Fennesz with Lillevan live visuals
Austrian guitarist, composer, and electronic musician Christian Fennesz is recognized as the key figure and one of the most distinctive voices of electronic music today. His wide international reputation has been consolidated through his substantial overall contribution to new musical expression.
In the beginning of the 1990s, Fennesz became involved with Viennese techno scene. Though formally educated in guitar and ethnomusicology from an early age, Fennesz decided to pursue composing and developing his own sound world in the distinctive electronic idiom. By plugging his guitar into his laptop and transforming and processing it, he managed to create a specific sound that is difficult to mistake for another’s. On his first full-length solo release, Hotel Paral.lel (1997, Editions Mego), he introduced a mix of raw textures and twisted guitar sounds. The album was awarded the Prix Ars Electronica. Two years later, plus forty seven degrees 56′ 37″ minus sixteen degrees 51′ 08″ was released by Touch.
His milestone third album EndlessSummer (2001, Editions Mego) was acknowledged as one of the most important releases of the decade, helping to change the perception of electronic music today. On it, he gave significant importance to melody, appearing delicately beneath (or on the top) of his shimmering electronic soundscape-often described as “symphonic” for its enormous range and complex musicality.
In 2004, Fennesz released Venice, in which he combined ambience-rich sound textures with pop-song elements. Black Sea (2008) has proven to be a bold step in experimentation with longer tracks that outline and construct sonic space without necessarily filling it with musical narrative or a predefined concept. His new studio album Bécs will be released in early May.
Within the last 10 years, Fennesz has collaborated with many musicians, filmmakers, and dancers. These encounters of diverse art forms have resulted in numerous stage performances and several exceptional studio releases. He has recorded and performed with Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian, Keith Rowe, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, Mike Patton, and many others. Fennesz has also worked alongside Peter Rehberg and Jim O’Rourke as the improvisational trio Fenn O’Berg.
Animation, video, and media artist Lillevan is perhaps best known as the founding member of visual-music group Rechenzentrum. He has performed around the globe at all the major media festivals, and has collaborated with artists from a wide array of genres, from opera to installation to minimal electronic experimentalism.
After studying politics and film, writing scripts, and being very active in the film and animation scene in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Lillevan grew disillusioned with the idea of retelling the same stories and the lack of adventure in the film world. He took a break from film and found himself running clubs in Berlin, excited by the influx of Eastern European artists after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Soon, these new impulses-coupled with new and affordable technologies-pushed him back to make the moving imagery he found missing in the cinema, the art world, and popular culture.
Lillevan recontextualizes, combines, and politicizes existing film images and fragments. The images are a communicative medium that interact with the music. The selection of the images can either support the sound or work against it, the aim being to achieve a dialogue. Some films don’t need a soundtrack; the images produce the music, propelling the viewer into a psycho-visual composition. For Lillevan, a working process takes place in a Godard-like search for the relationship between images, intensities, and textures. He sees his work as a multilayered process, giving each viewer the opportunity to focus on different details and moments. Human perception remains the final interactive element of live video composition, while returning images to their original ambiguity, escaping the imperative nature of traditional montage, creating unsolvable tasks for new software, and creating new and unexpected relationships between non-related imagery.