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Judith Hamann – Peaks

Black Truffle present Peaks by Australian cellist Judith Hamann, her debut release of electro-acoustic music. Known mostly for her live performance work with composers including Sarah Hennies, Yvette Janine Jackson, Alvin Lucier, Tashi Wada, and La Monte Young, here she steps away from the cello, moving into an intimate dreamscape woven from recordings gathered over years of itinerant touring. Peaks is a work in two distinct parts, crossfading between different landscapes and apertures; from rooftop to church, from stasis to flares of momentary romanticism. Peaks considers summits as being both above and below, reframing the idea of apex from a more intimate perspective. Hamann considers how our domestic and personal geographies might form their own apogees, meridians, or nadirs.

Assembled in 2019 while an artist in residence in Krems, Austria, Peaks begins with Hamann's more familiar cello but soon unravels into resonant electronic interiors; Southern California nightscapes heard through windows, San Francisco bathroom fans, snatches of recordings of friends, hand organs, and engines. "signal/Centinela" draws primarily on recordings from Hamann's time living in San Diego, and carries with it a certain sense of nostalgia in the sense of homesickness, longing, and displacement of distance and time. Side B is composed from recordings gathered on a different continent, Europe, weaving piano with recordings of sleep, breath, church organ, and the act of climbing. "under/over" emerges as it recedes, overlapping moments of arrival to create another kind of "spire" in the sense of spir (breath). Peaks, with its omission of any recordings from Hamann's home of Australia, hints at how the very construction of home itself, might be restless, untethered, changeable, and malleable.

On Peaks, Hamann interrogates tropes of ambient concrète musics, intentionally pivoting formally around material which teeters on the edge of cliché. This exploration asks whether familiar frames of harmony, field recordings and narrative trajectories can excavate new territories, or be ruptured. Peaks untangles a very personal sense of tension between beauty and shame in experimental music: treating lushness and harmony as possessing potentially muscular musical properties that might wrestle with or construct senses of belonging and home.

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Design by Lasse Marhaug.

Photos by Judith Hamann. Mixed and mastered by Alan F Jones.

Judith Hamann

Judith has studied contemporary repertoire with cellists including Charles Curtis and Séverine Ballon, as well as developing a strong practice in improvisation and sonic arts through collaborative projects both in Australia and internationally. She has worked with artists and ensembles including Oren Ambarchi, ELISION ensemble, Dennis Cooper, Arnold Dreyblatt, Maya Dunietz, Jürg Frey, Graham Lambkin, Alvin Lucier, Sejiro Murayama, Toshimaru Nakamura, The Necks, NYID, Michael Pisaro, Ilan Volkov, Tashi Wada, and La Monte Young. Judith is a member of Golden Fur, Hammers Lake, SYSTEM (with Anthea Caddy), The Argonaut String Quartet, and a duo project with Rosalind Hall.

She has performed widely with festivals including Tectonics (Glasgow, Adelaide, Tel Aviv, Athens), UnSound (NYC), Musikprotocol (Graz), The Now Now (Sydney), BIFEM (Bendigo), Dark Mofo (Hobart), Tokyo Experimental Festival, SiDance Festival (Seoul), and Liquid Architecture (AU). Other performance highlights include improvised or repertoire presentations at Cafe Oto (London), Issue Project Room (NYC), Dia Art Foundation (NYC), Steim Institute (Amsterdam), Logos Foundation (Ghent), LaSalle University (Singapore), SuperDeluxe (Tokyo), O’ Gallery (Milan) and Tempo Reale (Florence).

She is a champion of new and rarely performed music, immersive approaches to sound, and engages with a range of interdisciplinary and experimental projects including collaborative work with visual artists Rachel Yezbick, Keith Deverell and Sabina Marselli. She has been an artist in residence at Tokyo Wondersite Aoyama, The Recollets (Paris), Q-02 (Brussels), Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris), and Syros Sound Residency (Syros).