mechanique(s) duo w/Hans Tammen

Mechanique(s) is a long time aleatoric/improvised electro-acoustic computer music project of mine using live electronics, prepared guitar, voice, and sometimes reeds or other guest instrumentalists, a duo with Hans Tammen with frequent guests.  Working together since 1998 in various configurations, Mechanique(s) has been drawing on many traditions in improvised and electronic music, investigating the overlap of various elements of the performers’ technical and aesthetic practices.

In our performances I create textures, musical elements and gestures using live audio processing of my voice, the sound of the other musician’s with whom I perform, and some audio samples. I use Max/MSP, and an outboard sound processor, both with control in real-time via my voice, MIDI and Wii controllers, Morse code and my various musically mitigated algorithms and composed music processes.

I play my “instrument” by controlling and triggering these processes as musically needed and this has been my primary method of performance since 1995 — in many different musical contexts, with my electronics processing not merely acting as a supplement my voice, but as an important live compositional tool.

Hans Tammen (“endangered guitar”) works in innovative ways with mechanical preparations and for guitar (at times including brushes, small stones, a small electric fan, a cigarette lighters, an Ebow and chopsticks) and Max/MSP sound processing, with further control via the use of pitch-tracking and and a rotating cast of gestural controllers (at one time an infrared-controller to capture some of his head motion during performance). Tammen’s approach has evolved as well and since the mid-2000’s also incorporates Max/MSP in his Endangered Guitar projects.

In our trio are we have recorded with Martin Speicher (saxophone, clarinet, Germany), (recorded in the eponymous CD “Mechanique(s) 2001 live at Logos in Ghent). We have also been joined by Pascal Boudreault (Montreal), and many others over the years with intuitive, sound-oriented approaches to their instruments.

Throughout the collaboration of Mechanique(s) we have focused on the relationship of prepared and acoustic sounds to my electronics sounds, and at times with strikingly similar timbres with completely divergent means. The audio processing algorithms I use are as varied as the possible musical gestures, registers, and density of musical sounds we make, and the various kinds of audio processing intentionally create elements of surprise for each of us — as we listen and adapt our phrases, timing and sound.



All About Jazz – Eyal Hareuveni at Hafarot Seder Festival 2005 curated by Ilan Volkov in Tel Aviv:

Mechaniqe(s) Duo, featuring Hans Tammen on “endangered” guitar and lap-top and Dafna Naphtali on vocals and lap-top, came from New York, triggering their sound sources from Tammen’s “endangered” guitar, laid on a table with the strings manipulated and mutilated with sticks, straps and other objects, then with real time processing on his and Napthali’s interacting lap tops. Tammen opts for more minimal sounds that only loosely reference a conventional guitar sound and more often sounds like a distant relative of the Japanese koto; while Naphtali deconstructs these sounds into more detailed ones, pushing them into abstract and noisy realms, then layering her four-octave range vocals on top.

CD Mechanique(s) Live at Logos, Ghent

AHA 0801, recorded 2001 at Logos Foundation, Ghent, Belgium, released 2008 on Acheulian Handaxe. Total Time: 62 minutes. With Dafna Naphtali – voice, live sound processing, Hans Tammen – endangered guitar, Martin Speicher – altosax, bassclarinet.

Buy here or buy at iTunes

mechanique(s) is an ongoing collaboration between Dafna Naphtali, Hans Tammen and Martin Speicher involving live electronics, endangered guitar, reeds and voice. The trio was formed to investigate the overlap of various elements of their technical and aesthetic practices — in compositions and improvisational settings for Naphtali’s interactive processed sound/noise system, Speicher’s extensive sound palette of extended techniques on saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet, and Tammen’s mechanical and electronic manipulations for guitar.

Dafna Naphtali ( singer, sound artist/improviser and composer, comes from a genuinely eclectic background of music-making. In the early 90’s she began studying classical voice and turned her attention to contemporary classical and experimental music. She performs and composes using her own custom Max/MSP programming for sound processing of voice and other instruments, appearing in venues and festivals in NY, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Holland, Israel and Russia.

