Ancient Greek singer-poets, known as rhapsodists, performed their epic poetry in front of small audiences accompanied by song from a phorminx, a kind of string instrument. Their performances often filled entire evenings and were held without the help of sheet music or written lyrics, which is why rhapsodists made use of repeating patterns and formulas in order to weave a coherent web of images and tell their stories. This parallel occurred to me upon seeing a video of Gerd Weyhing performing his piece “Icyclokinesis” – using his guitar and equipment to build up layers of echos, loops, live and programmed sequences – to a small audience. The difference between Weyhing and the rhapsodists? His stories are told purely through music.
The soundscape genre is quite difficult to market. There are people who have heard of it, but probably prefer the works of its creator (Robert Fripp), and there are those who are perhaps slightly perplexed by the unusual sounding name and therefore probably never become curious. This is a real shame, as Gerd Weyhings soundscapes give both fans of ambient and early electronic music and lovers of Frippesque sounds their money’s worth!
Gerd’s music is what initially made me aware of the soundscape genre. I bought the first album from him out of curiosity back in 2004, when it was already the subject of controversial discussions. My friend Sal Pichireddu wrote in his review at the time:
„Diese Musik ist wie ein Gedicht, das jeder Hörer selbst schreiben kann, schreiben soll, wenn er den Mut dazu findet.“
(“This music is a poem that every listener can and should write for themselves, if they can find the courage.”)
These words also apply to “The Hidden Symmetry”. In contrast to the first album, the three tracks here each have their own different atmosphere and arc of suspense. Also, as in the previous work, the full capacity of a CD is almost entirely filled out.
The intensity of ones own poem, to use Sal’s turn of phrase, depends entirely upon how deeply the listener allows themselves to dive into Weyhing’s soundscapes – fully appreciating the music requires an almost meditative concentration in order to take in the slowly developing structures. The reader of a site like this probably already shows a certain readiness to explore pieces like this, and it’s definitely worth while.
The closing piece “Dubh Artach”, especially, is an emotional roller coaster ride of permeating energy and crackling suspense, one might almost expect the speakers to send off sparks during the solo in the middle of the piece! This energy is surrounded by an eerie, threatening feeling which pounds into the listeners ears and heart as the loneliness and regularity of a sonar. It’s something that has to be experienced in order to write about it, music that provided me with wonderful moments.
That’s how the soundscape-rhapsodist Gerd Weyhing tells his stories. Always with a touch of melancholy and pain, but also with passion and devotion. As I mentioned already, I’m not especially versed in the field of soundscapes, but when listening to Weyhing’s music, I’m always struck by the parallel to a seemingly quite different artist – Mike Oldfield. Like him, Gerd Weyhing creates long, complex tracks with several different points of culmination. There are also similarities in the sounds and playing of their guitars. For me, Gerd Weyhing is a kind of dark, creepy Mike Oldfield.
The CD is available to buy personally from Gerd at his concerts, which I highly recommend to anyone who’s interested as Weyhing’s music gains extra force when heard live. Just so that no one feels addressed who shouldn’t be, the following is a relevant note from O. Mensing:
„Ich warne jeden […] Melodic Rock-Liebhaber: Ihr solltet wirklich auf diese Art von Minimal-Musik abfahren.“
(“I’m warning all [...] fans of melodic rock: You should really love this kind of minimalistic music.”)
Now you know!