• kopfüberwelle
absinth records

Sabine Vogel: flutes
Chris Abrahams: pipe organ

ltd. edition

1. roadless____________________11:00
2. handwriting________________11:00
3. luftleere räume______________04:42
4. floating head over____________09:25
5. auftauchend ________________08:17
6.companion for the river journey__06:21

These duets offer up explorations of both differences and similarities between the flute and organ. One instrument is fixed whilst the other is free to travel the space of the hall. One instrument is made up of a single pipe that, unmodified, can be manipulated in an infinite number of ways whilst the other is made up of many pipes that can be manipulated in a very limited number of ways. Both instruments use the flow of air to “sound” and can create microtonal sonorities that at times tend towards vocalisations. Sometimes it is difficult to tell one from the other.
The experimentation never strays far from the components that make up the duo’s strong identity: slow, drawn out howls combined with sharp speech-like utterances, incantation-sounding improvisations that spark and bounce off the stone walls of the interior spaces in reflections that modulate according to the changing physical positioning of the instrumentalists and inchoate, melodic constructions that evoke “first principles” music making.

recorded in may 2010  at st. annenkirche in zepernick
except titel #6, recorded at erlöserkirche potsdam in june 2009
mastered by werner dafeldecker in june 2012 in berlin 

photos by sabine vogel
covr by michael renkel and nikolaus wiese
produced 2012
all rights reserved by


"An excellent meditative trip, no, a journey in a spacious country of endless sonorous beauty" (Frans De Waard)
"Abrahams and Vogel are well matched as improvisers and complement each other well; clearly this is a duo
with a bright future." (John Eyles)
" A rich, exciting recording, can't wait to hear more." (Brian Olewinck)

Here we find Abrahams playing organ, recorded in two different churches in Berlin, so let's safely assume it's a
church organ. Vogel plays 'flutes' - plural, but perhaps not more than two at the same time, if at all? Of the six
pieces, five were recorded in 2010 and one in 2009. As I am a bit sleepy today, my senses might be low, or
perhaps I am hearing things a bit differently right now in this half sleep, half awake state. Whatever it is, this is a
release that I thought was very good. Maybe it's because the church organ isn't really known as an instrument
for improvised music, or perhaps it's the sustaining qualities of it's sound that made me enjoy this very much.
Either in continuous blocks of sound, such as in the opening piece 'Roadless' or more scattered in smaller
blocks in 'Handwriting' or 'Auftachend', the organ has a great dream like quality to it. But there is of course also
the flute(s) of Vogel, which sometimes follow the sustaining qualities of the organ, but more usually whistles like
a bird in a church - even when there is not much of the reverb like qualities of the space it's recorded in. An
excellent meditative trip, no, a journey in a spacious country of endless sonorous beauty. But like I said, I must
be dreaming. Yet, how could I have written this? Hardly the work of improvised music, and precise therefore it
may seem exactly just like that. Great one, which should appeal to lovers of improvised music as well as drone
heads! (Frans de Waard / Vital Weekly #861 / Dec 2012)

Chris Abrahams & Sabine Vogel: Kopfuberwelle (2013)
By Published: January 10, 2013
Kopfüberwelle features the duo of German flautist Sabine Vogel and The
Necks' pianist, Chris Abrahams, uncharacteristically on pipe organ. Of
the six tracks, the first five were recorded in May 2010 in St.
Annenkirche in Zepernick and the sixth in June 2009 in Potsdam, where
Vogel holds a university teaching position. The rationale for Abrahams'
switch of instrument from piano to organ is explained by the duo's
"explorations of both differences and similarities between the flute and
organ." There are certainly more similarities to explore between flute and organ than between
flute and piano; for instance, each consists of one or more metal pipes through which a flow of air
creates sound, and they each produce sounds that can resemble vocalizations; at times, such
similarities mean that the two can be difficult to tell apart.
The improvisations produced here exploit and play around with such similarities as well as the
instruments' differences. The mood of the album is established by its first two tracks, each
clocking in at eleven minutes. On "Roadless," both flute and organ employ long, sustained notes
which interweave and harmonize to create a richly detailed, slowly evolving drone effect that is
occasionally punctuated by slightly shorter, higher frequency tones which contrast the two
instruments, adding coloration to the overall picture. There is very little evidence of melody, but
none is needed to enhance a piece which is endlessly mesmerizing without, and further enhanced
by the acoustics of the church where it was recorded.
"Handwriting" is just as good, but is completely different, structurally. It opens with a call-and-
response dialogue between the two, with each producing sounds atypical of their instrument,
including breathy notes and resonant popping sounds from the flute and tones from the organ
which could almost be electronic in origin, but aren't. Slowly, Vogel's flute dominates the
soundscape as she gives an impressive demonstration of her capabilities as an improviser,
underpinned by subtle support from Abrahams, before the roles are reversed and the organist
takes his turn in the spotlight.
That is a warm-up for "Luftleere Räume," which features another excellent organ solo; Abrahams'
talent has already been established through his work with The Necks and his own solo releases,
but Kopfüberwelle shows him in a new light. However, on an album without a weak or average
track, the highlights are definitely those with a good balance between flute and organ; Abrahams
and Vogel are well matched as improvisers and complement each other well; clearly this is a duo
with a bright future.
JOHN EYLES, allaboutjazz
17.01.13 12:35 http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=43692#.UPGTAY5UP-k
Chris Abrahams & Sabine Vogel: “Kopfuberwelle”, jazz review by John Eyles

