Tag Archives: Berlin

Toy Factory in Krakow.

Yesterday, I arrived in Zadar, Croatia, and roamed around looking for a place stay. I came across a hostel on the fifth floor of a nice old building on the very outskirts of the old town.  They had space for me and so I logged all my stuff up five flight of stairs leaving Doppler locked up to the banister. After packing all my stuff in a locker, I set out to explore the town. On my return I found Doppler in a weird position, as I got closer I noticed the front tyre was flat. I was annoyed but not too surprised – I’d  just cycled over 200km in two days in over 30°C. However, I then noticed my back tyre was also flat, that my saddle had been dug into with some sharp device and that there were traces of mud on the frame – some idiot thought it was alright to vandalise Doppler – maybe he didn’t like where I’d left it? is that a good enough reason to do what he did? I stood there for a good half hour to take it in and wrote a note letting the person know how far Doppler had travelled and how he had been treated respectfully until Zadar. In the meantime, today will be bike-repairing-day…

Anyways, after Poznan and Warsaw, and now nearly two weeks ago, I arrived in Krakow. In my opinion it was by far the nicest city of the three Polish cities I stayed in! There I stayed with an acquaintance of Monika from Poznan. He introduced a friend’s  band called Fabryka Zabawek (translates as ‘Toy Factory’) who play an acoustic groovy jazz with Damian Skóra on guitar, Martin Dyjak on Harmonica and Ela Łuszczakiewicz on vocals. We recorded on what at first seemed like a fairly quiet location but, as was to be expected, it turned out to be quite busy with cars driving by quite close to where Fabryka Zabawek were performing… The band did very well given that the guitarist had just come out of an exam and that all the members were slightly sick!  To me their playing was quite impecable! Anyways, here are the recordings and I’ve been told there might be a video to come!

PS: I broke my main hardrive and realised I was baking everything but videos and photos… So for the meantime this band will have to remain faceless. Sorry. 



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Experimenting in Berlin is like hanging between two flying saucers.

Finally! Last Berlin post and I promise I’ve got some cool stuff coming from Poland – be patient!

Berlin is a flat city with an incredibly rich and tumultuous 20th century history. What I find amazing about the capital is that its history is still very present and visible. At the end of WW2, just like many other German cities, Berlin was in ruins. Not knowing what to do with all the rumble it was decided to pile it all up creating 6 hills around the city disrupting its flatness. Then as the Cold War developed, the American teamed up with the English and built a huge observation post on top of one of these hills: Teufelsberg.

The station supported satellite dishes that where sheltered in four big golf-ball-like structures. Aaron, a sound engineer from Berlin, took us all the way up to the highest golf ball. The structure being empty and only composed of very reflective material you get a ridiculous acoustic phenomena – endless echoes. As the structure is round, all the reflections are redirected to the center of the dome, if you stand there for more than a few minutes I think you’d go mad! You’re madness might be cured by appreciating the spectacular view you have over the Berlin and all its surrounding.

We went there as party of five: Jack (a friend from London), Aaron, Christina (my wonderful Berlin) host, Stephan (Saxophonist I randomly met in Berlin)  and me (me). We took loads of instruments and  played around with the space pretty much all day. Unfortunately, I was so excited by the space I spent most of the time playing rather than recording, so most of what we did isn’t recorded and I made a few misjudgements of mic placement – sorry… Anyways, we recorded a selection of Jack’s songs and covers with improvised sketchy accompaniment. The most exciting thing we did was stand all around the space and singing different notes while individually searching for a resonant pitch. When a point of resonance is found we slowly start increasingly the volume. The corresponding recording is Teufelsberg by Impromptu collective.

A few days later, on the same market I recorded Sirte Trio I met Adam a crazy percussionist who played along to some Gypsy Jazz musicians (whom I recorded but have lost the files… I’m sure I’ll find them at some point, I have to! they were really good!) in a perfectly inappropriate manner that I thought was great! So I asked him if he played stuff on his own or played with a band. He said he could play some hangdrum for the project and invited me to go and record at his place the next day. After a brief chat, he told me he needed to warm up and started playing. 4-5 minutes passed and he didn’t look as if he were about to stop, thus I hit record and he went on for another 35minutes of nearly nonstop playing. So I separated the performance in 3 parts for you and then you have a piece that sounded as if it had a prepared idea (Berlin). Unfortunately, I was so absorbed by the performance I forgot to take any photos… So you’ll have to imagine him! 🙂

That’s it for Berlin! Unless I find those Gypsy Jazz recordings!

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Poetry on a bag and Winter music as summer arrives.

As I mentioned before, Berlin was a very busy and exciting episode! Now that I’m in Poznan I’ve had little bit of time (just a little bit more…) to sit down and go through some more of the recordings but I expect there will be yet another ‘Capital-of-Germany-Post’ in the next couple of days…

During the first few days after my arrival in the capital, I met up with Julia de Boor for a chat and some nice Chai Tea. Julia does musical theatre where she improvises as an actress and as a cellist, generally, with and, for children. In parallel, she writes poetry. She has written a five chapter book of her poetry called Funkenspuren (which translates as ‘Tracks of sparks’). Also, once a year she gets together with a photographer to make beautiful calendars combining his photos and her words; she writes a poem for each month of the year inspired by the selected picture. So a few days after our meeting we arranged to meet at her house to record some of her poetry and then record a band in which she plays cello: The Gosia Winter Band.

First things first, here are poems taken from her Book. Being from Germany, Julia’s poems are in German so for those who cannot speak the language, like myself, she gave me a bit of information for each piece:

Mein Weg ( My way ) – The longing for a relationship and the feeling of not wanting to be alone anymore. 

