Gerard Lebik is an improviser active in ephemeral collective projects (at first on the saxophone, later in electronic media). He co-founded Sanatorium Dźwięku (Sanatorium of Sound) in Sokołowsko and is a creator of site-specific sound installations.
The evolution and emancipation of Gerard Lebik as a sound artist took place slowly but consistently. He started with wind instruments and electronic and free jazz (Erase, Foton) to later move to free improvisation (veNN Circles). From the beginning, he was fascinated with the basics of acoustics, construction and types of sound waves (sine, square, saw) and methods of synthesis (from analogue oscillator, through frequency-based, to granular).
He experimented with the generator of the Polish factory ZOPAN (Zakład Opracowań Pomiarowej Aparatury Naukowej, or the ‘Department of Measurement Science Equipment Development’), which gave its name to Lebik’s niche label. He later changed his analogue tools to digital Pure Data and SuperCollider environments, which also resulted in a passion for noise and interference. He further studied them by building various types of transducers, circuits and synthesisers constructed using DIY methods and analogue devices like VCRs and sound recorders, used as peripheral instruments in electroacoustic improvisation.
In terms of sound, Lebik often remains a radical minimalist, limiting himself to ambient or drone-noise background. The space and the medium gain a key role in creating each installation. Often a quite peculiar sound source, such as air compressors, is used as an impressive object of installation and performance.
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Lebik often relies on stationary waves, feedback, oscillations and resonances, simple tones and white noise, binaural and multi-channel sound, thus intersecting purely acoustic phenomena with their perception.
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I am interested in what is most primal in sound, the fact of its duration and infinity in time. I’m waiting for the possibility of modelling and including the sound in some defined acoustic space and leaving it there forever.
(A note sent to the article’s author, e-mail from 18.10.2019)
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Recently, a key area of Gerard Lebik’s activity as a musician and curator is the Sanatorium Dźwięku festival in the forgotten Lower Silesian spa town of Sokołowsko near Wałbrzych, co-created by him, Zuzanna Fogtt, and the In Situ Foundation. Over the last few years, it has grown to become the most important grassroots review of the art of sound and experimental music (as the successor of Musica Genera), and Lebik himself has gained the opportunity to invite and try out many international line-ups.
Among the artists who have exerted a special influence on him, it is worth mentioning Keith Rowe (they have been collaborating since 2011, preparing, among other things, Christ Wolff’s scores and the graphic musical Dry Mountain) and Zbigniew Karkowski (the Karkowski re:mix project with Maciej Ożog as the curator and the participation of Gerard Lebik and other musicians, visited six countries). Other significant names Lebik has encountered on his career path are Piotr Damasiewicz, Roland Kayn, Klaus Filip, Kasper T. Toeplitz, and Ryoko Akama. They represent different scenes, from free jazz to glitch and noise to reductionism (associated with Wandelweiser), which shows Lebik’s stylistic versatility and his musical insatiability.
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While listening to the effects of the Lebik & Capece duo’s work, one has the impression that the story makes a full circle; what appears to be simple, after being broken down into smaller parts, turns out to be extremely complicated, while what appears to be complex is clear and understandable. Listening to the artists’ compositions, it is not clear whether we are moving forward or backward in time, or maybe in some other direction. The constantly repeated low-frequency sounds and vibrations take us into a hypnotic world, creating at the same time a relaxing trance effect, as well as influencing the body in a typically biological way by regulating the heart rhythm and blood pressure. The musicians test the patience of the listener accustomed to systematised melodies and harmonious tones, confronting them with their own stimulated body.
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Gerard Lebik was born in 1980 and graduated from the Academy of Music in Wrocław in the saxophone class. The following compositions from the free jazz period of his career are worth mentioning: Erase (with Michał Trella and Jakub Cywiński), Slug Duo (with Kuba Suchar), Foton (with Artur Majewski and Wojciech Romanowski) and veNN Circles (with Piotr Damasiewicz); he still plays with the latter musician in his quartet/quintet and the Power of Horns group.
Next was the stage of electroacoustic improvisation, in which Lebik’s partners have included Jérôme Noetinger, Kazuchisa Uchihashi, Noid, Eryck Abecassis, Lotte Anker, and Paul Lovens. As an instrumentalist or sound artist Lebik has performed at prestigious events such as Yokohama’s Performing Arts Meeting, Kunsthalle Basel, TodaysArt Festival Hague, V: NM-Festival Graz, Zagreb Biennale, Tokyo Jazz, Festival Umbrella Chicago, TD Vancouver, Biennale Wro and Avant Art in Wrocław, Audio Art in Kraków, Fylkingen in Stockholm, Mem in Bilbao, Superdeluxe in Tokyo, Quite Que in Berlin, De Werf Brugge, Dizzy’s Club in New York, and CSW in Warsaw. He has also resided in Iceland (2015), San Sebastian (2016) and New York (2017).
Selected sound installations:
- WebSDR (2010)
- Tractography Neural Tracts (@Bios@Techne@Art, Gdańsk – Warszawa – Wrocław – Łódź 2013)
- VHS ESP (Mem Festival Bilbao, 2013)
- Aseptic Sinus Infection (SURVIVAL, Wrocław, 2014)
- Wniebogłosy (Generator Malta, Poznań, 2014)
- Saccade (WRO Bienalle, Wrocław, 2015)
- The Monochord Will Give Eternal Life (Seyðisfjörður, 2015)
- Leap Second June 30, 2015 at 23:59:60 UTC (z Burkhardem Beinsem i Markiem Baronem (Seyðisfjörður, 2015)
- El Peine del viento (A-i-R Wro ESK, San Sebastian, 2016)
- Stones (Sanatorium Dźwięku, Sokołowsko, 2017)
- Air in Air ( Konfrontationen, Nickelsdorf 2018)
- We Don’t Need a Body (Sanatorium Dźwięku, Sokołowsko, 2019)
Selected albums/projects for solo and group music:
- Eryck Abecassis /Gerard Lebik (Zopan Rec 2013)
- Zopan VHS ESP (Zopan Rec 2013)
- Morihide Sawada/Gerard Lebik (Zopan Rec 2013)
- Organic Stone, w: Slug Duo (Vytvornia Om, 2010)
- Zomo Hall, w: Foton (Not Two Records, 2010)
- Hadrons, z: Piotr Damasiewicz, Maciej Obara, Aukso (Ars Cameralis Silesiae Superiors 2011)
- New and Old Dreams, w: Erase Quartet (For Tune 2013)
- Jaworowa 39 53-122 Wrocław + Live at Drabina 13, z: Gabrielem Ferrandinim (FLAC, Zopan Rec 2013)
- veNN Circles, z Piotrem Damasiewiczem i Gabrielem Ferrandinim (Bocian Records, 2014)
- Mnemotaksja, w: Piotr Damasiewicz Quartet (For Tune, 2014)
- Mineral z: Red Trio i Piotrem Damasiewiczem (LP, Bocian Records, 2015)
- Anime Pezzentelle, z: Davidem Maranhą (LP, Bocian Records, 2015)
- Dry Mountain, z: Keithem Rowe’m i innymi (w ramach The Fall of Recording, Sokołowsko, 2016)
- Dry Mountain Orchestra, z: Keithem Rowe’m i innymi (Sokołowsko, 2017)
- ADVENT, z: Davidem Maranhą i Philem Mintonem (LP, Bocian Records, 2019)
Originally written in Polish by Jan Topolski, translated into English by Patryk Grabowski, December 2019
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