[...]There is one second where they don't know anything from each other, one moment only, then they meet each other's gaze, on a narrow path in front of a wall with two doors opening and closing: three women play many women, for example the woman with the market basket, the woman with the potted plant, the woman with the tuba, the woman with the surfing board. They appear, and they go away. These women are like an accessory sound that already disappears when we just noticed it. But their steps, strengthened by the electronic, produce a constant rhythm; it is the rhythm of the passage, and it is comforting. Because even though none of these women can be stopped, one knows it: the next will come soon.
The poet and sound magician Heiner Goebbels composed with Hashirigaki his first "musical". The title comes from the Japanese language, from the kabuki play "Dead in Amijima" of Chikamatsu, and means on the one hand "to hurry" and on the other hand "to write fluidly, to sketch"; one could also say: on the one hand "passage", on the other hand "sound composition", as one knows it by Goebbels, this handyman of the modern world sound space, that pulls everything that resounds and collides in its cosmos, makes it appear and quickly disappear again. A maniac of the "way through" who pricks up his ears in all directions, without getting lost. The passage follows its own laws, an element brings the other, and one can hardly remember that it's already the end.
Last year during the week of the Berlin radio game, Heiner Goebbels told a lot about himself, without speaking of himself. He talked about Jean-Luc Godard and the sound track of "La Nouvelle Vague"; the whole movie is on CD, and one can hear that Godard composes its world in the same way as Goebbels. During his conference, Goebbels kept his finger on the tape recorder, forward, reverse, one afternoon with two minutes of movie: a cello, voices, a car door closing itself, some dogs barking, a woman shouting; one could call that "atmosphere". Goebbels said: "The problem is always: how to avoid the impact [the fall or the raid]? I find it terrible, when one has an idea, that he can finally not assure it. That's why I try and find several reasons for every composition, for every subject". The method for making this is called Hashirigaki.
During the first German performance of Hashirigaki, at the Schauspielhaus of Hamburg, one must definitely admit that he is completely impressed. It is as if Goebbels this time had polished its passage until the maximal burst, and this without moving back from the handicraft as soon as the scene of Klaus Grünberg bends itself toward a horizon illuminated by an astounding beauty, it looks like the kit of makeup of Bob Wilson. An extra-beautiful green with luminous projections in extra-beautiful spirals, extra-beautiful women in extra-beautiful costumes, constantly swapped with others just as extra-beautiful: crinolines, chrysalis envelopes, metallic grey overalls of spacewomen, it will certainly be in vogue.
One can only defend himself against this eyes attack by closing his lids. And here comes again the familiar Hashirigaki tonality, for which one makes pilgrimage to Goebbels' performances: ringing of bells, songs, electronic chirping of birds, some Japanese sounds far away, a woman's scream. The sound machine suffocates, a woman disappears, and the next one is already ready. Charlotte Engelkes, Marie Goyette, and Yumiko Tanaka remain oddly lonely, not really a trio, but rather three points of a shape, each for oneself, with a lot of good taste and no closeness.
Goebbels seems to have told himself that if it must be a musical, then it can be also somewhat smoothed. Even when he calls in Gertrud Stein and her novel "The Making of Americans", continual repetitions don't give any freedom to the signification, but to the rhythm and the sound of the words. There is not much to tell in that, there is more to hum. But the aesthetic of the wanted extra-beautiful suffocates the pop music that is otherwise quite like at home. Anyway, it doesn't take long until the beautiful music of the Beach Boys resounds, without voice, purely instrumental : "God only knows what I'll be without you". In fact, the evening becomes suddenly light and it takes off. Passages of big cardboard cities decorate the stage: skyscrapers, a cathedral, a factory. A cardboard bus silhouette is carried across the stage, and if you take a precise look at it, you can see that some women are looking out of the window; just a second during which one doesn't know yet anything about them.
"Come close, close your eyes and be still. Don't talk, take my hand, and listen to my heart" beat. Listen. Listen. Listen. "Here come the Beach Boys again. They said everything about Hashirigaki.
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE), 25 October 2000