Mistpouffers eRikm

Mistpouffers circule entre nos oreilles avec une fluidité qui nous fait presque oublié que nous sommes les auditeurs de cette œuvre… SilenceAndSound, France

… I would say this is another highlight. Vital, Netherlands

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Mistpouffers

eRikm

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Malgré-nous

We are all “Malgré-nous” of History.

My parents called me Georges Yoram and I took them at their word.

That was probably my first leap of faith, “against my will.”

Confronting the themes composed by eRikm led me to conduct an ideological, environmental and anthropological review of my own history. Listening to them was like gazing in a mirror of my “inner self,” my interiority, my rapport to history and History.

I found myself propelled in search of wide spaces and primitive people (1). I don’t know why, and I can’t explain it, but listening to this takes me back to the Origins.

To our common origins. To my origins. And to necessity and destiny. To the invisible lying beyond the obvious.

This encounter had been written, it was preordained (2) considering that Érik bears the name of a village (50 souls) that welcomed me in Switzerland, my other homeland.

And, most likely, that meeting would not have happened without the Judenhut (3) I am always wearing and which allowed eRikm to recognize “it.”

So I found myself ears wide open, listening, in the heart of raging volcanos, in the heart of burning forests and fireworks that convey exaltation, joy and anger, but also fury, or even the death drive.

The very thing the traumatized French soldiers back from Afghanistan cannot stand anymore…

These fires highlight our dark side to enlighten us about today: “Is the forest only a ‘resource’ to be managed in order to maximize its capacity to store carbon? A gigantic pool of biomass to be used by huge wood energy plants? • Or an obstacle to the profit growth promised by the next airport, shopping mall or recreational centre?… • The forest is a living entity that has had a deep influence on our History, spiritualities, and imaginations. • Nowadays, its incredible biodiversity is threatened by monoculture. According to the IGN (4), in France 51% of all forests consist of monospecific stands (ie where a single species accounts for 75% of all trees), 33% of two species basically, and only 4% of four or more species.” (5)

In other words, forests are more largely devastated by ultraliberal management than by summer fires. In a sense, all the Canadairs are the smoke screens of our good conscience and abuse of this natural resource.

The stroll through Berlin propels me into the light of this global city, but also into the dark realms of the Nazis’ totalitarian system, embodied, in my opinion, by Mühsam’s poem (6), the Stolpersteine (7), and the number 4 on Tiergarten Street, from which comes the title of the tragic T4 program. How could one make their way in Berlin without getting entangled in this light and darkness? How could one not identify with the victims? And their tormentors?

What is left of their suffering? And how does their suffering echo with ours? The Malgré-nous has this unique peculiarity of being both victim and executioner.

In twenty-five years as an expert, I have examined, in my office, several hundred of these men drafted by force. This figure embodies a triple alienation: forced to go to war, in the enemy German army, to “end up” prisoners of the Russians.

Some of these patients have written memoirs where they conscientiously relate everything they remember. These are extremely realistic stories where I never encountered a single reference to the glory of the combatant or of nationalism. On the contrary, they are full of humility, fatalism, moral anguish, and feelings of uselessness. In them, no flicker of hatred, either for the Russians, the Germans or the French, but there is a form of “class awareness,” if I may, that would have brought each of them to the status of a combatant, a field man, without any reference whatsoever to a possible meaning to be granted to this war, be it political, religious or philosophical. Only the feeling of a huge disaster each one had to endure without being able to hold a critical or a personal point of view. As if, in a sense, deep down, each Malgré-nous had found themselves trapped in a kind of sociopolitical determinism and, from then on, had lost all trace of identity or individual initiative.

Also, I have observed, in my daily practice with them, a clinical similarity between the experiences of concentration camp prisoners (as relayed to us) and those of the psychologically traumatized people of today who have to request asylum, like those waves of Syrian refugees that move us so deeply as long as they do not end up in “our backyard.”

The latter people will also help us understand, in the future, the various mechanisms through which individuals and groups manifest their rejection of the weight and footprint of a traumatic event – another proof of the reality of that footprint and that weight.

Today, psychiatrists see humiliation, guilt, parental and matrimonial issues being transmitted to victims’ children. And I wonder if the impacts of the trauma could also often create in these children an obsession, a conformism, a hyper-ability for social adaptation, and a Manichaean vision of the world.

What negative impacts will have the consequences of the confinement of the Malgré-nous on the psyche of their offspring and their offspring’s offspring? The question is legit.

