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Live at Teni Zvuka 2012

Birgit Ulher, trumpet, radio, speaker, objects
Ilia Belorukov, ipad with sine waves, mini-speakers with preparations, objects
Andrey Popovskiy, motors, ebows, mini-amp, dictaphone, contact mic, surfaces, objects

1. Birgit Ulher, trumpet, radio, speaker, objects (24’04’’) mp3 excerpt
2. Ilia Belorukov / Andrey Popovskiy / Birgit Ulher (12’04’’) mp3 excerpt

CDR, 100 copies, cardboard sleeve,

recorded on June 1st and 3rd 2012 by Andrey Popovskiy
at Teni Zvuka Festival, Experimental Sound Gallery in St. Petersburg
mixed and mastered by Ilia Belorukov and Boris Vogeler
photo by Birgit Ulher
thanks to Boris Vogeler, Gregory Büttner and Teni Zvuka
all music by Ulher/Belorukov/Popovskiy


The Wire

Trumpeter Birgit Ulher has been active as an improvising trumpeter for more than three decades now, yet her abrasive, texturally interesting approach to the instrument sounds as vital as ever. Recorded on a 2012 visit to St Petersburg, her solo set takes up two thirds of this new disc and serves as a good introduction to her distinctive technique. Using ceramic tiles, metal plates and other items to distort the sound of her instrument, Ulher’s music consists of brittle purrs, grainy percussion and gassy roars, which she sets out one after another to form a fragile but cohesive narrative. If the solo is a good introduction, then the brief trio that follows with locals Belorukov and Popovskiy is an engaging animal. With Belorukov utilising an iPad with sine waves, prepared speakers and other objects, and Popovskiy working with an array of items including assorted motors and EBows placed on various surfaces, the trio overlap patches of sharply textured colour and tone to a simple yet very effective end. Tension ensues, without the need for pace or aggression, and a feeling of uncertainty, a sensation of everything about to topple, exists throughout. From such unstable conditions, beauty then emerges.

Richard Pinell, The Wire Magazine, February 2015

The Soundprojector

Ulher is a free improviser of long standing and impressive pedigree, working solo and in numerous collaborative settings, performing, lecturing and organising festivals. This release documents a performance at the Teni Zvuka Festival in St. Petersburg – one long solo piece, one shorter track as part of a trio with Ilia Belorukov and Andrey Popovskiy.
The first track is a severe blast of abstract industrial noises, which arrive in clusters, like beads on a necklace. Ulher’s chosen instrument is the trumpet, although you might not guess that just by listening. She seems to have achieved that Zen level of expertise that gives someone such command of their instrument that it sounds like something else entirely. In this case, some sort of drill, and the sort of suction noise you might hear if all the air suddenly escaped from your spacesuit.
As well as trumpet, “radio, speaker and objects” are also deployed, introducing vibrations, rattles, tweets and flutters. The second track is brasher and more tinnitus-inducing, as Belorukov wields an iPad loaded with sine wave tones like a scimitar and Popovskiy forcibly extracts sounds from a succession of miniature electronic devices.

Ed Pinsent, May 25, 2015,

Le son du Grisli

En solo et en trio avec Ilia Belorukov et Andrey Popovskiy, c’est ici Birgit Ulher en concert, les 1er et 3 juin 2012 à Saint-Petersbourg. Seule, elle organise le chant d’objets qu’elle fait trembler à coups de ponctuation autoritaire mais chantant merveilleusement. En trio, Ulher doit faire avec une électronique perçante : maintenant ajourée, la trompette y reçoit des raies de lumière au son d’une formidable conversation électroacoustique.

Guillaume Belhomme,, 2015/05/27

Just outside

Two tracks, one solo Ulher (trumpet, radio, speaker, objects), one trio with Belorukov (ipad with sine waves, mini-speakers with preparations, objects) and Popovsky (motors, ebows, mini-amp, dictaphone, contact mic, surfaces, objects).
Ulher's set begins with some of the most purely percussive playing I've ever from here, I think, the trumpet at this point more resembling a snare drum. From there, she constructs a 24-minute piece that fairly zips by, one limber idea after another. It's hard for me to pin down in any quantitative way but although Ulher uses many approaches to her instrument that are apparently similar to, say, Greg Kelley, something about her music always sounds unique, sometimes nervous and slippery, sometimes strangely calm despite the rapid succession of attacks. It's marvelous work, some of my favorite music from any free improvising trumpeter.
The trio piece, only 12 minutes long, is a quiet, percolating track, with Belarukov and Popovsky contributing subtle enough sounds that it almost seems like Ulher with accompaniment, but their music really enhances hers and also impairs a fine sense of the space they're inhabiting, the trumpeter's metallic screeches floating atop the softly bubbling/prickly electronics. Good stuff, solid release.

