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Release date: 24.06.11
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Besides being “allergic to electricity”, Llorenç Barber (Aielo de Malferit, Valencia, 1948) confesses his strangement from “the craftsmen of music, and those “partitortura”
(score-torture) and all those analisys that conservatory musicians like so much.
By means of a reflexive and transparent criticism, regarding the big fish in the music culture (“If reality had paid attention to the Ministry in the last 30 years,
we wouldn’t be able to talk about improvised music, nor free jazz, nor installation nor sound art nor electroacustic music”), this Valencian man has always been uncomfortable,
as well as necessary with words, written or spoken. But, because of his work as a musician, he’s also fundamental in bringing spice and knowledge along the years – decades already -
to a rich heterodox approach, clearly stranged from labels. His broad creative vision is even extravagant due to the nature and evolution of some of his works.
Chronologically, this are some of Llorenc’s influences: the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (1969-70) in Darmstad (Germany), his personal knowledge of the Luciano Berio,
György Ligeti, Mauricio Kagel, or K-H. Stockhausen; in España, the ZAJ group (1970) with it’s Fluxus line of thought. The reading of Silence by John Cage in 1971, the invitation
to praticcipate in The Music/Context (1978) curated by the improvisers of the London Musicians Collective, David Toop and Peter Cusack. The influence of the Canadian R. Murray
Schafer’s land art in his work The Tuning of the World (1977) “The soundscape as a huge musical composition, ceaselessly evolving about us”. And the work of the German Marius
Schneider The musical origin of sibolic animals in ancient mythology and scultpture - El origen musical de los animales-símbolos en la mitología y la escultura antiguas
(Spanish Institute of Muciology, 1946).
Llorenç Barber has been inventing bands since the 70s: Actum (diphonic minimalism), mundane music workshop (improvised contact and context music), Flautus Vocis Trio
(reinventing phonetic poetry from gossip, advertisement and markets”); festivals (Ensems. Alternative music events in Valencia; FLES, Festivals of Free sound expression; Nits d’Aielo
and Art; Anem Anem); music courses, events and conferences (Music Departament, Universidad Complutense; Paralelo** Madrid-Other Musica**); magazines (Senderos for 2000),…
Llorenç lived in Madrid for many years (1972-2004). Madrid fostered, thanks to Llorenc’s mediation, the projects of artists such as Terry Riley, Jaap Blonk, Gordon Monahan, Ron Kuivila
, Malcom Palestine, Burkhard Stangl, Christof Kurzmann, Rolf Julius, Phil Niblock, Alvin Lucier, Lawrence Casserley, Thomas Clements, Stefano Scodanibbio,… Llorenç wrote essays on
John Cage, Giacinto Scelci, Morton Feldman, Luc Ferrari,...
Since the 80s Llorenç Barber has practiced diphonic singing, which he leared from Trân Quang Hai and Glenn Velez. Today it is common to hear him sing this way accompanied
by his portable, or pocket, bell tower. It consists of 5 rows with 3 or 4 bells (which look like dishes turned up side down), 20 x 40 cm in diameter, and varying in thinckness from
1 to 3 cm. The bells hang from a 1.5 x 2 mt wooden frame. Barber’s dancing hands hit the bells with his drumsticks creating a unique music performance, bit by bit.
“Linguofarincampanología (the conjuction of vocal sounds and the bells) is a game, at least that’s how I see it. A game of harmonic vocal sounds and bells”. Thus the compilation
entitled Manjar (Feast). A song for bells and voice (1994), Llorençalso calls “any creaking from tongues, clappers, sticks and skulls, Pneumatic music”.
“I’m a clompsy musician, but thanks to that I discovered bells”, says Llorenç as he and his music leave concert halls behind, to take over the whole city, along with the bell
towers on the different neighborhood churches, by adding different local music bands. In this sense I can mention the work Aum Namah Sivaya in Audition Records. Llorenç then creates a
“multi-source” piece “Citizen bell concerts”. As explained by Mexican musicologist Ruben Lopez Cano, “The variety of sound that Llorençuses as a composer, due to the ramdom location
of bell towers in the city, disrupts the unidirectional nature of the traditional concert hall.” Llorenc: “that’s hard to learn, it’s not in any handbook. Now I’ve been in more than
250 cities along 35 years, and I’ve gotten experienced. Some cities I’ve done twice, or even three times, like some city in Germany. The piece HOc DONUM, included this retrospective,
is a beautiful example of that. It was recorded in Hannover in june, 6th, 2001, in the Biennale Neue Musik.
His dusk-to-dawn concerts are especially thrilling –a 10-12 hour long camp. These concerts started in tha autum of 1991 and are bond to Terry Riley’s All over Night Concerts.
His “open air concerts” spread over several hundred meters of forests, lakes, bridges… The sounds of deer, boars, bells enrich the portable bell tower, over an ever changing landscape.
“Dusk-to-dawn concerts are a beautiful madness that came true at the beginig of the 90s. Even though I would have wanted to develop it earlier... The bells are different sizes
and have ropes that hang. When they swing from side to side you can hear the Doppler effect and the glissandi in the silence of the night, against the mountain rocks.
Can you imagine this effect at 4 o’clock in the morning, the deer in the distance, a full moon...”
Ever more often, Barber, has worked with the surrounding atmosphere, thru “naumaquias”, a sort of “song-spell” that causes space to unfold itself; where many sound sources
participate, besides the bells, the soundtracks and traffic. Sound sources such as sirens, ship horns from the pier, explosions, firecrackers… The first concert of this sort was
on October 30th in Crtagena, Murcia, in 1993. In this retrospective by Audition Records, you can listen to Naumaquia a los Cuatro Vientos (2001), developed to commemorate the 150th
Aniversary of Puerto Vallarta, in Guadalajara, Mexico.
To sumarize, the career of LlorençBarber as a creator is so peculiar, so incomparable, it’s unique. I can’t think of anything but the work of a generous and sensitive pioneer,
working on ineludible projects of SOUND ART in Spain. Chema Chacon, June, 2011.
Chema Chacón, June 2011
Simona Schaffer, translator
* In the book "the fly behind the ear. From experimental music to sound art in Spain" (2010) Llorenc Barber and Monte Palacios compile, in more than
500 pages and 4 cds, the most comprehensive vision of the least known musical expressions, to the most quieted institutional sound projects. In a unprecedented tangential analisys
of Spanish musicology. The previous quote was taken from page 250 of the aforementioned book.
Chema Chacón co-founder of the Musicalibre Association and coordinator of his International Festival of Improvised Muic, between 1996-2001. Organizer since 1996 of "Música Difícil" (difficult music) radio show several stations of Madrid community (currently Onda Latina, 87,6 FM and through Radio Mirage ). Since February 2001, editor of the publication Oro Molido, dedicated to free improvisation, sound art and new music. p>
01. Manjar - Linguopharincampanology. Recorded in Galería Cruce, Madrid 19 July 1994, by Wade Matthews. Hyades Arts. hyCD-19
02. Aum Namah Sivaya - Mantra for Meditation. Plaza de la Reina, Valencia, 17 October 1997
03/05. Hoc donum: un estudio de transparencias. Glokenkonzert Hannover 2001. Biennale Neue Musik Hannover
[ar029] LLORENÇ BARBER
Llorenç Barber in his own words - Spanish (PDF)
Spanish Version by Chema Chacón (PDF)
Llorenç Barber, bells, voice & composition
Curated by Julian Bonequi. Pictures by Juango Delgado & Tato Baeza (back cover). Text by Chema Chacón.
Translation by Simona Schaffer. Design by Aniana Heras