Looking back at 25 years of practice with these drafted-against-their-will, I am better able to understand (and I am not proud of this observation) the humiliation the public authorities imposed on these victims of History who were led to file for compensation for the psychiatric damages they suffered from their confinement. We should have saved them the expertise; it pointlessly reactivated their moral anguish. We should have had the political courage to grant them a financial package on par with the scope of their lifelong wounds and permanent psychiatric exile.

For yes, none of them has come back.

Which, for me, makes encountering and listening to eRikm’s works even more invaluable and vital, because, in a sense, they gave me back a brother: Marc.


(1) “Didn’t the Christian Vikings (probably hailing from Iceland, my clarification) who sailed along the shores all the way to Ellesmere (Alexandra Fjord, one 14 th century winter) and fought the Inuits, killing all who resisted them, leave traces of their Viking thoughts and their Christian thoughts into the Inuits’ collective mind? …Some words, some thoughts have mysterious powers, as long as they get a chance to resonate, and they did resonate among those people worried about death and wandering ghostly spirits.” – Jean Malaurie, June 2015. Foreword to Les Objets messagers de la pensée inuit by Giulia Bogliolo Bruna, L’Harmattan, 2015. [Translation: François Couture.]

(2) Mekhtoub (as the Arabs would say).

(3) The pointed hat (pilleus cornatus in Latin) Jews were made to wear, in the Holy Roman Empire, to distinguish them from others.

(4) Institut national de l’information géographique et forestière [National Institute for Geographical and Forestry Information].

(5) Guillaume Gamblin in Silence No. 449, October 2016, p. 4. [Translation: François Couture.]

(6) Erich Mühsam, Honneur aux morts. He was a German anarchist author of Jewish descent, killed in 1933 at the Oranienburg concentration camp.

(7) In Cologne, in the early 1990s, Gunter Demnig was hired to produce an installation consisting in a long line chalked on the sidewalks to illustrate the routes used to deport the Roms and Sinti. In 1993, as he was refreshing these chalk lines, he had an experience that gave birth to the Stolpersteine. A neighbour told him that there had never been any Sinti in the neighbourhood. Gunter Demnig showed her his research work and decided to install 200 Stolpersteine to indicate to passersby where the Sinti and the Roms used to live before the Samudaripen. It was a counter-monument, illegal in that Demnig did not have permission from the city. Then, in 1996, he installed more Stolpersteine, still illegally, this time in Berlin in front of former houses of deported Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jews. In 2000, the cities of Cologne and Berlin legalized the Stolpersteine. Through art, Demnig built a counter-museum as a way to fight against forgetfulness and indifference. “A memory landscape is created with the reintroduction in the public space of places from where victims were excluded. These places are given new public exposure locally, as a way to resist the exclusion they fell victim to. • Each victim is given a first name, a last name, a date of birth, an address of residence, a few words on what happened to them, and a date of death, as a means to rehumanize them and, therefore, to resist to Nazi dehumanization (the tattooed ID numbers). The intent is to reach everyone who never goes to the museums or attends concerts. The work, in the form of a shiny paving stone, is walked upon by passersby, questioning them on their way.” — Fabienne Regard [Translation: François Couture.]

Georges Yoram Federmann [English translation: François Couture, iii-18]

In the Press

  • Roland Torres, SilenceAndSound, October 16, 2018
    Mistpouffers circule entre nos oreilles avec une fluidité qui nous fait presque oublié que nous sommes les auditeurs de cette œuvre…
  • Frans de Waard, Vital, no. 1153, October 15, 2018
    … I would say this is another highlight.
  • TJ Norris, Toneshift, October 6, 2018
    The tingling microsound invades as though it’s evaporating over the spoken word.

Critique

Roland Torres, SilenceAndSound, October 16, 2018

Musicien et plasticien originaire de Marseille, eRikm propose trois titres qui nous entrainent dans des espaces où la plasticité de l’espace, puise ses ressources dans le field recording et l’imaginaire, dans l’enfance et la géographie, la pensée et la sensibilité, l’urbanisme et la science-fiction.

Mistpouffers circule entre nos oreilles avec une fluidité qui nous fait presque oublié que nous sommes les auditeurs de cette œuvre, captivé que l’on est par ces enchainements de sons enregistrés et assemblés, qui prennent le temps de nous transporter sur des sillons bousculés par le vent et secoués par les feux d’artifices, réchauffés par les voix et oubliés dans l’immensité du monde.

eRikm alterne les ambiances tout en respectant une certaine ligne directrice, qui voit les objets prendre des allures poétiques, enfantant d’instants de suspension troublés par les mots et les bruissements d’existences multiples, aux formes mutantes. Voyageur.