Hans Tammen ( calls his style of performance “Endangered Guitar,” because of the extreme alterations he enacts upon his instrument’s sound and construction. Signal To Noise called his playing “…a killer tour de force of post-everything guitar damage”.

Multi-reed player Martin Speicher has his roots in contemporary classical music as well as in Free Jazz. Since his early concerts in the 80s he performed with Paul Lytton, Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Cecil Taylor, the London Jazz Composer´s Orchestra among others. “Signal to Noise” wrote about him: “Speicher’s (excellent) clarinet playing recalls Boulez’s “Domaines” one minute, Peter Brötzmann the next.”

Massimo Ricci (BrainDeadEternity)

The components of this group share a proclivity to confounding the listeners in regard to the origin of the sonic matter they bring into being. Dafna Naphtali’s voice is processed by a computer running custom Max/MSP programs, its fundamental nature and a gazillion of refractions – altered, intermingled or just obsessively repeated – weighing exactly the same in the overall context. Martin Speicher’s alto sax and bass clarinet appear as pretty normal on a first approach, then non-conform wickedness and idiosyncratic impatience gradually become essential traits in the improvisational setting. As far as the “endangerment” of Hans Tammen’s guitar is concerned, much has already been written; suffice to say that one gathers very different interpretations of concepts such as “virtuosity”, “harmony” and “open-mindedness” after hearing what an instrument originally born with parlour purposes can do in the munificent hands of a bright manipulator.

Interested in “the overlap of various elements of their technical and aesthetical practices”, Mechanique(s) recorded this great disc in 2001 at Logos Foundation in Ghent, Belgium. That’s right, eight years have gone away meanwhile. But make no mistake – this music proudly shows no wrinkles, sounding as if taped two weeks ago. The musicians wander around structures that glitter as pure diamond and sound absurdly periphrastic at once, pretty distant from certain liturgical behaviours currently found in the reductionist faction of EAI. The improvisations exploit the single members’ total attentiveness in relation to the procedural possibilities, accomplished contortions crowded with sparse culminations, stomach-churning sneering and breathtaking apogees. The only way to escape the logic of rambling transparency shown by the trio is abandoning ourselves to a fantasy of timbral spitefulness, decomposed protocols and, ultimately, extraordinary complexity defining the absolute gratification of organisms ready to accept and swallow hundreds of consecutive contrasting messages that, miraculously, make the whole work like a perfectly oiled machine.

Emotions are hidden everywhere if we only want to find out – even behind warped sounds. There’s an urgent need to launch a repulisti of all the convention-derived encrustations of the intellect to realize what’s actually possible. This is much better than letting someone dictate the rules of your knowledge – in the name of an aim that does not exist – tracing a depressing trail according to which one arrives at the end of life without having done nothing meaningful or at least intelligent. Wasted time is not returned to anyone.

Andrea Ferraris (ChainDLK)

This live recording at the Logos Foundation in Ghent presents the performance of another interesting live-impro trio using a massive dose of electronic filters and sounds: Dafna Naphatali (voice, live processing) and Hans Tammen (endangered guitar) twist and reshape heavily the nature of their “instruments” while Speicher’s alto-sax and bass clarinet is more easily distinguishable. One of the most interesting characteristics offered by the trio is represented by their natural attraction for dilated atmospheres and for we can label as a visionary approach. Don’t expect it to be your usual abstract aphasic fragmented performance, they superimpose different layers without creating a wall of sounds but at the same time they team-up to paint the whole room of a single color. They also throw in several odd melodies which ease the tension a little bit, infact even if this’ not exactly a nervous release most of these odd melodies end resulting weird or deep. Believe it or not the whole work is not just odd or weird, these improvisations have a melodic heartbeat pulsing underneath and its intensity sometimes is really catchy. Some really long tracks showing improvisation world sometimes can be looked at with a psychedelic eye.