MOJSTER MO / MASTER MO

Moritz Wolpert pri delu / Moritz Wolpert at work (foto Primož Oberžan)

(For english version see bellow)

 Pred dobrim letom mi je eden od prijateljev poslal povezavo do video posnetka nenavadnega možaka s črnim mejkapom okrog oči, ki igra na še bolj nenavaden inštrument imenovam ‘Heckeshorn’.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2Z_DxU-3rQ).

Pozornosti mi nista pritegnila le omenjeni moški ter njegov glasbeni stroj, tudi njegova glasba se me je dotaknila nekako hipnotično, kot dnevno sanjarjenje. Kar sem slišal, je bilo zelo drugačno od glasbe, ki sem jo navajen poslušati, kadar se glasbeniki igrajo z mehanskimi napravami.

Moje presenečenje je bilo še večje, ko sem pobrskal po njegovi spletni strani (www.mowolpert.de) in si ogledal še preostanek njegovega neo viktorijanskega Jules Vernovskega retro futurističnega steampunk elektromehanskega inštrumentarija.

 Pred mesecem dni sem obiskal Berlin in mojstra predhodno kontaktiral z željo, da se srečava. Bil sem zelo vesel, ko me je povabil na pogovor kar v svojo delavnico. Prostor kjer ustvarja, bi še najlažje opisal z besedo ‘Wunderkammer’ – soba čudes, do stropa napolnjena z njegovimi glasbenimi stroji, orodjem, slikami, starimi tolkali, kipci in različnimi skicami.

 Ime tega elektromehanskega čarovnika je Moritz Wolpert, več o njegovem delu pa si lahko preberete v nadaljevanju…

 Svojo glasbeno pot si začel kot bobnar. Kako se je primerilo, da si postal konstruktor glasbenih strojev?

Ko sem imel 14 let sem spoznal starejšega, sedemdesetletnega bobnarja, ki mu je bilo prav tako ime Moritz. Dal mi je ključe od prostora kjer je vadil in to je bila zame velika stvar. Več tednov sem hodil bobnat vsak dan, se naučil igrati in postal bobnar.

Kasneje, po mnogih letih igranja, me je začelo motiti, da sem kot bobnar lahko ustvarjal glasbo le s skupino. Zbral sem jazz zasedbo z veliko različnimi glasbeniki, kar ni bilo enostavno ne v finančnem, ne v organizacijskem smislu. Poleg tega: če si bobnar, si lahko le dober bobnar, jaz pa sem hotel nekaj več. Zato so stvari začele počasi prihajati k meni.

Najprej sem začel sestavljati preproste elektromehanske ritem mašine. Nato sem začel sanjati o nekakšni avtomatski slide kitari. V istem obdobju sem zbolel na pljučih in nekaj časa preživel na kliniki Heckeshorn. Ime mi je bilo všeč, zvenelo mi je nekako glasbeno, podobno kot flügelhorn (krilni rog). Odločil sem se, da bom svojo naslednjo napravo poimenoval po njej, čeprav mnogi pravijo, da jih bolj spominja na Nautilus (smeh…).

 Kdaj si torej uspel izdelati prve delujoče glasbene naprave?

Okoli leta 2001. Po zdravljenju v bolnišnici sem ponovno začel z delom na preprostih strojih leta 2003. Izvedel sem za nekega mojstra in ko sem ga obiskal in mu opisal svoje tehnične probleme, je dejal le: »Ni problema.« Rad imam ljudi, ki govorijo »ni problema«, prav tako kot me motijo tisti, ki stalno govorijo o težavah. Ta mojster mi je pokazal kako se uporablja vrtalni stroj, stružnica in druga osnovna orodja za obdelavo kovine. Na eBayu in boljšjih sejmih sem si nabavil osnovno orodje in od takrat dalje delam skoraj vsak dan po 10, 12 ali 14 ur.

 Očitno nisi velik ljubitelj računalnikov in digitalne tehnologije?

Pravzaprav imam veliko spoštovanje do vseh tehničnih inovacij, še posebej pa do velikih umov, ki stojijo za njimi. Ljudje so skozi zgodovino iznašli toliko čudovitih stvari, za katere sodobna znanost še vedno ne ve, kako so bile izdelane. Priznam pa, da imam vse več težav pri poslušanju moderne elektronske glasbe, saj večina glasbenikov uporablja ista orodja zato mi ta glasba zveni zelo uniformno.

 Tvoji stroji so zelo skrbno izdelani do zadnjega detajla. Kako sam vidiš povezavo med njihovo uporabnostjo in obliko?

Predvsem zelo uživam, kadar se posvečam detajlom. Všeč mi je, da so stroji nenavadni in bi jih bilo težko reproducirati. Odsevajo moje vesolje v katerem se dobro počutim.

 Kot vidim uporabljaš v glavnem preprosta in stara orodja. Nam lahko našteješ osnovna orodja in stroje, ki jih potrebuješ pri svojem delu?

Največ uporabljam vrtalni stroj in stružnico, izdelal pa sem si še nastavek za rezkanje, ki ga lahko namestim na stružnico. Imam zelo majhno delavnico, zato poleg omenjenih strojev uporabljam v glavnem le še osnovna ročna orodja.

