Einstürzende Neubauten

Einstuerzende Neubauten photographed by Richard Gleim
Einstuerzende Neubauten photographed by Richard Gleim

Einstuerzende Neubauten photographed by Robin Skjoldborg
Einstuerzende Neubauten photographed by Robin Skjoldborg
Alex Hacke, 1980
Alex Hacke, 1980
Einstuerzende Neubauten in Paris, 1981
Einstuerzende Neubauten in Paris, 1981

F.M. Einheit photographed by Ilse Ruppert in Hamburg, 1981
F.M. Einheit photographed by Ilse Ruppert in Hamburg, 1981

Zeichnungen des Patienten O.T./Drawings of Patient O.T. print advertisement
Zeichnungen des Patienten O.T./Drawings of Patient O.T. print advertisement

Einstuerzende Neubauten photographed by Fritz Brinkmann
Einstuerzende Neubauten photographed by Fritz Brinkmann

Japanese poster promoting a concert by Einstuerzende Neubauten, 1985
Japanese poster promoting a concert by Einstuerzende Neubauten, 1985

Blixa at Loreley in July, 1988
Blixa at Loreley in July, 1988
Blixa at Loreley in July, 1988
Blixa at Loreley in July, 1988
Blixa at Loreley in July, 1988
Blixa at Loreley in July, 1988
Blixa at Loreley in July, 1988
Blixa at Loreley in July, 1988

Einstuerzende Neubauten photographed by Anno Dittmer
Einstuerzende Neubauten photographed by Anno Dittmer

Bargeld and Hacke toast
Bargeld and Hacke toast

Blixa chalks the Weidendammbruecke in Berlin
Blixa chalks the Weidendammbruecke in Berlin

Nicolas Villeminot: Blixa Bargeld, 2011
Russ Cook: Blixa Bargeld
Russ Cook: Blixa Bargeld
Russ Cook: Blixa Bargeld
Russ Cook: Blixa Bargeld





galeria duna, bratislava, 1997.02.22



fcmm, montreal: Help_Us_Stay_Alive, 1999.10.17

Farmers Manual is redefining the boundary between artist and musician, and, more importantly, between listener and participant. The members of Farmers Manual (FM), Mathias Gmachl, Oswald Berthold, Stefan Possert and Gert Brantner, are attempting to break the limiting mold that the existing market of music-production has on musical outputs, by creating new concepts for manipulating sound and visuals though computer networks.

In October 1999, FM was invited to Montreal to perform at Nouveau Cinema/ Nouveaux Medias, one of the city’s many cutting-edge audio/visual festivals. ‘Help Us Stay Alive’, the title of FM’s performance at the Media Lounge, would be a groundbreaking event on a number of different levels. This event, spanning an entire twelve hours, would be the first time that audience members, both at the performance and on the Internet, would collaborate with a band to manipulate both sounds and visuals. It required the members to design and to create a very intricate network using a surprisingly large number of Macintosh computers.

During the dark and intense event, the audience both mesmerized by the conceptual idea and agitated by the slow progression of digital images and harsh sounds. Members of the audience could go up to one of the four computers set up in front of the stage, to actively manipulate the events of the performance. One person, set on changing the mood of the performance, logged on to the ‘hamster dance’ page, thereby adding a new layer of sound to the performance – the high-pitched annoying singing of hamsters. Only then did the serious-looking members of FM laugh.

Unfortunately, because these efforts are more apparent at their live performances, Farmers Manual (FM) accomplishments in participative and interactive music are not as accessible as its recorded music. After all, it is always the products that make their way into the consumer’s hands. One can visit the band’s web site, at http://web.fm, or view some of the Skot’s creations (a video collaboration between Mathias Gmachl and Tina Frank) to see FM’s visual capabilities. But the visuals on their own are not enough.

FM has released three full-length recordings of digital sound manipulation. No Backup, a very diverse and innovative electronic recording that experimented with the barriers and limitations of ‘techno music’, was released on Austria’s Mego label in 1996. Although FM has since released two full-length recordings on two other record labels, Tray and Or respectively, the band has yet to overcome the association with Mego.

FCSK, released in 1997 on Tray, features 99 different aggressive arrangements – some of which are only seconds in length while others are almost indistinguishable – of digitally manipulated sounds that flow almost seamlessly into each other. The ever-changing pace of the arrangements and timber of the sounds give the recording a very dynamic feel.

Explorers_We (Or, 1998), FM’s latest release, is its most linear to date. Over the course of sixty one-minute tracks, subtle ambient sounds slowly alter, in both shape and sound, into a chaotic collage of deconstructed collage of digital sounds and later into more organised dance (techno and drum & bass) rhythms.

