Early June '05, Krispen Hartung, a musician with a day job from Boise, IL, sent the following message to Looper's Delight:

Ah, what the hell…let's see if this flies or goes over like a cast iron blimp. A boy has got to dream….

I'd like to test the idea of an online musical recording collaboration and ultimately produce a low-budget CD of duo works. This would be titled "Xperimentus: Krispen Hartung & Friends", me and a number of other players.  The genre would be avant-garde/experimental, and involve looping of course. I would be looking for LP members whose strength is in soloing, rather than laying down chordal soundscapes, textures, etc (I consider percussion a solo instrument as well).  Soundcapes and foundational textures are good, but just a foundation for more complex single note "conversations" and "dialogues". This is just my preference as artistic director of the project.

Composition/Performance Parameters

The primary parameters of the project, non-exhaustive, of course:

  • All pieces will be non-metered (no time signature) and free flowing or with just a rhythmic pulse
  • All pieces will have some degree of melodic/solo work, either by itself or over the top of textures and soundscapes (hence the request for players whose forte is soloing)
  • All pieces will have no key / they will be predominantly non-diatonic….general tonal centers are fine, but with a significant degree of "outside" playing, tension and release, etc - this is essentially Free project
  • Other parameters are negotiable

Main point, I'm not shooting for pretty  or lofty tunes that have popular appeal, but more of a dark, abstract, or obscure feel.  Two examples, not meant to be a strict model are:

For me, there was no way not to consider applying. I got in contact with Kris and got selected for the project (it seemed that unlike e.g. Bernhard Wagner (the stupid prick) Kris didn't select performers by any QM standards though...). While I didn't have any own releases in 2005, at least I would collaborate on one!


Dynamic Projact Management

In the end, there were some 13 artists to work on the album plus Kris. To coordinate all of this, Krispen kept detailed project datasheets and all in all behaved like a real project manager (wanna see how the datasheet looked?).

Krispen had specified a set of engagement approaches to define how the artistic creation process was coordinated, and each performer was to select the approach which suited him best. Note that these approaches didn't specify musical parameters (like tempo, dynamics, tonality,...), rather they described how the artists in the specific setup would work together: which parameters were decided upon in advance, and how they would exchange and combine their individual parts.

I went for the extraordinary. Krispen had defined an approach "group cacophony" which would contain contributions by more than two players. In Kris' approach, the players decided on a time length, everyone played something and all was mixed together - a rather radical approach. I asked Kris: could we define an approach where several players played something (entirely following their own choosing, of no predetermined length, and without hearing any other player's contribution), and one remix player would then combine these fragments into a whole which, if the remix guy was competent, would be more than the sum of its parts? If so, I want to be the remix guy.

The approach was decided upon, and about seven people sent me parts for it. The contributions contained everything from hip-hop drum over ambient sound scapes to abstract noise paintings and had parts in length from 1.5 seconds to nine minutes. All this arrived on the harddisk of the remix guy - and then, a sequencer plus a lot of VST plugins was let loose.

"Shotgun Mulligan"

Instead of going on about how cool I am and therefore how cool this remix piece has become, let me instead quote a critic:

"Free your mind and your ass will follow! For the most of his musical career Rainer Thelonius Balthasar Straschill seems to have incorporated George Clinton's musical and spiritual statement into most of his own musical endeavours. While Clinton's approach reflected the revolutionary boundary breaking zeitgeist of the early 1970's, Straschill's has a much more sober, but nevertheless disturbing tone. His latest track "Shotgun Mulligan" (contained on Kris Hartung's "Xperimentus" album, available from cdbaby.com) is another example for a piece of music that gives the average listener a strange feeling of: "what kind of music is this?". Which leads to the follow-up question, whether one should listen to this opus wholeheartedly in the living room with no distractions or would it be suitable being enjoyed drunk in a club dancing to it?!

Frankly, several parts of the track have catchy, addicting grooves. But on the other hand the"Shotgun Mulligan" is characterized by varying tempi and grooming background noises that resemble suspense movies. The track consist mainly of three parts, a down tempo first part with a very appealing beat, followed by the second part, with a drum and bass feel which leads to a grand finale. "Shotgun Mulligan" ends with kind of symbiosis of the first two parts, which reminds the listener of a soundtrack for his own imaginary movie Blair Which Project 51. There is no leading melody, rather different individual eclectic solo-parts by all kinds of instruments. This is best explained by the genesis of the song, composed around several different pieces of music by artists out of an internet network for pretentious musicians. Balthasar took these bricks of music, added his top-heavy mortar and out of this he built this house; we would call it a shotgun house with a camel back. Finally there is to say, this track filled our minds with so many notions, that our bottom-heavy asses could not follow

- Jan Bejenke (freelancing DJ in Munich's most hip night spots, Milchbar, Funky Kitchen, K41. In his day hours, Jan works on his PhD thesis is the field of history of American culture)

Buy the CD

To get the CD from cdbaby.com, click here.

The disc will also be available directly from the contributing artists at their concerts.