The new CD from Davies & Gut
Released Europe 04.97 / North America 10.97

English Translations : German Reviews of MIASMA 2 (1997)
(translated by Walter Wittich)

NOTES #42
97.05.09

""I'M GOD" said the little girl." Gudrun Gut and Myra Davies have finished their second CD. It is about love, bugs and slime and music that crawls into you.

It feels good to listen to Gut and Davies, meaning their new CD Miasma 2. Gudrun Gut and Myra Davies show a long middle finger to the "man's man's world" and in doing so are mean, biting and very funny. Gudrun Gut, whose creativity has been manifested in a variety of Neubauten projects and her engagement in the "Ocean Club" and most of all with Mania D, Matador and of course Malaria!, is responsible for the music. Myra Davies is the "Head" of the duo. Myra, formerly mentor to Skinny Puppy, writes the lyrics and is largely responsible for the particularity of Miasma. Miasma does not follow the given form. One might find parallels to Edward Ka-Spel and his multi-faceted projects, but only maybe.

For "Miasma 2" Gudrun Gut has created music that reaches a high intensity in atmospheric density. In a field of sounds the beats literally crawl into you and grab you to the last note. The voice of Myra Davies is at least as important to Miasma's unique aura. Davies does not sing. The super cool timber of her delivery has the effect of a breath of frosty air: the cold cuts but the spirit is refreshed.

Pieces like Fingers, Dinner and Love Prison belong to the subject of "love". What comes to mind for Myra Davies is sad (if you are tied to convention), but also makes us thoughtful as the three pieces tell of the absolute holding on to itself, of self trust and awareness; notions that don't necessarily make relationships easier but definitely pertain to the "health of the soul".

By contrast Slime, Rite of Spring and Bug belong to the theme of "Nature". Myra Davies shows tension between humanity and Nature deriving from man seeing himself as other than, rather than as part of Nature. The CD also engages a tension between urban and country influences. Gut lives and works in Berlin, Davies in the Rocky Mountains. Miasma derives creative energy from this dialectic of locale.

What distinguishes this duo is a wonderful and mean sense of humour that manifests itself most in Davies' lyrics. For example in a conversation between a little girl and a sagacious bug (who obviously has read his Nietzsche): "Fetishes" said the bug, "have no effect on the universe". "I'll show you effect" said the little girl, "I'm God!" And she squashed him flat with her tissue." Small incidents, ironies and - as we say in football - "scrimmages" turn up in pieces dealing with "serious" topics. Thus Gut/Davies create art in a CD with serious content that is still fun. That is a trick for which we cannot show enough respect. Great CD, great duo.

- Lr


Black Book
1997.05

The second part of "Miasma", has just been released: "deconstructed fantasy" by Myra Davies and Gudrun Gut. The latter lady is known to many from the times of Malaria, and from when she was involved with Einstürzende Neubauten. Myra Davies, who has no such popular history, has more involvement with feminist groups which doesn't lower the musical quality at all. The predecessor is unknown to me so I cannot follow development. In "Miasma 2" we have an absolutely unusual CD: very oblique, often highly rhythmical, but not too annoyingly electronic. Myra Davies transforms completely sick stories into music with her plain ice cold voice - "deconstructed fantasy". For me these stories are the absolute centre. They pull everyone with a decent grip on the English language into their bizarre spell. It's all about bugs, lamb, meat and other strange topics around which, with a decent portion of imagination, new worlds are woven. Because of its experimental character, the music is not suited for the dance floor. It serves to musically intensify the mood created by the stories and so should not be isolated from the lyrics. "Miasma 2" is a niche product. For fans of strange sound its worth their while. This CD will never be accessible to the pop-listener. I remember a project, comparable in content, by the singer of Sleeping Dogs Wake: Fairies Fortune. Music for the brain..

- Starosta

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GDM
1997.05

"You are not alone. You are part of everything. You are in Nature and Nature is in you." The Canadian performance artist Myra Davies does right in collaborating with the Berlin expert in unusual spheric sounds, Gudrun Gut, (Mania D, Malaria), in order to transpose her special female form of experience of western culture into contemporary sound. 'Miasma 2', uses classical forms of electronic music and is filled with obsessive and night-drunken lyrics. Listener discretion is advised. The technoid romanticism of these cool mini-dramas has to be faced with strength.


CYBERMUSIC
1997.04

In their second "Miasma" work the two women complete each other like identical twins. This time in their weird compositions, Gudrun Gut, responsible for the sound, and Myra Davies, the voice of the band, dedicate themselves to the topic of Nature, using the entire span of electronic music for rhythmic accent. Only dead fish swim with the current.

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KULTURSPIEGEL
1997.04

Gudrun Gut seems powerfully interested in women - at least in terms of her diverse musical collaborations; Malaria with Bettina Köster, Ocean Club with Anita Lange, and since 1992, with the art historian and lawyer Myra Davies from Canada. So far, this collaboration of two very different women always leads to successful results. If you think "Miasma 2" is about the old music of women - emergency hot line or some girlie duo - you are completely wrong. Here even the most creative mens' groups have something to learn. In the search for the typical female in music one should say good-bye to the prejudice that the music of a feminist band has to sound like this or that.

