Gregory Büttner ‘Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt‘
CD, edition of 300 copies, 6 panels digipak or digital
released by Gruenrekorder, 2018

1 Track (35'35'')

„Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt“ is based on contact mic recordings, which I recorded on an old steamboat, an ice-breaker from the 1930. I had the chance to take a trip on the ship from Rostock to Rügen over the Baltic Sea in 2010. The body of the ship is completely built from metal, so it is a big resonant room which sounds very different on each spot which I put my contact mics on (I used two contact mics, so I could record in stereo). I walked around the ship, placing my mics on different areas of the ship and also directly on parts of the steam engine, which is still fired by coal. For the composition I only used the pure recordings without additional sound manipulations, only juxtapositions, transitions and cuts.

Field Recording Series by Gruenrekorder
Germany / 2018 / Gruen 181 / LC 09488 / GEMA / EAN 4050486130223

all music by Gregory Büttner


The other two releases by Gruenrekorder deal with field recordings of a less organic nature. Gregory Büttner's work in installations, composition and improvisation should be known by now, and here he has a thirty-five minute piece of music entirely build from contact microphone recordings he made on old steamboat, an icebreaker from the 19830s. In 2010 he went over the Ostsee from Rostock to Rügen and spend his time in the bowels of the ship to tape all the rattling of the metal in what was effectively a big resonant room. I am not sure but I would think contact microphones may not capture the actual space, just the vibrating surfaces but no doubt Büttner has better mics than me. He also recorded the steam engine, fired by coal. This piece comes without any processing or manipulation; everything is layered, edited and cut together and has four distinct parts. I was reminded of steamboats earlier this year when I was in Austria after a very long time in the old village I visited as child, and it was said to say that the steamboat on the lake was replaced by regular motorboat. Listening to Büttner's music I reminded of that steamboat, on that lake, somewhere in the early 80s. Like much of Büttner's other work this too deals with vibrating surfaces, metal plates shaking and buzzing, giving it a particularly rhythmic feel. At times I had the impression I was listening to percussion music rather than something taped with contact microphones on a steamboat; especially the last seven or so minutes were particular good in that something sounds like something entirely different. Nothing sounds very mechanical here, which I guess I liked quite a bit. Mechanically made yet sounding quite organic, a most lovely result. Büttner has a pair of great ears to choose sounds that work together very well; sometimes as opposites, whole at other times blending perfectly together. An excellent journey!

Frans de Waard,

“Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt” shows off Gregory Büttner’s uncanny ability to create aural universes that teem with unease. Throughout the album Gregory Büttner delves into noise, industrial, and drone. Much of the piece has an assaultive, take no prisoners approach where everything seemingly comes together in unexpected, bizarre ways. Great details punctuate the whole of the album while everything collides into a unified whole. Every single suite within the grand scope proves to be part of a larger symphony, one that feels quite vital.
Hardly a moment passes, and the piece starts off with anxious little taps. Gradually these elements become magnified with such clarity. Volume is an absolute must for the whole of the piece vibrates with life. By going for such a tact, the way, the song unfurls lends it a particularly gorgeous quality even with the inhuman origins of the original sound. In fact, much of the album commands the listener to pay attention to those elements that so often go unnoticed in the background as white noise. Every single moment the sound grows bigger, wider, with little textures bouncing off each other in unexpected, oftentimes nearly melodic ways. For the final stretch of the whole journey the piece becomes a grand, all-consuming drone. Gone are the origins for it is completely scrubbed clean in a wonderful way.
Gregory Büttner proves to be a deft sculptor of sound on the seemingly infinite “Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt”, a celebration of the natural world as seen through machines.

Aug 22, 2018,

Tone Shift (USA)
Hamburg-based field recordist Gregory Büttner delivers his latest, Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt, a singular work, an electroacoustic composition based on the stereo sound of two contact mics upon a metallic steamboat, runs for about thirty-six minutes. The recording starts with lots of jittering, growing slightly voluminous in short time. It’s as though Büttner is settled in the engine room with loose old mechanics. However, the shimmies are somewhat engaging, like rickety beats.
IN-SITU AHOY: He’s managed to capture all sorts of unusual gadgets in action, with a dad that was a longshoreman, this grabs my ears by the drums. So many unusual squeeky, roaring percussive elements, mechanical drone and various rotors in action – it’s quite exciting. At times it rotates and churns with a tremendous rumble, a well oiled machine so to speak. It’s a bit of an anti-composition in that, though he breaks these variables into shorter repetitive vignettes, he allows for the unexplored to do their own thing, becoming a witness, yet in some instances, overlapping strange ticking with gaseous emissions.
The hiss grows as loud as a bombastic hive that’s been suddenly disturbed. It’s a tinny racket with the embedded chugging layered and slowly being erased into the mix. Everything is atonally syncopated, but I truly love when he blends two similar gizmos at slightly off-register speeds, causing for a funky sort of delay. It’s fascinating to hear the belly of a boat have such similarities to a steam engine on a train, that’s the power of good ole steam I’d guess. Even stranger the end result makes me think of a prepared upright bass, but there is not an instrument of its sort in sight. What a fascinating capture of industrial rhythm at play. Remarkably hypnotic, it tilts the mind.