Chris Abrahams/Sabine Vogel - Kopfüberwelle (Absinth)
I imagine there's a more idiomatic translation of the disc's title than "headlong wave" but that'll do for
now. Pipe organ and flutes--such a sound! "Roadless" wins one over right off the bat, long interlacing
tones, the heady reediness of the organ adjacent to the (here) somewhat woody quality of the flute--
just gorgeous. Eleven minutes of this long breath, no extra "structure" necessary, just the listener
placing him/herself inside a space with these sounds whistling past. More than enough. They don't
dwell there, though, moving to a piece filled with small pools of sound, "handwriting"--an additional 11
minutes but in very different space, not so serene as might be thought on first blush, but troubling.
And that trouble blossoms into "luftleere raume" (evacuated space), all stridency for the first few
minutes, tumbling into silence like an alarm that loses power. Yet another sideways turn ensues,
"floating head over" getting a wee bit spacey, nodding to throat-singing techniques (I take it it's Vogel
doing something similar on flute) but also, oddly, summoning up memories of Partch's Blo-Boy, with
its stepped upon bellows and three organ pipes attached, a lonesome plains feel (not sure how many
of those there are in Germany....). "aufauchend" (emerging) recall the second track somewhat but the
organ is almost humorous in its puffs, like a softly tooting tugboat, the flute a swallowtail whipping
about its stacks; very engaging. Finally, "companions for the river journey" takes things home
superbly, with heaving sighs from the organ and flute, end of day breaths, slow exhalations, the odd
tootle marking time. Almost an alap, haunting, echoes of Hariprasad. This and the first cut are
exceptionally beautiful and everything in between solid as well. A rich, exciting recording, can't wait to
hear more. (Brian Olewinck / Just outside / january 7th 2013)

