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INT 039 | LP
STEFAN FRAUNBERGER quellgeister #2 'wurmloch'

release date: march 20st, 2016

The material at hand is the second release in a series of sonic sculptures, these “Quellgeister”, that Stefan Fraunberger has been developing within his extensive travels through Transylvania. Fraunberger seeks out 300 year old organs in abandoned churches and frees them of their long-gone service to the institution. The region plays host to a number of small villages which lost the majority of their German population to migration after the fall of communism. In an area currently largely inhabited by Roma and Sinti, these fortress churches built during the Ottoman Wars have been transformed into vacant monuments.

Recording began in the summer of 2014 during a two-week conclave in the village of Valea Viilor (the origin of the town’s name meaning “wormhole”). Fraunberger understands these time-worn church organs as a pre-modern, forgotten future. Far removed from modern political and industrial norms, these brittle Baroque machines, running on wooden mechanics and bundled air, make room for new concepts of radical and individual sonic possibilities. “Quellgeister” is “sonic archeology” on the fringe of european contemporary culture. Stefan Fraunberger deals with desolate space and the present re-contextualization of it.

Both sides of “Quellgeister #2” are one-take recordings and will contain absolutely no edits. MS microphonics and ambisonoric mastering move this project closer to the abstracted spirit of electronic music within the spectrum of auditive curved space. Atop the hills of the periphery, air and motion form organic sculptures -“Wormhole” feels like a wave consisting of beats and decay. “Quellgeister #2” rides gravitational waves in the heavily diverse nether regions of collapsed planets.

/a1 ereignishorizont / حادث
/b1 zustandshorizont / حدوث

recorded, performed and conceptualized by stefan fraunberger
mastering by: wolfgang musil and stefan fraunberger
coverdesign by: edward chapon
coverpainting by: radu munteanu (church of Rogoz / 16th century)

artwork [tif]

Tenemos la segunda entrega de una serie de esculturas sonoras de Stefan Fraunberger. “Quellgeister” ha sido desarrollado durante los extensos viajes de Stefan por Transilvania. Fraunberger va en busca de viejos órganos de 300 años por iglesias abandonadas y los libera de su servicio. La región acoge a una serie de pequeños pueblos que perdió la mayoría de su población alemana con la migración después de la caída del comunismo. En un área actualmente habitada en gran parte por los Roma y Sinti, estas iglesias/fortaleza construidas durante las guerras otomanas han sido transformados en monumentos vacantes.
La grabación comenzó en el verano de 2014 durante un conclave de dos semanas en la ciudad de Valea Viilor (el origen del nombre de la ciudad significa "agujero de gusano"). Fraunberger considera a estos órganos de iglesia desgastados por el tiempo como un futuro pre-moderno olvidado. Lejos de las normas políticas e industriales modernas, estas quebradizas máquinas barrocas, dan cabida a nuevos conceptos de posibilidades sonoras radicales e individuales. En este sentido "Quellgeister" es pura "arqueología sonora" al margen de la cultura contemporánea europea.
Las dos partes de Quellgeister son una única toma y no tienen ningún tipo de edición. (RADIO NACIONAL DE ESPANA / RNE 3 ATMOSFERA

Der zweite Teil aus der Serie des Musikers (u.a.. Shrack!) und Islamwissenschaftlers Stefan Fraunberger, wo er in verlassene Kirchen Transsylvaniens geht, um dort mit den teils desolaten Orgeln geisterhafte Séancen heraufzubeschwören. Er versteht sich auf diesen teils mehrere hundert Jahre alten Instrumenten als Klang-Archäologe und münzt die Mängel und Defizite, die mit der Zeit auf diesen Instrumenten lagern, auf ihre Stärken um. (ROKKO'S ADVENTURES rokko)

Stefan Fraunberger is a new name to me. The Quellgester series of pieces (also known as Air-sculptures and Dwellings in the liner notes) for decaying organs in abandoned churches in Transylvania. When I heard the concept, I thought I would love this LP and I was right again. Two side long pieces, each exploring the intricacies of the failing organ. There is an excellent flow to both sides and the room sound of the church is a definite benefit. The whole record has a very ghostly sound and atmosphere with a damp and crumbling feel. Sometimes the organ sounds robust and almost in tune, but, for the most part, it sounds like a wheezing man on his last legs. I might not bet on it, but it seems as though these are live recordings with little or no post production. I quite appreciate that feel these days. Just tremendous. (SWILL RADIO scott)