Brian Olewnick, Just outside, October 13, 2014

We need no swords

[...] And so to the artist who provided my first link to Büttner and 1000füssler, Birgit Ulher. The final release in this batch sees Ulher recorded live at the Teni Zvuka festival in St. Petersburg in 2012, playing solo and in a group with local experimenters Ilia Belorukov and Andrey Popovskiy.
Ulher deploys her usual setup of trumpet augmented with speakers, radios and objects, with a feisty solo performance that’s full of strained wheezes, rushing blasts of air and metallic scuffs.
It’s an entertaining set, nicely recorded too, with some unexpected twists and turns despite staying within her own well-defined parameters.
There’s a very nice section at about six minutes 50, where a series of gleeful chirrups alternates with a kind of boiling kettle whistle in an abrasive duet. Then at about 17 minutes, a mysterious, gaseous whoosh takes things into a cosmic dimension before this too fades to be replaced by a series of watery gurgles. Frosty.
Ulher’s trio with Belorukov and Popovskiy expands on these explorations somewhat, with Belorukov adding some astringent sine wave tones, manipulated via an iPad, and Popovskiy conjuring a variety of noises from a collection of mini-speakers and amps.
At around seven minutes it’s a relatively short collaboration, much less aggressive than Ulher’s solo set, at times almost ambient with its wind-like murmurations and understated electronics, the latter occasionally resembling some digital alarm clock rousing us from an uneasy sleep.
By the end of the piece, however, the mood has changed to something more sinister, with Popovskiy’s scuttles and rattles sounding more like some uninvited visitor, meddling with the windows as the wind blows and rattles outside. A succinct yet atmospheric experiment.

Paul Margree, We need no swords, January 8, 2015

Vital Weekly

Here we have a release with a lengthy solo piece by Birgit Uhler (trumpet, radio, speaker, objects), as well as a trio piece of her with Ilia Belorukov (ipad with sine waves, mini-speakers with preparations, objects) and Andrey Popovskiy (motors, ebows, mini-amp, dictaphone, contact mic, surfaces and objects). All of this recorded at the Teni Zvuka festival in St. Petersburg finest hangout for experimental music (humble opinion and all that) the Experimental Sound Gallery. Uhler's piece is a great one. The intimacy of her playing the trumpet set against whatever sounds she produces with radio, speaker and objects - producing a much bigger sound with those - works really well. It seems as if she is using pre-recorded sound material of herself along with real time playing. A highly vibrant piece of collage like qualities, cutting in and out of the mix with all sort of weird interruptions, start/stop motion but then in real time editing, on the spot, in concert. It moves between the quiet introspective side and more dynamic louder parts; here the trumpet is the instrument and the object, along with the additional instruments/objects. An excellent piece.
The trio piece moves along similar lines, but here there is even more a furious interaction at work: lots of buzzing and rattling sounds, more collage like and start/stop on all levels with all players. Somehow this seems to be the somewhat more noisy of the two pieces, but it's all in the realm of acoustic noise and it works very well. Another fine piece, which makes this, a great release all around.

Frans de Waard,

Bad Alchemy

Hier erklingen zwei Kunststücke der Trompeterin aus Hamburg bei einem Festivalauftritt in St. Petersburg. Nur ist es bei Ulher nicht so wie bei dem Elefanten, der unter blinden Fingern zerfällt in eine Schlange, ein Schwein, zwei Rhabarberblätter. Wann oder wo man Klangfetzen von ihr einfängt, sie werden sofort als uhlerisch identifiziert. Als besondere Zuspitzung der Paratrompetistik von Dörner, Evans, Hautzinger, Kerbaj, Wooley. Als hypertrompetistisches Mirakel, dessen Zauber sich auch nicht durch das Etikett 'bruitistisch' anspucken und in den Staub treten ließe. Es bliebe in diesem kontaktmikrophonierten Brausen und Schmauchen, in diesem mit Mundwerk und Krimskrams hervorgekitzelten metalloiden Zirpen und Flattern doch ein Stupor Mundi, ein verwundertes: Was ist das denn? Wie geht sowas? Denn längst hat man den Boden unter den Füßen verloren, längst ist man in Luftströmungen jenseits der Wolken hoch, in submarine Strudel hinab gerissen, in nicht mehr geheure Cockpits, in beunruhigend zischende und bebende Schiffsbäuche. In Ulhers Bermudadreieck gibt es nur verzerrten Funkverkehr, eschereske Tonleitern, pfiffige Alogik, spielerische Teleportationen und Gestaltwandelei. Nennen wir es doch einfach: Allerfeinste Gaukelei. Im zweiten Teil schließen sich dem Gast noch zwei Gastgeber an, der Intonema-Macher Ilia Belorukov als Mitorganisator des Teni Zvuka-Festivals, und Andrey Popovskiy, ein Hauptvertreter des Petersburger Reduktionismus, als der künstlerische Leiter der Experimental Sound Gallery, dem Auditorium des Ganzen. Sie machen Ulhers Geräuschfond per Sinuswellen, präparierten Lautsprecherchen, Motörchen, Ebows und weiterem Krimskrams etwas sämiger. Andicken wäre schon zuviel gesagt. Das Rauschen, Knarren, Flattern, Knistern und Scharren bleibt immer feinkörnig und - wie Deleuze gesagt hätte - molekular. Die Imagination wird dabei fokusiert ins Mikrodimensionale, auf einen Mikrochip, dessen kleines Nullmaleins das große Ganze der Geräuschwelt in der Nussschale enthält.