Nah am Abhang  (Close to a cliff) – Sad and desperate, a man looks down from the edge of a cliff only to reinforce his sorrow. It’s only when he looks up to the horizon that he sees the beauty of the immensity of what lies before him and sees light.

Flut/Ebbe (High-tide/Low-tide) – Originally two separate poems but it made sense to perform them together one after the other. The first relates the feeling of wrath and the second its after feeling of emptiness. 

Wege (Ways) – Love poem. 

Ach Bitte (Hey! please) – This poem is written on 15000 paper bags that a shop hands out to clients and is about begging a child to share his courage and dreams. 

Die Kleinen tone (A small sound) – Written after waking up early in the Alps and is about all the small sounds that we don’t hear if we don’t pay attention to them. 

The Gosia Winter Band is a trio named after the front woman Gosia Winter with Julia on cello and Jess Braverman on double bass . From what I understood, they hadn’t played as a trio for quite a while and got back together to record for this project! and I am glad they did! Again I was blessed with a great intimate little concert I shared with one of Gosia’s friend visiting Australia and am now sharing with you. If you like what you hear please visit: www.gosiawinter.com

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Sirte Tircco a band from Argentina

Near to where I am staying in Berlin in the Neukölln area there is a market every Tuesday and Friday. There is loads of nice a food and at the end of it is a little balcony overhanging over a river. There you’ll usually find loads of performers busking or just looking to entertain. Last Tuesday, there was a particularly good  selection of them. While I was enjoying some nice african food with Jack Durtnall who came to join me for few days, a trio of Argentinians (guitar, bass, cajon and all three singing) took the front stage (more like the left side of the balcony on the side of the road and not of the river). They started to play some of their reggae songs from a band they have in Argentina adapted to a trio format. Slowly people couldn’t resist getting up and dancing and Jack couldn’t resist running home, taking his sax out and jamming along!

Once they finished their set, we went and asked them if they wanted to take part in the project. They accepted. We took them to where we were staying whilst our amazing host made them maté (the Argentinean national drink).  We set up in a narrow corridor and they started playing. Jack joined in a few of the recordings and so did I with my flute (it’s my sister’s actually…)! It was absolutely great! We had a great time. So if you’re looking for things to do in Germany, they’ll be there for a month and have a few gigs. Go and see them!  They’re awesome!
Here’s there facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sirtetircco

ps: there’s a rumor that they’ll be playing on the same market this coming Friday and probably in Maurepark on Sunday?

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Longing for a good cup of English tea in Berlin

For today I shall keep the texts short otherwise I feel I’ll be bombarding you with information! So here are some recordings from Jeffrey Sanders an English teacher from LA. He has recently moved to Berlin with his girlfriend who’s from the UK. They kindly invited me for lunch and we had a great  conversation about cultural traditions that are missed when travelling. With two British people in the room, the conversation inevitably drifted towards tea…

Anyways, after a few cups of not quite English tea and nice homemade pizzas, the sun was begging us to go and record outside. So we set out to find a nice location. When we did, we tried to record but the wind was causing too much of a problem. Thus, we decided to head back to record in the quiet of their appartement. Recordings finished, we set out again for a great afternoon/evening of the Berlin experience – it involved a great outdoor mini festival in an abandoned factory area followed by beer in a cozy little bar that didn’t close at 11pm.

Jeffrey ended up singing a long string of songs for the project like some sort of stream of consciousness expressing itself through music (!?). Unfortunately, many of those were rendered not useable by the wind. So here are the recordings that weren’t ruined by the annoying yet great natural phenomenon that I mentioned in the previous sentence (and in two others in the above text)!


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Busy Berlin!

It’s been a week since Doppler and me arrived in Berlin! As from when I arrived, I haven’t had time to stop and update the website! So I had to put this morning aside to give you updates!

The first band I recorded last Wednesday is a newly formed duo called Volcano Victims (formerly ‘Pilvet’). The groupe is composed of Gaui from Iceland and Yuri from Japan. Both moved to Berlin to pursue their interests in music and art. They welcomed me in Yuri’s home and played two songs for the project – one original and one cover. After a nice little chat and a few drinks Yuri kindly handed me over a CD of her own stuff she recorded back in Japan. If you like the recordings I invite you to go and have a listen to her stuff: http://justriangle.com/

Then on the Friday I was to meet up with Jan on the other side of town. I set out much earlier than I needed in order to wander round the streets of Berlin. Going through a market close to where I’m staying, I very unexpectedly passed two American’s playing some cool country stuff. So I hit the brakes on my bike and went to talk to them. One of them has slowly been making his way up from Greece to get to a friends wedding in Berlin, the other just arrived to join the former for the wedding and bit more of European exploration. There names were Adams and Peter.

When I finally got to you Jan’s place I parked my bike and walked into a very welcoming household of two. To get to the common room one needs to walk through Jan’s room which was dotted with weird instruments and two new speakers he’d found in the road. The shared room also homes quite a few instruments, notably two old organs and drum kit. As I was fiddling around with one of the organ’s, Jan wrote out the chords of his song and invited me to accompany him. I tried to (as you’ll here in the background of one the recordings) and wasn’t given a second chance!
Soon after Jan was joined by his music friend Hagen who wonderfully plays guitar and harmonica (I was told he plays other instruments but can’t remember which!). Together they organise an open mic night in a place called Mastul. Everyone is welcome to perform, and if one wants, can be accompanied by who ever is present! They called the event Sing Dein Ding (German for ‘Sing your thing’). So after playing some of there songs as a duo, they accompanied Jan’s housemate Swarali singing a Hindi song called ‘Yaaro Dosti’ by Leslie Lewis. The song is about friendship and love – improvising an accompaniment to it on the spot was a very nice way to accompany the songs meaning!

There is more to come! but it’ll have to wait!! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these recordings!

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