This was the center of the cultural world as far as I was concerned!

.

Listen to music recorded in Nickelsdorf.

It’s uplifting how many live recordings from Nickelsdorf have been released, especially in recent years. Philipp Schmickl put together a list of all (?) the releases for his PhD-project about the Jazzgalerie (see after the text, I put a bunch of these into a playlist on spotify).

IMG_20190729_033728

Put the music of Nickelsdorf—not just the memory—right into your ears. I started yesterday by listening to Evan Parker and Matthew Wright’s Trance Map+ band, with Adam Linson, John Coxon, and Ashley Wales. Their Crepescule in Nickelsdorf was recorded only three years ago, and it spun me way round while I sat in the audience, off to the side of the stage, the last lights of the day fading into so many samples, turntables, field recordings, animal sounds, and Parker spiralizations that my entire sense of depth perception was contorted, rewound, and rolled to me like a ball of yarn to a cat. The recording, somehow, exponentially deepens the sense of now-expanding, now-constricting, now-telescoping, now-internalizing multi-dimensionality.

Today I began with “The Importance of Oxidation,” a four minute track that was likely the encore to Barry Guy, Mats Gustafsson, and Raymond Strid’s trio set from their festival appearance in 1995 (Frank was there!). What’s funny about this particular track is that I spent five paragraphs and over 1000 words analyzing this piece of music for my undergraduate thesis in 1998. And yet, somehow, not until I looked at that Discogs page, did I know that it was recorded there! Oh sqully tahmuh. Bink.

Tonight I’ve got my eyes on Das B’s Canopy—the quartet of Tony Buck, Mazen Kerbaj, Mike Majkowski, and Magda Mayas—and MIMEO’s Music in Movement Electronic Orchestra debut, but, the way things have been going during this writing, I might get sidetracked following the rhythms of the Idris Ackamoor Paris Quartet’s album The Periphery of the Periphery. It’s an aptly named album considering the multiple edges and tangents that embrace, connect, become wings, and flap together, flying off in new patterns of motion from Café Restaurant Falb.

I could sure use a schnitzel, a schnapps, and a prost with the Wurmbar right now. “West Coast!”

IMG_20190730_203720

[I’ll continue this journey with you tomorrow my compatriots. It hurts, but it’s the right kind of pain. “The real terror of nature is humanity enraged, the true technicolor spectacle hollywood cant record. They cant even show you how you look when you go to work, or when you come back. They cant even show you thinking or demanding the new socialist reality, it’s the ultimate tidal wave. When all over the planet, men and women, with heat in their hands, demand that society be planned to include the lives and self determination of all the people ever to live. That is the scalding scenario with a cast of just under two billion that they dare not even whisper,” as Baraka wrote in “A New Reality Is Better Than a New Movie!”]

thursday
Paul Lovens’ comment
saturday
sunday

.

Official releases (partly) recorded at the Jazzgalerie Nickelsdorf:

1983
Lindberg, John (1983). The East Side Suite. LP. Germany: Sound Aspects Records – sas 001 (recorded live July 8, 1983) https://www.discogs.com/John-Lindberg-The-East-Side-Suite/release/2414507

1984
Maslak, Keshavan with Charles Moffett (1984). Blaster Master. LP. Italy: Black Saint – BSR 0079 (recorded live August 16, 1981) https://www.discogs.com/Keshavan-Maslak-With-Charles-Moffett-Blaster-Master/release/2349123

1985
Griot Galaxy (1985). Opus Krampus. LP. Germany: Sound Aspects Records – sas 004 (recorded live July 1, 1984) https://www.discogs.com/Griot-Galaxy-Opus-Krampus/release/1002169

