Sartorius @NODE Festival, Lausanne, 25/01/14

20130303_ch_bern_bee-flat_juliansartoriusdrperc_breite800px_72dpi_scb8286I’m tempted to describe Julian Sartorius as an OBE (no, not an Order of the British Empire, even though he’s very gentlemanly), but an Olympic Beat Explorer: boldly going into any environment, natural or urban, and discovering the potential percussive sound habitat that lies therein. Well-known in his hometown of Bern as the nutty guy who goes around banging on stuff – and has done since the age of 2.

Sound Forager

Calling himself a ‘Sound Forager’, as well as an artist, musician and composer, Sartorius began his quest into the world of alternative sound over 10 years ago when intrigued by the aesthetics of electronic music he wanted to imitate the sound accoustically. Often on tour without his drum kit in the day, he began using whatever he could get his hands on to make beats: ashtrays, small bells, electric toothbrushes, walls, sides of rocks, etc…,hugely inspired by the varied likes of JDilla, Madlib, Aphex Twins, Elvin Jones and Tony Williams.

Pure, improvised, minimalist

Known for his collaborations with Merz, Sophie Hunger, Dimlite and many more, Julian’s most talked about project has been last year’s ‘Beat Diary’ on Everest Records. 12 12inch vinyl records containing a total of 365 analogue beats, all real sounds played by him, a beat a day accompanied 365 images (because Sartorius is as visual as he is aural). A true indication of his musical penchant : pure, improvised, minimalist, pushing boundaries.

Tonight, he’s kicking off the Saturday evening session of the innovative NODE Festival, a yearly gathering in Lausanne featuring workshops and concerts to expand your listening habits. Theremin of all shapes and sizes, circuit bending, Gameboy music and electronic toys all form part of this ‘unusual sound’ event.

Like a baby throwing its rattle out of the pram…

Sartorius and his drum kit are on a rug in the audience pit surrounded by a vast array of sound accesories. For a moment you could think you’re at a car boot sale, but it doesn’t take long to realise that actually you’re in a subtly woven beat infrastructure full of richly differing tempos and textures.

Dexterous playing of the cymbals creates a wall of sound from which the only way is up. It’s a fast and frantic climb atop hard sounds with very little let-up. Julian’s physical agilty is a sight to behold, moving with such feline economy and using every inch of his kit – what could be considered just messing around has never been such an art form or spectacle. A variety of props magic themselves onto the kit (Ikea hot plates, kitchen towels, broken off bits of xylophone, bowls and bells) momentarily adding depth and texture to the soundtrack to then quickly get chucked away like a baby throwing its rattle out of the pram.

Exciting atmosphere of new sounds being created

Sticks are used in every way imaginable: hitting, tapping, scraping, prodding. Not all sounds are easy on the ear, some vary from resembling big drops of rain on a tin roof to a dying walrus or a rusty train pulling into a station, yet all contribute to the rich, exciting atmosphere of new sounds being created in this room.

In fact what we’ve just heard is the main body of his forthcoming album due out later on this year. A solo drum project full of carefully crafted live sounds, no overdubs, no processing, no collaborations, just the simple fruit of all his experimentation in sound. For more intriguing examples of his daily beats and images, go to the ‘morph’ section on the Julian Sartorius website and also visit the Raun No-15 exhibition in Bern which features his installation till 22nd Feb 2014.

Forthcoming live dates:

Julian Sartorius Solo:
8.2.2014 Netwerk, Aalst (B)
21.2.2014 Dampfzentrale, Bern
21.3.2014 Naturhistorisches Museum, Bern
30.3.2014 Kunstmuseum, Thun
4.4.2014 Cully Jazz Festival, Cully

Merz feat. Sartorius Drum Ensemble:
30.1.2014 Étage St. Gervais, Biel / Bienne
31.1.2014 Sedel, Luzern
1.2.2014 Festival Antigel, Genève
27.2.2014 Bad Bonn, Düdingen

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