Stefan Fraunberger's journey to become a musical multi-linguist began while serving his mandatory national service in Romania. „I got interested in ghosts of an old world that hadn't existed for me before,“ explains the Austrian sound performer and composer. „I admired the cultures ability for abstract expression.“ Fraunberger picked up the Romanian language on the the streets, developing an interst that soon sent him travelling further east to Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and India. He ultimately delved headfirst into Arabic studies and later went on to learn Persian. „I wanted to get into another structure of language, another way to deal with sound and to write it down,“ he says. For Fraunberger, a sound performer obsessed by the imperfections of field recordings and ageing instruments, the myriad sonic implications of these languages and cultures have unlocked new paths to musical abstraction. Discussing the „science of the letters“ and describing early sonic theory about consonance, the writings of tenth century Islamic philosopher Al-Farabi or 13th century Persian music scholar Safi ud-Din al-Urmawi, for example, are key influences on Fraunberger. Al-Urmawi's Kitab al-Adwar (Book of Circles) has intonation systems drawn in circles, and it relates said systems to both the human psyche and astronomical hierachies.
During the years of communist rule in Romania following the Second World War, many ethnic Germans fled Transylvania, leaving countless vilages, churches und church organs abandoned to gradually succumb to nature's decay. Fraunberger's Quellgeister (Source-Ghosts) project sees him travel through the region to record improvisations on these woozy mechanical beasts, like they're rusty spaceships he's guiding through clouds of dissoncance, bendy notes and parps of pipe dust. The project truly came into its own when he recorded the second Quellgeister in a village whose German name Wurmloch translates as Wormhole, eschewing the pomp of sacred music for the fragile drone of an organic death knell. „Quellgeister is about the influence of nature on culture,“ says Fraunberger. Yet the project is also an oblique manifesto for utilising Europe's vacant and dusused spaces, places and things. „Why should i buy a new modular synthesizer if there's lots of unused organs standing around?“ he asks. The inhuman vocalisation audible in the project's second volume do indeed resemble nature's very own modular patch, implanted in decaying keybords waiting to be discovered.“ (THE WIRE tristan bath)

Easily the most sonically remarkable new release to have passed through the jukebox in the last month or so is Quellgeister #2 ‘Wurmloch’ by the Austrian sound artist Stefan Fraunberger. This ongoing series of works (#1 came out two years ago, #3 is in progress) focuses on what Fraunberger summarises as “semi-ruined organs discovered in deserted Saxon churches in Transylvania”. Precisely what he does with these dilapidated organs isn’t entirely clear, but the result is that of a Frankenstein-like in extremis battle to resurrect the instrument and enable it, for one final time, to speak. Aural narratives really don’t come more stunningly heroic than this. Having wheezed into life, the organ’s reanimated corpse unleashes barrages of chords that constantly sound unnaturally forced, only sustaining as long as its innards are being ‘squeezed’ (try singing a note for far too long and you’ll get the idea). Weird tangential pitches and upper harmonics regularly bleach these chords, even occasionally suggesting there’s a melody trying to escape from beyond the grave; elsewhere the struggle (for both man and machine) becomes so intense that vast dissonant slabs of compressed noise erupt. On the one hand, it’s shambolic and desperate, but there’s an uncanny beauty both to Fraunberger’s seemingly absurd actions and to the, frankly, amazing results. There are extremes of flailing grotesquery—how could there not be?—but when the organ falls into softer utterances, its music becomes almost unbearably moving, particularly when fragile triads strain to maintain coherence and even, in the second piece, a kind of cadential plausibility. Fraunberger doesn’t so much play the instrument as fibrillate it, and ultimately it’s only a matter of time before death reclaims it. Yet this brief, wild act of transient resuscitation enables it to unleash a tragic, post-mortem testimony to its existence, causing the village of Wurmloch to resonate one last time, truly as never before. It’s available on vinyl and digital from Fraunberger’s Bandcamp site. (5against4.com)

