, said the shotgun to the head./Utopia II
Thomas Kessler's piece , said the shotgun to the head., which he produced in 2003 at the age of 66, refers to rap culture without making use of customary rap clichés. The music follows the word cascades of the slam poet Saul Williams in great detail. It is strengthened by a rap choir that is cast for each individual performance, made up of school children in Cologne; seven voices sitting in the orchestra and -- in the closest contact with the classical musicians -- propelling the event. A bridge is built between remote worlds, full of élan and energy, far removed from pleasant crossovers. Kessler goes still further eight years later, in 2011, with Utopia II. His idea of live electronics is central here, reflecting decades of studio experience. The musicians have a microphones, loudspeakers, and laptops at their disposal alongside their instruments, and can individually control and alter the sound. The whole, therefore, is not regulated by a "god at the control desk," but by musicians who listen attentively to each other. The result is a multi-layered, hardly foreseeable orchestral sound containing, alongside instrumental tones, countless sounds, remote voices, and noises, as well as fragments of news channels. An enormous expenditure was needed to realize this venture -- in terms of logistics, technology, personnel, and finances. There were miles of cable to lay, dozens of laptops to be installed, and loudspeakers and microphones to be placed at far-flung positions. An unusually large number of assistants and helpers were necessary for this, in order to supervise the musicians individually and rectify the malfunctions of the technical devices that were likely to break down. In the end -- despite all gloomy predictions -- it was a success. , said the shotgun to the head. features a rap choir of Elena Berthold, Hennig Gemke, The-Huy Giang, Julia Lang, Stella Lehmann, Talin Maas, Itamar Marom (Schiller-Gymnasium Köln), Oliver Karau, Sinat Ud-Din, Patrick Elberg (Berlin), Hannah Maria Noack (Hamm). Coaching and rehearsals: Lisa Baum. Performed with WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer. Utopia II features the voices of So Jeong Ahn, Isis Krüger, Axel Lindner, Johanna Melder, and Barbara Ziersch. Music informatics: Thomas Seelig. Audio design: Markus Danne. Audio design assistants: Simon Böckenhoff, Ferdinand Grätz, Tobias Hartmann, Sergej Maingardt, Hendrik Manook, Tim Schmidt, and Oliver Niemöller. Performed with WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer.