10.2016 – Albert Koch - Rating: 4,5 / 5
Musiker, die multidisziplinär und gegenübergreifend agieren, stellen diese eher seltene Fähigkeit in der Regel auf verschiedenen Tonträgern zur Schau, jeder einzelne schön einem anderen Genre gewidmet. Der Kölner Komponist und Multiinstrumentalist PAUL WIRKUS macht genau das auf seinem Album CARMEN ET ERROR (Edition Beides) nicht. Wirkus, der ein beachtliches Solowerk seit den späten 1990ern veröffentlicht hat und auch mit Stefan Schneider (To Rococo Rot) im Projekt Mapstation und mit Ekkehard Ehlers gearbeitet hat, stellt minimalistische Percussionstücke, ausgefranste (Punk-) Rock-Songs und drei Coverversionen des Country-Blues-Musikers Mississippi Fred McDowell nebeneinander - keine Blues-Dekonstruktionen, wie man meinen könnte, sondern originalgetreue Interpretationen. Immer schön abwechselnd. Dieses Spiel mit der Heterogenität auf dem immer wieder mit Forderungen nach Homogenität belästigtem Medium Langspielplatte ist die eigentliche künstlerische Botschaft von CARMEN ET ERROR, es ist eine Art „Greatest Hits“-Album mit Songs, die niemals Hits werden.
nowamuzyka.pl: Paul Wirkus - Carmen et Error
09.09.2016 - Łukasz Komła
Co powiecie na bluesa z Delty Mississippi, tyle że w wykonaniu Paula Wirkusa.
Na co dzień Wirkus mieszka i pracuje w Kolonii, ale jak pamiętamy, pochodzi ze Słupska. To tam w latach 80. zasilał szeregi punkowej grupy Karcer, a następnie w Niemczech założył zespół Spokój. Z kolei pod koniec lat 90. współtworzył wraz z Marcinem Dymiterem duet Mapa. Później przyszedł czas na solową działalność, oscylującą na pograniczu minimalistycznej elektroniki i muzyki współczesnej. Współpracował również między innymi z Ekkehardem Ehlersem, co też zaowocowało świetną płytą „Ballads” (Staubgold, 2009).
Paula Wirkusa zaliczam do grona tych artystów, którzy powracają z nową muzyką kiedy chcą i nie patrzą na panujące trendy. Najnowszy jego album „Carmen et Error” (02.09.2016 | Edition Beides) to w zasadzie minimalizm utrzymany na różnych poziomach stylistycznych. Z jednej strony mamy bardzo oszczędne eksperymenty przy użyciu instrumentów perkusyjnych, gongów, dzwonków i awangardowego rocka (np. „A Constant”), a z drugiej – wspomniany akustyczny blues wywodzący się z Delty Mississippi (zinterpretował utwory Mississippi Freda McDowella). Przyznam, że się nie spodziewałem po Wirkusie bluesowego wcielenia. A tu proszę, sprawdził się znakomicie w roli wokalisty i gitarzysty.
THE WIRE: Paul Wirkus - Déformation Professionnelle
2006-11-05 - THE WIRE - David Stubbs
Paul Wirkus's 2004 album Inteletto d'Amore was praised for demystifying the processes of glitch, for walking the listener along the path from source material to electronic contrivance. On Déformation Professionnelle, Wirkus is still preoccupied with escaping the cage of electro-stasis and artifice. There is no programming on this deliberately lo-fi album, with the tracks generally recorded directly onto DAT minus overdubs. Wirkus is evidently looking for a synthesis between electronica and his beginnings as an improvising percussionist. It's interesting that the current suspicion of electronic music is perhaps most rife among electronis musicans themselves, raging against presets and the imperatives of the digital era, yearning for a more physical relationship with the music. This can lead in some cases to a spurios folktronic nation of purity and authenticity. In Wirkus's case, however, it proves to be liberating. "View Finder" sees him embark on a pitterpattering musical journey, glitch unbound, before arriving, lingering and savouring ist destination. On the tracks like "Kocham", each note comes laden with a knapsack of grainy detail, a history of sorts. "Exoten" and "Terres Fortes" are both accordion-like slow leakage from a barrel. There's nothing sleek, mobile or handsome about the title track or "1964" either, the former in particular, with ist guitarish serrations birthed and slithering out with bloody awkwardness. Déformation Professionnelle represents an advanced and eloquent statement about the relationship between the electronic and the human.
pitchforkmedia.com: Paul Wirkus - Déformation Professionnelle
2007-01-09 - Mark Richardson - Rating: 7.9
Polish-born and Cologne-based producer takes an economical approach to experimental electronic music, creating miniatures in sound.
