Dirk Huelstrunk – Müüü, CD-R, 33 hand numbered and signed copies, released by Atemwerft, ref. AM#001, Augsburg, Germany, February 2014
This is an age where Sound Poetry is taught in art schools the world over and is very much in danger of commodification – in the Marxist sense of unsalable things becoming salable. Some might even question whether there’s anything left to create in sound poetry that hasn’t been done in the past 100 years. But I think what sound poetry does to language is still very much needed today – exposing the fragility of the human voice, the little failures, occasional stuttering, etc. Because the computer apparently makes all the music we need, we tend to overlook the value of human performance, whereas to really engage with the basic constituents of the human voice, to challenge the meaning of words and the pertinence of human language are as valid practices today as they were at the origins (Dada, the Futurists, etc). The fact is, several of my favorite 2014 releases are sound poetry efforts of various kinds. This one is among the best.
Limited to 33 hand numbered and signed copies, the first edition of Müüü is the inaugural release on the newly launched Atemwerft imprint, a sound poetry label run by Martyn Schmidt in Augsburg, Germany. Dirk Huelstrunk (born 1964, based in Frankfurt am Main) is a German curator, lecturer, visual poet and sound poet with several full length CDs on Gruenrekorder. Huelstrunk creates un-dogmatic, modern sound poetry not afraid of a little help from technology.
In fact, it would be easier to describe this wonderful disc as a collection of musique concrète tracks based on “disarticulated voices” (Allen S Weiss). A rhythm emerges from a mere breath sample, a loop from a mere coughing, … via the use of repetitive, remorseless loops, fragmented vocals, radical speed modification, choruses build from the accumulation of multiple utterances of the same word, etc, Huelstrunk elaborates abstract vocal explorations from carefully selected samples and loops. So much so that, when his voice appears untreated, it is a deliberate surprise. In all cases, the simplicity of the means employed ensures great immediacy and proximity with the vocalist. Also note that, as an album, Müüü is painstakingly constructed, leading you from abstraction to intelligible speech, from noise to language, from a personal to a collective dimension (cf. bonus track).