CD 'Hinaus:: In den, Wald.', Klanggalerie, Austria 2004





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gal Hinaus:: In den, Wald.


Released on Klanggalerie in April 2004

In ‘Hinaus:: In den, Wald.’ (which translates into: ‘Out:: Into the, forest.’, deliberately written with ‘Wölfliesque’ punctuation) I translate Wölfli's written transformations, abstractions and creations into my own sound language. Points of reference are Adolf Wölfli's idiosyncratic punctuation and orthography, the rhythmic-repetitive character of his listings and testaments and Wölfli's biography and megalomania in general. I tried to express his permanent creative urge through an additional recording, which is based on my own walking, running and breathing "out there in the woods". Different text passages are interwoven on several layers - from totally untreated phrases to modified elements. Specific sound properties like speech rhythm, speech melody or contextual associations were focal points of my "creative processing". All texts were spoken by myself or by Stella Kao, a Taiwanese girl who didn’t understand German at all. Stella’s voice can be either seen as a cross reference to the voice of young Wölfli himself or to the voice of one of his victims. By listening on headphones, you enter Adolf Wölflis mind, hearing voices whispering inside your (his?) head, running through the woods, breathing.

Bernhard Gal
A reworked surround version of Hinaus:: In den, Wald. has been published by Aspect Magazine, vol.4 in October 2004.
Aspect - Biannual DVD Magazine of New Media Art, Boston, USA.

Listen to audio excerpts (opens audio player)




































gal Hinaus:: In den, Wald. (Klanggalerie gg52, 2004)

1. dgiigara
2. skt. adolf
3. uiuiuiui
4. trio
5. gigrlana
6. dstüpflata
7. uiuiui
8. zittringim
9. misliaba


excerpt 1:
x mp3.x(2.46)

excerpt 2:x mp3.x(3.59)
CD 'Hinaus:: In den, Wald.', Klanggalerie, Austria 2004
Listen to audio excerpts (opens audio player)

Headphone listening in darkness recommended.

Cover Art: Bernhard Gal (based on drawings by Adolf Woelfli.

Thanks to: Stella Kao, Daniel Baumann - Woelfli Foundation Bern,
Karlheinz Essl jun. - Sammlung Essl, Berno Odo Polzer - Wien Modern Festival,
Walter Robotka, Christian Utz, Carsten Seiffarth and Xenia Hu.

Supported by SKE-Fonds, Austria. SKE-Fonds










































gal Hinaus:: In den, Wald.


In Hinaus:: In den, Wald, Bernhard Gál has based his sound art composition on the Art Brut work of Adolf Wölfli. The title can be translated simply as Out in the Woods, but the idiosyncratic punctuation in the original is characteristic of Wölfli’s artistic productions – nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems. Swiss citizen Wölfli (1864-1930) was imprisoned in 1895 for sexually molesting three young girls. Because of his hallucinations and violent behaviour, he was diagnosed as schizophrenic and transferred to the Waldau Psychiatric Clinic near Bern. After a decade in the asylum he began to write and draw, and the floodgates opened. His fantastical, but essentially autobiographical works, vast in number, given the general title of St. Adolf – Giant – Creation, were made during the last 22 years of his life, all spent in captivity.

Wölfi’s texts were of particular interest to Gál, especially the songs and poems whose opening lines often make sense (of sorts) before rapidly descending into apparent gibberish but which to Wölfli must have been in some way significant. The rhymes and rhythmically repetitive nature of these utterances, bereft of specific meaning and therefore universal in their expressive incommunicability, form the basis of Gál’s nine part composition. The only voices to be heard are Gál’s and that of a young Taiwanese girl, Stella Kao, sometimes multiplied, treated electronically or spatially separated. As Kao has no understanding of German, she recites the memorised texts without inflection, and Gál follows suit. Apart from sporadic birdcalls, almost the only other sounds to be heard are closely miked panting, and twigs and leaves being scrunched underfoot, as Gál walks and runs through the woods.

The installation from which Hinaus:: In den, Wald derives was premiered at the Museum Essl, lower Austria, in a darkened room. For domestic purposes, Gál again recommends darkness. He also advises the use of headphones, which gives the listener the feeling of inhabiting Wölfli’s mind. Wölfli’s drivenness and the sense of being driven, (the running, the panting), his broken words that sometimes seem like lamentation (“Uiuiuiui”), and his torments (Kao’s recitations) add up to an unsettling but fascinating experience. Secure in his megalomania, Wölfli died regretting only that he had failed to write the nearly 3000 songs that would constitute the final part of his autobiography. Bernhard Gál may have touched on only a fragment of Wölfli’s gargantuan project, but it’s a telling one.

Brian Marley (The Wire, UK, July 2004)

(…) Voice has remained an enduring interest for Gál, and forms the basis for his forthcoming release Hinaus:: In den, Wald, on Klanggalerie. “Many things got started for me in New York,” he explains. “I shifted towards this more general appreciation of all sound, taking all sound sources as potentially musical. In the beginning it didn’t really make any difference if it was a subway or somebody speaking – they were just frequencies that I could work with or that I could appreciate as rhythm or melody. But what makes voice different is language: meaning and content. I’m interested in language because you always have the shifting between music and meaning. Or musical meaning and concrete language.”

Hinaus:: In den, Wald is an exploration of language at this border between meaning and non-meaning. The piece, which began as an installation, is based around the work of outsider artist Adolf Wölfli (1864-1930). Wölfli spent most of his life in a Swiss asylum, where he produced an enormous quantity of drawings and a massive manuscript, From the Cradle to the Grave, that combines prose, poetry and images. Most of it remains unpublished. Gál is especially interested in Wölfli’s poetry, which, he explains, prefigured the Dada poetry of Ball, Schwitters, Tzara et al.

“In many of Wölfli’s poems,“ he expands, „the first lines have a meaning, maybe in Swiss dialect and maybe written the wrong way because he had almost no education and just went by the sound of spoken language”. But the following phrases are often totally abstract, just rhyming with the first ones. Here he becomes very Dadaist, losing the meaning and shifting into sound. In 1905 he was doing things that were invented years later in the art world. I really got lost in it.”

As a distancing device, Gál asked a nine-year-old Taiwanese girl who could speak no German to recite Wölfli’s texts. In this way the play of sense and non-sense is filtered through another linguistic sensibility. Hinaus:: In den, Wald uses little sound processing but it carefully layers voices – that of the girl and his own – over the sound of someone running through a forest. In its installation version the piece was presented in a completely dark room (most recently at the sound art gallery at Berlin’s Parochial church). Even for non-German-speakers the rich sonic qualities of the piece flourished in its claustrophobic setting. (…)

(Excerpt from an article by Will Montgomery, The Wire, UK, March 2004)

"Headphone listening in darkness recommended!" as the liner notes suggest, indeed! In over an hour Austrian composer Gal (Bernhard Gal) takes apart poetic readings from Swiss "ethnopoet" and artist Adolf Wölfli's (1864-1930) work. The distinct marching through dry brush permeates the alternating fore and background. The repetition of consonant phonetics is hollow and disturbing. Sing-song children's voices speak in multiple languages as if memorizing the long poetic passages. Tracks with titles like "Dgiigara" and "Gigrlana" are phrases regularly repeated and at times used as an added rhythm structure. Gal muffles the human voice over footsteps and filtered heavy breath, making for a bold illustration of an outsider artist's impact, almost a century hence, in the same way that Andrew Liles recently hypothesized about the "twisted" sexual appetite of artist Hans Bellmer (1902-1975) on "Aural Anagram". Both composers dare to deconstruct the fancy of artists who followed their mind's eye, whatever the state of that mind. Gal repeats the dark "Uiuiui" phrase using a authoritarian male voice of helium and fire patterned over the other hesitant boys and girls speaking "Zittringim". For all the whispers and hums, it is no secret that "Hinaus: In den, Wald." has an eerie Fluxus presence that grabs your unconcious.

TJ Norris, (Igloomag, USA, March 2004)

It's been a while since I heard someone working with the work of art brut artist Adolf Wölfli. He was inside an asylum in the early part of the 20th century and spend his time drawing, writing and playing music on his self-built instruments. In the 80s Graeme Revell of SPK made a tribute compilation to his work, and now Bernard Gal does something similar, but focussing on his texts rather than Wölfli's music. Translating these texts in his own sound language, and adding sounds. The texts are spoken by Gal himself and Stella Kao, a Taiwanese girl who didn't understand German. The sounds are all walking, running and breathing "outside in the woods". The girls voice is to be recognized, but the male voice is mostly mumbling and whispering. This work was presented as a sound installation in a completely dark room with eight channels of sound. I can imagine this is a frightening experience, but on CD it works only for a limited amount of time. This lasts almost sixty minutes and I found this rather long. After a while I heard enough of the wood crackles and voices. It would have been a strong work if it was a miniCD only. Now it seems like a lot of repetitions.

Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly, The Netherlands, June 2004)

"Wölflis sich auflösende Gedichte werden gebrochen, und in ein dunkles, klaustrophobisches Klanggemälde gegossen, das letztendlich passagenweise an Etant Donnes erinnert, wenn hier auch nicht der Schöpfung, sondern einem labyrinthischen Geist gehuldigt wird." (..)