1986
Barfield, Spencer, Anthony Holland and Tani Tabbal (1986). Live At Nickelsdorf Konfrontationen. LP. Germany: Sound Aspects Records – sas 007 (recorded live June 29, 1984) https://www.discogs.com/Spencer-Barefield-Anthony-Holland-Tani-Tabbal-Live-At-Nickelsdorf-Konfrontationen/release/1912653
Ganelin Trio (1986). Ttaango … In Nickelsdorf. LP. UK: Leo Records – LR 400/401 (recorded live October 19, 1985) https://www.discogs.com/Ganelin-Trio-Ttaango–In-Nickelsdorf/release/958368

1992
Qui.t (1992). Comprovisations I-X. CD. Austria: Extraplatte – Ex 166 (recorded live July 22, 1991) https://www.discogs.com/Quit-Comprovisations-I-X/release/3799384

1995
Snakkerdu Densk (1995). NEM. CD. Austria: Trost Records – TR 060 (recorded live December 3, 1994) https://www.discogs.com/es/Snakkerdu-Densk-NEM/release/1308572

1996
Guy, Barry, Mats Gustafsson, Raymond Strid (1996). You Forget To Answer. CD. Ireland: Maya Recordings – MCD 9601 (recorded live July 24, 1995; most likely July 21) https://www.discogs.com/Guy-Gustafsson-Strid-You-Forget-To-Answer/release/2276140

1997
Various (1997). Jazzgalerie Nickelsdorf. The 20th Anniversary Album. CD. Nickelsdorf: self-published https://www.discogs.com/Various-Jazzgalerie-Nickelsdorf-The-20th-Anniversary-Album/release/2390284
The Joel Futtermann – Kidd Jordan Quintett (1997). Nickelsdorf Konfrontationen. CD. USA: Silkheart – SHCD 143 (recorded live July 24, 1995; most likely July 22) https://www.discogs.com/The-Joel-Futterman-Kidd-Jordan-Quintet-Nickelsdorf-Konfrontation/release/2305429

1998
Frank Gratkowski Trio (1998). The Fume Factor. CD. Germany: Random Acoustics – RA 020 (recorded live February 1, 1997) https://www.discogs.com/Frank-Gratkowski-Trio-The-Flume-Factor/release/1286476
MIMEO (1998). Queue. CDr. Germany: GROB – GROB 005 (recorded live July 20, 1997) https://www.discogs.com/MIMEO-Queue/release/894132

1999
Max Nagl Trio (1999). Falarm. CD. Austria: Rude Noises – 009 CD (recorded live ???) https://www.discogs.com/Max-Nagl-Trio-Falarm/release/8967652
Polwechsel (1999). Polwechsel 2. CD. Switzerland: hat[now]ART – hat[now]ART 119 (recorded live ?? July, 1998) https://www.discogs.com/Polwechsel-Polwechsel-2/release/1162740

2001
Millions, Kenny, Charles Moffett (2001). Brother Charles. CDr. USA: Hum Ha Records – #17 (recorded live August 16, 1981) https://www.discogs.com/de/Kenny-Millions-Charles-Moffett-Brother-Charles/release/3330613
Németh, Feri with Marc Whitcage Trio (2001). Common Ground. CD. Hungary: Harmónia Produkció – HCD 171 (recorded live May 4, 2001) https://www.discogs.com/Feri-N%C3%A9meth-With-Mark-Whitecage-Trio-Common-Ground/release/3223487

2002
Dieb13/Pure/Siewert (2002). Just In Case You Are Bored. So Are We. CD. Austria: dOc recordings – dOc 004 (recorded live January 13, 2001) https://www.discogs.com/Dieb13-Pure-Siewert-Just-In-Case-You-Are-Bored-So-Are-We/release/870274

2003
Farmers Manual (2003). Rla. DVD. Austria: Mego – MEGO 777 (recorded live July 16, 1999) https://www.discogs.com/de/Farmers-Manual-Rla/release/130660

2004
E-Rax (2004). Antics. DVD. Netherlands: Institute For Improvisation – INFIM. 001 (recorded live November 30, 2002) https://www.discogs.com/de/E-Rax-Antics/release/1268036

