GEOMETRIE DER SEELE – Hommage and den Dichter
GERT JONKE ( 1946-2009)
Review, Hannes Schweiger, 08. th of February 2021, live show/ cd-presentation:
Vocal explorer and composer Susanna Ridler, currently probably the most relevant Austrian artist at the interface of literature and music, has been investigating the conjugation between her sound speech and Jonke’s art of language for years. She found an excitingly independent reading in the best harmony of language and music, which emphasizes the poet’s musicality and his “text majors”. The musician calls her Breviary tribute to Gert Jonke “geometry of the soul”. Meticulously selected from published and unpublished texts. Partly spoken by Jonke himself. His voice is the main focal point. The fourth player, so to speak. On the musical side, the basis is the close-meshed improvisational discourse between the musicians. The highly powerful sound and word work has recently been released.
Its live presentation was planned for that evening and had to flee to the internet, live but according to the circumstances (Corona- Lockdown). Intensity and urgency were not lost on stage because of this. Rather, it was a liberating break out of them. The interlocking tonal language weaving that had been cultivated over the years immediately set in. The composer subtly illuminated the texts or text excerpts, which she extracted from readings, conversations and interviews, with electronically generated gestures based on symphonic sound qualities. While some may seem exuberant, Ridler seeks to add an equivalent to the power of words. She handled her material in a very focused way, taking initiatives in correspondence with her partners – concerning their improvisations. This is where tonal jazz diction came into play. Puschnig and Herbert scattered moments of surprise, placed the text fragments in the tonal fringes, analogous to their non-conformity. However, her gift of grace resounds in knowing, feeling, hearing how music becomes music and when. Once again, one only had to follow their suggestive melody lines – straight or intricate, their interval distances, sound substrates, exquisite flashes of harmony, their compellingly swinging, rhythmic skill. Puschnig and Herbert take or unroll sufficient radius of action. Puschnig let the words dance splendidly on the columns of air, it was wonderful how Herbert clamped them between the strings and gave mass with low tones. But the words also bored into the sound flora, which fell prey to a penetrating flurry of tones, especially in the pure trio correspondence without playback. Whereby the words brought the glow of feminine anima. Motif-based improvisation, in pendulum movements from Andante to Vivace, dynamically nuanced, was the character. The internal structures of the motifs are almost logically linked to the architecture of the language phrasing. Jonke once stated that one day the planet will also be surrounded by a sound shell, music shell, musical atmosphere. What a prospect that would be. In any case, Ridler/Puschnig/Herbert did it impressively with Jonke’s texts. One secret and three incredibly musicians. grammar of emotions.
Kurier, Werner Rosenberger, January 12, 2021:
A musical homage by the composer and vocalist to someone who wanted to make music with words: Gert Jonke (1946-2009) feat. Wolfgang Puschnig. Unpublished texts were set to music in an enchanting and subtle way, the voice of the author was musically processed and woven into the compositions. From the jazz trio to orchestral film music, Jonke’s cosmos can be experienced and heard in a completely different way on this musical-literary sound research journey. ****
Wiener Zeitung, Christoph Irrgeher, January 23, 2021
Jazz CD: Gert Jonke: Shut up!
The composer and singer Susanna Ridler brings the bizarre texts of the Carinthian anniversary to life in many different ways. Live on February 4th.
“I don’t just want to use language to tell stories, I also want to make music,” said Gert Jonke. The bizarre solitaire from Carinthia – he would have celebrated his 75th birthday on February 8th – meant it quite literally. Or more correctly, musically. His musical artistry, built from variation, repetition and rhapsody, catches the inner ear while reading, and it materializes even more strongly when Jonke recites his texts (on preserving recordings) with a distinctive pulse.
The composer and singer Susanna Ridler has maintained a symbiotic relationship with this cosmos for years. She has repeatedly interwoven these texts with her own tonal language, finding different forms in the process: sometimes she lets the poet’s word float over spherical orchestral music, sometimes the Jonke movements penetrate electronic sound spaces, sometimes they are the catalyst for spontaneous jazz conversations in the trio with Wolfgang Puschnig (saxophone) and Peter Herbert (double bass). Ridler’s album “Geometrie der Seele” is correspondingly varied, a kind of collection of works from previous years, which she has formed into a well thought-out large-scale program. Despite all the subtlety, there is no shortage of wit: listen to the anecdote about the rebellious, coarse mouth that breaks away from its owner with the words: Be quiet, you dog / I am the mouth!
