Liz Allbee, mutant trumpets

Galerie Mario Mazzoli

10 November 2016. For ITINERANT INTERLUDE #40771, composer/performer Liz Allbee presented three very different pieces for mutant trumpets which bend, stretch, truncate and re-shuffle the instrument. Planned as an ephemeral counterpoint to the installations of NEXUS, a common thread in all of the performances is the disassembly and reconsideration of the trumpet as an object, instrument, and idea. As the artist herself explains, “In my working imagination, the trumpet is part animal, part machine, part me, and part wholly unknown.”

In The Mouth Is A Dirty Whole (2016), the trumpet’s valve system has been re-configured with tubes, hoses, bells, a homemade reed, whistle, and sound-maker system to become a multi-channel acoustic entity. The main bell has a lung-balloon; as a feedback machine – the air goes both ways – the instrument plays the mouth. As a jellyfish, with its leg-mouths splayed around the room, it moans, lurches, wheezes and sighs, providing a potential audio track for the imaginary sounds of Edith Kollath’s “Thinking that I’d last forever” and “Draft of Air”. Imaginary Beings (2015), performed here as a counterpoint to Hanna Hartman’s “Early Warning”, is an electro-acoustic quadraphonic composition which utilizes a custom 4-channel trumpet and a trompete concrète interface. The trompete concrète sounds are derived from an extensive personal animal language – sourced from the interplay of trumpet, extensions, and voice – as well as scientific, medical and musical tuning fork pitch sets and field recordings. The live quad trumpet also serves to disseminate/spatialize the voice and extended trumpet techniques (which, as Allbee notes, often have a rather beastly quality). Finally, The Lost Pause (2016) is an improvisation structured around the sounds of the dismantled trumpet and its shaky shift towards reassembly. In this iteration, Allbee performed a duo with Tamaki Watanabe and Walter Zurborg’s kinetic sculpture “Sophist’s humming”.

The number of this evening’s iteration of ITINERANT INTERLUDES – 40771 – refers directly to the production number stamped on Allbee’s trumpet, the instrument that has accompanied her for the last quarter century.

NEXUS, curated by Douglas Henderson. Works by Hanna Hartman, Cecilia Jonsson, Edith Kollath, Chelsea Leventhal, Tamaki Watanabe & Walter Zurborg.

Liz Allbee is a Berlin based composer/performer who works with the imaginarchic potential of sonic material. She performs most often on trumpet, self-designed quadraphonic trumpet, electronics, and voice. Her work encompasses improvisation, electro-acoustic composition, and instrument creation, often focusing on issues of embodiment and extension. She performs internationally as soloist and with a variety of ensembles including Splitter Orchestra, AnimalNacht, The Elks, Ganzfeld, The Zoo, Mensch Mensch Mensch, and The Liz, and appeared at festivals such as Maerzmusik, Donaueschinger Musiktage, San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Huddersfield and CTM. Her music is available on Pitch, Resipiscent, Alt-Vinyl and Chmafu Records.