2009
Brötzmann, Peter (2009). Lost & Found. CD. Germany: FMP –FMP 134 (recorded live July 14, 2006) https://www.discogs.com/Br%C3%B6tzmann-Solo-Lost-Found/release/2233767
AUS (2009). Live In Nickelsdorf. CD. Germany: Jazzwerkstatt – jw051 (recorded live July 14, 2007) https://www.discogs.com/Aus-Live-In-Nickelsdorf/release/2033765

2013
Filip, Klaus & Dafne Vincente-Sandoval (2013). Remoto. CD. France: Potlatch – P213 (recorded live December 8, 2013, evangelische Kirche) https://www.discogs.com/de/Klaus-Filip-Dafne-Vicente-Sandoval-Remoto/release/4986787

2014
A” Trio (2014). Live In Nickelsdorf. LP. USA: Roaratorio – roar32 (recorded live July 21, 2012) https://www.discogs.com/A-Trio-Live-In-Nickelsdorf/release/5356081
Allen, Marshall, Juini Booth, Philipp Quehenberger, Didi Kern (2014). Sunset/Sunrise. Vynil 7″. Austria: qed Sounds – qed4 (recorded live June 2, 2012) https://www.discogs.com/de/Marshall-Allen-Juini-Booth-Philipp-Quehenberger-Didi-Kern-SunsetSunrise/release/5766110
Idris Ackamoor Paris Quartet (2014). The Periphery Of The Periphery. LP. Italy: Sagittarius A-Star – SAS #44 (recorded live October 6, 2001) https://www.discogs.com/Idris-Ackamoor-Paris-Quartet-The-Periphery-Of-The-Periphery/release/5351892
Kazuisha Uchihashi/Noid/Tamara Wilhelm (2014). I Hope It Doesn’t Work. CD. Russia: Mikroton Recordings – mikroton cd 28 (recorded live July 21, 2013) https://www.discogs.com/Kazuhisa-Uchihashi-Noid-Tamara-Wilhelm-I-Hope-It-Doesnt-Work/release/5707372

2015
The Sun Ra Arkestra (2015). Live In Nickelsdorf 1984. LP. Austria: Trost Records – TR 118 (recorded live March 11, 1984) https://www.discogs.com/The-Sun-Ra-Arkestra-Live-In-Nickelsdorf-1984/release/6422671
Foussat, Jean-Marc & Les Autres (2015). Alternative Oblique. CD. France: Improvising Beings – ib38 (recorded live May 16, 2015, Kleylehof) https://www.discogs.com/de/Jean-Marc-Foussat-Les-Autres-Alternative-Oblique/release/7285985

2017
Trio Now! (2017). Live At Nickelsdorfer Konfrontationen 23.07.2016. CD. UK: Leo Records – CD LR 789 (recorded live July 23, 2016) https://www.discogs.com/Trio-Now-Live-At-Nickelsdorfer-Konfrontationen-23072016/release/10493432
The Elks (2017). Bat English. MC. Germany: Not On Label (The Elks 3) Self-released) (recorded live July 21, 2016) https://www.discogs.com/de/The-Elks-Bat-English/release/10917015

2018
Agnel, Sophie, John Edwards, Steve Noble (2018). Aqisseq. CD. France: ONJ RECORDS – JF010 (recorded live July 22, 2016) https://www.discogs.com/Sophie-Agnel-John-Edwards-Steve-Noble-Aqisseq/release/12925470
Baars/Kneer/Elgart (2018). Live At Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2012. CD. Netherlands: Evil Rabbit Records – ERR 22 (recorded live July 22, 2012) https://www.discogs.com/Baars-Kneer-Elgart-Live-At-Konfrontationen-Nickelsdorf-2012/release/11798731
The Clifford Thornton Memorial Quartet (2018). Sweet Oranges. CD. Poland: Not Two Records – MW971-2 (recorded live July 20, 2017) https://www.discogs.com/The-Clifford-Thornton-Memorial-Quartet-Sweet-Oranges/release/11856373

