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Simon Berz

His work in experimental and improvised music, in sound art and new forms of performance aims at innovation, interaction and participation. Simon Berz is a drummer and sound artist. He uses improvised music to create bridges between his compositions and performances to visual arts, dance and film. His work takes place in artist-run spaces as well as in clubs, galleries and concert halls.
Since his youth he has been involved in developing instruments, sound/art installations and performances based on listening and observing, sound and materials research, on the implementation of experimental formats and their aesthetic mediation. As well as developing his own rhythmic and sound language through an electro-acoustic drumset called the Rocking Desk, he has also developed a “lithophone” consisting of stones producing a sound made by liquid dripping from drip bags that he amplifies and distorts electronically. In 2011, this sound installation was awarded the “Werkjahr des Kantons Zug” prize.

Simon Berz works together with instrument builders, technicians and scientists to design sound installations focussing on phenomena like resonance and feedback. How do you interact with ice, water, stone, air, wind and fire? What happens in the space between people? What is resonance in technical as well as in psychological and energy terms? The sound artist explores ways of making it possible to experience human energy fields or to allow the resonance produced by a self-playing stone to sound.

What drives Simon, and what he seeks to transform and convey aesthetically, is a “mingling” of acoustic curiosity and its technical implementation in combination with the surrounding context – in nature, in society. The sound material is crucial as is the space in which art and sound take place – whether a former Jewish fabric store in Langstrasse, Zürich, a volcanic landscape in Iceland, or Peiden, a tiny hamlet in the Grisons. Simon considers improvised music to be an unstable condition in which you can find yourself. It represents uncertainty, tension.

Once you accept that nothing is stable, you can react by means of creativity. In a situation of uncertainty, energy is the solution. Simon amplifies his material, develops flaws and “instability” and invites the audience, those attending and those performing to participate in an experience of a natural phenomenon, in an encounter with social developments. The performance by the Kofferorchestra (‘Suitcase Orchestra’) and 30 refugees in Zug, in August 2017, shows how art requires creativity in the moment, in the present. The acceptance of uncertainty by listening, watching and intervening involves artists, those present, those participating and the public.
It also raises awareness. With his interactions and interventions Simon Berz creates new forms that reveal creative options. While refugees indicate instability in society, the mountain hamlet of Peiden indicates the instability of nature. Peiden is slipping. The geological situation has been causing the church as well as the entire village to gradually slide towards the valley. This “stable cant” is an inspiring thought for Simon Berz and Dutch electronic artist toktek. This situation of instability, cracks and of the unknown led them to the idea of consolidating the entire house and village acoustically. The slippery condition became the manifesto of the Peiden album.

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Simon Berz

Read "Simon Berz" reviewed by Lawrence Peryer

Today, the Spotlight shines On drummer and sound artist Simon Berz. The impetus for our conversation was the release of Simon's collaboration with American bassist and sonic wizard Bill Laswell and the Japanese avant-garde trumpeter Toshinori Kondo. While Kondo passed away in October of 2020, this work, Breath versus Beats (Everest Records), was not released until August 2023. Simon is a prolific artist across multiple forms and media. His perspective on creativity, process, collaboration and sound ...

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