This interview, conducted in person with Mathias Gmachl was, at times, difficult to endure. The serious tones of his answers provoked me to be somewhat nervous. In his answers, Mathias seemed very hesitant to elaborate. Perhaps he was disinterested in doing interviews or speaking with media. Perhaps it was the nature of the questions, or that music was the priority for the evening. Never the less, Mathias insisted on limiting the number of questions that I could ask him and cut me off when he felt it necessary. Though brief both in length and in depth, Mathias’ answers should indicate a lot about FM and the future of interactive music, performance, and musical production.

Is seemed to me at first that Farmer’s Manual was a musical act. But it is obvious here tonight that it is more of a multi-media act. What is Farmers Manual to you — musical, visual, or a fusion of the two?

Farmers Manual is a collaboration of four people, basically. We met quite young, each one of us still grows up a lot and finds his particular interests. So the output of the project is really dependent on what all of the people inside are doing. So it is changing. It has always been more than music. The first things that we published were mostly music, so I think that people got the impression that we are a band. But at the moment the overall interest is in computer technology. You can do a lot of different things with computers and you can do things with networking. We try to keep it very open. Music is only one output.

When did you start working with images?

I guess as a child.

More specifically, with the band?

I don’t know if you know this but we had a CD-ROM on our first CD. So we had visuals from the beginning.

But it only works with Macintosh computers. What exactly is the program?

It’s just images and movies to accompany the sound.

And it works simultaneously? Is there any user-interaction?

It’s very simple. It was made in 1995 so multimedia wasn’t really that big back then and all of the software was very complicated. It is just a simple menu. You have eight different options. You can just click through them and find your way through them. There is no text really, nothing written, just images and music.

Can the user interact with the images when using the program?

It’s like clicking your way through. It’s a little bit like surfing. It’s not generating anything.

When you perform, do you use images that you generate yourselves or images that you collect?

Tonight we asked people, through a special web page that we did for this show, to contribute material. I’m quite surprised how much we really got. We will use these images and our own stuff, which could really be anything.

Do you have different techniques for altering the images when you are performing - manual change, random change, or changes coordinated with the music?

We try to make it quite closely related to the music, although doing this is very much like some translation. Translating between different languages. You have musical aspects and you have visual aspects and you try to relate them to each other. There is no standard way of doing this, so you end up figuring out yourself what works with what. It’s a really long process, setting up this interface between music and sound. I think that this will definitely keep us busy these next few years.

But tonight specifically, will the changes be manual or automated?

Today, it will be a mix. Every time we manage to let the computers do more for us but there is still a lot of manual work to do while performing. On a lower level there is a lot of automation.

Would you prefer to have the computers do everything for you?

Of course.

Are you using programs that you designed?

Yes, I think that at some point, when you specialize in some field, that there is no way around it. Most of the time, the problem with computer software is that it is not general enough. It’s designed for one particular field and it’s very hard to let different software packages designed for different fields of work to communicate and exchange. To overcome this you have to start using programming languages or some programming.

It this self-taught, or did you study it at school?

It’s mostly self-taught. The time we first got our computers, we lived in the same city, we just sat in one room, trying to deal with our machines. Because there were four of us, we learned a lot &#45 everybody was telling each other what they found out, so there was more feedback going on…sharing of information.

Why are you calling this performance ‘Help Us Stay Alive’?


Is it because they’re paying you so well?


Is it the interaction that the audience can have with the music?

It is really the first time that we can do this (on a) big scale. It is the first time that we have a very serious Internet connection on stage and we have a lot of time to set up and perform. So we were quite happy to do this web page and ask people to contribute. And if everything works fine, you will be able to make music through the use of a Java appellate from some remote spot. The interaction with this appellate will be turned into music on stage, so we can actually have people make music for us.

I noticed that there were many visual donations, but few audio donations.

No, not too much sound. But will receive live music streams broadcast from France, Germany and Japan.

Could you explain to me, on a simplified level, how somebody on the Internet can interact with the performance?

At the moment, to really do this in a serious, high-end, professional manner is not possible because the bandwidth on the Internet is not big enough to receive instant feedback. It is still hard for the user. He interacts with a small rectangle with a collection of dots that are bound to each other. He can drag these small creatures around and he can change the physical…it’s a physical simulation. You have gravitations and forces and you can define how strongly these forces define the rectangle that you’re working with. Basically what happens is the coordinates of the single dots of this creature get sent back to the server that is here with us on stage. This data will be collected by a musical application. This will turn it into sound. The sound will be streamed, encoded and sent back to the user. The whole process, clicking and dragging the dots and hearing what this particular drag actually caused, depending on your network connection, can take ten to fifteen seconds. So it’s not very easy to handle at the moment, unfortunately.

But it’s something that you can work on and that technology can assist you with in the future.

It emerged very quickly through the last four and a half months before today. This is the first time that we really managed to do this and it’s still like a prototype.

