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Radio Tweet

Birgit Ulher: trumpet, radio, speaker, objects
Ute Wassermann: voice, bird whistles

1. Radio Tweet (7:31)
2. Frequency Shifting (4:26)
3. Demodulation (5:26)
4. Reflection (6:02)
5. Polarization (7:17)
6. Difraction (5:09)
7. Absorption (3:52)
8. Radio for Birds (5:10)

Recorded on Feb 2, 2012 at A Red Room, Hamburg
Mixed and mastered by Boris Vogeler
All pieces by Wassermann/Ulher (GEMA)
p+c 2012 by Wassermann/Ulher
Photo by Birgit Ulher
Graphic design by Carlos Santos
Production by Ernesto Rodrigues, 2015

Creative Sources

The Wire

Birdsong has inspired musicians for centuries. Ute Wassermann brought bird whistles as well as her remarkably versatile voice to this 2012 session in Hamburg. Yet even while she is using those whistles her 'birdtalking' improvisations are not derived or imitative in the manner of Olivier Messiaen's Catalogue D'Oiseaux, or the trills of larks and nightingales that Renaissance composer Clément Janequin channelled into his chansons. Her source of inspiration seems to lie closer to those "imaginary birds said to live in paradise" that John Stevens made allusion to on the cover of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble's 1968 album Karyobin.
Wassermann sings as a bird, rather than like one. And as philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari point out in A Thousand Plateaus, "Becoming is never imitating." Wassermann doesn't copy song that's already documented on early sound recordist Ludwig Koch's shellac discs or Chris Watson's ornithological audio files she effectively projects herself into avian mode. Further, she doesn't use birdsong to mark out territory, but in order to depart from the beaten track of human vocal music, even from those less well worn pathways of extended technique. According to Deleuze and Guattari, "The same thing that leads a musician to discover the birds also leads her to discover the elementary and the cosmic."
The Wassermann soundworld takes form within waveflows and fluctuating particles. Trumpeter Birgit Ulher joins her in that zone of articulation, set apart from the rules and expectations of instrumental as well as vocal music. Ulher uses radio sounds in addition to her trumpet. Radios, more than ever in the digital age, home in on stations. But the eight improvisations on Radio Tweet swerve away from occupied frequencies into unmarked airwaves.
On the cover a brilliantly apt photograph, taken by Ulher, shows a blotchy horizon where sky and rippling water meet; a landscape dissolving into a vibration pattern. It resembles those sonograms you find on the birdsong website (at xeno-canto. org). In notes for a 1993 reissue, Robert Wyatt described SME's Karyobin as "a dawn chorus". Radio Tweet finds imaginary birds in full flight.

Julian Cowley, The Wire, March 2016 (Issue 385)

Vital Weekly

The cover of this release is quite interesting: it looks like a field with trees in the far distance, but the more I look at this, these trees might also be sound waves, from a picture of a computer screen. It is a fascinating picture and I am trying to think of this in terms of the music; either a representation of the music as recorded or a score to play. Birgit Uhler plays trumpet, radio, speaker and objects, and we know her from her previous works in the field of improvised music. She has been playing with Ute Wassermann (voice, bird whistles) for a very long time. Back in Vital Weekly 453 (which might have been from 2004) I reviewed 'Kunststoff', which I found a bit long (one hour) and too limited in what these women had to offer, variation-wise. I believe Uhler played mostly trumpet back then; the extended set-up she uses these days adds more variation to her playing and these days I am quite a fan of her work. This new work doesn't disappoint either. Like on that previous release, Wassermann's voice is about an imitation of what Uhler does with her trumpet and other sounds, but her voice opens up a whole world of possibilities of her own, with those bird whistles. These eight pieces (forty-five minutes) are quite intense in approach. There seems always something going on, even when it's nearly silent. One can do nothing else but listen closely to this music and be sucked into the sound world of these two musicians. Open up your ears and mind and something beautiful will unfold. At forty-five minutes I would think this is also the right length. More would not be good, less also doesn't seem right. Excellent work.

