About a week before all European borders closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, Australian, Berlin-based cellist Judith Hamann began a three-month residency at the Finnish island of Suomenlinna, off the coast of Finland near Helsinki. There, when the world shut down, all her performances canceled and she mourned the death of her close friend, Australian drummer Sean Baxter, Hamann composed a short piece, «days collapse days collapse night» for Amplify 2020 online quarantine festival, curated by Erstwhile’s label manager Jon Abbey. Simon Reynell, who runs the Another Timbre label, asked Hamann to expand this piece into a suite.
Hamann had enough time to contemplate the ideas of collapse. First, she had a sense of time and life structures buckling, compressing and dilating simultaneously, of a sense of temporal and spatial collapse. But soon after, Hamann realized that collapse is not necessarily associated with its immediate, synonymous disaster but can also motivate a process of creation, «a way of making a new story or experience, a way of revealing, or retelling our perception of the world». This realization led to a period of recalibration, and exploring the cello anew, playing only for herself. Hamann adapted to the forced isolation and the changing seasons on the spacious island and experimented with improvisation with modulating feedback and humming.
The four-parts suite captures faithfully the current melancholic era and Hamman’s mournful feelings. The tone is of Hamman’s cello is dark and meditative, but blends organically with the subtle, unsettling ethereal feedback, the environmental sounds of the isolated island and her quiet and distant, wordless vocals. The brooding intensity of «days collapse» offers a moving and mysteriously haunting listening experience. «Collapse enables us to create and imagine new modes of living and working, new economies, new relationships, it kneecaps the formal structure of hierarchical chains, it levels, and creates lateral means of relating across social and artistic structures which can no longer be stacked», Hamann concludes.
Judith Hamann (c, elec, v)