“Culture” magazine, Vorarlberg, Peter Füßl,
January 28, 2021
Anyone who was lucky enough to see Gert Jonke live was fascinated by how ingeniously he interwoven language skepticism and language criticism, linguistic jokes, irony and socio-political issues, profound trains of thought and imaginative language explorations full of poetry, often reaching into the surreal. During the reading, the Carinthian, who was always likeable, reserved and friendly, and who is one of the grand masters among Austria’s writers, turned out to be an unreserved and impulsive interpreter of his sometimes dizzying texts listened. Integrating Gert Jonke’s voice from original recordings of readings, conversations and interviews as a fourth instrument, so to speak, alongside Wolfgang Puschnig on flute/alto saxophone, Peter Herbert on double bass and her voice/electronics, was consequently a brilliant idea of Susanna Ridler, who has been involved in a wide variety of projects since 2013 and formations dealt with the profound lateral thinker in detail. His statement, “I don’t just want to use language to tell stories, I want to make music,” which is also realized in many works, aroused the interest of the avant-garde artist, who became known with the electro-acoustic ensemble [koe:r] in the border area of jazz, electronics and new music now for the 75th birthday of Jonkes (1946 – 2009) is presenting a complex, courageous homage that appeals to emotions and intellect in equal measure. In the almost 44-minute long tone poem “Der Sprachkomponist”, 20 more or less long speech/music snippets are put together like a puzzle to form an overall impression and give an idea of the dimension of Jonke’s musical-poetic thought structure. From the writing “world discoverer”, who was already enchanted by his piano-playing mother by Ravel at the age of five, who was writing to find his place in the world, fought a surrealistic-witty battle with his anarchistic mouth, made a house out of language as part of his homeland fantasies , wanted to build a home, expressed his distrust of “normal” stories or argued about writing and art as science. The multifaceted, cross-style music – freely improvised, jazzy, vocal artistry to electronically generated orchestral music – by no means only acts as an accompaniment, but rather comments, interprets and in a certain way also enlightens the words. In the best case, a reciprocal screwing up of the levels of interpretation succeeds. No less impressive are the three-movement “Radio Jonke” sonata – in which he reveals himself as a “secret musician” – and the 15-minute, four-movement, extremely offbeat melodrama “Chlorophyllklangpulverstaub oder Die Erforschung des Botanische Tonwesens”. This album is a real grab bag for open-minded music lovers, but it also offers surprises for Jonke connoisseurs, since Susanna Ridler from the Gert-Jonke-Gesellschaft was given the opportunity to rummage around in the great poet’s study, where she came across great, previously unpublished treasures , which she was allowed to use for her fascinating, attention-demanding and deserving masterpiece
Salzburg New –
about the Premiere “Geometrie der Seele” @ the Salzburg Literature Festival, May 18, 2017
The art of how language makes music.
New jazz sounds to Gert Jonke at the 10th Salzburg Literature Festival.
“He could create a whole universe from two or three written words. Like a great jazz musician who can turn a small theme into a sophisticated, branching improvisation,” wrote Elfriede Jelinek in 2009 about Gert Jonke’s death. Still present at the first literature festival, the author was honored on Thursday at its tenth edition in the Jazzit music club: For the world premiere of “Geometrie der Seele” – a homage to Gert Jonke’s first publication “Geometric Heimatroman” (1969) – vocalist and composer Susanna Ridler hired double bass player Peter Herbert and saxophonist Wolfgang Puschnig. The starting point of her composition were partly unpublished text fragments that Susanna Ridler dug up in Gert Jonke’s study in Vienna.
The composer has been dealing with the author’s work since a composing assignment for the Carinthian Summer in 2013. This emotional and intellectual appropriation of his world of language and images can be felt in the performance. Wide awake, she practically crawls in Jonke’s language over the course of the two sets, enveloping herself in it, only to reveal it again in her very own way. She listens and whispers, breathes and grumbles in the spaces between the words, winds her way through the lines in an interpretation that is not intrusive, but rather suggestive. However, this sound construct has nothing heavy or even artificial, but of course entertains at a high level. Jonke’s humor always sensitively stirs up Susanna Ridler. With Wolfgang Puschnig and Peter Herbert she has two equal companions. All three masters of their instruments, go on an adventurous journey of sound exploration. What emerges is a kind of experimental chamber music that fits perfectly with Jonke’s surrealistic cosmos of ideas. “Geometry of the Soul” is the fourth part of Susanna Ridler’s Jonke-Pentalogie for different ensembles, which has now premiered.
