Julia Eckhardt

Born in Berlin, Julia Eckhardt is an alt-violinist in the field of composed and improvised contemporary music. After she studied viola in Rotterdam and Brussels, she worked with several chamber music ensembles and was a member of the National Orchestra of Belgium. Since 1996 she has undertaken many artistic projects including forming Q-O2, the first ensemble for contemporary experimental and improvised music. Since 2001, Eckhardt has been a member of Incidental Music (with Manfred Werder and Normisa Pereiera da Silva), an international ensemble for conceptual music. She lives and works in Brussels.

Q-02 - /2009/ what do you make of what I say
(C0mpost and Height)

First, some context. /2009/ what do you make of what I say is by definition a compilation, though it is much more than that. Over the course of a year a chain of sound recordings were made by ten artists whose job it was to respond to the recording of an unknown predecessor. Each artist was allowed four weeks to create their own recording in response to the one they received, which would then be passed along to the next artist along the chain, and so on and so forth until everyone had contributed. Each track had to be 7 minutes in length and no additional information other than the track itself could be passed forward. The results were documented in this stunning cd + book release. The Q-02 -/2009/project was conceived and realized by Julia Eckhardt.

Eckhardt gets the ball rolling with an experimental composition for bowed viola – albeit a highly scripted one. The piece acts as a good starting point as its acousmatic approach to the instrument allows for plenty of variation in the composition. Almost immediately the tracks become more lush (though not overbearingly so) with the incorporation of field recordings and denser tones. The tones are slowed to a glacial pace on Mieke Lambrigts piece, Teufelskreis, an early stand-out. The middle section then becomes far less monochromatic, with Tim Parkinson's Melodica and Percussion, a more overt yet rather bland working of those two elements, and In between, by Annette Krebs, a thoughtful blending of radio snippets and bell tones. Manu Holterbach impresses with a day by day account of how his piece came to fruition – ie leaving a ghostly presence of the preceding piece by playing it back in a resonant basement, layering in sinewaves and field recordings, and also attempting to stay true to the form of the original work by keeping the structure of the sounds relatively the same.

/2009/ is an impressive document that attempts to dig beneath the question of how experimental music is perceived. When faced with having to physically respond to a work it's obvious that this happens very differently for everyone, the vast scope of sound captured here materializing from one seven minute piece. Not quite a current release but still very recommended.

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