2019
Das B (2019). Canopy. CD. Russia: топот – T408T (recorded live July 22, 2017) https://www.discogs.com/Das-B-Canopy/release/14329045
Parker, Evan, Matthew Wright, Adam Linson, John Coxon, Ashley Wales, Trance Map+ (2019). Crepuscule In Nickelsdorf. CD. Switzerland: Intakt Records – Intakt CD 329 (recorded live July 22, 2017) https://www.discogs.com/Evan-Parker-Matthew-Wright-5-Adam-Linson-John-Coxon-Ashley-Wales-Trance-Map-Crepuscule-In-Nickelsdor/release/13916186
Speak Easy (2019). @ Konfrontationen. CDr. UK: Confront – ccs 99 (recorded live July 22, 2016) https://www.discogs.com/Speak-Easy–Konfrontationen/release/13777035

2020
Athanor (2020). Live In Nickelsdorf 1978. CD. Austria: Black-Monk – BMCD-03 (recorded live April 22, 1978) https://www.discogs.com/Athanor-Live-in-Nickelsdorf-1978/release/14771196
Kaufmann, Achim, Michael Moore, Dylan Van Der Schyff (2020). Bouche Perdue. File. Canada: WhirrbooM! Records – none (recorded live March 27, 2004) https://www.discogs.com/Achim-Kaufmann-Michael-Moore-4-Dylan-Van-Der-Schyff-Bouche-Perdue-/release/14903287

 

thursday

by Andrew Choate

the wind he sucks and blows
this heartbeat that he must master
the essence of the work is healing
rebuilding a circle
promoting the life force
uniting the scars to make something beautiful
– Kamau Daáood, “The Lip Drummer”

.

.

As this year’s festival at the Jazzgalerie is postponed, I’m going to share with you, over the next four days—the days the festival was scheduled to take place—how to survive not being at the Konfrontationen in Nickelsdorf. Some of you will be on a small farm in a safe haven; some of you will be in locked-down quarantine in the world’s most obviously and spectacularly failing country; some of you will be in a mid-sized city, cuddling in an ergonomically designed apartment; some of you will be lonelier than others and more yearning for camaraderie; some of you will be so sick of interactus digatilus (the tiresome pursuit of information and experience via a two-dimensional device) that you won’t see these essays for months or longer; some of you know me and some of you don’t; I’m writing these essays to connect anyone whose shared experiences in Nickelsdorf will be absent this year

IMG_20190729_055120

.

A User’s Guide to Surviving Absence From Your Favorite Place on Earth

.

1) Don’t ignore it

The worst thing you can do is try and tell yourself that it’s not real. No. It is real. It might be impossible––an impossible event––but it is real. What hurts the most is when art is used to make a point. The festival is real, impossible, and made of feeling. It’s a time and a place and a collection of actions that change lives. It’s the perfect-size audience––400 people or so––to feel like a momentous gathering, and yet still small enough for everyone to sit quietly outside and listen.

Last year’s festival ended with Hauna taking the microphone to announce, apropos of nothing other than the arrival of the thought, that he thinks “Kamau Daáood is much better than Amiri Baraka,” ending the sequence of the weekend’s performances with an exhortation to read and reread Daáood. The urging proved positively bountiful for me, as I rediscovered the nutrient-rich density of passion in Daáood’s poetry. I don’t mean that the poetry is passionate – that’s too vague and too common a characterization, especially for poetry; it’s the kind of thing people say when they have no idea what the author is talking about or how the writing is structured. Passion here refers to the kinds of expansive sensations and vivid insights that are powerful enough to change your overdue habits, to redirect your soggy orbit. The central thrust of Daáood’s work is passion – giving voice to his appreciation for what artists (including artists of friendship and family) have shared with him. Daáood ruminates on what these heroes have had to go through—what sacrifices, burdens, traumas, soul divisions—in order to create what has meant so much to him, and he puts all of himself into giving thanks. Daáood’s work is an omnipresent analysis and embrace of what it feels like to teach ourselves how to listen to what the people in this world have been so generous with themselves to make for us. The central thrust is gratitude; the omnipresent embrace is passion.

