Posts Tagged ‘Jana Irmert’

Fabrique Records FAB073 – 17th January 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

As the press text summarises, ‘Cusp is a collection of compositions taken from the soundtrack for the film STRESS by Florian Baron. The feature-length documentary gives voice to five young veterans, their experiences and trauma’. It was never going to be light or upbeat, and immediately, the sounds emanating from the speakers are unsettling, disturbing: blasts and reverberating crashes echo all around over slow, elongated drones, and ‘It’s Happening’ washes into the slow ebb and flow surges of synth that form ‘Them or Me’.

It may be good to talk, but those of us who haven’t been there simply cannot relate, cannot compute or comprehend the meaning, the pain, the anguish. It’s a world beyond and it would be a mistake and an insult to pretend otherwise. Anything, from sympathy to empathy feels like an underestimation and an undersale, a devaluement. Perhaps it’s an act of solipsism: the suffering in the mind of another is unknowable. This renders the territory Cusp and the film it soundtracks difficult on a number of levels.

Trauma is by no means entertainment, and while I haven’t seen the film, Irmirt’s handling is impressive in its subtlety, and it’s understandable why she was awarded the German Documentary Film Music Award in 2019. The jury remarked how in her soundtrack, she ‘dissolves the boundaries between sound design and musical composition in a virtuoso and at the same time self-evident way, thus creating a sound cosmos that, through uncompromising reduction, generates brutal knowledge.’

The best soundtracks are always understated, and compliment, rather than dominate the visuals they accompany, and Cusp, which takes fragments of the soundtrack as a whole – with eight tracks, half of which are only around the two-minute mark, this is a distillation of a broader experience, and it works well.

It is dark, unsettling, but nothing is overdone. And that’s why it works.

AA

Jana Irmirt - Cusp

Fabrique Records – FAB060CD – 14th October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Whatever is present, there is always an absence of something, even if the absence is of nothing. What absence ends on Jana Irmert’s debut album, which comprises six pieces created with a combination of field recordings, experimental electronic sounds, and voice, is unclear. But then, clarity is not Irmert’s objective: End of Absence is subtle, nuanced and atmospheric, a project designed to stir the imagination.

The title track opens the album with a thick bussing hum of feedback, which mutates into an eternal, mid-tone drone. The sparse beats and monotone spoken word of ‘Bagful’ sits somewhere between Young Marble Giants and Throbbing Gristle, the thunking percussion whips through the stark minimal grind. Elsewhere, on, ‘Obstacles’ a barrelling wind of white noise, burred with scraping metal-edged electronic distortion, blows into silence. Long, rumbling tones hang and swirl like mist around hisses and hums.

Irmert’s interests are the vague, irrational, less tangible aspects of existence, and these manifest in the compositions which make up End of Absence. Immense washes of sound, like tidal waves of static, crash against virtual shores on an imaginary world. drawing from a broad sonic palette, Irmert inspires an almost paradoxical sense of engaged detachment, in which the listener cannot help but bring something of themselves to complete the listening experience. In such an exercise in inclusivity, both artist and listener are fully present, and so we arrive at the end of absence.

Jana Irmert - End of Absence