Ein Film bei dem die Bilder den Ton begleiten – KICK THAT HABIT


…especially the last three minutes, when images generate sound.

A film about the two sound artists Norbert Möslang and Andy Guhl together VOICE CRACK.

read article by Jason Kahn

what kind of a sound could these image have?

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KICK THAT HABIT by Peter Liechti

1989 / Switzerland / 40 min

Drawing on trace elements of Jazz and Arte Povera, Swiss duo Andy Guhl and Norbert Möslang use a range of cracked everyday electronic equipment to create abstract sound environments. Alongside free improvisation, they’ve devoted over 30 years to obsessively fathoming the potential of generative composition by analogue, non-computer-steered systems for their Voice Crack project. Peter Liechti’s „Kick That Habit“ is set to be a music film classic – its artful, cinematically unique sequences transcend the usual parameters of documentary.

Voice Crack: Möslang and Guhl

1984 saw the release of „Voice Crack“ and the first instance of „cracked everyday electronics“ explicitly stated as the duo’s choice of instrumentation. Starting with a lone static pop sounding like a pistol going off in some abandoned warehouse, „Voice Crack“ blurs the lines between room installation and concert. Recorded on March 23rd, 1984 at the Gallery Corinne Hummel, Basel, this record documents the duo’s first performance with „cracked everyday electronics“ and evokes at times a version of David Tudor’s „Rainforest“ gone terribly awry. Although recorded in a concert setting, the intent of the performance resembles more the installation „Lokalstradio“ in that a system of interacting objects and fields of interfering magnetic and infrared vibrations gets initiated, only to be abandoned to generate itself in ever-varying patterns. At some point the duo leave the performance area and let their instruments run themselves. „Voice Crack“ sounds very much like an old factory slowly taking itself apart, with components falling away, fuses shorting out, random sputtering hums and static, the sound of an electro-mechanical entity slowly fading into rubble and dust. The performance ends when the duo pull the power.

In many ways the sensibility behind this performance owes much to Dziga Vertov’s film „Man with the Movie Camera,“ to which in 1983 Möslang and Guhl first performed a live soundtrack in the Kraftwerkzentrale Kubel, an abandoned power station in St. Gallen. Vertov’s credo was to record „life at it is,“ without theatrical subterfuge, as life might be without the camera present. Vertov’s aesthetic influenced other artist’s living in St. Gallen at this time, including the film maker Peter Liechti, with whom Möslang and Guhl created a soundtrack to Liechti’s 1985 film „Senkrecht Waagrecht,“ and the visual artist Roman Signer, whose 1985 performance „Ereignisse von und mit“ in the Grabenhalle, St. Gallen also included the duo…

…“Kick That Habit“ was anything but quiet or sparse. An epiphany in noise, the record sounds like a joyous rejection of all the musical shackles imposed on the duo by an increasingly anachronistic and reactionary European improvised music scene. The record kicks out the jams in such an uncompromising and confrontational way that it should come as no surprise that the duo could barely find places to play back home. As Jim O’Rourke would later write in the liner notes to a re-release of „Knack On,“ „Any thought of them playing at Total Music Meeting was about as rational as a Lynyrd Skynyrd reunion.“

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