Joke Lanz & Ute Wassermann

Half Dead Half Alive

By: Massimo Ricci

Touching Extremes


Language: english

There are people around who delude themselves into believing they’re “experimental vocalists”. However, by listening to what comes out of those mouths the feeling is as terrible as when one’s annoyed by the umpteenth rendition of a jazz standard. The pretenders literally vanish in front of the authentic specialists of hyper-pliable glottis. Researchers of the stature of Phil Minton and, in this particular case, Ute Wassermann. Artists who spent a lifetime discovering new methods to draw out the wonders hidden inside their oral cavities, emphasizing the imaginative features to the point of making what our ears perceive as staggering appear normal (but still not too natural).

Of course appropriate partners are needed to enhance an extreme range of human expressivity. Joke Lanz, a turntablist of outstanding responsiveness and sensitivity, is well suited for Wassermann’s freakishly demanding, utterly sublime interpretations. This set, recorded in 2019, comprehensively substantiates the axiom according to which a genuine voice experimenter and a smart instrumentalist can engender a hybrid language where the number of messages, tweets (pun intended, given Wassermann’s passion for bird calls) and stimuli received by the brain is humanly incalculable.

Nonetheless, there’s not an instant of logical deprivation in these 36 minutes. Which is even more remarkable: the inability to memorize breakneck sequences of consecutive events gets combined with the impression of an intelligible, albeit extremely disjointed continuum chock full of points of vantage for the attentive student. One can remain stunned by the thousands of masks worn by Wassermann’s vocal cords (my descriptions would border on pathetic) or admire the contrapuntal jumble of micronized irony emanating from the records picked by Lanz, who instantaneously builds perfect frameworks for his partner. The countless miniatures born from this union amaze like quick-witted fireflies in a night habitually populated by insignificant insects.