Rigo Dittmann, BA 83,

His Voice

V Hamburku usazení umělci – trumpetistka Birgit Ulher a počítačový zvukotvůrce Gregory Büttner byli letos koncem dubna hosty Pražského improvizačního orchestru (...) Gregory Büttner má také svůj vlastní label 1000füssler, na němž vydává především minidisky s krátkými zvukovými experimenty. V případě záznamu vystoupení Birgit Ulher z festivalu Teni Zvuka v Sankt Petěrburgu z počátku června 2012 je to však „velké“ CD, jehož první polovinu tvoří čtyřiadvacetiminutová Birgitina sólová produkce a zbylých dvanáct minut zachycuje vystoupení s místními avantgardisty Iljou Bělorukovem a Andrejem Popovsklym. Zatímco při svých samostatných nahrávkách a vystoupeních preferuje Birgit určitou konceptualitu, při hraní s dalšími muzikanty dává přednost spontaneitě. To svým způsobem dokládá i tohle dílo, kde je v první části trumpetistka soustředěnější, zatímco při společném hraní se oddává pozitivní rozevlátosti. Bělorukov s svým i-padem se sinusovými vlnami, preparovanými repráčky a objekty a Popovskly s motůrky, smyčci, diktafonem, povrchy a objekty vytvářejí vpravdě abstraktní plochy a spletence, které unikají mimo náš vesmír, ale přesto to zase není bezbřehé hlukaření, ale opět jakási parameditace, která dává smysl a má i katarzní účinek.

Petr Slaby´,, 1. December 2014


Continuing her journey to unite the improvisational autonomy of Free Music with the grinding aggression of Noise Music, Hamburg-based trumpeter Birgit Ulher is ranging further afield sonically and geographically. Although Araripepipra was recorded with fellow Hamburger Gregory Büttner, the well-travelled electroacoustic sound artist creates his textures from computer, loudspeakers, objects and an electric fan. Travelling eastwards Live is one long solo piece plus a shorter collaboration between the trumpeter and two Russian specialists in exceptionally amplified improvisation. Both St. Petersburg-based, Ilia Belorukov uses an ipad with sine waves, mini-speakers with preparations and objects, while Andrey Popovskiy sticks to motors, an e-bows, mini-amp, Dictaphone, contact mic plus, surfaces and objects.
While there are some compelling and provocative sounds emanating during the two long tracks that make up Live and the eight shorter ones which characterize the other CD, the interfaces run along the same unstructured, non-representative lines. Confirming the universality of non-specific timbres as well, neither disc sounds particularly German or Russian.
Instead, the fascination of the programs lies in noting how the players shape with plastic surgeon-like precision on what otherwise would be unconnected clamorous textures into a cognizant whole. Büttner and Ulher do this best on “Kongamato”, a fully coherent and near-mesmerizing performance. Having created an almost impenetrable sound mass, horror-movie-like organ-like tremolos and aviary brass beeps puncture this enough so a sense of movement is palpable. Then the sound dissipates. Peeping grace notes are used to advantage by the trumpeter. So are pure air puffs and buzzing drones. Whether hand-muted or sieved through her assortment of add-ons and extensions, distinctive brassy timbres add a reassuring humanity to the tracks. Mouthpiece suction plus tongue squeaks and whistles on “Igopogo” for instance, set up mercurial armor to take on Büttner’s output which here sounds completely mechanical and is made up of floor thumps and metal abrasions.
This is not to downplay Büttner’s contributions however. Sometimes his sound striations add up to a cornucopia of integrated tones that sound like they come from a perpetual-motion machine. But modifications, which can range from watery bubbles to computer static to hooting locomotive approximations, provide enough contrast to Ulher’s animalistic yelps and flutter-tonguing to set up contrapuntal challenges and melding.
There is less resolution on Live’s shorter track however. On a classic (wo)man verses machine scenario, Ulher’s horn – and peripherals – are arrayed against Popovskiy’s and Belorukov’s computer lab collection of implements. Luckily her ability to personalize the apparatus keeps the piece from turning into an android showcase. With full-on or foreshortened breaths, spit tones troll-like yelps and staccato sputters she uncovers enough grace notes to deconstruct the performance so as to create a place for her output among constantly inflating collection of jagged preparations and vibrating surfaces. Solo on the first track, she uses many of the techniques she has developed over the years, including mouthpiece osculation, vibrating a metal plate against the trumpet bell, overblowing into multiphonics and creating a shower of inner-tube like resonation to establish an unmistakable identity. A final intermezzo of that strategy joins high-pitched bird-like calls and sallow growls. Together these techniques add up to a harsh interface which combines mechanism, improvisation and strength.
No matter the circumstances, Ulher continues on a musical path that is as singular as it is striking as these CDs demonstrate. Listeners may decide to travel alongside her.

Ken Waxman, April 22, 2015,

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