Reviews

[Rahma Khazam, The Wire, UK, 03/2006]

[Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, UK, 01/2007]

[Etero Genio, Sands-Zine, Italy, 04/2006]

[Alfred Pranzl, Skug, Austria, 03/2006]

[Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly, Netherlands, 06/2006]

[Susanna Bolle, Forced Exposure, USA, 08/2006]

[Chris Cutler, ReR Megacorp, UK, 2006]

[Seth Cluett, sound art list / amazon.com, USA, 07/2005]




Austrian composer and artist Bernhard Gál has been interweaving sound, music, light, and space in intricate, carefully constructed installations since the late 90s. The monograph Installations documents these works by means of texts, lavish illustrations and a 19-track accompanying CD (also available in a CD-only version from Austrian label, Gromoga). It highlights the breadth and richness of Gál’s soundworld. The unrelenting rhythmic whirrs of an oldfashioned matrix printer printing out a quotation from the testament of Austrian playwright Thomas Bernhard turn the spatial layout of the text into a temporal-acoustic structure. Elsewhere, compelling, layered ‘voice sculptures’ derived from interviews conducted by Gál demonstrate the musical and sonic potential of language. Meanwhile, the haunting, harrowing belit, a composition for 8 musicians and 16 light sources, stands in stark contrast to Trendy Cell Phone, Yo!, whose absorbing sonic interplay of shrill, sharp beeps highlights the performative potential of mobile telephones. Taken together, the tracks make up an autonomous composition that can be listened to without referring to the images – for in Gál’s installations the emphasis is on the sound component, which is not permitted to recede into the background, as is often the case with mixed-media installations. On the evidence of the photos, however, the visuals are as exquisitely crafted as the sounds, and it would be a pity to miss out on them. In the photograph of Oil Paintings, a hidden light source illuminates lush, softly glowing motifs painted with cooking oil, lubricating oil and essential oils, which set off the dreamy, tinkling soundtrack to perfection. Green Voice, one of several collaborations with the Japanese architect and artist Yumi Kori, was conceived for the four-storey archive of an old public library in Tokyo. It featured recordings of statements by local residents as well as the latter’s light boxes. Their green booklike shapes glowed eerily in the dark, while the recorded statements, transformed into a weightless, echoey vocal composition, filled the archive, connecting the interviewees with the library as a site for the collection and dissemination of knowledge. An unmissable publication.

[Rahma Khazam, The Wire, UK, 03/2006]

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Austrian Bernhard Gal's been 'doing ' cross--media installations since 1998 and probably even earlier for all I know, and last year an overview of his work was published in Germany.This CD is a separate supplement to the big printed catalogue of the same name that came out in 2005 under the Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg imprint and it comprises 19 excerpts from his mighty past oeuvre. Some of them have already been heard /received in TSP, for example 'Hinaus::In den.Wald.' came out in Austria in 2004, and comprised a sonic environment based around the texts of Adolf Woelfli, the Swiss outsider artist-genius. 'Defragmentation/Red' and 'Defragmentation/Blue' have also been previously issued, the latter on Plate Lunch in 2000.This comp is just terriff! Although under ideal circumstances I suppose you need to hear each piece in entirety and preferably inside some cold, white-walled art gallery in Europe, this collection of extracts works very well at home as an audio experience in its own right. This is largely because it's been edited to produce 'highlights' of the 'abstract musical qualities of 19 interwoven compositions'. Some of the early pieces use a lot of voices - voice recordings made into loops, relooped and layered into the piece, then expanded further in yet more interesting ways, or distorted into far-out sonic events; each work seems packed with minimal meaning, stressing its simple points through repetition and extension. Other works create artificial spaces that you can wander around in - sometimes even float around in them, as they seem to defy the normal laws of gravity, and are filled with air and light.Yet another simply uses recordings of a dot-matrix computer printer, reusing the tapes until it turns the rhythms of that machine into a form of music. Then there's 'Klangbojen', which features more familiar field recordings like birdsong and church bells, and transcends these sources to create a truly magical atmosphere. In all an extremely interesting, beautiful and highly worthwhile collection, presenting many aspects of these slow and careful exploratory sound-art works. Highly recommended.

[Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, UK, 01/2007]

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(…) Risale invece al 2005 la pubblicazione del bellissimo libro “Installationen”, con allegato CD, da parte della Kehrer Verlag. Nel libro viene ripercorsa, con parole e immagini, la cronologia delle sue opere e nel CD stralci dalle varie installazioni sono montati a formare un’unica suite. Non sto ad entrare nel merito delle singole installazioni, onde evitare di essere eccessivamente prolisso, ma mi interessa comunque far notare come facciano spesso riferimento all’opera di altri artisti (I am sHitting in a room richiama volutamente Alvin Lucier, Enelten è basata sul testamento dello scrittore Thomas Bernhard…). Le varie opere spesso ripropongono, in varie forme, i temi del linguaggio e del rapporto fra suono e luce/colori. Bestimmung Darmstadt, Dissociated Voices, Dreiband, Hinaus:: In den, Wald e I am sHitting in a room sono tutte opere in cui il linguaggio, come elemento primario o come elemento accessorio, svolge un ruolo fondamentale; nella stessa Enelten, se pure trasposto nel ticchettare di una stampante, il linguaggio rappresenta comunque il tema di fondo. La dialettica suoni – luci/colori è invece ben espressa in Klangbojen, Night Pulses, RGB, Machina Temporis, Defragmentation/red, Defragmentation/blue e Green Voice. Belit, una delle sue installazioni più intriganti, è basata su 8 strumentisti, le cui silhouette sono visibile dietro a delle pareti di tela, e 16 fonti luminose; e ancor più singolare è Trändi Händi, yo!, una performance musico-teatrale a base di telefonini cellulari organizzata in due scuole viennesi, che lo ha visto collaborare con il pedagogo Xenia Hu e che ha coinvolto 25 ragazzi d'età compresa fra i sette e i dodici anni. Per quanto riguarda il CD è importante notare il gusto nel montare i vari spezzoni, con inizio e finale tratti da una medesima installazione, tanto che questo assume l’aspetto di opera compiuta e non quello di raccolta. Alla fine del 2005 il CD è stato pubblicato, su Gromoga Records, anche in versione slegata dal libro. Personalmente consiglio comunque l’acquisto del libro che, oltre al catalogo d’immagini, alle note sulle singole installazioni ed al CD, contiene anche una biografia di Gal, un’intervista, un saggio introduttivo ed un sommario delle sue esposizioni e delle sue pubblicazioni. (…)

[Etero Genio, Sands-Zine, Italy, 04/2006]

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Eigentlich seltsam. Funktioniert in diesem Fall Bernhard Gals Sound, enthoben dem Installations-Kontext? Würde sagen: Schon, denn allein die Sprachmodulation-Loops auf der CD sind es wert, im Wohnzimmer genossen zu werden. Auch entreißt Gal Nadeldruckergeräusche der Vergangenheit und erweist sich überhaupt als feinfühliger Connaisseur, der aus Klangbojen auf der Donau Glockensounds zaubert. Selbst auf Mobiltelefon-Klingeltönen zieht der Soundkünstler ein wohliges Zirpen/Summen, das nicht nervt: „Trändy, Händy, yo!“. Besonders zu empfehlen sind die in einen Schwebezustand führenden „Defragmentations“ in rot bzw. blau. Im Klangraum Krems, im Schoß der Minoritenkirche, füllten durchsichtige Luftballons den Boden, und nur ein zartes Infrablau erleuchtete diese in dezentes Dämmern. Eine schöne Entsprechung, denn eigentlich geht es bei diesen Klängen um das Dahinsiechen in Todesagonie auf einer Intensivstation.

[Alfred Pranzl, Skug, Austria, 03/2006]

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By now Bernhard Gal should no longer be unknown, for his work has been released by such labels as Durian, Intransitive, Plate Lunch, Klanggalerie, Charhizma and now on Gromoga. 'Installations' is actually a book and CD dealing with the sound installations produced by Gal over the years, from 1999 until the present day. Unfortunately, I haven't seen the book, so I can't exactly comment on the installations, how they look like, or what the ideas are behind them. I don't believe however that Gal wanted the CD to be just highlights of the sound portion of the installations. Taking things a bit further, he chose the most abstract part of each of the installations (if my count is right, seventeen) sound track and put them together as one of continuous flow of sound, in nineteen parts. This brings an utter varied bunch of musics: from the sound of billiard to a walk in the wood, bells sounds and electronically processed sounds. This makes this CD into both a fine display of his many talents, but also something that can hold the attention for its entire seventy-four minutes. The fact that the installations are still a mystery is, well just too bad, I guess. This by itself is very fine enough.

[Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly, Netherlands, 06/2006]

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'Forced Exposure Top Ten List'

[Susanna Bolle, Forced Exposure, USA, 08/2006]

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From the excellent Kehrer series, this an 80pp hardback, full colour, art book with CD by, and about, Austrian sound artist Bernhard Gal. The CD is composed as a self-contained, continuous piece, but track marks find and play those sections related to each installation. Materials are electronic sounds, voices, billiard balls, dot matrix printer, pure tones, kettles and other domestic appliances, spy recordings (in checked baggage), a phone quartet, ring-tones and environmental sound. 18 works are featured in the book, some with architect Yumi Kori, as well as an interview with Gal, a biography, an exhibition list and sonography.

[Chris Cutler, ReR Megacorp, UK, 2006]

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(...) at once both spare and immersive, Gal's sound and light constructions are delicate and peaceful in their strength, clarity, and focus. (...)

[Seth Cluett, sound art list / amazon.com, USA, 07/2005]

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