Voices & Tides

Bruce Lee Gallanter Review of the 25th Annual International Festival Musique Actuelle Victoriaville

There are only two flutists that I know of who can do amazing things with extended techniques and custom-made flutes: Robert Dick and Matthias Ziegler. I’ve seen Robert Dick on many occasions, but this was only the second time I’ve seen the amazing Matthias Ziegler. Matthias performed in a duo with experimental vocalist Franziska Baumann, who also utilized a „cyber-glove“. What was interesting was the way that Matthias’ flutes and Ms. Baumann’s electronically enhanced voice often worked with similar textures and sounds. Matthias had a large, oddly shaped, custom-made mutant flute with a pick-up that made some completely unique sounds. For one piece, the voice and flute turned into amazing drones that were exotic sounding and were panned across the stage in different directions. On another piece, Franziska did some fine jazzy scatting while Matthias played tight phrases right along with her.
This Duo has a fine CD out on Leo, but witnessing it live was even better.
Jonquière, Quebec Canada
Franziska Baumann / Matthias Ziegler (Suisse)
Voices & Tides

Après quelques performances aussi originales qu'inusitées en Europe (concert sur un lac en montagne avec haut-parleurs flottants, spectacles pour enfants dans un château), le duo remet les pieds sur scène avec l'intérêt commun de la densité persistante de la musique de chambre et des frontières malléables entre les sons acoustiques et électriques. Ayant fait leurs classes à travers l'exploration de différents univers musicaux et l'installation sonore, les deux improvisateurs de renommée internationale se rencontrent ici sous l'appellation Voices and Tides, termes appropriés pour qualifier la mouvance des voix au gré de l'oscillation des marées.

Franziska Baumann ajoute à ses chants de gorge et performances vocales hors du commun le filtre d'un « gant sensoriel », instrument exclusif conçu en collaboration avec des ingénieurs hollandais pour agir électroniquement sur la voix tout en libérant le corps. À ces sons plutôt aigus s'ajoute le « Hoover » de Matthias Ziegler, une flûte basse modifiée lui permettant l'atteinte de sonorités graves à la limite de la perception sensorielle.

Le spectacle Voices and Tides, qui porte le même nom que l'album paru en 2007 sous l'étiquette Léo Records, se traduit donc par une discussion non conventionnelle et multidimentionnelle entre deux très anciens moyens de communication : la voix humaine et la flûte.

Franziska Baumann : voix et gant sensoriel
Matthias Ziegler : flûte basse modifiée

All About Jazz
by John Kelman, Photo: Martin Morisette

Day three of Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville celebrated just how far the human voice could be stretched in a variety of musical contexts. From multidisciplinary presentations to cybergloves and focused, well-shaped free improvisation, FIMAV once again proved itself to be a festival whose preferred position is on the bleeding edge, with a series of shows that were as eye- and ear-opening as it gets.

Franziska Baumann/Matthias Ziegler
With an array of flutes that rivaled Anthony Braxton's big horns from his Diamond Curtain Wall performance at FIMAV 2008, Matthias Ziegler and vocalist Franziska Baumann delivered their own brand of electroacoustic free improvisation. The two Swiss artists incorporate elements of the jazz tradition through Baumann's occasional scat-like delivery; but it was Ziegler's processed flutes and Baumann's unique approach to expanding her vocal palette that made their late afternoon performance at CEGEP thoroughly compelling.
Baumann possesses a voice with a remarkable range, and an ability to acoustically stretch its potential through multiple extended techniques, and that would have been enough to make the show a must-see. Her use of a cyberglove—a glove literally wired up to a computer, allowing her to massage her acoustic instrument through use of buttons (some on a sense that she occasionally attached to her microphone) and arm and hand movements—allowed her to take the music to completely unexpected places. Live sampling is, of course, nothing new, but by allowing her to alter her voice in a very physical way, and coupled with Ziegler's rarely seen bass and contrabass flutes, Baumann was able to turn the performance into another that was as intriguing to watch as it was to hear.

Baumann's extended techniques were matched by Ziegler, who found ways to turn his various flutes into percussive instruments. While much of the performance was in the rarified arena of ethereal atmospherics, pieces like the performance's finale actually grooved. With Baumann sampling her own voice, harmonizing it and creating oscillating shifts, she created (like Houle earlier in the day) a virtual choir that was supported by Ziegler's creation of noise-like textures and rich harmonies of his own.

A relatively new partnership documented on the very aptly titled Voices and Tides (Leo, 2007), Baumann and Ziegler's performance was their first in North America. FIMAV distinguishes itself with its many Canadian and North American firsts, as well as some shows, like the world premier Art Bears Songbook performance that will close the festival on Monday, May 21—one more reason why the festival engenders such passionate loyalty amongst its fans.

Franziska Baumann