Frieder Nagel

‘The Arrival’ EP by Frieder Nagel

What remains of art; how can music be experienced when they are locked behind closed doors?

InFiné is proud to present ‘The Arrival’, the new work of Frieder Nagel – a four track EP that was inspired by his interactive outdoor sound-art installation “Sonido Blanco”: conceived, planned and put on during the global pandemic in 2020. What remains of art; how can music be experienced when they are locked behind closed doors? Music, for one, is not just an auditory experience – sound waves travel through our entire body, we feel connected with others at a concert or festival, and a club experience is above all a social one.

When Frieder Nagel got the invite to use a part of the city park Nuremberg for an installation, he teamed up with light artist Stephan Scheiderer “to make music livable again”: When park goers passed by an old, majestic plane tree, it automatically sprung to life (thanks to some complicated motion sensors installed and hidden by the two) – and the first soft notes of “Calm Territory” beckoned people to stop and spend some time by this historic tree. In intact primeval forests, all measurable frequencies of the audio spectrum are covered by the sounds of birds, insects or mammals. The more balanced the volumes of the individual frequency bands are in relation to each other, the more relaxing the effect on human hearing – as with the rustling of leaves, wind, waves or raindrops. This effect in combination with the actual sounds of the park and the background noises of the city rushing by is what Frieder Nagel wanted to evoke with “Calm Territory”, the opener of ‘The Arrival’.

The second track “Into The Open” feels like an intro for a non-existing concert: constantly building, rising to a non-existent release. One could perfectly imagine this piece as the first track of a DJ set, a promise of an unforgettable night that could sadly not be kept in 2020. It is directly followed by “Para” – Nagels’ first ever composition – that works as a resemblance of live music performance on the EP. It is a subtle work of minimalist, orchestral music that was rearranged over years and should be recognizable to those who are familiar with the artists classical performances. On this EP we can hear Nagel perform “Para” live with the Deutsche Symphony Orchestra of Berlin.

The title-track ‘The Arrival’, the last track of the release, starts with an elegiac, then increasingly urgent array of synthesizers and different noise generators that make it clear that we are entering a final phase. It tells the story of an encounter with something yet unknown. At that point of the sound-art installation, the tree was completely illuminated, drenched in an abstract myriad of colors, making the impression it could lift off and leave this earth at any second. It’s a droning, epic climax to a an otherwise relatively subdued EP – in it, you can sense that the artist is longing for the arrival of a new perspective, a solution to a year in limbo.

While spending over two months working on the installation, Nagel and Scheiderer realized that they, too, had been unconsciously influenced by the piece: spending their nights under the majestic branches to find a combination of light and sound that would do justice to the extraordinary atmosphere of this huge, almost 300 years old plane tree. The aim was to put the trees’ magic into focus, to get passersby out of their comfort zone, to meet again and converse with people from different backgrounds and to spend time outdoors in a year that was meant for staying home. Young boys with a blaring Bluetooth speaker went quiet and watched, elderly ladies sat on a bench, listened and ate cake – others were moved to tears by the audiovisual drama that played out in front of them. Music and art had become – even for just a moment – a livable, breathable experience again.

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