Bartholomäus Traubeck – “Years”

A tree’s year rings are analysed for their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music. It is mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appearance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture). The foundation for the music is certainly found in the defined ruleset of programming and hardware setup, but the data acquired from every tree interprets this ruleset very differently.

This record features seven recordings from different Austrian trees. They were generated on the Years installation in Vienna, January 2012.

So said the man’s Bandcamp – I found this album courtesy of a tip off on Facebook. I have yet to get to the bottom of it. Whilst it is an album partly of something so inherently natural (a tree) it is also one of Artificial Intelligence.

Here is a video of the installation that took place (Motor controls + engineering for Years v0.2 (not visible in the video) done by Christoph Freidhöfer) –

a3913826827_10Where to start with an album that is so fragile, yet emotive. It is one of the most emotional albums I have had the pleasure of owning. Does the sounds produced by a dead piece of timber on a space-age record player ellicit emotion in a grown man – hell, yes it did with me.

Whilst the music would not be described as being that of a (human) virtuoso – there is a nascent and inherent beauty that makes this recording spell binding.

However, I would say it is more a triumph of technology than than the beauty of a majestic tree that moves me to such emotion. Whilst, yes, the music is incredibly beautiful and incredibly complex what got me about the recording was the fact that Traubeck had the wit and determination to carry out such an endeavor.

I cannot praise this album highly enough – breath-takingly beautiful, breath-takingly humbling.

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