 Ali veliko načrtuješ na papirju preden se lotiš dela z orodjem?

Ponavadi imam načrte v glavi, čeprav včasih naredim tudi kakšno skico. Večinoma delam korak za korakom in rešujem probleme sproti, ko se pojavijo.

 Večina sestavnih delov tvojih glasbenih strojev izgleda precej starih, očitno odmontiranih iz drugih strojev in predelanih za nov namen. Kje ti uspe najti vse te mehanske dele?

Nekaj sem jih našel v starih mehanskih urah, precej materiala dobim tudi po boljšjih sejmih. Včasih kupim star inštrument in ga razstavim za svoje potrebe, včasih pa mi kak zanimiv kos prinesejo tudi prijatelji.

 Torej je iskanje sestavnih delov tudi del kreativnega procesa?

Seveda, leseno ohišje Heckeshorna sem recimo našel na ulici, kjer sem živel. A veliko sestavnih delov izdelam tudi sam. Večino sem moral izdelati večkrat, da sem postal zadovoljen z njimi.

 Nam lahko opišeš tvoj ustvarjalni proces od imaginarnega načrta do delujoče naprave? Ali se tvoja izhodiščna ideja med samim procesom kdaj spremeni?

O tem, kar bom naredil ponavadi razmišljam dneve, včasih celo več mesecev. In ko dobim občutek, da je ideja dovolj dovršena, da bo delovala, se lotim dela. Pri nekaterih bolj zahtevnih projektih izdelam tudi prototipe, da poiščem rešitve, ki jih nato apliciram na končni izdelek.

 Torej je vsako konstruiranje obenem tudi učni proces?

Seveda, in to je tudi razlog, zakaj to tako rad počnem. Vedno znova se mi postavlja vprašanje kako naj nekaj naredim in če to sploh lahko naredim. Od časa do časa tudi prekinem izdelovanje, saj se moram posvetiti tudi učenju igranja na stroj, ki ga izdelujem.

 Kako pa bi opisal tvoj način skladanja glasbe v odnosu do tvojih zvočnih strojev?

En vidik mojega dela je, kot sem omenil, konstruiranje in izdelovanje zvočnih strojev. Nato pa preklopim stikalo v svoji glavi in postanem glasbenik, ki nanje igra. Umetniška dela, ki so zaključena, so se mi vedno zdela problematična. Zato izdelujem svoje stroje kot ‘work in progress’, kjer lahko razvijam svoje glasbene ideje vzporedno z iskanjem tehničnih rešitev. Z mojimi stroji sem si ustvaril prostor, kjer lahko hkrati uporabljam svoje tehnično in tolkalsko znanje.

 Ali tvoji živi nastopi dopuščajo možnost improvizacije?

Moji solo nastopi se zelo razlikujejo od mojega dela v kabareju, kjer moram upoštevati dva ali tri tisoč znakov v predstavi ali pa od dela z jazz zasedbo, kjer v glavnem improviziramo. Včasih se med nastopom pojavijo tudi različni tehnični problemi in moram blefirati, da je vse v redu, da publika tega ne opazi.

 Kaj te žene, da vztrajaš v svoji delavnici?

Rad delam s kovino ter s temi starimi orodji in stroji. Ponosen sem, da lahko izdelam vse te čudovite stvari. Moji stroji se razvijajo in rastejo skupaj z mano. Kadar delam, pozabim na čas in svet okoli sebe, osredotočim se na bistveno in to je fantastično za moj um. Zadnjih 7 ali 8 let se neprestano sprašujem: »Hej človek, kaj želiš narediti? Imaš kakšen plan? (smeh…).

 MASTER MO

 Just a few weeks after my visit of Berlin about a year ago, one of my friends send me a video link  of a strange looking man, painted deeply black around his eyes and playing on even stranger musical machine called ‘das Heckeshorn’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2Z_DxU-3rQ).

I was immediately trapped not only by the appearence of the man and the machine, it was also the music that somehow hypnotized me like a daydreaming. What I’ve heard was so different of everything I’m used to hear when listening musicians playing with mechanical devices. I was even more amazed afterwards when I’ve found his webpage (www.mowolpert.de) and seen the rest of his misterious neo-victorian Jules Verne retro-futuristic steampunk meta-mechanical instruments.

 A month ago I was back in Berlin so I called him to arrange the meeting. I felt really lucky when he invited me to his workshop to see the machines and make an interview. The best term to describe his place is ‘Wunderkammer’ –the cabinet of wonders filled with his musical machines, old tools, paintings, old percussions and sketches.

 The name of this electromechanical musical wizard is Moritz Wolpert and here you can read about his view on his own work…

 You told me you have started your musical career as a drummer. So how did it happen that you become an instrument builder­?

When I was 14 I’ve met an old, 70 years drummer also named Moritz. The guy gave me the keys of his rehersal room so I could practice for many weeks and it was really big thing for me. So I’ve learned to play drums and become a drummer.

