The Honey-Suckle Company is an Art collective based in Berlin. Since 1999 the Honey-Suckle Company has collaborated with the musician Konrad Sprenger. The cooperation has brought contemporary music composition and sound installation to the work of the group. Together they realize pieces from their ideas; especially instruments that play by themselves, one of Konrad Sprenger’s special fields, have become part of the installations. Konrad Sprenger’s arrangement of sound often functions as a soundtrack in the installations of the Honey-Suckle Company. Whereas all the other members put the individuality of their artistic work in the background, Konrad Sprenger remains an autonomous figure within the group. This tension has offered the possibility to experience the pieces of Honey-Suckle Company and Konrad Sprenger from either a subjective or a conceptually understood point of view. Many of the constructions of sound have evolved from a process of mutual inspiration. For the installation Eswerde, the Honey-Suckle Company built three mechanically revolving harps in 2003, and thereby continued the work of Konrad Sprenger who - since 1997 – had been building various mechanical string and wind instruments, including a bass banjo. For the same installation, the group built a room-hurdy-gurdy inspired by, among others, the Long String Instrument conceived by Ellen Fullman, with whom Konrad Sprenger had produced the record "Ort". The room-hurdy-gurdy, a huge hand-organ set into a room, appears in the pieces Eswerde and Einstellung, beside the revolving harps and the self-playing instruments. The low sounds of this hurdy-gurdy, with the almost tuneless croaking of the revolving harps, form several layers of melodic patterns which remind one of the Japanese Gagaku-music or the pleasant splashing of the repetitive movements of one of Jean Tinguely’s springs; whereas the low sounds of the drum in Eswerde, produced on the soundboard of the hurdy-gurdy, created a sublime stomping energy.
2007 “Reihe: Ordnung sagt Liebe“, Harburger Kunstverein, Hamburg
2006 “eau d’ohn end”, Gallery Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin
2006 Installation “non est hic”, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel
10“ record “non est hit”, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel
2005 “Ohn End”, Cubitt Gallery, London
2003 “Eswerde”, Künstlerhaus, Stuttgart
2000 “Neuband”, Sonar-festival, Barcelona
1999 “Neu Westend”, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York
Excerpts from the booklet of the 10" record "non est hit" that was produced in conjunction with the exhibition: Honey-Suckle Company – non est hic In cooperation with Konrad Sprenger Kunsthalle Basel, 02.04. – 28.05.2006
The initial ghostly snoring sound in the piece Eau d’Ohn End has a frightening but also burlesque effect. Only after some time, a zither answers and creates a dream world carpet of sound through quiet rhythm. In the end, all that remains is the croaking of the revolving harp from the beginning. Konrad Sprenger’s self-playing instruments, which recall his cooperation with Arnold Dreyblatt, leave an almost hypnotic effect in the pieces Einstellungen and Neuband 2006. In addition, in Neuband 2006, a self-playing motor- guitar steers towards three more guitars over an electronic interface (gate) . This piece was performed for the first time in Honey-Suckle Company’s installation at Sonar Festival, Barcelona, in 2000, which is documented by the last piece on the record. Honey-Suckle Company and Konrad Sprenger’s music often has a ‘timeless’ effect, seemingly repetitive in an entranced way, and totally focused on the moment. This is also present in the almost ‘Krautrock’ piece Odessau, although here cello, sticks, percussion, bass and synthesizer do without ‘endless’ sounds. In Ohn End the six members create an atmosphere of infinity with their organ-like singing, produced by recordings of the members’ individual voices played through six cd systems and boxes, set at random and repeat modes.
