By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Quintavant/QTV and Audio Rebel will present a live performance by European improvisational group, Barcode Quartet in Botafogo on Saturday, August 29th. The ensemble, which consists of British violinist Alison Blunt and three Austrian musicians, pianist Elisabeth Harnik, vocalist and electronic musician Annette Giesriegl, and percussionist/media artist Josef Klammer, are known for their radical live improvisations and will perform in Rio as part of their Summer Brazilian Tour.
Barcode Quartet’s first stop in the country will be at the Fábrica Festival in São Paulo on August 28th. Then following their show at Audio Rebel, they will play at Estelita Recife in Recife on August 30th. For their final show of the short tour, their first ever in Brazil, they return to São Paulo to perform with World Circuit Música on August 31st.
“I’ve never been to Brazil before,” violinist Alison Blunt told The Rio Times. “I’m very excited to be visiting. The people I know who come from Rio are some of the warmest people I’ve ever met – I can’t wait to visit their home city and country!”
“I am just excited and happy about visiting,” said pianist Elisabeth Harnik, adding, “open curiousness, open eyes, open ears and an open mind to the city, the people, the sounds, the smells, the vibes, the food.”
The Barcode Quartet Summer Brazilian Tour is made possible by Ticún Brasil and the Kato Bookbird agency with German jazz and improvised music producer Riccarda Kato and Ralf Dick with support from the Austrian Embassy in Brazil.
“Ticún Brasil’s Silent| Loud series in Rio has been presenting local avant-garde musicians in Rio since 2013 and I also organized European and South American avant-garde performances (Phil Minton, Simon Nabatov, Soema Montenegro and others) as part of Extended Techniques project,” Alex Minkin of Ticún Brasil told The Rio Times.
“Riccarda Kato and I began discussing exchanges between European and Brazilian musicians last year. She introduced me to Barcode Quartet and it instantly clicked. I introduced Riccarda to Bernardo Oliveira of Quintavant in Rio who was able to organize Rio’s performance of the Quartet at Audio Rebel.”
While new to some in Brazil, Barcode Quartet has been receiving critical praise in Europe for several years. The group began to take shape in 2010 during the Alpenglow festival, held first in Graz, Austria. There, drummer and electronic musician Josef Klammer met pianist Elisabeth Harnik and vocalist Annette Giesriegl during concerts and festival activities. Later, when the festival moved to London, England, the trio met violinist Alison Blunt. In 2011 they officially named themselves the Barcode Quartet.
“The credit for our name goes to Josef [Klammer],” Blunt told The Rio Times. “For me, I like the name because nowadays everything has a label or a barcode… we push against this gently by calling ourselves Barcode Quartet – as in, we’re not going to be caged by a caption.”
The group’s genre is indeed difficult to pin down. Each show is improvised from start to finish making every performance truly unique.
Blunt, a classically trained violinist and former chamber ensemble and orchestra member who took up improvisation and collaborative music following repeated wrist injuries, is known for exploring new directions and sonic realms with her strings while Harnik, who studied classical piano and composition and performed as a jazz singer and pianist before shifting her focus to free improvisation, is known to highlight the percussive elements of the piano during performances.
In turn, Klammer, who studied drums at the Music University in Graz, Austria, is known for adding electronic elements to his percussion, improvising with sound-samplers, synthesizers and Wii controllers, among other instruments.
Additionally, there is no conventional singer, as Giesriegl is known for her overtone singing which draws on throat singing and Indian vocalizing techniques and can range from rhythmical whispers, to disjointed shouts to guttural growls.
“Each member brings in a variety of musical expression. And they are still very specific in choices,” explained Giesriegl. “There are different histories (and ‘herstories’) that are brought in, like the abstract music, electronic music, new silence, and free jazz.”
“The group would simply not be Barcode Quartet without each member’s unique imagination and sound,” added Blunt. “Normally the vocalist in a band is the leader but with us, Annette [Giesriegl] uses her voice as simply another instrument and we don’t have a leader – or – we are all leaders and supporters – that’s pretty special!”
When asked the best part of performing live Giesriegl answered; “‘Live’ is very much alive! It’s this sharing of energy with everybody, the musicians on stage, the audience and all the people who are there, who helped to make this event happen!”
Klammer stated that for him, the best parts included the ability, “to compose in real time,” adding “and the fact that nobody knows how it ends.”
What is known, however, is that the Barcode Quartet’s debut show in Rio de Janeiro is scheduled begin at Audio Rebel in Botafogo on Saturday, August 29th at 8PM.