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A gallery for listening

Noémi Büchi is a Swiss composer and sound artist that creates electronic, symphonic maximalism. Her music is defined by a delicate synthesis of textural rhythms and electroacoustic-orchestral abstraction. 

Büchi has played at prestigious festivals and was awarded a Culture Award of the City of Zurich. Her 2019 debut EP Matière, released through Light of Other Days, drew widespread acclaim. In 2020, she released a second EP Prismic Passages on the Leipzig- based tape label Visible Dinner. -OUS will be releasing her debut album Matter and its prelude Hyle in 2022, as well as the debut album of Musique Infinie, a collaboration between Noémi Büchi and composer and sound- and installation artist Feldermelder. 

Büchi explores the potential of consonance and dissonance, contrasts rhythmic physicality with disruption and playfully emphasizes irregularities, creating an expansive listening experience marked by detail and elevation.

Artist notes:

Actually it’s quite simple, there are short sounds, and there are long sounds. Among them there are harmonic and disharmonic sounds. I am interested in shapes based on these very simple parameters—concrete sound shapes that I can mould any way I want, like a sculpture, and create relations among those shapes. 

My piece Paroxysm starts from a puristic dry rhythmic structure. The second part then goes into a fusion of rhythm and harmony. The question that preoccupied me was on one hand how these two main elements of music relate to each other and what shapes they can create together. On another hand I was preoccupied by how the listening behaviour adapts and changes to the compositional structure and sound events. 

The sound world in this piece is characterised by warm, dense, orchestral and at the same time by very filigree, dry, electro-acoustic sounds. I also used my own voice in interlaced harmonic shapes that are made rhythmic, giving the overall mood an almost sacral character. My voice appears fragmental and tries to assert itself in the complexity of the rhythm. Slowly everything degrades into polyrhythmic structures, with harmonic components taking the upper hand more and more. The listening behaviour is redirected here. The harmonies are repeatedly broken abruptly by the rhythm.

I work across genres in my music. Familiar elements from classical music, jazz, folk and also techno can be recognised. There is nature, and the outside world to hear, made of plastic, metal, wood, water and earth. The subject of matter continues to occupy me in my musical work, and I try to get as close as possible to the physical world through sound.

I’m very concerned about the method of reduced listening. It is a way of listening that focuses on the character of each individual sound shapes without carrying about their sources or meanings. Also, this kind of listening is about specifically picking out the individual elements, distinguishing them from each other, and understanding their relationship to each other. I cultivate a special interest in such listening techniques because on one hand I really appreciate to create structures that make sense to me in a very raw compositional understanding, and on the other hand these kind of techniques teach me to go within and focus with deep conscious concentration. It is very similar to meditation and trains and shapes our whole consciousness, and thus our connection to reality. At the end what interests me precisely how the listening behaviour changes according to the sounding event. I find it fascinating how sound guides us and how we unconsciously adapt our perception to the sound happenings. With deep listening, one can consciously focus on such phenomena and suddenly explore and get to know previously unexplored things about the unconscious. It is as if one gets to know oneself in depth during this process, like in a deep meditation. 

Mixing and Mastering by Manuel Oberholzer (VFBM, Fribourg Switzerland)