The Quellgeister #2: Wurmloch (INTERSTELLAR RECORDS INT039) LP by Austrian artist Stefan Fraunberger is part of his Quellgeister series…he does it by performing on “semi-ruined organs in deserted churches”. At one level what we hear is a fascinating wheezy acoustic drone, as he attempts to force sound from these old, broken devices. He’s not attempting to make music or play hymn tunes, rather create a conceptual form of sound art. The tones he creates are quite eerie, and the distressed keys and dilapidated pipes are clearly generating just the sort of effects he’s seeking. Even the performances are “broken”, refusing conventional form and veering from recognisable modular chords to freely-improvised passages and moments of purely abstract noise. So far, very rewarding and highly unusual set of rather disconcerting half-musical sounds emerge from Wurmloch, and we could probably locate Fraunberger in a lineage with other artists who discover ruined pianos in odd places and try and force a noise out of them, such as Russ Bolleter or Annea Lockwood.
Stefan Fraunberger is doing it in Transylvania, in churches that are about 300 years old. One of the things that interests him is the profound changes history and migration has wrought in this area, whose German population have mostly moved on since the collapse of the Berlin wall, and where the small villages are now inhabited by Sinti and Romani gypsies. The churches he visits were built during one of the many Ottoman wars, and are more like fortresses. Fraunberger sees the buildings, and the organs themselves, as the last surviving remnant of a forgotten purpose, a “pre-modern, forgotten future” as the press notes have it. He proposes to reinhabit and colonise this admittedly rather vague zone with his own modern, radical ideas, through the possibilities of sound…the record is a document of his spontaneously created “organic sculptures”. While “organic” is an overused word in our field, it’s entirely appropriate to the all-acoustic nature of this sound art, music which is somehow aspiring to reach the “abstracted spirit of electronic music”. Not just because it involves wood and other natural materials and the passage of air wheezing its way through the pipes in irregular bursts, but something of the rottenness and decay of the organ itself has passed onto the grooves. You can almost see the dust, smell the mould.
Visit Franunberger’s website for further examples of his forward-looking and rather abstruse ideas about art and language, and its place in society…through his extensive travels, he seems to be trying to discover things about the meaning of contemporary culture through signs of change and decay, and finding clues in the most unlikely places. The photo of heavily-rusted satellite dishes is strangely evocative in that context, for reasons I can’t explain. From 3 May 2016. (thesoundprojector.com ed pinsent)

Jaja, und ich bin ganz normal und ausserdem der König vom ganzen Irrenhaus! Ist der Fraunberger wirklich so ein Spinner oder tut der nur so und macht zwecks Spaß einen auf totalcrazymadman? Wer denkt sich sowas aus? Ich schreib ́s hier nochmal für alle zum langsam verarbeiten und in den „ja, das ist wirklich so“-Status zu kriegen: auf Quellgeister #2 „Wurmloch“ ist music for semi ruined church organs recorded in deserted saxon churches in central Transilvania. Und in diesem Fall hat Stefaan Fraunberger in der Kirche des Dorfes Valea Viilor performed und aufgenommen. Da wird die heilige Messe aber mit Tuten und Blasen ausgetrieben, das kann ich euch sagen! Diese Kirche ist definitiv entweiht und befreit von der Messeschwummrigkeit. Da pfeift die Orgel und kreischt und pfaucht und manchmal weint sie, glaub ich, auch. ächzen, stöhnen grummeln, furzen, fies lachen und was weiß ich noch alles kann man hier, ähhhh, rausfiltern. Ist schon ein Kunstgriff die Quälgeister aus dem Orgelwurmloch hervorzulocken. Ein tolldreistes Wagnis der hohen Kunst des Soundeskapismus jenseits der institutionalisierten Vorgaben sind diese 2 Stücke jedenfalls geworden. Sehr passend und schön auch „Ereignishorizont“ und „Zustandshorizont“ benamst. Schwierige Kost, aber nur Mut! Immer locker bleiben und die Überforderung wegstecken! Am Ende ist alles gut nach all dem Getöse. Herrlich! Vielen Dank Interstellar für diesen Wahnsinn. (KAPUZINE huck)

