Seismic vibrations alter the ever-changing sonic surfaces of Jana Irmert's new release What Happens At Night. Like layers of sediment, sounds are being pushed up from underneath, floating away or sinking back to the bottom.
At the core of the album lies a question: What will be left of us? While Earth melts, we go on. But eventually, there will be a point in the future where all that will be left of humanity is a thin layer of rock. While this may seem like a deeply gloomy prospect, it also carries a great deal of comfort: the reminder that we are only a small particle in a vast system so big that we can never fully grasp it.
"When playing or improvising, it sometimes happens that time kind of stops in its usual rhythm - measures of moments and durations become blurry. I smashed and rubbed lava rocks, layered and bent sounds and field recordings until what I heard matched the images of strata in rock I was looking at: millenia of existence and non-existence, on a planet to which we are a very recent addition. I fell out of time, somewhere between the moment and eternity, and that's a feeling I wanted to capture on What Happens At Night."
With her fourth album "The Soft Bit", sound artist and composer Jana Irmert explores the materiality of sounds. Using manipulated field recordings, voice samples and synthesizer sounds, she carves out electronic soundscapes as if she were using sonar in deep darkness.
"The compositions for this album were shaped over the course of one year, at first without a concept or storyline as a starting point. Yet what I became increasingly interested in was a kind of sensory aspect of sounds. I felt I wanted to get closer to the sounds, feel their structure and surface and how they contrast each other.
Throughout the musical process, I used materials like metal, water, sand and air in a very direct and maybe more raw way to create and record sounds than I did in previous works, where I had often manipulated field recordings that had a more ambient character and thus strongly carried the location of origin in them. So in a sense, for the compositions of this album, I used sounds without a place, or just an expression of the sound of the particular material itself.
It turned out the processed sounds resulting from hard materials would often have soft and tonal qualities whereas those made from "soft" materials like water or air would ultimately be of percussive or harsh and noisy character. Finishing the compositions was like feeling along the surfaces of the single pieces with closed eyes, making out their shape and outline inch by inch. Maybe this is why to me, some of the compositions feel solidified like pieces of rock, while others seem to be ready to evaporate into air."
Everything minus all was created in spring 2020, under the working title "Notes on Compassion". It is a meditation about isolation and connection, using a minimal arrangement to play with the perception of space and time.
Cusp is a collection of compositions taken from the soundtrack for the film STRESS by Florian Baron. The feature-length documentary gives voice to five young veterans, their experiences and trauma.
Jana Irmert’s work was awarded the German Documentary Film Music Award in 2019. In her soundtrack, she “dissolves the boundaries between sound design and musical composition in a virtuoso and at the same time self-evident way, thus creating a sound cosmos that, through uncompromising reduction, generates brutal knowledge." (jury statement)
Jana Irmert has created a metaphoric world of billowing harmonic clouds, gently crackling sounds and abstracted field recordings. All three parts of the album are marked by perpetual subtle shifts, memory turning into an imperfect compass: You can walk through the music in all directions without ever passing the same point twice.
Inside this world of concrete sounds and pure abstractions, of organic timbres and alien noises, all sense of perspective is lost: What is far can seem close, tiny sounds suddenly appear enormous. In a sense, FLOOD is about the desire for change, a sensation that fills us both with anticipation and anxiety. That is why this album is more than just a sonic novel, and why there is more than one story to it – just enter the flood and allow the current to carry you far, far away. (Tobias Fischer)
End of Absence is Jana Irmert’s debut album, bringing together six sound works that merge field recordings, experimental electronic sounds and vocal patterns into unique multilayered soundscapes. Originally deriving from electroacoustic compositions, multichannel sound installations and audiovisual works, the six pieces are now published as a unit, to be listened to back to back, without video, photography or the need to have a multichannel speaker setup available.