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DJ Spooky / to rococo rot / Mick Harris / Klaus Buhlert /
Ernst Horn / John Oswald / Walter Ruttmann

Walter Ruttmann Weekend Remix


Weekend by Walter Ruttmann (1887-1941) is a pioneering work from the early days of radio. In an 11 minute 10 second collage of words, music fragments and sounds, the film-maker and media artist Walter Ruttmann presented on 13 June 1930 an avant-garde and radically innovative radio piece: an acoustic picture of a Berlin weekend urban landscape. After his experience with his films Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Großstadt (1927) (Berlin – Symphony of a Big City) and Melodie der Welt (1929/1930) (Melody of the World), Walter Ruttmann deliberately sought possibilities for producing an audio-film for radio. “Everything audible in the world becomes material”, he wrote in a manifesto in 1929.
Tones and sounds should exist in their own right. For Weekend they were recorded as arbitrary and intentional elements on the soundtrack of an optical sound film using the so-called tri ergon technique. For the first time an artistic radio production was created whose material could be assembled and designed according to rhythmic, musical principles. The technique used also meant that a repeat broadcast would have been possible. But this never happened. The original of Weekend was long considered lost. A copy was only rediscovered in New York in 1978.
68 years after the creation of the original, Barbara Schäfer and Herbert Kapfer invited international artists to make six Walter Ruttmann Weekend Remix versions for Bayerischer Rundfunk.
The radio play classic, which had opened up new aesthetic perspectives for the genre at a very early stage, underwent the digital endurance test and was confronted with the means and possibilities of the digital age and the remix technique.

The remixes of Klaus Buhlert and Ernst Horn took Ruttmann's compositional principles of Weekend and circumscribed them with their own compositions. With the new digital technology new methods of composition were also applied. Pathos and rhythm were given a contemporary drive, the ironic moments of the disrespectfully edited original were amplified further with a subsequent treatment by the composers Horn and Buhlert, new audio spaces were opened up.
In 1998 Berlin, to rococo rot sought acoustic equivalents to the elements Ruttmann had recorded in 1930. Their version is – in film terms – a remake, in musical terms a cover version, and at the same time a homage to Ruttmann and the City of Berlin.
In their Weekend remixes, the British musician Mick Harris and DJ Spooky from New York staged a return to the fatalistic mood of the original. The remix compositions focussed on machine noises and the acoustic signals of disturbed communication. Apart from the added bass and rhythm tracks, Harris and DJ Spooky used only the original as material, processed with digital machines. The basis for the remix by the Canadian John Oswald was the loud noise on the copy of the 1930 original. Oswald's remix conducted a digital material battle with the original, one which duplicated in Ruttmann's discontinuous rhythm the copying noises which had developed over time.

Walter Ruttmann: Weekend
"Everything audible in the whole world becomes material. This infinite material can now be given new meaning by fashioning it in accordance with the laws of time and space. Not only rhythm and dynamics will be exploited by this new audio art's will to reshape, but also the space created by the whole scale of the sound differences arising. This opens the way for a completely new acoustic art – new in its means and in its effect.“

Ernst Horn: Sympathie für Schulze Remix
“The more often I listened to it, the more I perceived a naive, happy, optimistic charm, a playful futurism I could not resist. I did not make any sudden cuts, like those employed by Ruttman, but in my samples I merged little scenes with gentle fade-outs.”

DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid: Gedanken Form Remix
“Essentially my remix is the encounter between two cultures, both of which in a state of transition – just like in Germany between the two World Wars, there is in America a great sense of uncertainty as the century ends. All seen, of course, through the eyes of a young Afro-American man..”

Mick Harris: Makeshift Whitebox Remix
“Weekend – a fantastic sound source. But the piece is so self-contained that I had no desire to rearrange it. And so I looked for sounds which allowed me to compose a new piece in as similar a mood as possible.”

Klaus Buhlert: production memory Remix
“For me this story is very valuable. I want to tell it in Ruttmann's strains, even with Ruttmann's sounds, I want to open up a few spaces and reprocess them with my work of the past few years as a homage to Ruttmann, and for this purpose I have interweaved music and radio play sequences from my work of the past few years. Out of a monophone Ruttmann take of the 30s there suddenly emerges a space of the 90s.”

to rococo rot: Berlin 98 Version
”According to the cutting schedule, Weekend was edited very musically, with different times, for the Friday evening for example, where the whole Friday work and machine world is edited according to ¼s, 1/16s and we roughly kept to this, and for today it was more a matter of finding out and hearing how a weekend works in terms of notes, these were our guidelines.”

John Oswald: wknd 58 Remix
“There is constant noise on the recording, and that's what I had to work with. Instead of trying to eliminate it as completely as possible by technical means, I decided to do the opposite.”

intermedium rec. 003
ISBN 978-3-939444-04-6
Very few CDs left
20.- €


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