Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Matthias Loibner

My hurdy-gurdy-playing friend Joel has alerted me to the homepage of Matthias Loibner, an Austrian experimental gurdy-maestro who I saw play once at the Saint Chartier festival in 1999. I was just browsing amongst the vast array of instrument makers' stalls, and happened to stop to look at a selection of ultra-high-tech hurdy-gurdies, made by a German or Austrian luthier (very sleek and angular with aluminium panels and multiple on-board preamps, etc.). An unassuming young man with glasses was about to demonstrate one of them. He plugged in, starting Z'ing, and suddenly hurtled into a Hendrix-ian gurdy vortex, kind of "strumming" the whole instrument to produce sounds that were just jaw-dropping. I can't think of another occasion when a single, unaccompanied musician has blown me away to quite that extent.

Matthias Loibner on a beach in ItalyMatthias Loibner
Matthias Loibner on an Italian beach one November, and lost in an orange gurdy-world

Here is a page of MP3 downloads he's provided. If you're not familiar with the instrument, it might be better not to start with the first piece - he plays that one without using any of what Joel calls "Z's", so it ends up sounding like a virtuosic violin solo with an odd clattering sound (the wooden keys) in the background.

And here's some rather less refined saz and gurdy stuff Joel and I recorded late one night a couple of years ago.


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