Hubert von Goisern
DE
EN
 

WEST AFRICA 2002

GRENZENLOS >> West Africa: 1 2

Photos from Burkina Faso

www.vidc.org | Photos: VIDC
Hubert von Goisern in Burkina Faso

Beyond home

Salzburger Nachrichten 4th May 2002 | Text: Bernhard Flieher

Hubert von Goisern was travelling through West Africa with his band for three weeks. He ran into crossroads where for a short moment, uniting emotions could grow despite the inequality of the world

Sand and sweat and dust run under the T-shirt and over the back. What I would give now for the buzz of the ventilator which has otherwise annoyed me for days and what first for the cooling roar of the sea at home?! These days home means a hotel in which my rucksack stands. Or there, where ambassador Michael Brunner provides a surprise: Zipfer Beer in cans. Lukewarm. Spat out at home. Here, in a dusty place in the middle of Dakar, the opening of a can releases an individual homely feeling - and that in the middle of children's big eyes and pleading, dirty hands. We are standing at one of those dangerous crossroads of current pop culture where totally separate worlds can apparently effortlessly clash.

After the stuffiest dust of the day, a cool night wraps up the 3 million Moloch Dakar. For a short moment the events of the night allow thoughts that all inequality could be dissolved. The concert on the narrow street in the middle of the poor district in the capital of Senegal ended half an hour ago. The curiosity of the residents turns into a wild racket despite the unfamiliar sounds and incomprehensible words.

Dancing between corrugated iron huts

It gets ever closer, hotter. With each song the audience between the corrugate iron huts crowds nearer to the musicians. Yodelling African teenagers, a choir of children's voices, broad smiles and inviting open eyes, which on the basis of the spatial situation make the removal of the eternal rift between "those above" and "those below" easier. Everyone was exhausted, but there were happy faces. Hubert von Goisern sang better. The band played more exact entries, can be shown much better than here. That does not matter in a moment where the cultural exchange gives rise to mutual emotions and releases the globalisation of strengthened inequality from the economic idols.

At the crossroads in the poor district, the frontier-crossing emotions release every intellectual thought. Here the brain stops working. For a few minutes the truth of the heart rules. Even We Are The World, quite strangely struck up by local musicians who had already played along before, lost its awkwardness and became a statement for exchange with the same rights.

Hubert von Goisern and band are bringing their mixture of pop and folk culture to West Africa on a three week tour. As a countermove, the widely travelled Goiserer hopes for inspiration and usable sound material for the next CD. Three weeks which place the highest demands on inner composure. Adventure camp for musical adults who want to present "alpine world music", to form and strengthen this not just through musical stimuli beyond normal routine and - as emphasised - hard practice, to grow together in a new arrangement for the summer tour through familiar territory.

In these familiar territories between cathedral squares and multipurpose halls, the functioning of the band shows a special level of civilisation. Hierarchy, order and organisation first make free development possible, permit those trips which are reached in the evening in the poor district. For a moment, the abolition of world order is a success.

In contrast to regulations and rational behaviour stands what can be experiences travelling abroad. "Nomads are uncivilised, and all the words which are traditionally applied to them are burdened with the prejudices of the civilised world," writes civilisation critic Bruce Chatwin and refers to words such as "tramp" and "vagabond", but which get a legendary meaning in modern music history.

Only the dissolution of the rules of civilisation, the realisation of nomadic virtues open heart and brain for discovery, surprise and amazement - to get ready, to foresee the crossroads where it is worth standing, staying and learning and playing music.

Three weeks in Africa, three countries, five fixed and a few vainly hoped for concerts, torn between the exploration of the unknown, official invitations and the different demands inside one beyond the stage above all in hindsight in view of the "point of the journey" little homogeneous music group. Time is an extremely precious commodity, sleep a side effect and the inner centre a fickle something. "The difference between travellers and holidaymakers lies in time," writes Paul Bowles in Sky Over The Desert. The travelling Hubert Achleitner dozes in the bus and snoozes. He may possibly be more absorbed in this conflict than his music-making alter ego Hubert von Goisern.

The latter must always try to see that a clear direction is found at the various, band-related crossroads too, and so everything goes to plan and is fun.