Passion, to deserve the word, requires an inherent gratitude.

received_308518277183421

Hauna (Hans Falb) has been putting his life into the Jazzgalerie and the concerts that take place there, giving thanks not only in his own way to the music that shaped him, but—more significantly in an age of anonymous consumption—creating a space where the audience can share their gratitude as well, and with dignity, more or less. (I’m primarily referring to my sometimes inept, sometimes gushing, sometimes boisterous, sometimes hypercool, sometimes discombobulated, sometimes overly fancifully loquacious attempts to say thanks to musicians over the years.) I connect Hauna to the heroes of Daáood’s poems. Like them, he “promotes the life force/ uniting the scars to make something beautiful.”

To unite the scars, you first have to recognize the scars, a step some fail in hopes of instant cicatrix.

If you want to survive the first day without the festival, you have to look at the scars in your life. Give thanks to what they have made possible for you.

Give thanks to what they have limited for you.

Give thanks to the narrowing of decisions, desires, and dreams; if you have the requisite stamina of imagination, that clarity should be a galvanizing relief.

Maybe even cause for more ample wonderment.

Commingled with bifurcating awe regaled and disappointed in equally-heartless/full measure by circumstance.

received_304108274123277

.

2) Don’t mourn that the festival isn’t taking place

Celebrate what it is, what it means to you.

Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

If you have a chance to spend time with people, tell them you would like to take the time to be quiet and listen to music. If you decide to talk while listening, talk about the music.

If you don’t have a chance to spend time with people, tell someone you love about a piece of music you are going to listen to. See if you can share a listening.

Get drunk with a friend and go back and forth picking out music to listen to.

Options.

received_824775214721111

Without Reinhard and Hilde Stöger, the concerts at the Jazzgalerie over the years wouldn’t have taken place. Think about the people in your life that have made or continue to make things possible. Give thanks, passionate thanks. Some people are empty words, wingless birds, milk-free curds. Not the Stögers. They know what a trumpet is for. Their panache, dedication, taste, and perspicacity have contributed not only to the very existence of the festival, but to the flavor of the entire experience.

We can’t mourn this weekend. We are part of a community of people that wouldn’t exist without the community that Falb and the Stögers began cultivating in the 1970s. This community is made exclusively of people that couldn’t care less about what is happening in the entity known as Culture-at-Large. Zeitgeists are for the gullible losers, profiteers, and swindlers convinced––a priori––that soul and integrity are ever on the wane.

Actually I’m starting to grieve now. It’s the Wednesday before what should be the first night of the festival, the usual day when I arrive in Nickelsdorf. In my time zone it’s the afternoon, but, in Nickelsdorf time, it’s almost midnight. We should all be catching up—you with yours, me with mine, bumping into each other at the bar, intermingling cheerfully—telling each other to go home and get some rest before the ‘real’ festival starts, then having one more drink to quell and spur our elation at existing, even if briefly, in a place and time that supports the artists and art whose power we know is vaster than the sum of all contingencies agglomerated to calculate the impossibility of reality.

IMG_8367

.

3) Mourn

Fuck it. There’s no reason to stay away from grief. It’s as real as a leg and a phantom limb stewed in anguish and harmony. People even cry when they are at their happiest – because it’s so surprising and so fulfilling! And we don’t know what the hell else to do or how to feel! So why not feel the grief of not seeing your friends from Austria, Romania, Sweden, Poland, Germany, America, Hungary, Portugal, and all the places the musicians and audiences come from? I’m sadder than half a jaw trying to express itself. The only flipside of the grief is knowing how lucky we are to know this place, and bathe in the awareness of the distance between the feelings experienced there compared to the rest of life. Maybe you and I should do something about that. Can we?