The performance leaves the audience poetically exhilarated.
ORF, RADIO Ö1, Kulturjournal, Premiere “Geometrie der Seele”@ Literature Festival, 18. Mai 2017
The 10th Salzburg Literature Festival also had a premiere in its programme.
The vocalist and composer Susanna Ridler interpreted text passages by the deceased author Gert Jonke. Mantra-like.
Playing virtuoso with the voice and technique, and with the help of the musicians Wolfgang Puschnig and Peter Herbert.
Kleine Zeitung, Premiere, Carinthian Summer 2014
The Villach Customs Week begins with a high mass next Sunday.
A high mass was already celebrated on the previous Sunday on the cs_alternativ rail:
The audience was invited to the world premiere of “Geometry of the Soul or I can’t see the lake anymore” based on texts by Gert Jonke. That could open your ears.
And the master of “gentle anger”, who died in 2009, could have looked down at the goings-on from cloud nine with a mild smile. He would have been extremely satisfied with the result of developing his language music. Because here three artists have risked no less than everything. And that’s the way it should be in art. Because how else should you prove that you can break out of any prison – be it the four walls of your own room or the pillory of the strictly controlled public village square – in order to be free. The composer and singer Susanna Ridler risked life and limb for the act of liberation – in other words: singing voice, chanting and pure emotion! – and she sketched out for the two partners how happiness could still exist: the ostinato double bass (Peter Herbert), who does not want to give up, and the wind player (Wolfgang Puschnig), who in virtuoso attempts gives the menacing narrowness a horizon, a Tomorrow, lucky – maybe? – wrests. Binding thanks! And now read again: “Geometric Heimatroman” by Gert Jonke, with this new compass as additional orientation – easy, child’s play!
Reviews – [koe:r] “SUSYSTEMS”, 2012
“Listening to recompositions of renown Standards such as “You Go To My Head”, in which the singer, accompanied by Wolfgang Puschnig’s frenetic alto saxophone, plays out the lyrics by singing the tune’s finale in the highest head register, we hear a singer not afraid of extremes. Susystems has found her own category within the singer/songwriter modus operandi.”
Sound & Media:
“Sounds a little like Laurie Anderson, only more contemporary. A cool sound for the modern intellectual.”
“… The result is music for grown-ups with an international flair, somewhere between Jazz, Electronic Music, Pop and Funk, offering us a listening experience made of extreme opposites: thrilling and relaxing, touching and eccentric, overall catchy but, if you listen closely, cumbersome and strangely shaped. Simply beautiful.”
Hessischer Rundfunk 2, Günter Hottman, über „You go to my Head“ (D):
About “You Go To My Head”: “I would even go so far as to put this brand-new recording on the same level with my absolute favorite version of the song. Yes, I am talking about the one recorded by Chet Baker and Paul Bley in 1985…”
With her project “Susystems”, this newly discovered Austrian artist impresses with style, understatement and an artist’s taste. Ridler’s voice possesses the ability to sound as cold as ice in one moment, and to warm us with a lover’s sensuality in the next. In her compositions, she moves effortlessly between melodic Pop, Electronic Dance Music, Rock and emotionally charged Jazz improvisations. Her band consists of musicians with more than enough expertise to follow her wherever she goes. It all sounds much, much better to me than many of those pale scandinavian singers do. Highly recommended!”
Her cover versions sound like poems set to music, willfully conceptualized and interpreted for our digital age. Ridler’s claim to absolute authorship reaches as far as the actual release of her album, which was released on her own label Electroland Records and underlines her idea of Susystems being one person’s 360-degree-model.
ROLLING STONE Magazin (Germany):
Susanna Ridler’s koer – Susystems **** (2012)
The jazz singer captivates us with an adventurous puzzle
The fruits of two years’ labour? Digital fragmentation and reassembly for “some kind of musical canvas which needs careful shaping and reshaping?” Sounds like a very brainy concept. Much too inflexible in order for it to accommodate jazz musicians. And still the Viennese singer Susanna Ridler chose to use a jazz quintet for the recording of her second album. And managed to pull off the unexpected: a well-rounded piece of work, intimate and emotionally charged, with organic grooves that seem to breath in their own rhythm and harmoniously integrated improvised parts.
