Robert Lippok is a German Avant-garde visual artist and composer. For decades he has been an influential figure in the experimental music scene, who also is famous for his audiovisual installations, stage design for interdisciplinary performances. A well-known collaboration with his brother Ronald Lippok and Stefan Schneider in the mid-1990s resulted a famous “To Rococo Rot”, a post-rock/electronic trio. They were known for their minimalist, musically engaging live show, and gave their final performance in 2014.
Known for his multi-layered structured approach and rich fabric of sound Lippok’s solo work ranges from collabs with galleries and operas to notable collaborations with Beatrice Martini, Debashis Sinha, Ludovico Einaud to name a few.
In 2012 a new project called “Glacier Music” was initiated. It was a collaborative nomad project with various artists. Both digital and more traditional practices started a dialogue. We met Robert Lippok in 2019 in Yerevan, Armenia. This is what he told us.
“Glacier Music was founded by the Goethe-Institut in Kazakhstan in 2012. The idea was to raise awareness of the importance of glaciers for the global and local climate as well as for the general water balance and to make the fragility of this complex and unique ecosystem more understandable. Of course, it is also about communicating the beauty and grandeur of glaciers to people. Over the years, a variety of formats have been developed, including lectures, panel discussions, exhibitions, and concerts.
The aim has always been to create an exchange between different cultures and to weave traditional and contemporary musical approaches into something new without making the individual artistic languages invisible.
Over the years, Glacier Music has invited a number of musicians to work on the project, such as the Omnibus Ensemble from Uzbekistan and the German Teichmann brothers or the Askhat Shetigen. Lillevan, the artistic director of Glacier Music has invited me to be part of the project in 2015.
Since I was a child I wanted to visit mount Kazbek. But all I knew where the legends of Amirani and Prometheus. We drove from Tbilisi for the Kazbegi region, slowly the vegetation and landscape changed. After we arrived we had some time to research and did some talks with mountaineers and local people.
I did some walks and collected sounds, when we first went in April there was still snow. From Juta we could see the edges of the glacier which is apparently constantly shrinking. I slowly understood the dimensions of the current climate change.
The actual working process was quite fast. We did not rehearse at all. We talked about how we want to work and how we can bring glaciers, ice, and snow into the music.
To get inspiration, we took a closer look at the structure of the snow, the process of melting, which is scientifically speaking a first-order phase transition, and other and other characteristics. Working with Hayk, Eto and Anushka was pure joy, because they are such an open and talented group of musicians. (Mentioned artists are: Hayk Karoyi Karapetyan (Armenia), Eto Gelashvili (Georgia), Anushka Chkeidze (Georgia), Lillevan (Germany)).
The first session we did separately in Yerevan and Tbilisi. Hayk reserved a studio for us and we started straight away doing long improvisations. Sometimes it got very dark, musical structures were collapsing and were shaping to new forms. It was a constant stream of movement. Every single track is worth to be released. With Anushka it was similar, but also very different. She has a sense of melodies which is extraordinary.
And when Haik and Anushka improvised for the first time together, I was just speechless. Eto brought in the voice, very important for the traditional music of the region. With her, the music opened up, got richer.
One highlight so far was surely the concert in Juta, not far from mount Kazbek. We played outside, Lilevan projected the visuals directly on a mountainside. Soon a very cold and icy rain started. It was very hard to play, we where all covered in sheets and blankets looking like medieval pilgrims. It seemed that the elements wanted to be a part of the concert”.
We experienced “Glacier Music” in Yerevan, Armenia at the Union of Composers Concert Hall. An event within “Synthposium”, International Festival of Inventive Music & Music Inventions, on October 4, 2019. Yerevan is undergoing of magical changes. Digital culture is shaping the at scene and electronic music is an important part of contemporary art community.
It was a magical journey that we wanted to share with you, and we are looking forward to seeing “Glacier Music” and Robert Lippok again.
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Sounds from Tbilisi: Vazha Marr