Andreas Usenbenz – “Bells Breath”

Bell’s Breath transforms the tolling of the bells in the Ulm Minster into a work of sound art. This project by Andreas Usenbenz was created for the 125th anniversary of the minster spire’s completion and was presented in the form of an audio installation inside the minster in the fall of 2015.

Andreas Usenbenz is self-taught. Since 2000, he is working in sound-art between field recording, composition and improvisation. For his work Usenbenz primarily uses sounds from his immediate surroundings. These sounds can be sampled directly from the environment. They serve as starting material for his compositions. Drone Music or musique concrète, Ambient are genres which are heavily connected to Andreas work.

Andreas Usenbenz has taken a raw recording of the tolling of the minster bells at Ulm and created a piece that is disassociated with the emotion extolled by the original master. But this is no remix. The peal of the minster bells are welcome to most, but grate to others. With Bells Breath, Usenbenz re-frames a sound and emotion that is pan-European in to a work that is refreshingly astute and modern.

Using layer upon layer of process sound, Usenbenz forms an ambient piece where  artwork and location become an inseparable one. What the audience experiences is an amplified perception of itself.

Very minimal and, dare I say it, very cool – “Bells Breath” references the minimalist artworks that came out of the late 1960’s. A new understanding of art was being developed in contrast to abstract painting. Part of it was an abandonment of categories that had been considered essential until then, like the aesthetic experience or the artists signature style. Industrially produced materials were now being used, every day objects were stripped bare of their function. Experiencing art turned into an experience of self-awareness on behalf of the audience.

If you are familiar with the genre of minimal music – this album, ‘Bells Breath’ is a stand out example of the genre. Not too clever, not too flat: just right.

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