With her fourth album “The Soft Bit” (July 2021), sound artist and composer Jana Irmert explores the materiality of sounds. Using manipulated field recordings, voice samples and synthesizer sounds, she carves out electronic soundscapes as if she were using sonar in deep darkness.
Jana Irmert’s artistic output takes on various forms – from live performance and multichannel composition to collaborations with filmmakers, dancers and visual artists.
In 2019 she received the German Documentary Film Music Award, in 2021 she has been nominated for an Edda Award for her sound design on Jóhann Jóhannsson’s film “Last and First Men”.
The Soft Bit
Artist notes: “The compositions for this album were shaped over the course of one year, at first without a concept or storyline as a starting point. Yet what I became increasingly interested in was a kind of sensory aspect of sounds. I felt I wanted to get closer so the sounds, feel their structure and surface and how they contrast each other.”
Stick your hands into the sand and feel the grains against your skin.
“Throughout the musical process, I used materials like metal, water, sand and air in a very direct and maybe more raw way to create and record sounds than I did in previous works, where I had often manipulated field recordings that had a more ambient character and thus strongly carried the location of origin in them. So in a sense, for the compositions of this album, I used sounds without a place, or just an expression of the sound of the particular material itself.”
Submerge yourself in water and listen to the sounds you hear.
“It turned out the processed sounds resulting from hard materials would often have soft and tonal qualities whereas those made from “soft” materials like water or air would ultimately be of percussive or harsh and noisy character. Finishing the compositions was like feeling along the surfaces of the single pieces with closed eyes, making out their shape and outline inch by inch. Maybe this is why to me, some of the compositions feel solidified like pieces of rock, while others seem to be ready to evaporate into air.”
Stand as still as you can and feel the air moving against your face.
Jana Irmert is an acclaimed sound artist and composer based in Berlin. Her sonic explorations take on various forms – from live performance and multichannel composition to joint projects with filmmakers, dancers and visual artists. Being interested in phenomena like temporality and impermanence, alienation and the ecological crisis, she creates atmospheric audiovisual and sonic spaces ‘that work with dis/harmony in such a way as to mirror our imperfect world at the moment.’ (TJ Norris, Toneshift).
Her compositions and installations have been presented at international festivals and exhibitions such as the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, Sound Explicit (Slovenia), the I-Park Environmental Arts Biennale (USA), the Academy of Arts Berlin and the Banff Centre (Canada).
Jana Irmert’s album debut “End of Absence” was released in 2016, followed by her second album “FLOOD” in 2018. Both received critical praise from various music blogs and magazines and have been internationally broadcast on RAI 3, Resonance FM, Radio Ö1, RTVE and BBC Radio 3 amongst others.
Jana is also co-founder of Studio am Fluss, a Berlin-based company specialising in sound for picture and has contributed sound design and music for feature films, documentaries, VR experiences and video installations.
For her soundtrack for the feature documentary ‘Stress’ by Florian Baron she received the German Documentary Film Music Award 2019. In her soundtrack, she ‘dissolves the boundaries between sound design and musical composition in a virtuoso and at the same time self-evident way, thus creating a sound cosmos that, through uncompromising reduction, generates brutal knowledge.’ (Jury statement). “Cusp”, a collection of compositions Jana made for the film was released in January 2020.
In 2021 Jana Irmert has been nominated for an Icelandic Edda Award for her sound design on Jóhann Jóhannsson’s film “Last and First Men”.
(Photo © Camille Blake)
Climate Fiction Festival, Literaturhaus, Berlin (D)
Fluc, Vienna (A)