When were you invited to do this?

In April or May.

In your description for the performance tonight, you used the phrase “the authors become the audience”. I thought that “the audience becomes the authors” would be more appropriate, because the audience members can interact with the music.

The “authors become the audience” means that we can just step off stage and drink a beer.

And will you do that?

I hope so, very much. We plan to play for six hours, so we will definitely need some intermission.

Will they allow you to play for so long?

Yes. . .last two questions.

Which member of FM studied at advertising school?

Stephan and I were kicked out of the same school. Through that, all four of us came together.

Would you mind telling me why?

Oh, we did not go there often enough.

What dislike about the nature of advertising?

I think that it is really atrocious and absolutely disgusting. Unfortunately I have to earn my money working for advertising companies.

WAVESFestival, 2006.08.22-27

author(s) name(s)


precise title of the work

title Elektrosmogfreien (participation in the will and law of the creator)

subtitle a study on statistical properties of multivariate measurement series

short bio (about 150 words)

short bio (about 150 words) Farmersmanual is a distinguished, pan-European, multisensory disturbance conglomerate. musical and technological instruments for improvisation, network visualization and sonification. performances and remote collaboration and forms of documentation that prolong the idea of openness and reinterpretation. continuously expanding. TOTAL AUTOMATION vs. HUMAN INTERACTION. seeking to shift the local atmosphere from dissolution and clumsiness through manual change and ecstatic fiddling into an imaginative state of complex monotony, structured calm and chill, or endless associative babbling. so that towards the end the authors become the audience and the audience can be confronted with a stage populated by machines infinitely rendering a stream of slight semantic madness. with the help of extreme frequencies and distorted, flickering images. 3. Extracting a shadow from the skeleton of network flow. A layer of technological reality usually hidden becomes accessible through mediation into sound and visual flicker. Erratically shifting from chittering machines into the human realm. Replay in different Farmersmanual. multisensory disturbance communication, electromagnetism, nuclear fusion and ecstatic ification, tools for near instantaneous endless possible through local atmospace delay. It is thetic and politich cant global Scalishifting from chittext? the cause of all polycause. towards the echo of the hypopulated only which move away from frequencies and stage created at the end. the title for the fractures. linear shifts of the localing wave (about 300 words) name(s)

year of the work

2006 eV {Anno Mung 3172, Season of Confusion}

description of the work (about 300 words)

Simply, farmersmanual proposes to answer the following question, as posed by Hartmut Müller. Hartmut Müller in 1982 postulated the existience of a universal non-einsteinian gravitational standing wave along which nodes and antinodes the universe is being structured. that is for example the distribution of matter in cosmic space or the discrete set of sizes that bio-organisms assume, the temporal distribution of events in radioactive decay. We want to look at specific aspects of these phenomena:
Its has been suggested that spatially or contextuallly separated processes show structural statistical similarities. Accordingly, even physical noise sources are subject to periodic fluctuations. We will track a set of different data sources, both global and local, prior to and during the event and analyze the collected data with respect to empiric evaluation of the proposed thesis.

The analytic process will in parts be visible and audible. Individual assessment by members of the audience will be a valuable contribution to the experiment. Samples can be taken home.

“In the context of Global Scaling Theory the hypothesis of the Big Bang appears in a new light. Not a propagating shock wave (pressure wave) in linear space (the echo of the hypothetical primeval explosion) is the cause of cosmic microwave background radiation, but a standing pressure wave in logarithmic space. It is also responsible for the fractal and logarithmic scale-invariant distribution of matter in the entire universe. It created the universe as we know it and recreates it continually. It is the cause of all physical interactions and forces — gravitation, electromagnetism, nuclear fusion and nuclear decay. It is the cause of topological 3-dimensionality of linear space, of left-right-asymmetry, as well as of anisotropy of time. All of these phenomena are physical effects which arise at the transition from logarithmic into linear space. The standing wave in logarithmic space now allows us to communicate across astronomical distances practically without time delay. How is this possible?”

LAC & maerzMusik, 2007.03.24

fmoto (Russell Haswell Mini Fest, 2015.11.06)

Cafe Oto, 2015.??.?? (behh)

See (so much!) more at fm’s WebHome (vroomvroom) and the Recent Live Archive

Ivo Pogorelić

“First, technical perfection as something natural. Second, an insight into the development of the piano sound, as perfected by the pianist-composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, composers who understood the piano both as a human voice […] and as an orchestra with which they could produce a variety of colors. Third, the need to learn how to use every aspect of our new instruments, which are richer in sound. Fourth, the importance of differentiation.”

–Ivo Pogorelić expounding on Aliza Kezeradze’s instruction, 1981

06.05.2003.,Zagreb – Ivo Pogorelic na press konferenciji u Muzeju Mimara.
Photo Patrik Macek/Vecernji list