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly 1009

Touching Extremes

The existence of a reviewer is occasionally rewarded in unexpected ways. In the last few days, I had been bored to death by a pair of lame albums by some sort of progressive-new-jazz-whatchamacallit entities, wondering how in the world certain labels accept low levels of compromise in order not to sink, in the meantime trying to fool new audiences by passing off barely above average stuff as “innovative”. Then I opened a packet, which contained a kind note by Ute Wassermann accompanying Radio Tweet: I knew straight away that my revenge was coming soon. This reporter has been an unrepentant fan of both the vocalist and Ulher’s work since the very beginnings. Simply put, these women can’t fail; and indeed, they didn’t. This CD belongs among the best of 2016: you can bet on that already, in early February.
A main attribute in the duo’s intuitive practice is the striking equity between the extremization of their palette and a not always evident irony. This is summarized by a relatively even-tempered display of variously shaped noises seamed into implausibly heterogeneous configurations, completely eschewing the logic of regular tone and academically acceptable timbre. That one often struggles to ascertain what comes from an instrument and what from the voice substantiates disputable “imperfections” as the origin of ungovernable creativity, provided that instant choices are regulated by intelligence. Several preparations of Ulher’s trumpet – in addition to Wassermann’s bird whistles – add to the general discombobulation by introducing harsh rattling and pseudo-pulses while eliciting the idea of bizarre animal hybrids. The overall result, halfway through mechanical disfunction and far-sighted concreteness, invariably seizes the listener’s attention across myriads of micro-detours, small shocks and unconceivable colloquialism.
This music dismembers the canonical characteristics of that brand of levigated improvisation which nowadays appears controlled by artistic superintendents and ultimately destined to a clique. At the same time it remains entirely comprehensible, funny, and utterly gratifying for the ears. A must for scattered lone wolves.

Massimo Ricci,, February 7, 2016

The Soundprojector

Radio Tweet (CREATIVE SOURCES RECORDINGS CS 335 CD) sees two talented German performatrices making some lively improvised sounds together in the studio in Hamburg…Birgit Ulher is no stranger to the house of TSP, recently heard for instance with fellow Hamburgian Gregory Büttner on Araripepipra with her radical approach to playing her trumpet, while Ute Wassermann was recently name-checked as part of a Gary Rouzer review. True to its name, Radio Tweet does showcase birdsong effects – evidently one of Ute’s specialities is using her vocal skills to imitate bird whistles, but this is just a small part of her impressive training and craft: since 1984, she has “developed many special multi-voiced vocal techniques, catalogued by register, timbre and articulative sequences”, according to the bods at Mode Records.
Birgit Ulher’s principal skill is to create small, compacted, but very busy sounds; using her trumpet and radio set, plus small objects, she is the cat that creates many a rattle for Ute’s cage. Providing an understated and fluttery set of abstract instrumentals, the duo don’t really let rip with anything especially noisy or agitated except perhaps for ‘Demodulation’, where Ute growls like an angry African parrot while a symphony of 18 tea-kettles are blowing their spouts behind her. There’s also the astonishing ‘Radio For Birds’ at the end of the set, a slightly alarming roarer which would make a good alternative soundtrack to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 masterpiece. Indeed, the very title Radio Tweet is suggestive of two modes of communication – one old-school analogue, one contemporary digital – coming together for multiple modes of expression.
Ute is – along with Hanna Hartmann, Andrea Neumann, and two other women – one of the five Femmes Savantes, a collaborative project active since 2005, whose members are capable of tackling jazz, improvised music, sound art, and modern composition, doing so in an extremely democratic manner. I can well believe, hearing Ute’s taut delivery here, that she regularly fulfils one of Femmes Savantes USPs: “the performer’s body becomes the instrument”. From 26 November 2015.

Ed Pinsent, April 9,


Birgit Ulher manie la trompette comme si elle s’était transformée en machine, faisant tressauter la colonne d’air tant avec les lèvres qu’avec les plaques métalliques qu’elle applique sur le pavillon comme une sourdine, ou émettant un souffle impalpable qu’elle perturbe ensuite en saturant ou en percutant l’embouchure. Ute Wassermann qui s’applique aux appeaux, roucoule, caquète, jacasse, béquète, glousse, hulule avec la plus grande finesse. Leurs sons ininterrompus bruissent obstinément et s’enchevêtrent bien souvent, évoquant la manie éperdue du pivert. La linéarité de l’émission sonore est assumée de bout en bout de chacune des huit improvisations agitées par les rapides battements réitérés de volière prise au piège et qui tente en vain de s’échapper. Et pourtant malgré ce parti pris de scansion d’un seul temps accentué en quasi-permanence, il n’y a aucune redondance tant leur registre sonore est diversifié et leur acharnement convaincant. Le dialogue logique est évacué pour une complémentarité loufoque. La voix de la chanteuse est devenue celle d’oiseaux rendus fous et on finit par oublier qu’il s’agit d’une voix humaine ou féminine. Sur un fond lointain de radio, la trompette siffle et sussure et les appeaux zozotent dans l’aigu et tremblotent quand, soudaine, la trompette aspire abruptement le son « à l’envers ». Le disque nous révèle l’étendue de leur extraordinaire univers sonore, mais ne saurait remplacer la présence physique d’un concert, raison de plus pour réclamer leur venue dans votre ville. Une dizaine d’années après leur excellent premier Kunststoff sur le même label, Birgit Uhler et Ute Wassermann se sont surpassées. Ne ressemble à rien d‘autre de connu.
NB : ayant reçu un paquet CS considérable et ayant d'autres cd's en attente d'écoute , j'ai été obligé de brader mon travail d'écriture vu l'urgence de vous communiquer mon enthousiasme.