Equinoxe Magazine, Germany 2004

Basic-Infos: Es handelt sich um eine Vertonung, quasi Eigeninterpretation von Gedichten des Künstlers Adolf Wölfli: Schweizer, Insasse einer Heilanstalt, Maler, Poet, mutmaßlicher Frauenschänder. Seine Gedichte: Laute, Wortfetzen, Sätze, die ins sprichwörtliche Nichts zu gehen scheinen. 1905 hat er die Gedichte geschrieben, die Bernhard Gal jetzt vertont hat: Jahre bevor Dadaismus entdeckt wurde, bevor andere versuchten den Worten neuen Sinn zu geben, das Unaussprechliche sichtbar zu machen. Und Gal, ein Wiener Laptop-Künstler aus der Experimental-Elektroecke, der momentan in Berlin lebt, zeichnet sich für eine ganze Reihe von Soundinstallationen verantwortlich, hat mit einigen namhaften Künstlern zusammengearbeitet, Preise eingeheimst. For further infos klicke

Szenenwechsel. Es ist Nacht, ich bin allein zu Haus, lege die CD ein. Und plötzlich bin ich im Wald. Nicht einem Wald wie wir »Städter« ihn uns gemeinhin vorstellen, Bambi-lastig und verkitscht. Nein, ich hab mich verlaufen in einem Wald voller toter Kinder und voller Schatten und dem schwarzen Mann, der hinter dem nächsten Busch auf mich lauert.

Gals Vertonung ist gelungen. Das Lauter-Leiser; das Wechselspiel von Natur, Mensch; die kindliche Stimme, die Laute voller Unverständnis ausspricht, Worte die im Kopf dann doch irgendwie Sinn ergeben, Gestalt annehmen ... Liegt es daran, dass ich eine Frau bin?

Dass allein die Biographie Wölflis Ängste in mir freisetzt, die sich beim Hören dieser CD manifestieren? Ich weiß nur, dass ich nach dem Anhören dieser CD unter dem Bett nachgesehen habe und das Fenster hab ich auch zugemacht.

Sanna Samsara (Skug, Austria, January 2005)

Bernhard Gal’s fourth album is a journey inside the mind of a disturbed, solipsistic individual. Adolf Woelfli (1864-1930) was a Swiss who spent a deprived childhood as a farmhand. He was imprisoned for sexual attacks on young girls before being transferred to the mental hospital where he spent the last 35 years of his life. While there he created a 25,000-page opus of detailed texts and illustrations. It is Woelfli’s status as an outsider artist that forms the basis for Gal’s enquiry into his life and work.

The disc consists of recordings of Woelfli’s texts, which he wrote in German and in an invented language, recited by Gal and by a young Taiwanese girl. (Some of the texts are reproduced in the CD booklet.) Interspersed with these are field recordings of a man making his way through a forest. The sleevenotes say that the latter are intended to express Woelfli’s ‘permanent creative urge’. The overall effect is disturbing, for several reasons. The girl has an uninflected, naturally pure voice, while Gal's own often whispered voice ranges in timbre from the idle to the threatening. Together, the voices uneasily register the presence of victim and assailant. The forest sounds, whatever the intention, strongly evoke Woelfli’s estranged status.

Gal is primarily a sound artist, and Hinaus:: In den, Wald was originally the soundtrack of an installation - a dark, immersive sonic environment. It is easy to imagine how disorientating these recordings must have been in this context, and the sleevenotes recommend listening on headphones in darkness to approximate the effect. Without the full spatial awareness given by the installation, listening to the CD is a necessarily incomplete, yet still powerful experience.

Richard Rees Jones (The Sound Projector, UK, January 2005)

Bernhard Gal takes the words of Adolf Wolfli, the obsessive self-documenter and fantasist who spent the last years of his life in an asylum, and enacts them: he trudges through the woods, he labours for breath, there's the sound of bracken being trampled down, while all the while Wolfli's words run in a paranoid way through his head. Originally a powerful installation piece, Hinaus:: In Den, Wald translates well to CD.

Mark Wastell (Sound 323, UK, May 2006)


Last Tuesday night on the radio I did a small special on the Klanggalerie label. I gave your Web address as well as flat of Gal. my co presenter (Richard Fielding) and I really like the gal CD. It's a very strange mix of voices but somehow it works really nicely. Is it a coincidence that he uses the voice of a young girl when Wolfli was accused of child molestation? Richard and I have always liked sound with voice especially spoken word and we are very big fans of sound poetry and its history going right back to dada. The layering of the voices is very textural. I would love to have seen the installation and heard the eight layers of voice. The reproduction of the artwork on the inside of the foldout is beautiful and is probably one of the best of his work which I have seen. It incorporates text, musical notation and drawing. Please pass on our appreciation of this CD to Bernhard. I also think this CD sounds very personal. Are the titles made up language by Wolfli? I'm sure that Graeme will like this CD very much.

Email from John (fan of the Klanggalerie label)