It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to get irritated. It’s ok to be irrationally rational about the predictability of broken-to-begin-with social organizing principles fostering worldwide calamity with velvety ease.

This year I’ll also be mourning for my friend Ang. She was going to be coming with me to the festival for the first time. I told her when I got back last year: she is simply too great an improvising musician not to experience the caliber and variety of what happens at the Konfrontationen. (She actually just sent me a message, while I was writing this. She is going on a hiking date at 9am this Saturday, so maybe all this stuff about phantom limbs and stewed harmony and scars and stamina and gratitude can solidify in a new partnership that makes zealousness a minuscule crawl in comparison.) Ang and I’ll be there next year.

In the meantime, let’s mourn. Build things and break things and build other things and then critique those and build again. However you mourn, do it effectively, because you don’t have time to just mourn this weekend.

IMG_20190727_054633

.

4) Stay up late. Catch the sunrise at least once.

Yes, you should recreate some basic experiences of the festival. First, the sun rises pretty early in the Northern Hemisphere, so: no excuses pleated ponies. Take a walk during sunrise. Go out of your way to fray the ends of the cord wrapped around your routine in your home. Slip out, slice through, illuminate skin. The sunrise always starts earlier than you think it should in Nickelsdorf, the bluish bulge of light blooming at you in all directions across the immersive flatness of the farmland horizon. The glow is an authority you respect but still want to ignore as it gradually waves an index finger side-to-side in your psyche, gently taunting “naughty-naughty” to the relentless revelry.

Speaking of efforts to catch the sunrise, I first tried to get to the Konfrontationen in 1996. I failed. I didn’t have the money and couldn’t convince my family of the importance of the experience. But I did figure out a way to get there in 1997 (story tomorrow). The fact that it was so much better than I imagined made it that much more difficult to be absent in 1998. And 1999. And 2000. I had experienced a place where the things I loved lived. And then I slowly recognized that I was having a hard time living in a way that allowed me to get there, to love the things I loved.

Absence made my heart grow tougher, dirtier, thinner.

I couldn’t get back until 2001. But I decided: from then on, even if I could only attend every four years, at least I would do that. It was still industrially painful to miss the festivals in 2002, 2003, and 2004. I looked at the lineups for each, immediately after they were announced, in awe of the excellence in programming, and even more titillated by the names I didn’t recognize. I did get back in 2005, it felt like an injection of basic cultural sustenance after four straight years in the deserts of Los Angeles. I missed 2006, right on schedule, but—and here was the moment when I thought I was making a breakthrough in life, living, and listenership—I went in 2007! “Yessssssss,” I thought. “Now I’m going to come back every other year! I’ve got a new pattern! I’m an amphibian of thriving/decaying civilizations!” Alas, I missed not only 2008, 2009, 2010, but also 2011, and 2012. My life got darker. Missing the festival was a symptom of that darkness, not necessarily the cause. I didn’t decide to attend in 2013 until after my dad’s funeral, less than two weeks before the festival. Once I returned to the Jazzgalerie, my heart and my mind and all the inexpressible parts of being-in-the-universe swelled with vitality and I looked my friends, and myself, in the heart: I vowed to never miss another festival.

received_2654598924752388

I’ve been true this time. And while I wouldn’t necessarily call it a steady uptick in quality-of-life from 2013 to 2014 to 2015 to 2016 to 2017 to 2018 to 2019, I would unequivocally state that my overall well-being and sense of self is radically more at-peace than before the streak began – and then there’s the rise in lucid vigor within my creative practices! Vau Vau Hoot Chirrup Churong!

[Three more days of festival recollection, personal happenstance, interpersonal conjecture, and grateful passion realized will follow]

friday
Paul Lovens’ comment
saturday
sunday