Still four hours until Ouagadougou - roughly. Which means: about six hours until the start of the last concert of the tour in the French Culture Institute. Burkina Faso is flat and hot and friendly. The bus is slow. Everyone is worn out. The intellectual and physical limits of receptiveness are exhausted. Three days ago we - completely overtired due to a several hour delay of our flight from Dakar - were on this road going the other way to Bobo Dioulasso. The concert in the Culture Institute there let the feet sleep. In Ouaga everything works the best.

All roads lead away and home again

Tiredness, being overloaded with new impression and the forthcoming flight home probably also mobilise all strength. A musically outstanding concert, but simply a quite normal stage and audience bathed in light.

At the last crossroads of the journey, no road leads to a new country, but remains brave in the well-worn lane of the Western culture industry. Here on the stage of the amphitheatre entertaining things happen beautifully, atmospheric and cheered things, but nothing out of the ordinary. Here in a world of pop-isation of dialects and tradition no cultural rift can be dissolved. A member of the audience cries that he wants to hear Hiatamadl. He studied in Trier at the beginning of the 90s and is now living at home in Ouaga again. "...es san die selben Straß'n, die di hoamführ'n oda fort" ("It's the same roads which lead you home or away") says a Goiserer lyric.

Photos from West Africa

Photos: © Fritz Kalteis

A Goiserer in Africa

OÖN 27th April 2002 | Text & Photos: Fritz Kalteis

Hubert von Goisern flew to Africa, chasing a dream. He did not reach it. But it was a failure with a pure heart. Report from a 3 week search for the musical meeting. Or: groove from the frogs.

Hubert on stage in Cape VerdeWe will only breathe African air for a few more hours, before the aeroplane will take us from the dry heat of Burkina Faso, just as quickly as it spat us out here. A low table in the courtyard of the French Culture Institute in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Behind the musicians is the soundcheck for the immediately following final concert, in front of them lies a copy of a German magazine. Burkhard Frauenlob, the keyboarder in Hubert von Goisern's band, glances through the pages. "God Wanted It" is written there. "That fits somehow," says Burkhard, and tears the fat letters from the magazine. As if a dam had been broken, the others join in the cheerful search for headlines. Drummer Bernhard Wimmer tears out "In Case of Despair" from the pages. Percussionist Bernd Bechtloff snatches "The Principle of Hope" and "Resolute in Ruin" goes to the violinist and guitarist Gerhard Überbacher. Hubert von Goisern and bass player Antonio Porto share "It's Over". Three weeks in Africa summarised in five sentences.

It was a big idea that Hubert von Goisern had in his luggage, as he set off into the south: 3 weeks of sessions and concerts with native musicians in Cape Verde, Senegal and Burkina Faso. "I have fulfilled a long-held dream," says HvG and in his head dance the pictures of Senegal, the epicentre of the West Africa music scene and Dakar, the melting pot of drum rhythms, pop culture and hip hop. Youssou N'Dour, Baaba Maal and Falon Dieng - names which sound like Austria.

Hubert von Goisern proved that alpine music gets on well with music from Africa and Tibet with his albums Gombe and Inexil. One asks what he hopes for from this journey, he speaks of a musical meeting which will bear fruit sometime. He speaks in the singular: "The real meeting always happens between two people. Six people with six people is completely different. The personal side matters, where two people meet and understand each other."

And so the wish for deep musical meetings cannot be fulfilled. Torn between project visits, long bus transfers, hotels, flights, soundchecks, interview appointments, official occasions, the wish for peace and the different interests of six musicians, two camera people and three journalists navigates through West Africa. The leisure of absorbing the nature of the different countries and their music, scarcely appears. Nevertheless, they are there, the great moments.

Heaven and hell is sometimes a question of definition. Count Steven Töteberg, studio owner in Dakar paints hell in gloomy colours. Accordingly, we would feel right in the middle of it. Hell is called Quarter Rail and is a poor district in Dakar. The shacks stand close together here, in which the prospectless people under the 3 million inhabitant city sleep, cook, survive. Corrugate iron, roofing felt and wobbly wooden stilts build a patchwork which has the sense to offer protection from the sun and rain. No electricity, no water, no hope. This is exactly where Hubert has it in his head to give a concert.

