Weiße Plastik-Kuppel und grüner Strauch


"We have to switch off the a/c, it's getting cold!" The physical sensation of the cold unsettles the mind and hurls it back from Bombay to Berlin where the temperature is far below zero. a/c is the diary of this state of mind between Berlin and Bombay.
The recording device captures acoustic fragments, the sound of it's own motor, interior perspectives. An atmosphere of restlessness, examining the question of where is here and where is there? The sharp line between one's own base and the surrogate homeland starts blurring. It is always the here where connections to there flare up. The larger part of the recordings have been made during different visits to Bombay between 1996 and 2001. The outside view is focusing, zooming in on an angry monologue in the middle of a traffic jam. The noise of the city sinks constantly into one's ears, a space without silence. As you cannot record silence as long as the machine is running. The voice of an Indian friend, just a glance, blurred by the sound of the fan on the ceiling. Memories of a song, a hymn to Bombay: "It's not your city ­ it's a city you come to, which frightens you, which seduces you ­ but it's not yours." a/c is a journey to a fictional place, where nobody belongs to and which doesn't belong to anybody. A place which is composed out of short, fading and coincidental moments and memories. A place which you cannot store by pressing the "record" button, but which only comes to existence by pressing it.


Artist Philip Scheffner
Mastering Rashad Becker
Format CD, 7 tracks, 41:50 minutes, 500 copies
Year of release 2002
Contact scheffner(at)pong-berlin.de


  • reviews

    ReR (UK)
    Built around location and soundscape recordings made in Bombay - many of them highly processed and manipulated - this carefully constructed CD creates a distant, virtual, alien landscape from which, however, close, personal experiences emerge. It is a strange but I think stimulating admixture. We are in a cold electronic, full range sonic laboratory one minute and then suddenly sitting next to an irate driver in an overheated and polluted city street the next. An interesting work. (Chris Cutler)

    The Sound Projector (UK) 03/04
    Like the work of Evidence and Doug Haire, here's another CD made out of visits to a city - in this case, the rather unusual circumstances of making a visit to Bombay from Berlin. If you want 'acoustic and timbral eccentricities' (and who doesn't?), then may I propose this is a better place to start. Right from his opening moments, Scheffner switches freely between mutiple sound samples in a barrage of micro-edits, in such a way as to form fascinating mosaic patterns. These patterned fields are packed with irregular cross-rhythms and generate effective time-lapse, time-travel sensations. Streets, voices, shopping malls – many athmospheres from across time and space, gathered into a digital bottle. Then everything melds into a steady, poignant droning and chiming effect, which pulls you in very successfully. All that on the first track!
    Unlike other less pro-active field recorders, who seem content merely to stand open-mouthed in a meadow like a raggedy-ass scarecrow with big ears (not that there's anything wrong with that approach), Scheffner is attempting to make 'a jouney to a fictional place', rather than reveal something about the external world. As such, his continually fading and lapsing sound events seem to correspond nicely with certain human thought processes, such as lapses of memory, odd coincidences, and fleeting connections. This nebulous concept is realised with such lucidity here that it notches this CD higher than just another electronica CD (which in places it may resemble superfically). The second track, with a recording of a person discussing something about what it means to live in Bombay, reveals that Scheffner is asking questions of some sort about the nature of modern urban dwelling. The chance reference to a particular well-known tune in the dialogue has just been echoed, very sympathetically, by the pieced-together melody preceding it. Then, very distant echoesof Bombay itself seem to leak into the gently undulating rhythms. Scheffner's gentle questioning line is backed up by the faintly 'quizzical' tone of his music. In summa, this is a unique dreamy electronic 'fantasy' construct not a million miles away from Alejandra and Aeron territory; a fantasy from which moments of reality emerge, as adjuncts or contextual referents. Whatever the heck that means .. (Ed Pinsent)