A szokásos év végi kiadványdömping legkellemesebb meglepetése kétségtelenül Chris Abrahams és Sabine Vogel elso‡ duóalbuma. Elöljáróban: rég leltem ennyi örömöt promóciós lemezben. Mint aki ajándékot kapott, a héthüvelykes méretre hajtogatott, kellemes tapintású, finom illatú, merített papírhoz hasonló kartonborítóba bújtatott korongot két hallgatás között még most is a karácsonyfa alá helyezem. Tehetném így még öt-hat másik lemezzel is, de úgy érzem, ez a kitüntetett töro‡dés jelenleg csak a Kopfüberwellét illeti meg. Ami sokat ad, az sokat is kap.
Chris Abrahams új-zélandi zongorista és Sabine Vogel német fuvolás két, látszatra nagyon eltéro‡ hangszer közötti különbségeket és hasonlóságokat kutatja. Az egyik egy helyhez rögzített monstrum; a másik térben körbehordozható, relatíve kis méretu‡. Az egyiket több fémcso‡ alkotja, ám a hangjai kötöttek, kevésbé manipulálhatóak; a másik egyetlen fémcso‡bo‡l áll, viszont egy kreatív játékos hangok széles skáláját tudja vele elo‡állítani. Mindkét hangszert a csövön keresztüláramló levego‡ hozza mu‡ködésbe, a hangjuk viszont – a számos differencia ellenére – ido‡nként könnyen megtévesztheti a hallgatót: megszólalásuk alapján olykor nehéz megkülönböztetni o‡ket egymástól. A két hangszer a templomi orgona és a fuvola. Ezekkel kísérletezik, a hasonlóság-különbség ketto‡sségét járja körül Abrahams és Vogel a Kopfüberwelle lemezen, ami legalább annyira könnyed és fesztelen, mint az instrumentumaik csövein átáramló levego‡. A lemez elso‡ és legszembetu‡no‡bb jellemzo‡je a jó értelemben vett súlytalanság. És ez jó, hiszen kísérleti zenék esetében igazán ritka az ilyen.
Az ötvenperces lemez hat felvételébo‡l az elso‡ ötöt 2010 májusában a zepernicki Szent Anna katolikus templomban, a hatodikat pedig 2009 júniusában a potsdami Erlöserkirche, evangélikus templomban rögzítették. Kitu‡no‡ akusztikájú, kisméretu‡ ko‡templomokról van szó, a falak csak minimálisan verik vissza a hangokat, ne gondoljunk tehát hosszan tartó visszhangokra, csengo‡-bongó emelkedettségre. A hangok rögzítése, Werner Dafeldecker általi keverése és maszterelése elso‡ osztályú, az orgona és a fuvola egymásba simul, nincsenek aránytalanságok, a felvétel egészének a tónusa meleg és puha. Hosszan kitartott, egymással parallel, lassan mozduló, meditatív hatású hangkötegeket hallunk. Ido‡nként az egyik hangszer kiszakad a másik közvetlen közelségébo‡l, és annak laza ölelésében elszórt, rövidke hangokat játszik. A tételek vannak annyira változatosak, hogy az öt és tizenegy perc közötti játékideju‡ felvételeket más és más árnyalatúnak, so‡t, bo‡ven különbözo‡nek érzékeljük. A lemez hátsó borítója szerint Vogel többféle fuvolán is játszik – ami biztos: ezek közül a basszusfuvola a legmeghatározóbb, a leggyakoribb. (Laslo Juhasz / improv.hu/26 dec.2012)

CHRIS ABRAHAMS SABINE VOGEL Kopfüberwelle (Absinth 24):
Abrahams nach seinen frühen Jahren mit Laughing Clowns, The Benders, The Triffids, The Lime Spiders und Ed Kuepper nur auf The Necks festzunageln, wird seiner Kreativität nicht annähernd gerecht. Neben Hammeriver sind da vor allem seine Duette bemerkenswert, mit Mike Cooper, Clare Cooper, Alessandro Bosetti, Lucio Capece und mit Kai Fagschinski als The Dogmatics. Die in Kirchen in Zepernik und Potsdam eingespielten Tauch- und Flugübungen für Flöte (Vogel) und Kirchenorgel (Abrahams) fügen sich an als durch und durch pneumatische Meditationen über die Möglichkeiten, im Weglosen Wege zu bahnen, mit Luft in die leere Luft zu schreiben (so wie Keats Name auf Wasser). Ohne Weihwasser und Frömmelei ist hier vom Pneuma die Rede, eine wortlose Rede frei von Gramma, losgelöst von Soma. Ein geistiges Fluten, in das einzutauchen einer Taufe ähnelt, nur ohne religiösen Überbau, als ganz natürliche psychophysische
Erfahrung. Sanftes Flöten aus wer weiß wieviel Pfeifen steigert sich zu rauem Tuten und Hupen, zu schrillem, durchdringendem Alarm. Als wäre die Leere, 'luftleere räume', der einzige Dämon, den es auszutreiben gilt. Die Orgel spottet dabei dem Geist der Schwere, der sie statisch verankert, indem sie versucht, es der Flöte gleichzutun (die dann auch noch Vogel heißt und wie ein vogeliges Whirly trillern kann). Wenn sie um das Mundstück herum vokalisiert, klingt das so archaisch und schamanisch, als würde sie aus dem Urquell der Religion auftauchen und wäre zugleich von den Urprinzipien der Musik erfüllt. Zu denen auch die ozeanisch bewegte Unbewegtheit gehört, die Orgelhaltetöne zuletzt ausstrahlen, und ein Tremendum, das die Flöte zittern lässt wie ein Blatt im Wind. (Rigobert Dittmann/ Bad Alchemy/ Januar 2013[BA 76 rbd] )