Applause, applause, applause

The Count is at his wits' end because with the onset of darkness, the pack of hounds will certainly assassinate us and steal the last cable. He is wrong - the people shower the band with love and praise. "Applause, applause" the presenter of the evening chants the only German word he knows. With wide eyes, he leads the pulsating crowd of smiling children, dancing women and clapping men who throng thicker and thicker around the musicians. Again and again the locals climb to the microphone and turn out to be gifted musicians. A small man drags himself on crutches onto the absent stage. He sings as if Bob Marley is personally whispering to him, his whole body rocking and a panoramic smile on his face. "For me music is a language that goes through the heart. Musicians talk to each other with their instruments and their voices. And if that happens, then it is a feeling of world harmony, then the world becomes smaller and bigger at the same time." So Hubert von Goisern described the magic of playing music together at the beginning of the journey. Now the words become action: We Are The World sung by dozens of different voices. A kitschy-beautiful high point of an unbelievable evening. By the way: not one single cable was lost.

Audience in West AfricaJust 24 hours later Hubert von Goisern is thrown into a hell of red velvet. Just this moment the concert in the Sorano Theatre has come to an end. A disaster, in that respect everyone is agreed. The band have to fight hard with an infernally bad sound system. Hubert is cross: "It is not the point to meet somewhere in the middle and accept bad sound. In certain things you have to simply assert yourself." And: "If you push at the borders of your own tolerance, it is very thrilling. Only in the moment where you are doing it, it is not very funny." So a blasé, disinterested audience of 200 people from Dakar's high society sees an unenthusiastic, depressed band. The normal people remain in front of the door: 4000 Colonial Francs entrance (with an average wage of 40,000 CFA) and the exclusive areas deter them.

Where no cable reaches

The normal people live there where the asphalt streets finished a long time ago, and the electricity cables do not find their way there. Between projecting umbrella thorns and the thickset monkey bread trees a small cluster of thatched huts grow from the earth - Ndioukhane. A village like many in Africa: children, who trail over from the well water, women at the saucepans, the men in front of the omnipresent mosques. And yet Ndioukhane is different. The Austrian EZA have started a women's project here, which means that the women of the village can buy materials with little credits, dye them, decorate them with wonderful batik patterns and sell them. Money for the families with which they can buy medicines and makes the daily fight for survival a bit easier. For in the poorest countries in the world - as which Cape Verde, Senegal and Burkina Faso all rank - between water holes, making fires, grinding millet, cooking and nursing children, little time remains for big future plans. Help in this way makes sense. No matter whether a school in Cape Verde, a trade initiative in Senegal or one for processing mangoes in Burkina Faso - everywhere the initiative is there before the money. "I really like what happens. They are good people with a good attitude ... I have met no cynics. There are people who certainly also do things wrongly, but that is not a reason to do nothing." The visit to the individual projects may have been exhausting for Hubert von Goisern. But it was worthwhile. It is quite possible that in the future, Gri, the singing storyteller from Ndioukhane will tell about the day the yodelling white people came.

A Landler (country dance) is and remains music from a distant world for a Senegalese person and Hubert and Co. have achieved great laughter at every appearance with yodelling. People, they have never seen before, they cannot communicate with, sing Gstanzl together. The whole village cheers and dances, one better, one worse, Hubert laments: "At home people only dance if it is their job, music is almost only played if there is an audience there for it. This naturalness that music and dance have here is wonderful."

Frog palaver

Dakar in spring is only allowed a few moments in which the northwest trade wind does not furiously shake straw roofs and ruffle hairstyles. Just in such a moment, HvG strolled by with his sound technician and a sound recorder to a dark grassy patch full of banana plants and shrubs which had hitherto scarcely attracted attention. Music pours from from the spots of meadow as if from another word. Thousands of frogs have gathered together in a palaver. Croooaaak, croak - multiplied to an animal cacophony, unordered, without harmony. But with each moment the sounds seem to overlap a little more as if the sounds centre. Suddenly the rhythm was born: the frogs grooved together. Musicians must also groove together. The Goisern Collective is first successful on the last day of the journey, at the very last concert in Ouagadougou. Hubert stands on stage with local reggae hero Bill Aka Kora. Together they improvise. And suddenly the funk is there. Lifeblood, enthusiasm, joy, everything that has been missing until now. The yodel echoes back from the audience hundredfold. Bass player Antonio plucks, violinist Gerhard fiddles, drummer Bernhard works with his hands, keyboarder Burkhard conjures, percussionist Bernd springs and everyone has a smile all over their face - at last. And for the first time, at least for the first time in Africa, "Zugabe!" ("Encore!") resounds from the audience.