On the opening track, the cheerful sounding “Walk”, Florian Kmet’s guitar sounds funky and Philly-like. But wait, the duo can do otherwise. The Jazz Standard “Angel Eyes” starts off using Rock-Riffs as a basis for what climaxes in shrill hysteria. The somewhat gothic sounding ballad “Farewell” reminds us of Beady Belle, as do various other parts throughout the album.
As the arranger of her own work, Susanna Ridler enjoys the advantage of being able to balance out her voice and the instruments in a most subtle way. She describes her production process as an arch, leading from the emotional starting point to various deformations through the computer, and finally back to musical emotion. What is recorded in the studio by renown jazz musicians like Wolfgang Puschnig (saxophone), Peter Herbert (bass), or Gerald Preinfalk (who makes most striking use of the bass clarinett), is radically revised, while keeping the artist’s original statement intact. The result sounds surprisingly catchy: sometimes lively, then mysterious, and sometimes even carefree.
Ridler’s compositions range from atmospheric sound patterns to the groove driven – which is why the final track “SusysteMix” reaches the listener sounding like the adventurous puzzle of a remixer, freeing the music from the beats-per-minute corset. This Viennese surly must get along well with Bugge Wesseltoft. But while his suggestive formulas seem to proclaim a better world, Susanna Ridler prefers to pose the question: “Where does this take us?” – “Susystems”, by all means, is leading us straight into the realm where strokes of genius reside. (Electroland Vienna/Broken Silence)
Klaus von Seckendorff
Best Songs: “Walk”, “Navigation System Crash”
„Austrian Music Export“, Text by Michael Ternai
Susanna Ridler [koe:r] – Susystems
April 10th, 2012 | Published in jazz/improvisation
Susanna Ridler is an artist who has never limited herself to any traditional musical terms. Instead, it has always been her objective to tread new paths far from old and conventional music patterns. This shows on her new album “Susystems” (Electroland Records Vienna) of her project [koe:r], which will be released on the 27th of April in Germany. The singer and composer takes the role of a free spirit with a very unique musical vision. Seperated from any style constraints, she takes us on an extremely atmospheric and exciting sound journey with surprising twists and turns.
When trying to put her music into words, the description that her music is a very modern and cross-genre interpretation of the concept of fusion music seems to be appropriate. In her compositions Susanna Ridler tries to build bridges between different styles as well as between artificial computer sounds and acoustic instruments, between tradition and modernity. She creates extremely colorful, complex and sophisticated sounds, a very unique and detailed sonic portrait that can hardly be pigeon-holed into one category. The way Susanna Ridler understands how to unite the different ingredients in captivating, immensely varied and intricate arrangements, proves her keen understanding of the different forms of music. Somewhere between the poles of pop, jazz, electronica, funk and rock, she knows how to give her music a form and bestow it with connectivity, despite its complexity.
The singer and composer approaches her pieces with the meticulousness and curiosity of a scientist. Nothing is left to chance. Every note, every tone is set deliberately, every break, every phrase follows a self- defined concept. “This mergence is supposed to create a harmonious and special sound. I also try to consciously create every note, which leads to a complex composing and arranging process. After all a CD is more than just a given moment in time. It is like a musical painting that has to be extremely refined,” says the artist about her approach.
Liberated from any constricted thinking, Susanna Ridler is supported in her vision of modern art music by a stellar backing group. With Peter Herbert (bass), Florian Kmet (guitar), Alexander Lackner (bass), Gerald Preinfalk (bass clarinet) and Wolfgang Puschnig (saxophone), the singer blessed with a discrete-expressive voice has outstanding musicians standing by her side who excellently understand how to vitalize the ideas of Susanna Ridler.
“Susystems” is a piece of music that offers an enchanting and captivating listening experience. Open- minded music lovers who like to indulge into new sound scapes should definitely give the new CD by Susanna Ridler’s project [koe:r] a try and
Michael Ternai (translated from German)
Interview for “Concerto”, Issue 01, 2012,
with Wolfgang Taschl
One can still dream, can’t they…
Interview with Viennese Electronic Music artist and vocalist Susanna Ridler
Susanna Ridler’s dreams all circle around the same theme – the perfect fusion of Pop, Jazz, Electronic Music, Funk and Rock through one crucial working tool, the computer. The creative output of improvising musicians and her voice round up the mix. After a well received debut album and a Remix EP Ridler recently presented her second album. Reason enough to ask her for an interview.
