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natewooley on 04/15/2011 at 12:15PM

Edition Wandelweiser: Conceptual Music That Just Happens to be Gorgeous

Antoine Beuger, label head of Edition Wandelweiser

From the very first second that I was given any kind of latitude to suggest labels and archives to the Database of Recorded American Music (DRAM), I had visions of being able to cull through and upload the entire Edition Wandelweiser catalog for streaming.  For those that don't know DRAM, it is an online research engine for colleges.  Its goal is to present the student with music that could be a bit more difficult to be exposed to through their normal course of study.  I thought, of all the labels out there, Edition Wandelweiser was the absolute model of what we should include.

After talking to Antoine Beuger (the head of Edition Wandelweiser), he graciously agreed to let us begin the streaming of his catalog on DRAM, and after a follow up conversation, I'm proud to say that he has agreed to let us use some of my favorite EW tracks as our first DRAM-related feature here on FMA.

How to sum it up? Edition Wandelweiser artists are definitely of a certain aesthetic.  I stop short of calling it a dogma, though, and that's what makes it interesting to me.  Loads of Silence, yes.  Minimalist, the degree that minimalism applies to music.  Conceptual, yes....but...this is that very special kind of conceptual music that has at its core the idea that the actual music, in its purely auditory form, has to be at least equal, if not greater, than the articulation of the concept that made it possible.  This is something I've always respected about composers like Tom Johnson (represented here on EW), Phill Niblock, Steve Reich, etc., and it is always great to find a label that consistently strikes this precarious balance between high thought and high art.

The pieces I've chosen to represent Edition Wandelweiser are very narrow in a way.  They express a small slice of the label, and rely mostly on tracks that are more dense than the norm and are not reliant on an explanation of the process of creation.  Michael Pisaro is probably one of the key composers for EW, and I've always loved his Hearing Metal 1.  Juerg Frey and Eva Maria Houben are both well represented on the label and I'm a particular fan of their piano music (as well as Houben's stunning organ pieces).  Antoine Beuger, as stated above, runs the label, and if I can demand that you buy any of the Edition Wandelweiser discs (and I at least suggest that you buy them all!), then I would say his keine fernen mehr is that disc.  All these works are helped, in my opinion by headphones and an environment without distractions, but especially Beuger's tracks, in which the intimacy of his whistling is more than half of the appeal.



katya-oddio on 04/27/11 at 04:33PM
How exciting to see the Wandelweiser Group on the Free Music Archive! Thank you, DRAM.
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