    ei #2 (US)
    Philip Scheffner builds art from field recordings that he makes on his travels. a/c contains a kind of program music, in which the winding narrative that his sounds accompany is the course of his journey: insect noise, traffic, interior hum. Scheffner is no omniscient narrator; much as he is inclined to fracture and layer the recordings, he also intrudes upon them. When a woman yaps into his microphone, you can hear either him or a travelmate - Merle Kröger, co-credited for recording a/c's dialogue - laughing at the absurdity of her hyperbole. 'It's a dead city', the woman says, as car horns blare repeatedly in the foreground. Even the listener is inclined to giggle at the disparity between what she says and what we're experiencing via the proxy of Scheffner's mic. There is as much peace on a/c as there is urban anxiety. The music on the album's third track (there are seven cuts total, ranging in length from a minute to over 11, all untitled) is so patient, the rhythm so seductive, that it girds itself to whatever the listener might be doing. In contrast, track five opens startingly with car horns and other street noise. 'Don't be so naive,' that same woman tells us, an admonishment in English heavily spiced with an Indian accent. She might be critiquing the assumptions of her arty Western visitors, or she might be speaking to the audience, who are accustomed to verses and choruses and who must make peace with the complexity in Scheffner's sounds, which are - despite their familiarity - invasive and often grating. At the end of track five, a digitized harmonica fades in, the melody veering toward what sounds like 'My Country' Tis of Thee' (or perhaps 'God save the queen'), and you can't help but emphasize: home feels very far away. (Marc Weidenbaum)

    absurd (Greece)
    i discovered philip scheffner & the berlin pong label thanks to the interest of annibale piccici whom i have to thank. it was half a month or so ago that did he send me his "a/c" cd together w/ the pure cd and in the very beginning was really puzzled of what i am to listen. frankly feared it to be just another electronica thing but instead turned out to be a really jolly experience. i assume that the vast majority of us fancy a lot listening to "pictorial" sounds, or situations where the soundscapes will have the potential to make you feel like dreaming of a movie inside you or also speaking of "field recordings" as well have the ability to make you picture a situation or a place upon listening a release. somehow is how this cd is constructed. featuring field recordings done in bombay some years ago and beautifully crafted soundscapes scheffner offers us a soundtrack to an invisible movie whose ambiance manage to capture me and made me feel unbelievably great! I may not dreamt of bombay perhaps but of other situations/places but it was a really gorgeous experiencing listening to it and liked it more each time i listened to it. so allow me to say that I consider his "challenge" truly successful. pretty curious to see what else pong is to offer us though

    lucky kitchen 'this land is your land' (E/US)
    In travels between Berlin and Bombay (both start with "B") fear elevates or dissapates depending on which side its owner starts. A Bombay native will be afraid of Berlin's pasty white masses. Likewise a Berliner will fear the movement and light of the great Indian metropolis. Soon, even in a displacement such as this, the foreigner settles into the familiar everyday struggle found everywhere on the planet. Philip Scheffner traveled several times to Bombay, and found his audio thread in traffic. A lovely and frustrated female voice expresses contempt at circulation disfunction. A harmonica plays us to the next scene. I travel as a double outsider here, I do not know India, and I do not know Scheffner's tapes. However, I am convinced that he was well moved. The composition says, "wish you were here, but glad I was alone", and we get this 3/4 hour scroll of brush strokes giving incidental highlights. Some computer techniques are here to move the thread more, and mostly I am convinced again. This is a good example of sharp equipment used softly. There are some known moments, but these are ok as well. Somehow, it does not matter where anything was recorded, because everything we know is on this small surface. (a. bergman)

    Vital weekly (NL)
    This is the second release by Philip Scheffner on his own Pong label. It marks a breakaway from his first CD, which found himself in a more techno area. He combines cleverly spoken word and music. Basic sounds and talk were recorded in Bombay in 1996 and it's set here as a story in music. It's a journey; a journey to a place that doesn't exist. The music here can be easily classified as ambient, but probably doesn't entirely justify it. The instrumentation is mostly realized by digital means and sound a bit unlike ambient, with it's somewhat harsher high end sounds. Scheffner cleverly processed bells sounds, street sounds and probably some of the spoken word too. A firm take off after his first CD and certainly a much more mature work. (Frans de Waard)

