The musician and composer Cristian Vogel has worked over the past 25 years with such greats as Radiohead, Jamie Lidell, Maximo Park and Chicks on Speed. As an artist he creates scenographic experiences of a very special kind. The multi-channel amplifier d:24 by sonible played a central role in his most recent work that was staged in Aarhus, the European Capital of Culture in 2017.
Once an artist, always an artist. There is no one who has ever retired. According to Cristian Vogel, to lose yourself in a thing head over heels without losing yourself entirely, is what makes an artist. And Cristian Vogel knows what he is talking about. Nearly 25 years ago, in the early 90s, he began his career by releasing his first techno album on the renowned German label “Mille Plateux.”
“I’m a composer who knows a lot about the music industry, about live and theater performances and about software development and programming.”
Many different collaborations with other musicians and work as a producer then followed. As a performing artist Cristian Vogel was one half of the famous duo “Super Collider”, a project with British artist Jamie Lidell. At the beginning of the new millennium he turned to contemporary dance and once again he had to begin from scratch – learning how the art form of theatre uses music for staging.
“The Ballad of Agnete and the Merman”, Aarhus 2017 (c) Tanya Goehring
When asked about his best work, the answer comes without hesitation: “I am one of those composers for whom their last work is always their best. When I bring out or stage something new, it is always the sum of all my previous experience and accumulated knowledge, paired with all of my personal energy.”
Sonic Theatre Production by Cristian Vogel, Aarhus 2017 (c) Tanya Goehring
His last work is the Sonic Theatre Production “The Ballad of Agnete and the Merman” – a term Cristian Vogel likes to use to distinguish himself from traditional music theatre. In this work – part of Aarhus’ events as the 2017 European Capital of Culture – the choreography and production was led by the music and the spatial acoustics rather than it being the other way around. The audience practically sits in the middle of the 3D audio installation. The sonible d:24 amp played a major role in the realization of this special arrangement.
Thanks to the technology budget, Cristian Vogel was able to focus on the sound system. And the results can be seen – and above all else heard. Discreetly controlled Funktion-One Loudspeakers were used to create the three-dimensional sound space. Rather than a whole stack of noisy amps, one single d:24 was sufficient to produce the power and quality of sound needed. Its compact design allowed Cristian Vogel to remain close to sonible’s multi-channel amp – even during the performance. This enabled him to intervene directly and switch the amplifier into silent mode during a crucial part of the piece: “This was really interesting because it meant actually including some of the hardware in the dramaturgy of the piece.”
“It was a very simple setup and configuration with the d:24. I was so happy with the sound level and the general feeling of the amplifier that I had it right next to me on the stage.”
After its performance in June 2017 in Aarhus, “The Ballad of Agnete and the Merman,” which was created over two years, is now finding its second life as a film. The sound experience has been adapted for the big screen in cooperation with The Automatic Message and so “Agnete & the Merman” is currently travelling through the cinemas of Europe that have a spatial audio system. Here’s the trailer for “Agnete & the Merman”:
It is these ongoing technical and creative innovations that keep Cristian Vogel developing and evolving in his work. A healthy curiosity and a strong inner drive are essential for him. Challenges keep Cristian Vogel interested in what he is doing as a musician, composer and artist. They lead to musical ideas. He is not interested in processing old things anew, he is looking for unique approaches to creating new things in music and acoustics.