The 1990s were marked by a significant shift among artists towards new modes of collaboration aimed at producing workable models of alternative micro-social relationships. The goal of these self-organized structures, in which artists and creative individuals of various professions took part, was to sustain cultural production using the participants’ own modest means, and to remain in control of this production through establishing independent channels of distribution, such as magazines, clubs, galleries and record labels. This move towards sharing experience and transforming existence, and towards a more open-ended concept of artwork, which opposed the essentialist fixation on objects prevailing on the art-market and valued by most museums, was largely made possible by the establishment of collective working practices. Several important art collectives were formed in Germany. Following the long tradition of spiritual and intellectual communities, which have opposed official state culture there since the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and which seemed to be in decline at the end of the 20th century, the Honey-Suckle Company, an elusive and radical group of artists, came to being in Berlin around 1995. A detailed history of the HSC has yet to be written, and it will pose a difficult task to art historians, especially given that so far the HSC has cleverly defied any attempt at pigeonholing their multifarious activities and manifestations. However, during the past few years the HSC has decided to give more definite shape to their intimate collaboration in several installations, realized as immersive and iconographically complex settings, in an ambiguous way reminiscent of many past poetics and movements in art, but also, in their structure, of religious heterodoxies and holistic philosophical systems. The HSC shows blend styles and motifs borrowed from different artistic and spiritual movements, such as Bauhaus or Russian Productivism, which aimed at comprehensive transformation of all spheres of human creativity; at the same time they incorporated distinctively ‘other’ traditions in the European culture, for instance of medieval wandering musicians’ groups playing the Hurdy-Gurdy, whose noisy performances opposed a stifling high culture with the subversive energy of the ‘holy fools’. The HSC presentations begin with short-lived performative acts and their exhibitions integrate the leftover from the performances and photo shoots into architectural structures built of recycled scrap material. In their ecstatic-Dionysian or meditative-Minimal dance sessions, the HSC and other participants wear special costumes of an otherworldly and timeless design, reminding of mysteries theatre. Music is capable of carrying rich messages and attitudes; it induces passing moods and alters perception. Quite rightly, the HSC have used music to confuse their audiences and destabilize and upset their firm expectation of only having visual pleasure at exhibitions. With music everything goes better, declared the HSC’s motto in a modest and carefully edited publication displayed on music stands as part of the exhibition Ohn End at London’s Cubitt gallery in July 2005. The show captured the viewers’ attention, but having popped in on the wrong day or perhaps at the wrong time, we did not hear any music – the sound was off. Therefore it seemed logical and necessary to enable the HSC, collaborating with the musician Konrad Sprenger since 1999, to produce their first music recording ever on the occasion of the solo Honey-Suckle Company show at the Kunsthalle Basel in April 2006 – to the sheer delight of the happy few and despite all the constraints and reservations which make any heterogeneous group undertaking a difficult task.
2001, “ODESSAU”,Glaspavillon derVolksbühne Berlin Motor Guitar+ Hurdy Grurdy
2001, “ODESSAU”,Glaspavillon derVolksbühne Berlin Motor Guitar+ selfplaying Snare-Drum+ Bass Banjo+ Hurdy Gurdy
2001, “ODESSAU”,Glaspavillon derVolksbühne Berlin
2001, “ODESSAU”,Glaspavillon derVolksbühne Berlin
2001, “ODESSAU”,Glaspavillon derVolksbühne Berlin Bass Banjo+ Hurdy Gurdy
Konrad Sprenger's relationship with composer and performer Arnold Dreyblatt has represented an intense meeting of musical generations and genres. Since 2000 Sprenger has collaborated with composer Arnold Dreyblatt in many performances and recording projects, including the production of his current Ensemble. He has also been involved in editing and mixing recordings of Dreyblatt's music, and in the production of many of his sound installation and performance projects.
His own label "Choose Records" has recently issued a retropective LP of live Dreyblatt recordings entilted "Choice" and an LP recording of the current ensemble (which includes Sprenger) is in development. Dreyblatt has initated contacts which have resulted in many of the recordings on Choose and their dialog has extended into many realms of music making and based on years of discussion and collaboration.