Many years later it started bothering me that I can play music only with a band. I’ve gathered a jazz band with many different musicians which was not easy from financial and organizing point of view. Beside it, if you’re a drummer, you can be only a good drummer, but I felt I want more so things just started to came to me.

After some years I started working on simple electromechanical rhythm machines and my fantastic journey could start. I started to dream about some sort of slide guitar. In the same period I’ve got serious problems with my lungs, so I had to spend some time in a clinic called Heckeshorn. I liked that name because it sounds very musical reminding me on  flügelhorn  (french horn). So I decided to use it for one of my instruments although many people said it looks more like Nautilus (laughing…)

Through my musical job I also found a little workshop and when I told the owner about some technical problems I was facing, the guy just said: »That’s no problem!« I like people who are talking about »no problems« just as much as I hate people who are always talk about difficulties. So this guy showed me how to use drilling machines, lathe and other basic tools and from that time I really start to enjoy working with metal.

When I’m working on my machines I just forget about time and world around me. For last 7 or 8 years I’m keeping asking myself: »Hey man, what do you want to do? Do you have a plan?« (laugh…)

 So when did you actually start to build your own musical machines?

It was around 2001. After my hospital stay I started again with simpler machines in 2003. In that period I was working like cabaret musician and somebody mentioned me the workshop of  »no problem« guy I mentioned before. Meanwhile, I started to buy my equipment and tools mostly on Ebay and fleamarkets. From that moment I’m working almost every day for 10, 12 or 14 hours.

 Obviously you’re not a big fan of computers and digital technology?

In fact I have a big respect to all technical innovations and especially to the brilliant minds behind it. There are so many wonderfull things in history which science is still not able to understand how they were made.

But in music I have more and more troubles listening modern electronic music because almost everyone is using the same tools so most of modern electronic music sounds so uniform.

 Your machines are as beautiful as functional. Their forms, shapes and details are carefully made to the last detail. How do you see and feel the connection between their purpuse (function) and their appeal (form)?

First I really have fun with making all those details. Beside it, it would be very difficult to reproduce my machines. Its like my own cosmos and it works good for me.

 I’ve seen you are using old looking and basic tools. Can you describe basic tools and operations needed to design your machines?

I’m mostly using drilling machine and an old lathe. I’ve also designed milling accesories which could be attached to the lathe. My workshop is very small so beside those simple machines I’m mostly using my hands and basic hand tools.

 Do you plan on paper a lot before start working with tools?

Usually I have plans in my head, but sometimes I also make simple plans and sketches. Most of the time I’m going step by step and solving problems when they appear.

 Most of the parts on your instruments looks quite old, obviously taken from other machines and carefully assembled to new one. Where are you manage to find all this various components?

I found some parts in old mechanical clocks, I’ve also got some parts like an old mandolin neck for example from my friends, sometimes I buy some old cheap instrument and dissemble it for my purposes. I also find a lot of interesting parts on fleamarket.

 So finding the components is already a part of creative process?

Yes, I’ve also found the wooden body for Heckeshorn on the street where I live. But there are also lots of parts I did by myself. I have made most of them many times, so they become better and better.

 Can you describe your creative process from imaginary machine to the real one. Does your starting idea evolve during the creation of the machine?

I’m thinking about what I’m planning to do for days, weeks or even months at the beginning. And when I have a feeling the idea is strong enough it should work, I start working. On some projects I also work on prototypes first to try some solutions and make them better on final artwork.

 So every building process is also a learning process?

Yes, and that’s the reason why I like it so much. There is always a question how should I do it and If I can do it at all. From time to time I take breaks in building process to learn how to make music with a recent system I’m working on.

 You told me you are an self educated musician and engineer. What did you have to learn and where did you found knowledge to design and build such an engenious machines?

When I was younger I worked with wood a lot so I’ve learned how to use basic tools. After meeting with »no problem« guy I’ve learned how to use milling machine and others to work with metal. I’ve also made some improvements of my old machines which are working really good so I don’t need many of them.

 How do you see and develop your compositional process regarding your selfmade musical machines?

One aspect of my work is to develop design and building the machine and then I have to turn switch in my head to become a musician. I see a big problem in art when it’s finished and you can’t do nothing more with it. So my idea is to build machines like work in progress, where you can develop basic idea more and more if you are ready to learn and go deeper and deeper.With my machines I”ve found my own space where I can also use my knowledge as percussionist.

 Do you have any space for improvisation on your live performances?

It’s completely the opposite to my cabaret work where I have to consider 2 or 3 thousand signs during performance or my jazz band where we mostly improvise. Sometimes different problems can occur during the performance and I have to bluff everything is under control so that people don’t notice it.

 What keeps you going in your workshop?

I just like to do  it. I like to work with metal and with those old machines and tools. I’m proud I can make so many wonderful things. My machines are growing with me and it’s fantastic for my mind. I can forget everything around me and get straight to the main point. It’s the best way to relax, especialy if the machine is working…

Primož Oberžan

Heckeshorn (foto Kerstin Groh)

Heckeshorn (foto Kerstin Groh)

Moritz v delavnici / Moritz in his workshop (foto Primož Oberžan)

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