The sound adventure
"Hashirigaki", the last creation of Heiner Goebbels
Pay attention to the sounds. The noise-sounds: a kind of twigs rustles (sweet percussion). Pay attention to the Beach Boys song-sounds. To the swing and cool rhythm of Gertrude Stein, with added vocal games that we will define of lovely: there is that chattering, that grace, that subtle melancholy. Pay attention to the light touches of Japanese traditional music spaced out, in a rhythmic scansion, by luminous castanets clattering (lightning) and everything appears on a magnificent "Pollockian" cyclorama. A solo of jazz exquisitely played by the musician-singer-actress Charlotte Engelkes whose hands engender languor and spasms through an electrical generator of sounds. Hung on very thin threads some bells dangle, while the cyclorama colour is ice blue like the "appearance" screen of an iMac or an iBook computer, and the three muses -besides Charlotte, Marie Goyette and Yumiko Tanaka are on stage- ring those bells running from one to the other. More of the Beach Boys songs and more of the repetitive cantilena of Gertrude on a pastel sunset backdrop.
ln such theatricality and visual invention, at the pleasant and innocent threshold of "Bob Wilson magic world", it is the sound, the light and unrestrained sound adventure, that leads the magnificently foolish story of Hashirigaki, last production of Heiner Goebbels, which was played for the first time in Lausanne at the end of September and as first Italian performance at the Teatro Nazionale during the RomaEuropa Festival. Foolish. Amazing. Charming. With a continuous interlacing of theatrical and musical situations, because the music doesn't keep silent "off stage": one can hear short melodious phrases that imitate and shatter the Beach Boys tunes, and then percussive flashes and faint electronic whistling arrive. This empty horror tormenting the author just like a pleasant virus is evident. Happy inheritance if, like here, it helps to preserve this very light dance character of the action.
So it's not just a way of talking when today people are saying that Heiner Goebbels is the most interesting composer among those of the "post-post-avant-garde" generation. He offers through a drastic interpretation the criterion of using a plurality of idioms in all fields. He doesn't play the game of "contamination", thinking that one is thus lying on the dialogue sofa among melodrama, jazz, rock and twentieth century to make stupid patchworks which are skilfully dedicated to the Great Restoration. Historically talking, we can find in his music ethnic references, hard rock and underground rock, free jazz, complete improvisation, radiodrama, theatre, European and American neo-avant-garde, music of films, pop music. References? Much more than that. There are in his productions all these idioms in the abundance of their communicative message, a rigorous mixture from which another language comes out. Bewitching.
Not a cocktail music then. A new music that is described, just from habit as formed by so many different types. Goebbels did assimilate the "types", he frequents them with passion but the extremist and colloquial action (colloquial because extremist, extremist because colloquial) of his sound creation transforms them. Nevertheless they are recognisable. Even literal. As in this Hashirigaki. A show where the manipulation of sound fragments concerns the reading (very musical) of some pages of "The Making of Americans" of Gertrude Stein, Japanese traditional music (often modulated and transformed), the songs of the Beach Boys Pet sound album (in a delicious game of nostalgia and rewriting for a neo-Dadaist musical). Theatre. Dance. Video. Three women, three artists of the theatrical multiplicity that are the main characters. Of a beautiful score. Because this is the feeling: in Hashirigaki, the listening forms the point of involvement, of pleasant crisis, of stimulating break with the theatrical conventions.
Il Manifesto (IT), 3 October 2000