Perhaps it’s because I’m not a speaker of German that I find the language so fascinating. In particular, the way compound words create long strings of letters which evoke phlegm. The album’s title and the titles of the two tracks, ‘Ereignishorizont’ and ‘Zustandhorizont’ translate as ‘Event-Horizon’ and ‘State-Horizon’ respectively, according to the press release (penned by a fellow based in Berlin and whose translation I trust), and they stand as megalithic sonic sculptures, forged using sounds conjured from 300-year-old organs. Hose are church organs, of course – an instrument which has been a longstanding fascination for Stefan Fraunberger. He has devoted considerable time to travelling extensively through Transylvania and exploring abandoned churches in such of disused organs and capturing their sounds.
Transylvania contains a number of small villages, which have seen the majority of their population lost to migration following the fall of communism, leaving the fortress churches, built during the Ottoman Wars, abandoned, vacant and crumbling.
It’s perhaps because of these conditions that the organs which feature on this album’s two long-form tracks sound worn, rusted dilapidated forlorn. Conventionally, the organ yields a sound that is vast, bold, empowering, a sound which reaches to the skies and beyond, which fills the heart, the soul and the lungs, and which is rousing, and which is ultimately uplifting, spiritual.
But rather than the grand surges of sound commonly associated with church organs, Fraunberger’s compositions are delicate, gentle, long, reedy sighs which trill and quaver. Sad wheezes groan limply, a forlorn puff of a punctured bellows. The sounds cautiously teeter together, bend, hum and drone, ephemeral moments of accord and discord move seemingly at random. Gentle glides slide into cacophonous ruptures, key changes and chords disregarded.
The variety of tonalities and textures, atmospheres and moods is remarkable, and Fraunburger’s approach to transitions between these is ceaselessly inventive, with sudden changes bringing drama and more subtle shifts proving more calm and sedate. Impressively, the two pieces were recorded in single takes and are released here with no edits whatsoever, although the double vinyl release sees each track split into two pieces.
Given that the organ is, conventionally, a mighty and powerful instrument, to hear such dilapidated cases, puffing and droning creaking and fatigued, is strange and sad. The off-kilter and anticlimactic crescendos, the off-key climaxes and underpowered upsurges reveal a very different side of an instrument that carries undeniable connotations of a transcendental connection. And so what this album conveys, on many levels is a sense of diminishment, revealing as it does the fragility and ultimate humanity of the instruments. The organs recorded here are no more immortal, immutable or otherwise godly than anything else made by human hands, and as such, they’re prone to the same forces of nature and of ageing as anything else.
Fraunberger considers his work to be a form of ‘sonic archaeology,’ and it’s a fitting description. These recordings are based on instruments long forgotten, excavated after decades of decay. The moss and ivy grow as the timbers split and the tiles fall from the roofs. Nature always wins, and time is the only unstoppable force. (auralaggravation.com christopher nosnibor)

Put on the circuit via the Austrian imprint Interstellar Records is Stefan Fraunberger's new album entitled "Quellgeister #2 'Wurmloch'", a name referring to the origin of his recordings in the Transylvanian village of Valea Viilor which essentially translates to 'wormhole' - 'Wurmloch' in German. Within two tracks, each exceeding the 18 minutes mark, Fraunberger resurrects the sounds of century-old organs he found in abandoned churches of the region in a well experimental manner, exploring their sonic range in a way including both melancholia-inducing Dark Ambient sequences as well as intense, near screeching and highly dramatic passages of score'esque qualities, talking either oldskool body horror or classic lo-fi, black and white science fiction flics this is. Throughout "Zustandshorizont", the second tune on this album, we're even taken into the world of highly dissonant madness bordering the realms of pure Noize in some sections of the composition which, due to this, evokes a sense of danger and imminent manifestations of dark spirits or lurking entities populating an intersecting parallel universe, hunting for prey. Defo an interesting and very special take, not only on composition but also on the preservation of the sound of time-worn instruments that are bound to full on disintegration taking place in future times. (nitestylez.de baze djuniii)

Das experimentelle Label "Interstellar Records" wühlt den Untergrund schon länger auf, aber etwas so Steiles sucht sogar in diesem Umfeld Seinesgleichen: transsylvanische Orgeen, halbwegs instandgesetzt, bilden einen Klangraum, den man so noch nicht erlebt hat. Der gebürtige Hausruckviertler Stefan Fraunberger reist immer wieder nach Rumänien. Nach dem Sturz Ceausescu haben die Siebenbürgen ihre Dörfer verlassen. Fraunberger reaktiviert die bis zu 300 Jahren alten Orgeln in ihren leerstehenden Wehrkirchen. Der Namen eines dieser Dörfer, Valea Viilor, stand Pate für das Projekt: Wurmloch. Fraunberger deutet es als Krümmung der Raumzeit, deswegen heißen die beiden Tracks auch "Ereignis-" und "Zustandshorizont". Seine Klangskulpturen sollen auch archäologisch verstanden werden, als Auseinandersetzung mit der klanglichen Geschichte einer Gegend. Fraunberger, der Elektroakustik, Arabistik, Islamwissenschaften und Philosophie studiert hat, ist schon seit Längerem in aus unserer Perspektive abgelegenen Landstrichen der Welt unterwegs; Irak, Iran, Libanon, Pakistan, Syrien, Indien und Georgien - immer mit künstlerischem Mehrwert. (KULTURBERICHT OÖ dominika meindl)