In the late 1990s, experimental electronic music seemed to develop in parallel with Moore's Law. As computers grew more powerful and software more sophisticated, texture began to trump all, and subgenres sprouted from every newly programmed patch. We heard in music the sound of technology at the precise moment of a record's creation. A lot of great music was made, and a lot more that'll never be heard again. But sometimes it seemed as though the machines were in charge; there was a tremendous amount of complexity for complexity's sake.
Thinking about those days while listening to Polish-born and Cologne-based producer Paul Wirkus is instructive. As experimental electronic music goes, Wirkus' work is very simple. A given track might have two or three distinct tones that are introduced, layered, tweaked, and mixed in varying proportions, and then allowed to vanish into silence. But Wirkus possesses a natural ear and a disciplined sense of structure. Everything happens when it should, and these miniatures of basic, controlled sound wind up being tremendously affecting.
I can't help but think of the opening "View Finder" as a sly homage to Giorgio Moroder, another auteur with a gift for economy. The repeating synth driving the track reminds me of what it might sound like to be under a couple of feet of water as a helicopter hovers just above the surface, and then the gently modulating synths lean in with the same flanged drama Moroder deployed to telegraph the climaxes of "I Feel Love". But it isn't pop music Wirkus is making; it's not even cinematic, exactly. It's too abstract for that, and draws too much attention to its constituent qualities. It sounds like electricity arranging itself into interesting shapes, not like a background for something else.
Every once in a while the music drifts into a static-ridden realm that could be overly familiar to those who burned out on Mille Plateaux even before the label disintegrated; but even tracks like the hissy, trembling "Dogs After Flight" and the steam-tunnel drone of "Erineru" have flashes of melody and change considerably over their relatively brief running times, so they hold up well to repeated listens. As on his previous record, Inteletto d'Amore, Wirkus again has a track with subtle vocals; "Nie Kocham" has barely whispered Polish chopped into pieces and moved through space in and around columns of repeating bass, fostering a very odd affective space that's both creepy and sad.
The record as a whole can be summed up by taking in the power of "Kocham", which begins with meager ingredients indeed: just a stereotypically "electronic" palette that's been around since the score to Forbidden Planet and a handful of notes that seem to float in space randomly. And yet, somehow, it manages to put a lump in my throat. It's difficult to convey the subtle beauty of the best tracks on Déformation Professionnelle; all I can say is that Wirkus has some sort of weird gift that'll likely become more apparent over time.
THE WIRE: Paul Wirkus - Inteletto d'Amore (Soundcheck, month selected CD)
2004-03-07 - The Wire - Keith Moliné
Polish electronic musican Paul Wirkus processes new narratives out of the hieroglyphs of digital dysfunction.
It is the dual nature of the digital glitch that makes it seductive to so many current composers: ist power as a sound in itself, and the philosophical and sociopolitical implications of a aestheticising the random sounds of viral breakdown and digital distress. It´s as if the music is hacking into the unseen binary codes that dictate the course of all our lives, with all the frisson of excitement that suggests. Paul Wirkus is a Polish electronic musician based in Cologne, whose work eases the task of engaging with these and concepts in more meaningful ways than being drawn simply to their modernity or revolutionary promise. Wirkus´s background as an improvising percussionist informs the pointillist perfection of his current output, developed through a series of solo albums (2001´s Mimikry being the most recent) and extremely varied collaborations with Barbara Morgenstern, Markus Kuerten and Stefan Schneider of To Rococo Rot. His previous musical history includes performances with Polish punk group Karcer and late 90s post-rock group Mapa, which may account for his favouring a live, lo-fi approach to recording. Wirkus is one of the few genuine pioneers working away quietly at their laptops and mixing desks in an effort to forge meaningful and approachable art from the hieroglyphs of digital dysfunction. Such efforts to extend the range compositional vocabulary have always presented difficulties. In 1938 John Cage confidently predicted the arrival of a music made purely by electronic means, an idea shocking enough in its to establish his notoriety well beyond the bounds of