TJ Norris, 2018/10/09/,

[…] Was habe ich als Innenleben und Getriebe eines Dampfbootes aus den 30ern vor Augen? Nichts, außer den Lektionen des Maschinisten Jake Holman (Steve McQueen) auf dem „Kanonenboot am Yangtse-Kiang“, oder den Überlebenskampf im Maschinenraum der antriebslosen SS ‚Phemius‘ im 1932er Monsterhurrikan vor Kuba, wie ihn Richard Hughes plastisch geschildert hat („In Bedrängnis“). Und das ist beides ziemlich weit hergeholt. Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt (Gruen 181), GREGORY BÜTTNERs Beitrag zur Field Recording Series, erweitert nun meinen Horizont mit Aufnahmen, die er 2010 bei einem Steamboat-Trip von Rostock nach Rügen machte. Mit zwei Kontaktmikrofonen belauschte er Herz und Haut des noch mit Kohle geheizten Dampf-Eisbrechers „Stettin“. Der Sound erklingt unmanipuliert, aber in einer Montage oder Collage, die die Fahrt als wackelige eiserne Angelegenheit widerhallen lässt. Als rhythmischen Groove mit pulsenden Loops und klackenden Akzenten. Ohne Motor läuft da nichts und der treibt hier mit stampfendem Dreh quasi als ‚Schlagzeug‘ oder klackendes Uhrwerk auch die Klangbilder voran, in dumpfer Distanz oder zum Greifen nahe und in Stereo. Neben der großen Maschine fand Büttner auch surrende Oszillatoren oder Vibratoren, dazu ein hinkendes Kurbeln und anschwellendes Brausen mit Dampflocomotion zu mächtig tickenden Sekunden, die tauchen, tauchen, tauchen sagen. Uptempotrommeln klopfen, lässigere Beats federn und shuffeln und rütteln. Noch kleinere Frequenzen kollern, und so verschwindet der Dampfer und mit ihm diese 2000 PS starke Minimal Music im Nebel. […]

Rigo Dittman, BA 100,

Musique Machine (UK)
Gruenrekorder, the ever reliable label for all things in the realm of field-recording based sound art, presents Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt by Gregory Büttner. This release is available in both CD and digital formats.
When I was a young chap I used to fantasize about being a stowaway on a large naval vessel at the turn of the century. Perhaps fueled by stories of the Titanic or the explorations of Jacques Cousteau, my day dreams often drifted to adventure on the high seas. Even at middle age now, I’ve never stopped being attracted to maritime sights and sounds. Despite never having the opportunity to realize those childhood fantasies, Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt provides a welcome vicarious excursion. In 2010, Büttner had the opportunity to travel the Baltic Sea in a 1930’s steam boat, an ice-breaker. Using a pair of contact mics, to achieve stereo recording, Büttner captured sounds throughout the vessel. The metal hull, the engine, the atmospheric ambience of the ship are all expertly captured, without the use of any additional manipulation.
Clocking in at a 35:35, Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt is presented as one single track, however it unfolds in multiple parts (cut in a way to play like a multi-track disc). The track opens with a reverberating ticking sound, kind of reminding me of morse code being entered quickly, and is followed by a thicker persistent knocking. Next we move onto the sounds of the engine plugging along with contact mic movement along the way. As you can imagine, the sounds are repetitious in parts, and drone along in short spurts to longer spans. The are many variations on machinery chugging away in rhythmic fashion. At about the halfway mark, a real fast sputter breaks up some structural ambience. Later engine movement almost mimics tribal drummer, which recedes into some final moments ambience once again to cap things off. All in all, Büttner’s recordings give a picture postcard recap of his travels. Given the nature of this material, that’s really what it’s all about.
So in summing-up with this album Gruenrekorder once again delivers an exceptional audio travel diary.
Hal Harmon, 1.10.2018,