Konrad Sprenger has played a pivotal role in the Arnold Dreyblatt Ensemble (now again called "The Orchestra of Excited Strings") which was formed in 2009 for a performance organized by Nymusikk in Oslo , followed by numerous performances in Berlin, Utrecht, Hasselt, Bari, Geneva, Marseille, The Hague and St. Petersburg and Dortmund. In 2014 the Ensemble performed at the MaerzMusik Festival at the Berghain in Berlin. The ensemble performs in two formations, with three or four musicians, including Arnold Dreyblatt on Excited Strings Bass and Laptop; Konrad Sprenger on Percussion and digitally controlled Electric Guitar ; Joachim Schütz, on Dreyblatt's prepared Electric Guitar and often Robin Hayward on microtonal Tuba. A DVD of a live performance has been issued by the Neue Berliner Kunstverein in 2010.
Recoding Production with Arnold Dreyblatt:
2013: "Choice" LP, Choose, Berlin
2009: “Who is Who“ CD, Tzadik, New York
2007: “25 years“ limited edition CD, Gelbe Musik, Berlin
2006: 5 albums box set, Replica Records, Berlin
2003: “Point Source/Lapse“ LP, Table of the Elements, New York
2001: “The Adding Machine“ CD, Cantaloupe Music, New York
Performance and Installation Projects:
2000 Ludwigslust Festival Hamburg
2002 The Scribes, Berlin (Installation)
2003 Galerie Pankow
2004, 2007 Ausland, Berlin
2009 Nymusikk, Oslo; Neue Berliner Kunstvererein, Berlin; Time Zone Festival, Bari; Face E Festival, Geneva; Impakt Festival, Utrecht
2011 MANALESE editions Kunst als Klang, Berlin; SKIF Festival, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
2013 Mex21 Festival, Dortmund
2014 MaerzMusik Festival, Bergain, Berlin
Konrad Sprenger has been collaborating with Composer, Performer and instrument builder Ellen Fullman since 2001. He was introduced to her through composer Arnold Dreyblatt. Sprenger produced and performed on their collaboration LP/CD "Ort" which was released by his Choose label in 2004 and which received international acclaim. He continues to perform and produce with Ellen Fullman, both in Europe and in the United States.
Concerts: 2005 (k-raa-k)3 Kunstencentrum Vooruit, Gent; Theatre Arsenic, Lausanne; Kunstraum Walcheturm, Zürich; Künstlerhaus Stuttgart 2010 Artefact Festival STUK arts centre,Leuven Belgium 2013Performance collaboration with Konrad Sprenger (a.k.a. Jörg Hiller)Yale Union, Portland, Oregon 2013 Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, California 2014 Arnolfini, Bristol
Recordings: 2003 Ellen Fullman & Konrad Sprenger “Ort” LP/CD, choose, Berlin
In 1981 Ellen Fullman began developing the “Long String Instrument,” an installation of dozens of wires fifty feet or more in length, tuned in Just Intonation and ‘bowed’ with rosin coated fingers. Fullman has developed a unique notation system to choreograph the performer’s movements, exploring sonic events that occur at specific nodal point locations along the string-length of the instrument. She has recorded extensively with this unusual instrument and has collaborated with such luminary figures as composer Pauline Oliveros, Berlin-based composer and performer Konrad Sprenger, choreographer Deborah Hay, the Kronos Quartet, and Keiji Haino. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, commissions and residencies including: DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program residency, Japan/U.S. Friendship Commission/NEA Fellowship for Japan, Meet the Composer, Reader's Digest Consortium Commission, Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship, and artist-in-residence at Headlands Center for the Arts. Her music was represented in The American Century; Art and Culture, 1950-2000 at The Whitney Museum, and she has performed in venues and festivals in Europe, Japan, and the Americas including: Instal, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Other Minds, the Walker Art Center and Donaueschinger Musiktage. Her release “Ort”, with collaborator Konrad Sprenger, was selected in the top 50 recordings of 2004 by The Wire (London) and “Fluctuations” with trombonist Monique Buzzarté on Deep Listening was included in the Wire top 50 of 2008.