avant garde academia. When Stockhausen produced his first Electronic Studies using synthetic tones in the early 1950s, he became a hero of the counterculture to some, a wrecker of civilisation to others. The glitchology of which Wirkus, Fennesz and italian duo Tu m´ are prime practitioners is perhaps the dominant strand of contemporary electronica. But with a methodology ranging from painting surface of CDs to bafflingly complex engagments with labyrinthine software, it is a style with similiary polarising effects on listeners´ opinions. As in the case off all cutting edge developments, without genuinely musical mediation the glich is in danger of becoming lazy shorthand for the modern, the profound, the extreme. A cool sound with delusions of grandeur. Wirkus´s Inteletto d´Amore, however, may well be the most engaging and fully formed work in the field to date. It´s an unassuming, unflashy collection, butdarker and less stable than his work with Kuerten, its fabric rich and strange, dimpled and burnished by his processes and treatments. "Wlot", which opens and closes the album, shimmers like a desert heathaze, its chopped-up chiming pianos set behind a fine gauze of purring digitalia. "Physikerin" is an abstracted lab experiment carried out in dense fog. "Facsimile" is almost a submerged bossa nova, with Wirkus applying his alchemical glitch magic to gorgeous effect. "Aldrin" showcases his exquisite delicacy of touch as hepatiently creates a cat´s cradle of spidery sonar echoes. The sole vocal piece on the album, "Blask", has the minimal starkness of Suicide´s "Frankie Teardrop", but with a very Middle European melancholy replacing that song’s aggression and desperation, Wirkus´s monotone delivery melding with the perfectly judged electronic pulse. What makes Wirkus such a master is his ability to show enough of the source material to allow the listener to follow the narrative journey of its processing, and to fit the digital shards and splinters which result into the music´s total perspective. He never once falls into the trap of believing that it´s only in this digi-scree that the art happens, and thereby risk upsetting the delicate balance and fragile architecture of his pieces, the play of forces between their different components. His use of relatively primitive technology such a minidisc players and outboard effects units exemplifies his lack of thraldom to the now ubiquitous Powerbook imperatives. Very often what at first appears to be radical is in fact merely a different way of doing the same thing. Stockhausen´s early electronic studies may have used no instruments, only sine tones, but they were created by painstaking tape splicing, a re-editing and reordering of material to make a piece, a proces which might be termed micro-composition. In a way, Wirkus is following in this tradition. After all, the glitch is nothing but a splice or an edit in its most microscopic form. Reversing the telescoping process, Wirkus zooms in on sound and then restructures the results on the fly into warm, involving music. Seen in these terms, Wirkus is no cutting edge iconoclast- more significantly, he is a serious musican deserving wider attention.
pitchforkmedia.com: Ekkehard Ehlers / Paul Wirkus - Ballads
15.05.2009 - Roque Strew - Rating: 7.9
In the percussionist Paul Wirkus, Ekkehard Ehlers has found a kindred spirit: equally restless and equally intelligent. From the thistly early stretches of their new collaboration, it is clear both musicians have an appetite for lo-fi deconstruction, a weakness for austerity, and, in that always refreshing Staubgold spirit, a bottomless well of ideas for the glitch. Ambitiously linking to a grand Western tradition, one broad enough to accommodate both Robin Hood and Casey Jones, the album title Ballads hints at Ehlers' habit of appropriation.
Critics like New York's Jerry Saltz believe that, even today, the concept looms large over the art world, casting a shadow that obscures its values. Certainly, at its bold best, appropriation gave us Warhol and rap: novel creations, biting comments, new avenues for the young to upset the old. But the vigor with which reviewers and consumers lapped it up led to overdemand, then to oversupply, of Xeroxed Pop, overworked breakbeats, by-the-numbers conceptualism. Thus much of the meaning and force once bound up with the act of appropriation-- that sense that no one owned culture, that everyone did, or simply that the wrong people did-- drained away. You could say that the glitch rose to a similar level of prominence as well, before it became part of everyone's schematic edginess. Where it once pointed to the broken promise of technology, or a human presence amid the machines, it eventually turned into a chic shortcut taken by every student of Ben Gibbard or Scott Herren.