FEAR DROP (France)
Compositeur expérimental vivant à Hamburg, Gregory Büttner est aussi field recorder. En 2010, il a pu séjourner à bord d’un vieux brise-glace à vapeur lors d’une traversée de la Mer Baltique. Il y a placé des micros-contact et cet album en rapporte les sons remarquables. Il s’agit évidemment d’un geste réfléchi, porté à un environnement riche en particularités sonores. Ce n’est en aucun cas une phonographie aléatoire dans laquelle il faudrait, au petit bonheur, espérer trouver à la battée, une ou deux pépites sans aucune certitude sur leur carat. Gregory Büttner a délibérément élu ce vieux bateau à vapeur pour son potentiel sonore. Le musicien précise qu’il a laissé ses enregistrements intacts, sans autre manipulation que les transitions. Le plus gros de la pièce unique est constitué de séquences rythmiques. On pénètre alors dans le mouvement complexe bien que mesuré d’une machinerie qui relève à la fois du transport, du moteur, de l’outil. Les oscillations métalliques, telles qu’un percussionniste minimaliste en produirait sur une peau détendue, se répercutent dans des couloirs que l’on devine profonds, jusqu’à ce que cet écho se rapproche, réponse de la paroi en tôle au frêle tapotement.
Chaque point de captage sonore, compte tenu du potentiel sonifère important du bateau, est une source distincte. Ainsi, plus loin, le mécanisme hélicoïdal l’emporte sur le balancier. L’ellipse claudicante semble appeler la vapeur à son aide, tandis qu’un métronome isolé finit par se transformer en machine à écrire. Les doigts d’acier grippés fourmillent et sans réelle surprise on entend plus loin l’averse de la limaille, corrosion avancée des organes métalliques, à moins qu’on imagine la mutation de la traversée en aventure ferroviaire, jusqu’à ce qu’un doux mouvement de baratte vienne replacer l’environnement aquatique au premier plan. Il ne faut, en effet, que peu d’effort, pour convertir tous ces filons rythmiques en évocations surréalistes. C’est la grande réussite des meilleurs enregistrements de terrain, lever le champ des analogues, attester que leur découvreur a flairé leur précieux amarrage au gisement poétique.bit.

Denis Boyer,, 2019

Contact mic recordings sourced from a 1930s steamboat that had been used as an ice-breaker, on which Büttner voyaged in 2010. Much of the ship was metal and contained a vast array of sound possibilities and excellent resonance. Büttner has assembled a load of recordings, not altering them in any manner apart from cutting and reconfiguring, presenting a 35-minute sequence of sounds that, while often iterative in an engine/machine sense, strike me as generally remote from water, an interesting isolation and encapsulation of internal noises and environments. Those repetitive sounds, which layer and agglomerate in the work's end phase, can be quite hypnotic and rhythmically fascinating. As one who has spent time on ferries, ear pressed to engine housings, I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Brian Olewnick, Just outside, September 21, 2018

Niemiecka oficyna regularnie prezentuje wyjątkowe wydawnictwa z field recordingiem z przeróżnych rejonów świata i kultur. Poznajcie trzy najnowsze ścieżki.
Gregory Büttner mieszka i pracuje w Hamburgu. Od 2000 roku koncentruje się głównie na soundartcie i elektroakustyce. W 2004 roku założył wytwórnię 1000füssler, specjalizującą się w muzyce eksperymentalnej. – Moja praca rozpoczyna się od poszukiwania, znalezienia lub wyprodukowania materiału akustycznego – tak pisze o sobie Büttner. Zatem jak to się ma do najnowszego materiału z albumu „Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt”? Tym razem punktem wyjścia, swoistym dźwiękowym znaleziskiem, okazał się parowiec-lodołamacz z 1930 roku.
Artysta osiem lat temu wyruszył statkiem z Rostocku do Rugii nad Bałtykiem, gdzie stacjonuje wspomniany parowiec, aby uchwycić na nim jego tkankę dźwiękową. Mikrofony kontaktowe powędrowały w rozmaite zakamarki tego metalowego obiektu. Trafiły choćby bezpośrednio na części silnika parowego (wciąż opalany węglem), co też doskonale słychać w paru momentach. Industrialny stukot hipnotyzuje miarowym rytmem i jest daleki od idyllicznego szumu fal, za to bliższy plemiennej rytmik bębnów. Nie ma tu także dodatkowej ingerencji ze strony Büttnera, czyli studyjnej postprodukcji, oprócz typowych zabiegów jak cięcia czy dodawanie przejść. Gdybym nie wiedział, że chodzi o wnętrzności parowca to pewnie miałbym duże problemy z nakierowaniem skojarzeń na właściwy trop. Zachęcam do pobłądzenia w skupieniu przy „Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt”.

Łukasz Komła, ,2018/10/29