Myra Davies & Gudrun Gut

Miasma

Miasma 2


Miasma artists photo

"Perhaps what I am saying is difficult for you to understand. This ability to see beauty in pain is something very German. We Germans have always seen the beauty and the truth that is in pain and only in pain. You North Americans give greater value to comfort. You see pain as something to he avoided, as for example by taking a tablet. We in Germany value the experience of feeling. Whether it is pleasure or pain is not so important as the feeling something. And there is more in the feeling of pain. I mean to say, more in the sense of intensity, more substance, more, I think one could say, spiritual value, in pain. than in other kinds of feelings. But this, I think is difficult for you to understand."

Reviews:

miasma: clouds that cause plague

From: Euphony Nov. 95
Review by Kedrick James

This album and band project is a European import available in Canada through Festival Records and one that first caught my attention while I was hanging out with Vancouver composer/musician Hugh Fraser in Banff, Alberta. Myra Davies, who works at the Banff Centre for the Arts, gave Fraser a copy of the CD and when we played it, there was a sense that some really strong material had landed on us.

In the early 1990s, Davies was engaged in German Studies at Humbolt University where she met Gudrun Gut, a long time resident of Berlin. Gut has achieved notoriety for her technobeat mastery with earlier bands, most notably the attention-grabbing women's rock project, Malaria. Germany's Kraftwerk and other techno-projects of the time had a major influence in the early development of hiphop through its seminal figure Afrika Bambata.

The Industrial Music tradition has developed strong roots, thriving in Germany and around the globe. When Miasma performs in Europe, it generally takes place in the elaborate warehouse techno-party scene. In Vancouver, the Eurotecho genre is virtually inaudible. This is what led me to investigate this unique collaboration blending aspects of Western North American spoken word with Western European techno style.

Davies and Gut eventually made a rendezvous in Banff where they created Miasma, a Butoh Opera in collaboration with Japanese choreographer Hiroko Tamano. This multimedia performance was lavishly staged at the Banff Center For The Arts incorporating many elements of performance with many different participants. The artists emerged from diverse cultural backgrounds, ranging from the Japanese Butoh dancer Hiroko Tamano to Winnipeg's performance artist Lori Weidenhammer. The music has gone beyond its original use as an opera and has become an entity unto itself, (also titled Miasma). The musical energy of this CD has been condensed but it retains its dark, vaporous character: cool smoke-filled personality with 'German precision'.

The music is composed of sounds that manifest like utterances that have been distilled for many years: sparse, heady and potent. It explores the frustration and tension between the genders, and does so from a very strong, articulate feminist perspective. Both progenitors agree that German Romanticism is a deep fascination. Davies' words do not come as lyric so much as intelligent texts, and are delivered in a dry, witty, often sardonic fashion. The vocals are spoken, not sung, and therefore it takes on an intentional immediacy, with some lines literally leaping out at you.

The music is dark, shifting from subtle nested loops to flat-out trance-inducing techno beats. In this way it continues to reflect its upbringing as a Butoh performance. Tamanoís voice may still be heard on the one purely instrumental cut "Hiroko." For someone who listens to an inordinate amount of black or black-influenced musics, Miasma is not really in the same picture. This sound is distinctly Germanic, and so it is an unusual blend of the restraining of energy with the avid exploration of taboos. It establishes its intellectuality and seduces the listener with a goat-eyed hypnotic beat. One could dance to this intelligence.

With support from the Berlin Government, the duo are now preparing for their next recording session. Miasma was recorded at Banff in only seven days. Given the nature of their sound it is not surprising. With a computer, a sampler, some text and a voice, there is little to hinder the technicians from a quick and easy session. If I have any pertinent criticism of this CD is that except for the Laurie Anderson-like vocals of Davies, it lacks a sense of live musical energy. It is too canned. But I qualify that critique to point out that I am from the west coast of North America and I show my cultural presentiment toward the all-out mode of living. None the less, it is for me an insight into that world, one that has much to offer in terms of a solid use of language, great wit, and a driving rhythm; Miasma is truly worth checking out. It makes me wish that our town could accommodate operatic dance culture.



Visit The Official Miasma Web Site for Additional Reviews in German and English



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Miasma 2

Gudrun Gut's version of New German Electronic ambiant techno is as bright as the new Berlin with shadows still of the dark industrial underground in the then divided city, where she cut her teeth during the 80's with Einstürzende Neubauten and Malaria.

Myra Davies bites down hard on the canon in po-mo parables about nature, bugs and the lives and loves of worldly women.

"oozing semi-song delivery, submerged in Gut's slow burning acid Electronica, conveys the sense of narrative comming undone. No mean feat, considering the centering of Davies' voice inevitably draws attention back to the story-telling process."
--Biba Kopf in The Wire (UK)

"I really dig the Miasma 2 CD, easily one of the best marriages of word poetry and music I've ever heard. Great sounds too."
---Jim Thirwell (foetus)


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select ORDER FORM:
Or Call Toll Free: (800) 611-4698
Harmony Ridge Music
P.O. Box 995 El Granada, California 94018
or : e-mail: hrmusic@rahul.net
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