Islands without harmony

Salzburger Nachrichten 2nd April 2002 | Text : Bernhard Flieher

Hubert von Goisern, currently travelling, sharpens his senses

RCT-FM rumbles from the loudspeakers onto the cobbled streets through Praia. Marriages, deaths and also the names of those who have not paid their bills are on the programme. Several times every day an advertisement runs for the appearance of the "grupo austriaco". There are no posters. 30% of the population of Cape Verde, about 500km west of Africa, are illiterate. The radio plays an immense cultural role. No comparison with the formatted triviality at home.

But that is exactly what the reconnaissance tour is about. Breaking down. Foreseeing. Recognising. Absorbing. Getting involved. Like previously in Tibet, India or East Africa, Hubert von Goisern is going slowly through the new world. Until the middle of April, after Cape Verde stations will be Senegal and Burkina Faso. Music permanently accompanies him, but is no constraint whatsoever. What is, is, even if it is not always certain in this region. Once a session there, then a yodel in a school or a spontaneous appearance with befriended musicians. Nomadism in emotional sounds.

"I want to sharpen my senses on journeys," says Goisern about his thirst for meetings. Musical exchange, intensive contact and conversations arise by themselves." Apart from that, we want to show what we have at home for music." The exchange runs with each new world music boom else more one-sided in the opposite direction. So a lot of individual money is invested and it is also lived with that scarcely any financial support came from the official side in Austria. Even more incomprehensible, there on Cape Verde, according to a paper from the foreign office, the cultural collaboration is "yet to develop".

Co-producer and technical manager Wolfgang Spannberger, Goisern's long-standing companion, completes the reason for the journey around the musical components: "Certainly it is also about better assessing the individual status. At home we are always cooking in our own juice. Here there are constantly challenges. But he is not interested in understanding it in the sense of a 'who is better' performance thought, but as an order to open, to allow something new.

The Goiserer's music lays the foundations of Nomadism. He completes expeditions through diverse regions, letting them flow in again and again, without ever leaving out the individual origin. The problem is that each civilisation is based on regulations. "It is also about discarding automatism," says Goisern. Patterns of Western tours and everyday life would not only fail here, they would lead to an organisational catastrophe.

But above all it is about "An avoidance of each uniformity". Instead to impose a so-called better "world picture", it is necessary to emphasise the differences, to profess a belief that does not disturb what is different.

After sunset on Friday evening the radio spots and the soundcheck, which can be heard throughout the town show their effect. The area in front of the football stadium begins to slowly fill up. Four light cross beams tower above the stage. They seem like the far distant skyscrapers which are still being worked upon late at night. Underneath, the party begins. Still reserved at the beginning, as the Hohtraxlecker Sprungschanznmusi fiddle up. Then Simentera. The group around Mario Lucio is also internationally well-known. As good as everything musically revolves around it and their own music club in Parai. They celebrated their 10 year anniversary with the open air concert.

And then the Goiserer and his band. It went on to midnight and all horizons were dissolved. The band (Bernd Bechtloff, Burkhard Frauenlob, Toninho Porto, Bernhard Wimmer and Gerhard Überbacher) do not let it show that they are playing the programme for only the second time. For the first time Goisern wants to record an album after a tour first. Everything yields. Everything simply comes along. Many of the songs are new and will be released this year. But here anyway nobody knows any of them. Above all the rhythmic songs are happily danced to and cheered. The warmth of the evening mixes with the musical closeness. Shortly after the concert, Fia di is still ringing in ears: "... und wann i mei Liadl sing, tragt's da Wind vielleicht bis zu dir hin, über die Berg und übers Wasser, ganz egal, wo i jetzt bin ..."

Hubert von Goisern: a warm and rhythmic evening

www.allafrica.com 8th April 2002

It was rather an agreeable surprise to discover Hubert von Goisern. In the style of Joe Zawinul he gave a culturally rich production, rhythmic and sometimes flirting with what the West calls World Music. And the successful exchanges with Fallou Dieng and others finished by confirming this good impression.