Es handelt sich um ein herausragendes Werk/Ergebnis europäischer Klang-Archäologie: Quellgeister #2 – ‚Wurmloch‘ (Interstellar Records) ist das Ergebnis, die Quintessenz aus der zweiwöchigen Zwiesprache mit einer im heutigen Valea Viilor bei Sibiu (Rumänien) in einer seit Jahrzehnten dem Verfall überlassenen katholischen Kirche aufgefundenen Orgel. Wurmstichig zu Wurmloch, wenn man so will (Valea Viilor hieß einst Wurmloch, oder auf ungarisch Nagybaromlak). Von einer kontemplativen Wucht sowie einer unverklärten Demut gegenüber dem vor der Unwiederbringlichkeit Erretten so dermaßen nachvollziehbar erfüllt, dass jeder Ton, der dieser – einer Trutzburg zugehörigen und vor annähernd dreihundert Jahren erbauten – Orgel entlockt wurde, mehr Geschichte atmet, als dies zunächst und überhaupt zu erfassen ist.
Wie bereits bei Quellgeister #1, das an einer historisch vergleichbaren Orgel im rumänischen Christian entstand, gehen Restauration und Reanimation erneut Hand in Hand. Indem Stefan Fraunberger – vermutlich – seine eigenen Schlüsse hinsichtlich des gegebenen Kontext zieht – ohne den eigentlichen musikalischen Zweck des aufgefundenen Instruments zu zitieren – erzielt er eine klangliche Ansprache, die zwischen dem Profanen und dem Sakralen kaum mehr unterscheiden lässt.
Man möge einwenden, dass die beiden Kompositionen (Ereignishorizont, Zustandshorizont) allein dem Umstand ihrer Entstehung das „gewisse Etwas“ verdanken. Oder auch nur den gängigen Assoziationen, die von der deutsch-rumänischen Geschichte ausgehen, so sie aus der gegebenen Vernachlässigung besonderen Charme beziehen. Muss man also diesem Charme erlegen sein, um Quellgeister #2 – ‚Wurmloch‘ zu schätzen und zu verstehen? Nein. Die archäologisch motivierten Sound-Skulpturen des Stefan Fraunberger sind von universellem Wert. Von endlich bleibendem Wert. (www.amusio.com stephan wolf)

Here's another entry in the growing sub-genre of the institutional avant garde where earnest musicians set off with their recording gear and a grant, charged to capture the antique sounds of church organs in some forgotten corner of Europe. Fraunberger has certainly racked up a considerable amount of travel in the name of research, which has taken him throughout Europe and into the Middle East. On Quellgeister #2, the destination is Romania to record in a 15th century fortified Saxon church. According to one press photo, the church organ pipes appear in shambles; yet Fraunberger coaxed various peculiar, wavering tones out of the instrument, all mottled and untuned. These improvisiations are grounded upon a couple of sustained notes from which Fraunberger detours to test the possibilities of the instrument. But as soon as things go haywire, he switches back to a working chord. (THE WIRE jim haynes)

Nach Quellgeister #1 (chmafu nochords) veröffentlicht Stefan Fraunberger sein Folgewerk Quellgeister #2: Wurmloch nun auf Vinyl bei Interstellar Records. Die Platte umfasst zwei Stücke, Ereignishorizont und Zustandshorizont, die in einer Kirche im rumänischen Ort Valea Viilor im Jahr 2014 aufgenommen wurden. Der Name dieser Ortschaft, auf Deutsch: Wurmloch, gibt Quellgeister #2 seinen Untertitel. Fraunberger versteht diese Stücke als klangliche Skulpturen. Durch sein Spiel auf der dortigen Kirchenorgel dokumentiert er die Verlassenheit des Kirchenraums und belebt diesen nach vielen Jahren des Leerstands für einen Moment. Musikalisch zeichnet sich Quellgeister #2 durch extreme Musikalität aus. Die erste Nummer gleicht Windbewegungen. Es scheint, als streife Wind durch die Orgelpfeifen. Zustandshorizont beginnt mit einem stehenden, durchgehenden Orgelklang, einer comfort zone, die verlassen wird, in einen chaotischen Zustand abdriftet und sich in wohligen Klängen auflöst. Diese beiden Stücke zeichnen sich generell durch harmonische Klänge aus, die, wie schon oben erwähnt, durch Fraunbergers hohe Musikalität bestechen. Interessant ist auch die Aufmachung der Platte. Fraunberger, nicht nur Musiker, sondern auch studierter Arabist, betitelte die Nummern zusätzlich in arabischer Schrift und verlegte die Plattenöffnung auf die linke Seite; eine durch und durch gelungene Veröffentlichung. (FREISTIL katrin hauk)

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