  • artist statement

    Most of the material used for the production of a/c consists of recordings, done on MiniDisk and Mini DV between 1996 and 2002 in Bombay and Berlin. From the extensive material collected, some sequences were selected and modified using standard desktop editing and filter facilites. a/c attempts to describe an abstract, imaginary place. An urban space located somewherein-between and mostly present in memories. A place which is situated between two personal points of contact: Berlin, because that is the place where I live, work and spend time. Bomaby, because I have good friends there, whom I visit regularly and who happen to live in Bombay. Would they live e.g. in Vienna, that would be my second point of contact.The context 'India' with all its (exotic) connotations plays a very limited role to me. Having said this, this subtext was of course crucial for the work with the field recordings and the final composition. If you deal with urban field recordings, your own work - like it or not - is being lined up in a long tradition of soundscape-research, the description of locations, audio tours, etc. If the Western listener is suddenly attracted by the 'exotic' place Bombay, you find yourself right in the middle in a discursive board game of ethnographic stare, exoticising, assumed authenticity and eurocentrism. The question is being raised: who is speaking, who is recording and for what purpose. In my work for a/c I tried to tackle such questions already at the level of selecting from the recorded material as well as throughout the process of editing the sequences.

    The used material can be divided roughly into four areas:
    1. The noise produced by the recording device while attempting to record a situation.
    2. An interview recorded in Bombay with a close friend of mine, the Indian script writer Urmi Juvekar on a famous song from the Bollywood movie 'C.I.D'.
    3. Sounds from the cities Bombay and Berlin.
    4. A concrete situation with the above mentioned script writer while stuck in a car in a traffic jam in Bombay.

    Regarding 1: The Recorder
    The noise made by the recording device might well be the most important level in the project to me. It illustrates both: the impossible act of trying to record a moment in time as well as the person pressing the record button. Normally such noises are being erased throughout the process of post-production. To the contrary, at a/c these noises areat the core of the project and build the foundation of the entire composition. The relation between the noise of the recording device and the recordedsound is behaving invertedly proportional. The actual and identifiablefield recordings become sound freckles in the audible process of recording.

    Regarding 2: The Song
    The song 'Bombay Meri Jaan' (from the film C.I.D.) is regarded as the inofficial hymn of the city of Bombay. It is a kind of Indian clichee. If there was any Indian documentary made on Bombay, this song would most probably be used. The Indian script writer Urmi Juvekar tries to remember this song line by line, translates each line from Hindi to English and attempts to explain the meaning in the context of Bombay. Western clichees of Bombay are being mirrored in the Indian clichees of the city.
    This song is also a starting point to ponder city in general.

    Regarding 3: The City
    Most of the city sound recordings used in a/c are impossible to place. They tend to be rather general street sounds / scenes.

    Regarding 4: The Traffic Jam
    The unedited recording of the traffic jam serves as some kind of impact of reality on the composition. In the apparently free floating oscillation between places we are suddenly stuck. This inertia becomes the origin of some swearing, descriptive observations of the everyday, the destruction of the illusion of boundless mobility. The place Bombay, for the Western ears exotic and full of projections is being put in its place by the perspective given from a woman living in Bombay: 'I don't like anything about Bombay'. Through the dramatic use of such interwoven layers as described above, an abstract, personal space seems to emerge which most probably does not find any resemblance in the real world. One review of a/c described the result as 'anti-documentary' - an understanding which seems attractive to me, especially as most of the material used is documentary.


a/c track 01

a/c track 02

a/c track 03

a/c track 04

a/c track 05

a/c track 06

a/c track 07