Ehlers and Wirkus lobby for a return to the not-so-remote past when both appropriation and the glitch held on to some form of expressive power. Toward the beginning of his career, Ehlers borrowed fragments of Schoenberg and, inspired by the Frankfurt School thinkers, glued them together into gorgeously jarring mosaics. Listeners turned into noticers when they encountered this early work, poring over the textures to connect Ehlers' theory to his practice, in a trend that continued with the train of tributes that make up Plays. There, each composition was prefixed with "Ekkehard Ehlers Plays..." and ended with iconic names like Albert Ayler and Robert Johnson, echoing the dramatic marketing of old recordings where a titanic pianist took on a titanic composer (think Horowitz Plays Rachmaninoff). The very opposite of a straightforward interpreter (think Robert Lowell), Ehlers' homages bore only a passing resemblance to the honorees, hewing closer to his own fractured dream logic. In his most explicit reference-- he prefers that term over "sampling"-- his A Life Without Fear sought to recreate, in its creator's image, the perpetual nightfall of blues music.
Whatever you want to call it-- referencing or sampling-- Ehlers ladles both Alice Coltrane and Henry Flynt into Ballads. In these fleeting studies, it is easy to miss the samples, which either sweep briskly in and out of vision, or shade neatly into the surrounding song. Often the same goes for the guest's instruments, notably Kai Fagaschinksi's clarinet, which can click with the rest of the moving parts into one interlocking whole. The contributions can serve as an invisible foundation at times, as firecracking flourishes at others. (The alternately heavy and light woodwind-string tensions of Politik Braucht Keinen Feind seem to have won Ehlers over.) You can hear Fagaschinki's minimalist presence in "Bryza", nicely evoking the breeze of its title. But the dueling double-bass drama carried out by Berlin's Tang and Dafeldecker, of course, is much easier to pick out. On the album's outstanding "Guma", the two men have it out, plucking and bowing, before a wild theater of sounds: a boat creak, slashing rotors, pneumatic spray, Wirkus' whisper of tribal drums. There is an ominous hint of violence in every corner of that nearly six-minute scene.
Leaning more toward freeform improvisation, Ehlers goes out of his way to avoid loop structures here-- a decisive break with Wirkus' last two records. In fact, if you trace the flight-path of Wirkus' aesthetic from 2004's Inteletto d'Amore to 2006's Déformation Professionnelle, essentially a Reichian layer cake of MiniDisc loops, an embrace of the near-mystic powers of rhythm seems to be the next stop. On the mysteriously neglected Forest Full of Drums (2008), Wirkus appropriated the rhythms and sounds of nature, dragging a drum kit into the woods. About the outdoor-recording process, Wirkus said: "Everything was already there. The trees, the wind, the birds, the muddy soil, the undergrowth, playing children, people taking walks, the distant hum of a motorway, and airplanes above. We arrived there as beginners. We had to wait for the right weather." Uncooperative weather kept Wirkus and Ehlers from repeating this Jewelled Antler style of production. In a way, this method is the extension of Mille Plateaux logic to its absurd extreme: the click, the cut, the glitch send us from the failed machine back to the edenic forms of nature.
So it was no surprise that nature sounds found a way to intrude. The second track, "Okno", means "window" in Polish and, like the half-curtained panes on the record's cover, it opens up a narrow portal to the outside world. Wirkus is clearly harkening back to his last record, by prominently placing the wind, which sounds like it is flowing through metal chimes, and the birds, a swarm of chirps straight out of Messaien, in his rustic vision. Before long, this daydreamy section gives way to a more surreal blend, as percussive dials and pops swell into a carnivalesque explosion of notes and lowing cattle. Scientific order and detail abounds, but it is balanced by both members' free-jazz passion for chaos (in, for one, the lost-in-space tumult of "Ruchy") and drift (perfected in the soothing tremolo of "Wiem"). This constant motion between precise blitzkrieg and restorative détente sums up the partnership of Ehlers and Wirkus. One small quibble, which also applied to Forest Full of Drums: Almost all of these striking songs could use two or three extra minutes to unfold. Brevity is a virtue, but in the case of these two soundscape architects, listeners will wish the expansive ideas had expansive canvases.
