Full trains, dusty roads
My actually journey to the dusty sharp rocks of La Morera Del Monstant, Priorat begun in a full, hot and loud train from Barcelona. Barcelona was like the train: full, hot and loud. So it was for me the right occasion to escape into the nature. Kids, backpackers and old people were squeezed like fishes in a can and waited patiently to arrive finally the refreshing sea. So, i did the same and waited patiently on my big backpack.
After a while i arrived to Tarragona. I was glad to leave the smelly train. Immediately someone yelled: „Julia“, it was Edu Comelles in his full packed car. He is the promoter of the sound-art summer camp. And also the head behind the label for experimental music „Audiotalia“, which is the official promoter of the camp. Edu Comelles is an sound artist. I never saw him before and so i was curious, who is behind the project. He is a friendly hyperactive man with a big heart and an old car. He told me to promote an sound-art summercamp like this was an old dream of him:
„I have been for several years trying to organise something like the Summer Camp. A short-term stage in which to develop site-specific projects in a collaborative way. “
His dream became reality. One after another arrived finally to Tarragona. But this city was just a station in between to the actually destination: Addend.
Addend is a secluded village in the middle of nowhere of a national park called La Morera Del Monstant. In Tarragona waited a versicolor gathering of people to go to the small village. We all had different backgrounds, like musician, composer, architects, artists and music engineers. The people came from Scotland, Germany, all over Spain and even Canada to produce some crazy noises in the secret mountains of Catalonian.
The history of Catalonian is emotional, sensitive, political and anarchic. A bit like the beautiful landscape: wild and proud. The catalans feel still invaded by the Spain, so they reject any united Spanish affiliation. That leads to a lot of conflicts and discussions in the country.
Addend and the singing house
As we finally arrived in Addend after another hour through the curvy landscape, everybody was happy and hungry. We were unlucky and lucky in the same time, because one of the cars was broken on the way to Tarragona, so the father of Edu jumped in to drive us to Addend.
In Addend a tiny village with a exactly one church, one bar, one restaurant and one information center expected us Frances and Montsserat. An art couple in their best years. They managed to establish an art center in the countryside through the years. In fact they had a lot of hard work and they had to fight and still fight against a lot of resistance from the side of the inhabitants of the region.
They builded a modern, unconventionally house in a simple design in this little town and this house sings. Every time someone used the shower, the house begun to sing like a desperate whale. A side from that the house is immediately next to the church. The catalans love their church bells. Every day, every hour and Sundays more than every hour strokes the church bell to remember Catalonian is still a christian country. But this is another story.
Our new home mutated for the next ten days to our experimental sound home. We slept together, we worked together, we cooked together and we celebrated together. Everyday we woke up at 8 in the morning and prepared the breakfast, then we worked until 3 or 4 pm in the afternoon, then we worked again until 9pm in the evening, afterwards we prepared the dinner. That was the daily routine.
Sound of the past- abandoned Monastery
Our first excursion into the wild surroundings of Priorat was a trip in to the past. We walked to an abandoned Monastery, where once nuns lived. It seemed that the last decades it was left, merely the nature conquered the building back. But the nuns were still present. Overall we could see evidences of there life. Newspapers and Magazines on the floor, a broken chair in the middle of a room, a piece of cloths on an altar.
The first exercise we made was to practice aktiv listening, deep listening. We used our self-made binaural microphones and recorders and went for an hour through the rooms, just listening the sound of the building and the forgotten stories of the Monastery. I had the impression, that in this moment, i could feel the spirit of the nuns and the building. We not spoke in this session, despite it was loud. Through our invading we took something of the spirit and disturbed the silence. At this magical place we made our fist spontaneous and improvised concert. We separated in three groups and prepared at three different places and three different approaches a little piece. The result of it was quit surprising. Afterwards we all were happy and fascinated of the power of this lost space and the magic of creativity. Satisfied and hungry we went back to Addend. Curious what will happened the next days…
Adaption and concerto No.2
After this fantastic trip to the forgotten nuns we started the next morning with a new challenge. This time we played with the idea to take the recorded material of the first concert in the Monastery and interpret it new. We kept the bands of the the day before and started to work. The hole day we discussed and worked on the new ‚masterpiece‘, lastly we had in the evening to be prepared for a gig in the residence.
In the evening we all had something to show and again we had three different approaches and at least shows like the day before. It is every time a great experience to see how fast and individual something comes in to something. And how well our collaborations worked. I had the feeling that everyone was excited about the results. At this night the first time sounded the electrical sound-wall above the landscape of Addend. Even the church bell was over sounded of our beautiful noise. Credo of the day ‚Noise is political‘!
The wondrous Txarlaparta in a River
Txarlaparta is an traditional instrument of the Basque and was almost forgotten. In the last decades it was rediscovered. It is an instrument with a long history. The origin is unknown. The myth about the development is founded by the farmers of apple wine. They used rackets to press the apple for the wine, afterwards they dried it in the sun on wicker baskets. This pressing, the did it in a rhythm. An instrument was born. Unique is that the Txarlaparta needs to play by two players after the principle call and response. Through the interaction are emerging complex rhythms. The sound is similar like a Xylophon.
To highlight this special instrument we went to a river in the national park. We had to walk a bit until we arrived to this heavenly little river. The river takes his path through the mountains. Sometimes he is getting wide, sometimes he is gets close. On the side are many grottoes, which inviting to take a break and to enjoy this heavenly creation.
In this powerful landscapes the Txarlaparta-players Pablo and Minxto gave us a sample of their skills and the charm of this wondrous instrument. It was a spelling moment for me plus the landscape one of the rarely special moments in a humans life… Of course subsequent the boys had to carry this instrument back to our cars.
Final Presentation: Every summer camp has an end
The time for the final presentation was close after this nice river experience. Tension and exciting of everyone were in the air. We had the opportunity to use a visitors center of Addend to use as an exhibition space for our sound-art. We divided us a last time in three groups to prepare the exhibition. Two groups were responsible for installations in the center and one for the final concert. So the work begun. Everyone worked intense on their purpose. But a big question was in everybody’s head: How will react the inhabitants of Addend of our work? Will they like it?
We worked focused through our last day. Carried stuff to the exhibition room, organized and discussed a lot about concepts. At least we were ready for the people of the village. We were a bit concerned if someone at all will come to our event. Relieved we recognized their was a long line in front of the visitors center (maybe of the free wine, we served).
At least the exhibition was successful. The people of Addend were interested, open and respectful with our work. And the wine was delicious.
We got standing ovations for our crazy electro-accoustic music. Addend is an unusual location for such an sound-art experiment, but exactly this was the big benefit, because we presented more ‚intellectual‘ art and sounds to average people and they like it. This was a great experience. And i am glad that i made it. It was a great week with great artist in a great landscape. I enjoyed every single minute and every single beer and wine i drunk. The summer camp is an enrichment for everyone and every artist/musician. Thanks Edu Comelles and thanks to all the nice artists, who enjoined me in the tiny Addend in the middle of nowhere of Catalonia. See you next time!