Born in 1986 in the medieval Austrian city of Feldkirch, Urban has built up an impressive CV in recent years. His work has primarily explored the fusion of analog and digital processing techniques to generate a strikingly refined take on electroacoustic and concrète musical styles; but where past projects focused on the exploitation or recontextualization of environmental recordings, vintage tape recorders, experimental miking, and DSP systems, ‘Passagen’ dedicates itself solely to the rigorous exploration of cymbals and the resonant tonalities that reside within their humble structures.
The process behind these compositions was surprisingly simplistic: small springs with magnets were affixed to the outside of a cymbal, while an electromagnet placed nearby induced oscillations in the metal. Urban would then introduce rhythmic frequency patterns using software he developed in Pure Data – an open source programming language – to “play” these compositions. By manipulating frequency, amplitude, angle, and distance of the electromagnet, he found himself in control of a uniquely focused and expressive instrument. No additional processing required.
Taking cues from one of his favorite composers – Giacinto Scelsi – Urban found himself consumed by the purity of these experiments. Even though he was limited to a single tonal pitch, by focusing on the generation of overtones, loudness, and silence, he was able to construct an endlessly fascinating and focused body of sound works that are refreshingly void of pretense.