Jean-Michel van Schouwburg,

CM Magazine

Труба, голос, препарации. Две женщины играют современный импров, корнями уходящий в европейскую традицию импровизационной музыки. Сейчас эта музыка хорошо развита, а Биргит Ульхер (Birgit Ulher) и Уте Вассерман (Ute Wassermann) - одни из тех, чьи имена знакомы почти каждому интересующемуся. Их первый альбом вышел в 2004-м году, нынешний записан в 2012-м. Долгие годы совместной работы!

И этот опыт сразу слышен, настолько слаженно звучит дуэт. Материал весьма разношерстный, обе используют множество приемов, звуков, элементов. Но поражает то, что звучит всё настолько монолитно, что разбирать по кусочкам просто нет никакого желания, хотя в такой музыке часто обращаешь внимание именно на отдельные события, становящиеся иногда более любопытными, нежели целое. Если не стараться распознать отдельные линии каждой, то легко можно перепутать звуки голоса и трубы.

Нет сомнений, что это отличный альбом, который полезно будет послушать как начинающим слушателям, так и бывалым. Кажется, сейчас таких альбомов выпускается не так уж много: кто-то зарывается в экспериментальные норки, кто-то слишком укоренён в традиции. Ульхер и Вассерман дают понять, что развитие может идти и по другой дорожке, что можно найти баланс между сугубо музыкантской музыкой и звуками, любопытными бОльшему кругу слушателей.

Илья Белоруков (Ilia Belorukov),, February 13, 2016

His Voice

Vokalistka Ute Wassermann a trumpetistka Birgit Ulher (rozhovor s ní vyšel v posledním tištěném čísle HIS Voice (můžete si ho přečíst i na jejích webových stránkách), recenze na její jiné nahrávky najdete zde) nahrály svůj první společný opus Kunststoff v roce 2003 (vyšel o rok později na portugalském labelu Creative Sources), druhé dílo Radio Tweet pak vzniklo v roce 2012, ale na své vydání čekalo přes tři roky. Jejich vzájemná chemie je tu ještě syntetičtější než na prvotině, ale k jejímu pravému vychutnání musíte zvolit ponornější poslech - sám jsem se setkal s reakcí náhodných kolemjdoucích posluchačů, kteří sonickou koláž vycházející z reproduktorů okomentovali jako hudbu k podivnému hororu nebo opičí království.
Některé kompozice na novince sice pracují s určitými plochami či s jakýmsi quasiindustriálním rozměrem, většinou je ovšem potřeba si opravdu všímat všech detailů, nuancí a fines. Ute si tu pohvizduje jako ptáci (to má ostatně dle kreditu v popisu práce), ale i jako čajová konvice nebo minilokomotiva, zurčí, blumlá, brumlá až brukotá, bzíká, cvrčí, hrdelně klokotá i klopotá, chřípí, chruje, syčí, sípe, vručí, řeže, úpí, ječí, vzdychá, mručí, pipká, hučí a vůbec vyluzuje nejrůznější skřeky, polyká písmena a gloglá i kloktá. Jen občas pak prozvukují zpěvy a ševely. Brigit svůj nástroj vdechuje a brousí, jindy na něj pufe, loupe, profukuje i bublá. Další arzenál v podobě reproduktorů, rádia a objektů používá k vytváření jakési kuchyňské a koupelnové zvukové kulisy. Celé je to taková sofistikovaná dětská hra prozrazující neskonalou bezbřehou fantazii. Rozverná i zkoumající. Každý z osmi kusů překvapuje stále novými nápady a postupy, které nádherně souzní i pozitivně disonují, prolínají se i zakousávají do sebe.

Petr Slaby´ ,, 4. 1. 2016

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