October 17th, 2013
What or who is that you might ask?
“Named after a character from the novel “Doktor Faustus” by Thomas Mann, the Serenus Zeitblom Octet works with compositions between chaos and structure, the fragmented and united, free improvisation and the classical score.
Music as a subconscious, “demonical territory” – as the Faustus-Novel states.”
As the above promotional material says, Serenus Zeitblom (http://www.serenuszeitblom.de/) is a newly formed band that I feel very very lucky to be a part of. Started by my friend Andreas Dzialocha, one of the most amazingly talented AND amazingly competent people I have ever met (a very rare combination, let me assure you!), the band’s music fits into the rather hazy category of what is nowadays called “new music”. What do you mean, new music? Well, between the seemingly discrepant worlds of contemporary classical music, electronic and experimental music, modern jazz, and the entire free music movement, there exists an surprisingly similar soundscape, and many composers nowadays shy away from labels and just simply write. Interesting how classical musicians complain that young people don’t go to their concerts, when there are thousands and millions of the most hip and good-looking going to concerts that sound pretty much exactly the same! Much better than that utter failure of an ad campaign to get Ottawans to go to the symphony from a few years ago. (What was it? I tried Mozart and I liked it?) Things like this make me feel extremely lucky to be living in Berlin and working with such forward thinkers not just in the realm of classical music, but in the realm of music as a whole.
The band has eight members — a cellist, a trumpeter, a vibraphonist, a drummer, a bass guitarist, and two electric guitarists, and me, and they all have wide-ranging skill sets — from free music, to pop, jazz, rock, and classical backgrounds (not to mention various mixes thereof). The gorgeous hand-written scores are a very eclectic mix of traditional notation — mostly with economical lead sheets — and graphic notation. The rehearsals are also an interesting mixture — from the most anal-retentive of classically trained methods (mostly coming from me, of course), to the more laid-back methods of, well, mostly everyone else. It’s proving to be really interesting to see how we can make our worlds converge.
And what’s the music like? To me it’s impossible to put any kind of label on it, apart from the simple “new music” suggestion from before. Andreas described it as like watching a train go by really quickly — all you see is wagon, wagon, wagon, wagon, wagon, oh, something toxic, wagon, wagon, wagon and then it’s over, and all you can really process is the overview even though you’ve seen the entire train go by. I understand it more like I understand Templehof Airport here in Berlin (what used to be a functioning airport, now an incredibly large and flat park around the corner from my house. I shudder to think of what it must have been like to live here when the airport actually worked, but that’s another story). At first sight Templehof is vaguely disturbing in its empty functionality; but immediately thereafter it pleases the eye with its artificial horizon, frees the senses with its wide open nothingness, and intrigues the intellect with its contrast between timelessness and modernity. In a funny way, aren’t timelessness and modernity synonymous?
The concert is this Thursday, October 17th at WABE (http://www.wabe-berlin.de/) and starts at 9pm with the viola sonata by Ligeti played by yours truly. Hope to see you there! xx