“I am fascinated by the opportunities to manipulate sounds and change their structure. I wanted to do the same thing by using acoustic instruments and then combine the two.” , she says. Unusual too is the use of electronic elements, and so the fundamentals of a song are created on a computer, and then some composed parts are being recorded in the studio with musicians, improvisations are added and then the different parts are being fragmented, manipulated and rearranged to subtle worlds of sound. Ridler’s compositions are also not to be mixed up with beat- and rhythm driven electronic productions for clubs, quite the opposite, Ridler’s music reveals itself more through cleverly devised sound sculptures in the lower beats-per-minute range.
You started working on your Electronic Music-Jazz-Pop project [koe:r] in 2004. What requirements does the music have to fulfill?
I was dreaming of a mix of Electronic Music, Jazz and Pop. In the beginning there were simple songs, that I arranged on the computer and this is how I began my own journey through a digital universe of sound.
Your new album is titled “Susystems”, how did this come about?
The name was a result of my working methods. It’s the net where my songs are created, where they take on form and shape. The songs all have very different styles and mods, and “Susystems” is the matrix that is embosoming it all.
How is this album different from your debut album?
On my first album I used my voice only as additional color among many other things. The sound was less acoustic. With “Susystems” the voice and the instruments are more center-stage. The goal was to make it more alive and physical. My first CD was more kind of back-ground music. “Sysytems” is only partially suited for shallow ears.
Peter Herbert and Wolfgang Puschnig were already part of your first album, now you have also recorded with Florian Kmet, Alexander Lackner and Gerald Preinfalk. How did that collaboration come about?
I have known Peter Herbert for a long time because we did work for the theater together. My style really took shape when I composed something especially for him for my first album. Working with him gave me the boost I needed for the rest. I met Wolfgang Puschnig 2007 at the Porgy&Bess, he liked my song experiments. To perform live with him is something special for a vocalist. Alexander Lackner is supporting Florian Kmet and me with additional colors when we perform live. They are my core band. Kmet is adding a very interesting funk and rock aesthetic to the music. The collaboration with Gerald Preinfalk was a result of me composing something for bass clarinet.
When you start working on a track, do you already know where you want it to go or does it emerge out of the process?
My music is the result of a process. I am inspired by emotions, books I read, or the news, conversations, just life itself. I have an idea for a song, maybe it’s a melody, maybe a title, or a lyric, or a groove, a sound… from this initial idea I reach out further into the unknown. Only my song “Winter” was created on the piano.
You released your first album four years after founding the project, and now the second one is being released four years after that. Do we have to expect another four-year cycle?
Really? Was it really four years each time? I wasn’t aware this happened. I really worked on the second album for about two years. So maybe the third one will be ready faster.
You released a Remix EP of your debut, do you have similar plans for “Susystems”?
I am contemplating it, but in a way I feel I already did it myself this time. The last track on the CD, “SusysteMix” is sort of a Remix of all the melodic material of the CD. Just some fooling around.
Reviews to [koe:r] / 2008
Die Presse (A):
Her mostly computer generated „slow motion aesthetic” exude that bewitching soulfulness
we know from Sidsel Endresen and David Sylvian.
Der Standard (A):
On [koe:r], Ridler’s voice functions as a multi-layered, coherence-creating guideline through Dub-alike, detailed, all-out composed electronica soundscapes:
At times, just an acoustic color that is integrated in the contrast-rich structures, then emerging as a song leading character, where songs such as Jobim’s Corocvado or Gershwin’s Summertime are sensually deconstructed.
3 Sat Kulturzeit (D):
Susanna Ridler sounds out the possibilities of modern studio techniques, creating multilayered and abstract sound worlds. But in the center of the unique sound body clearly rings a jazz heart.
Gershwin’s Summertime exists in over 10 000 interpretations but Susanna Ridler’s version stands the proof: the “downbeat dress” she provided the song convinces with callous charm.
Vogue (D): Jazzy, intellectual, sensual
A refreshing, nimble, autonomous disc which makes one think of seaside and holiday without borrowing the „Café del Mar” cliché.
An access to music that is at the same time unusual and phenomenal how one wouldn’t expect it from this country. [koe:r] ripples like a waterfall. And this waterfall ripples incredibly delightful – and beautiful.
Sound & Media (A):
“… ein wenig Laurie Anderson, übersetzt in die Jetztzeit. Cooler, zeitgemäßer Intellektuellensound.”