If there is one strong image which should be retained from the Austrian Hubert von Goisern's journey to Senegal, it is to be found in the evening entertainment which he livened up with some Senegalese artists. Not only is it unusual, but it reflects the good feeling which prevailed during the whole show. During Fallou Dieng's performance, Gallo Thiello, in a perfect piece of choreography succeeded in making the whole of the Sorano hall audience dance. The minister of culture and the Austrian ambassador found themselves in the front row of invited guests and in the best place of the dancers.

Having been accused of being a little late in starting, the evening of exchanges between Hubert von Goisern and the Senegalese artists - who were Fallou Dieng and his group, Mbaye Dièye Faye and the Sing Sing Rhythm and Magou - had been, to general surprise, an excellent and very convivial evening. And the surprise for the Senegal public, a good many of whom were discovering the Austrian musician for the first time, was the warmth which came out from Hubert von Goisern's music. His style cannot be ranked in the category of classical music, quite the contrary. The music concocted by Hubert von Goisern is certainly full of rhythm. With varied tones sometimes going into salsa or reggae. At some moments the Sorano audience was treated to sounds reminiscent of the mbalax rhythm.

If some people had believed, seeing Mbaye Dièye Faye on the programme, that the accredited percussionist of Youssou Ndour was going to perform in the register of his last production they were quickly disillusioned. Because with the Sing Sing Rhythm, Mbaye Dièye Faye was able to make limited use of percussion. In the traditional pure form, all types of percussion were represented. With the majority being large caisses and tumbas. Seeing Mbaye Dièye Faye and his brothers performing on the Sorano stage, one understands better the success of this art form in the international plane. It is quite simply impressive. Mbaye Dièye for some moments was even allowed to beat time with the backs of his fingers. The audience was enlightened about the differences between the percussion instruments which is a long way from being obvious to an amateur and even less so to a novice.

One of the good moments of the evening was the performance of young Magou. With a superb deep voice, this young man intends to make his mark in folk style. And he has the potential, it only need for him to put a lot more rigour and professionalism into the plan of the musical and lyrical arrangements.

As for Fallou Dieng, who had the honour of closing this dream evening for all amateurs waiting for discovery, he stayed true to himself. He understood the ambience. Even if in this case he did not have much time because of the lateness of the hour. But the little he did show largely sufficed to honour his reputation. And during the performance of Hubert von Goisern and his group he was able to demonstrate to all the spectators that he remained the professional who could move in several styles. In two encores he jammed with the Austrian artist and his music. And Hubert von Goisern knows what he is saying, maintaining that "this evening in Dakar will remain in my memory as one of the powerful moments of my career."

The one who had the honour of beginning the evening was also assured of his share at the end. The comedian Kousta gave no respite to an audience which did not expect his appearance on the scene. And his funny stories, punctuated with impersonations seduced the colourful audience.

Thanks Mary

A musical exchange at Sorano: rhythm from Austria and Senegal

www.allafrica.com 5th April 2002

This Friday the national Daniel Sorano theatre will accommodate a very rich spectacle. Rich in the cultural value of the event and also in the rhythm that will be at the heart of the production. The musician and cultural actor Austrian Hubert von Goisern, on tour in West Africa, will introduce himself this evening at the Daniel Sorano. And to ensure a certain popularity at the show, Senegal artists like Fallou Dieng and his group, Mnaye Dièye Faye and the Sing-Sing Rhythm, comedian Koutia and the young talent Magou will be there.

At a press conference last Wednesday at the premises of the Austrian embassy, Hubert von Goisern affirmed that he had planned his tour to West Africa himself, but in addition to that, this tour was made possible by finance of up to 30 million Francs Cfa.

As for Senegal, the Austrian artist is convinced that Dakar passes for the capital of African music. And principally for this reason, the Dakar stage could not be left out of his programme. Then after Cape Verde, Senegal will welcome this Austrian artist, who is adept at intercultural experiences. This before Burkina Faso takes over from next Wednesday.

In this way with the support of Austrian ambassador and the Austrian Institute for Development and Co-operation, it is possible today to come and draw from the source of rhythm for, as he himself confesses, he loves rhythm and that is the basis of African music. But he could not be content with CDs and so on.

Regarding the choice of Senegal artists, an initial list was made on which, apart from those going to appear, were found Ndongo Lô and Salam Diallo. But it was after several meetings for discussion that a final choice decided the Senegal artists who would appear. And Fallou Dieng at the time of this press conference, promised to give his best at the evening because "it will be an important exchange for the experience of our group."

Thanks Mary