BBC Online: Paul Wirkus - Inteletto d'Amore
2004-03-02 - BBC Online - Colin Buttimer
Inteletto D'Amore is the fourth release on the Quecksilber label. It's low-key, diminutive even - but like the small door through which Alice gains entrance to Wonderland, it profers a host of possibilities. "Wlot"'s melodic refrain rises up through layers sounding like the ghostly longing of a piano straining to be heard through enclosed loops and sundry percussive clicks. "Blask" carries vocals whose breathy, ululating tones recall Suicide: Alan Vega's delivery transmogrified into chilled to the bone rather than baked by (southern) heat. The backing music even shares something of the seminal New York group's minimalism, sounding as it fades out like a small sonic warning of a much larger impending disaster. "Physikerin" begins with what might be the sound of swamp gases bubbling to the surface of rich, murky waters in the foreground. While in the background, at the edge of the aforementioned swamp lies an industrial plant whose distant rumblings and clankings are mirrored by the croaks and burblings of treefrogs, the hisses and slitherings of copperhead snakes and the clackings of crawfish. This rich soundscape manages to enact a sonic reconciliation between technology and nature. At least that's the initial impression though it's gradually overtaken by the sense of being in a malignant, unsettling place where the listener is unwelcomed by both nature and industry. "Fascimile" begins with the sounds of a chorus of artificial woodpeckers. "Aldrin" (Buzz?) clatters and echos like the synthetic recreation of banging pots and pans or the active sound of tinsel clattering and fading on an endless return. I wonder how one would dance to the wonderfully titled "Breakfast Dance"? It consists of hums and burrs and the shush of compressed air engaging and disengaging continually. It's the aural evocation of the shimmering of the horizon on a baking hot day. Halfway through, it's joined by big heavy bass which gradually insinuates itself into the sonic picture. Inteletto D'Amore is frequently reminiscent of Brian Eno's On Land transposed into the currency of digital concerns. The cover graphic is the one element of the endeavour which appears inconsistent: its portrayal of a detail of a minimal oil painting appears inconsistent with the artificial, purring detail of the music. Apart from this Inteletto D'Amore is a modest, but fascinating work.
SPEX: Paul Wirkus - Inteletto d'Amore
2004-03-01 - Spex - Frank Eckert
Ein ähnlich verdienter Aktivist der transeuropäischen Improv-Szene ist der Pole Paul Wirkus. Seit den frühen 80ern hat er sich als Schlagzeuger diverser krachverliebter Formationen einen guten Ruf erspielt, dabei aber nie Berührungsängste mit ganz anders ausgerichteten Musike(r)n gezeigt. So ist er auf dem letzten Sonar-Festival mit Stefan Mapstation Schneider und Barbara Morgenstern als elektronisch improvisierendes September Collective aufgetreten. Als Solo-Musiker verzichtet Wirkus auf sein eigentliches Instrument, zugunsten eines reduzierten Setups aus drei MiniDisc-Recordern, einem Mischpult und einigen analogen Effektgeräten. Was in den letzten zwei Jahren schon auf diversen Konzerten zu hören war, hat jetzt endlich den Weg auf eine CD gefunden: Inteletto d'amore ist seine bisher filigranste und konzentrierteste, wie emotional ausgeglichenste und wohlklangverliebteste Musik. Die mikrotonalen Verschiebungen, die Reichhaltigkeit der seriellen Strukturen, das zarte Pulsieren dieser von Ambient-Ideen durchdrungenen Musik lässt ein immenses Hintergrundwissen um die akademische Neue Musik vor allem der 50er und 60er Jahre durchscheinen, ohne dieses Wissen besonders herauszustellen. Eine selbstvergessene Musik nahe dem Absolutismus des Rauschens, die ein tiefes, aufmerksames Hören nahelegt, aber nie erzwingt.
THE WIRE: Paul Wirkus - Mimikry
2001-01-10 - The Wire - Ben Borthwick
Each of these track successfully draws out the mesmerising potency of Ambient electronica and minimalist repetition. Muffled Chain Reaction beats create brooding soundscapes for the precise compositions that float above them. There is a smattering of glitches, but these conform to the simplicity of the minimalist structure and are used with such restraint that they add depth to the equation instead of distracting from it. The cadence of a piano note or click is altered by the force with which it is played and the frequency of ist repetition, each taking ist turn to move into the foreground as it shifts the mood of the music from contemplation to urgency.
DE:BUG: Paul Wirkus - Mimikry
2000-06-20 - De Bug - bleed
Polnisches Label via a-Musik vertrieben und so schlicht und einfach mit Loops beginnend, dass man aus dieser beruhigenden Tiefe gar nicht mehr raus will. Es ist Musik die wie Regen auf einen herabtropft, in irgendeiner klaren regelmäßigkeit, aber auch in organisch wirkender Beliebigkeit, und dazu reicht ihr ein bisschen Sample und wenig mehr, und schon klingt das wie die Erlösung durch Klassik schlechthin. Perfekte, sehr ambiente und auf jeden Fall immer schöne Platte, die jede Art Klanginstallation an die Wand spielen kann.