Mistpouffers circule entre nos oreilles avec une fluidité qui nous fait presque oublié que nous sommes les auditeurs de cette œuvre…

Review

Frans de Waard, Vital, no. 1153, October 15, 2018

[…] Of course eRikm, as he loves to spell his name, is someone who is no stranger to these pages, ever since he first surfaced as a turntablist in the mid 90s. He works as an improviser, expanded to using vinyl, CD, mini discs and finds his own narrative, which is not unlike that of say Luc Ferrari. A particular highlight was his LP L’Art de la fuite (Vital Weekly 1000), even when that was an earlier work. The three pieces here deal with the past, his own past, in Switzerland, which he calls ’his other homeland’, but also using a traditional Icelandic text in the first piece Draugalimur, meaning ’phantom limb’. In that piece eRikm combines field recordings with text and with some instrumental sounds, while in Poudre he uses many recordings of new year’s fireworks in Berlin, with it’s many reflections of the buildings and perhaps also from history. In the third piece, L’aire de la Moure 2 there is also a text, by Paul Eluard and I must admit reading the description didn’t make things clearer for me. Here there are quite a few field recordings, mainly birds I believe, along with insects and wind, with what seems to me a minimum of processing here and there, but not a lot, or at least: not throughout the entirety of the piece. eRikm doesn’t follow Ferrari’s more linear approach to the use of field recordings but it seems to me it is all bit more of an anarchist approach; see where sounds fit and then use them accordingly, which I would think is the best approach. This too is not really the sort of things one expected from Empreintes Digitales, and for instance more at home on Gruenrekorder, but here too I thought the label does a smart move and venture into something new. In the past I may have been a bit (too) sceptical, but with these two the label is back on track. For eRikm I would say this is another highlight.

… I would say this is another highlight.

Review

TJ Norris, Toneshift, October 6, 2018

Mistpouffers is a selection of three compositions completed between 2014-16, composed by French artist and improviser eRikm. Each piece runs approximately 17-18 minutes in length with two based on 8-channel fixed medium and one in stereo. Opening with Draugalimur where, poof like smoke, the setting is a quiet distant storm, some electronic squiggles and free-floating static. This is eRikm working in an atmosphere where a pin could be heard dropping, that is until a narrator like a public radio host, in French, reads from a text. The wind howls and electro-waves are emitted. While listening I gaze upon the cover image of a cliffside that starts to resemble a human skull. No you are not seeing things, like a mirage — it’s an in-situ illusion, only emphasized by a military jet flying past, from ear to ear as someone gasps for air. This dichotomy between air space and breathlessness is likely key to the narrative. The eerie unexpectedness here is quite palpable.

Sonic boom? By occupying the space with layered field recordings, simple thing like chewing, and rummaging — with a silky drone and changing percussive parameters eRikm has developed a psycho-social space that is as inventive as it is cinematic. The whispers, the hive drone, the bouncing punctuation, all make his acoustic theatrics rife for live presentation, and perfect for visual listeners. Moving on to Poudre, which opens in darkness to creaking of chairs, or perhaps thunderclap or is it fireworks, or gunfire? The question mark here is the tension. With even the slight laughter heard int he mostly engaged crowd scene it would be menacing one way, and exhilarating another. But it seems to walk that fine line. The title translates to powder (and in gun powder) and this work does seem to float on air with the spirit of a nighttime curfew. It’s singular shots are disarming so to speak — “the bombs bursting in air” and so on. In wartime these echoes have a cerebral resonance that is unmistakable.

Just after midpoint this layered field recording sounds like either a grande finale or a full-on battle. It’s actually quite disturbing, it’s chaotic imprint, relentless. At one point it’s literally just a wash of savage white noise. But the reverie switches up its candor on L’aire de la Moure 2. There are shadows of a dark kingdom interrupted by a happily chirping winged beast. The intermittent grey drone casts and draws as these treated bird samples are deployed like abstract illusions. eRikm has concocted a blend of granular electronics, a female narrator and low flying planes that zoom from air shot. The tingling microsound invades as though it’s evaporating over the spoken word.

It’s an atonal radio play that seems to be collecting data in a laboratory. Small actions like pulling a topper from a cask, as well as elongated high tones create a focused format for deep listening — all ears on the speaker, and though I do not speak much français my ears can translate this as a scanner of the mind. Static like fire, and a series of slingshot thwapping are a peculiar combination alongside a deep bird caw. With so many constant variables you’d think this recording would be a schizo delusion but it’s not at all, it keeps your minds ear constantly pricked within this composer’s cosmic adventure.

The tingling microsound invades as though it’s evaporating over the spoken word.

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