What is offered here is the best, calm, sensitive and well-felt mix of manicured "masculine" synthetic music for which Gudrun Gut shows herself responsible, and small intelligent stories from Myra Davies who precisely through her Amanda Lear-like vocal timbre, reanimates the cold electronics. The song topics are earthbound myths; Nature, love, flesh and bugs. The expression 'technoid romanticism' fits here 100%. The album builds well acclimatized spheres that you can enjoy even in your pajamas. Even to those who can't usually warm to electronic music it should be said that Miasma 2 is proof that ice cold computer boards and medium warm vocal cords go well together.

- Rostober


WESTZEIT
1997.04

For some people it is not enough to co-found Einstürzende Neubauten, then to convince the Americans of the value of German-Underground-Wave, and then fifteen years later, as the driving force behind The Ocean Club, to enrich the techno scene with an aspect of "art", (even good old Linnie was enthused by the Light/Sound-Installation). No, Gudrun Gut also has to work on "Miasma" with Canadian author Myra Davies. If at least their 1993 CD had been a unique venture. No way said the two, who now present us with another piece of work which in its grandeur makes me stiff with awe. So you know what I am talking about: in effect, a bit like Laurie Anderson's lyrics and the sound paintings of Pablo's eye, with a cameo appearance by Inge Hump ("The Bug"). In this context even Sandow singer Kohlschmidt ("Sonntagmorgen") is not disturbing.

- Karsten Zimalle

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TIP MAGAZINE BERLIN
1997.04

The ambient-electro sound starts out atmospherically calm and more relaxed than on the previous album by Gudrun Gut and Canadian Myra Davies, but in terms of text it still successfully kicks irony. In a philosophical but never brain-heavy way, its about relationships of tension between Human and Nature, man and woman, girl and bug. In its androgynous cool, Myra Davies' spoken word, partially reminiscent of Amanda Lear, mediates lust and cunning without showy posturing.


BERLIN GUIDE
1997.05.19
ISSUE 110

A project with brain, or even better with two. Myra Davies, art historian and word strong lawyer, and Gudrun Gut, known from Neubauten and Malaria, fuse living through their second spring again into Miasma. A Miasma, so Freund Duden tells us openheartedly, is "the poison in the air"; nothing special, even an everyday thing, and that is why it has to be "Miasma 2" in order to allure us from behind the homey fire place. Musically viewed, it is "dense", "archaic", "technoid". Verbally viewed its quite "cold" but "refreshing" like a bunch of mint. In short healthy for eyes and ears as we are dealing with the organs of a nature-loving human. "Bugs, love and flesh" swim in the centre of this multi-media communicative melting pot.


TICKET BERLIN #27
1997.05.22

Romantics:

The civilization blues is female:

Miasma contemplates the modern western world

Despite trace elements of camp, we deduct from the group photo with Alpine peaks that Myra Davies is a romantic. That Gudrun Gut, who emerged from the Geniale Dilettanten, is one, is common knowledge around here anyway: So hard the crust, so soft has always been the centre of the movement. It must have been a moment of monumental happiness when these two met in 1991 as a result of Ms Davies romanticism studies at Humboldt-University in Berlin; a moment that lingers in Miasma: in the "dialectic of the individual personality in a gender-defined female context" and in treatments of Nature dealt with by the duo through "stream-of-consciousness" poetry over calmly puttering machines. As if by nature humanity would be noble, helpful and good. How wild. How reckless. And how romantic.

- Tacheles
Sat. 24.5.,9 PM


DARK MIND
1997.04

At first this CD reminded me of the creations of Joolz, the wife of Justin Sullivan (NMA) because there are a few parallels. The lyrics are always at the centre and the music only provides the background/surrounding for the poetry, performed in similar ways by Myra and Joolz, it wants to be heard, animates a thought process and is brought - in the case of "Miasma 2" - to full validity through the ambient electronic sounds.

Already the first song describes with horrifying realism the small creatures that surround us in the air, water, in our hair or our mouth, and that we don't want to know about , never mind see a close up in front of us. Slime divine surrounds us and is a natural part of life as are the Princess and her Suitor who, despite psychiatric objections and destructive analysis, find each other. Obscure stories that engage us by provoking and transmitting diverse emotions. Not easy listening but exciting head work.

- Takusz

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ENGLISH REVIEWS, MIASMA

EYE MAGAZINE
1996.04.11
A Toronto based weekly magazine, interviewing Myra Davies

LINK TO EYE.NET ARTICLE    

MIASMA, A BUTOH OPERA
1992.12.02
AT THE BANFF CENTRE
DANCE CONNECTION 49
APRIL/MAY 1993

Myra Davies wrote and directed "Miasma, a Butoh Opera", collaborating with composer Gudrun Gut of Berlin, and butoh choreographer Hiroko Tamano of Tokyo, and Berkeley, California. With fifteen guest artists, all of them female, the trio performed an hour-long mixed media assault that made a cautionary statement on the brittleness of human nature.

Stretched on the rack of conflicting desires for selfless sacrifice and selfish consumption, the artists posed a choreographed philosophical question that rolled over the audience in a barrage of imagery. Miasma unfolded figuratively and literally as a cloud, billowing, dissipating, and billowing again in the psyches and lungs of its audience.

Arriving early to ensure admission to this hotly-rumoured but unadvertised event, we were confronted with thirty fog-bound minutes of Gut's visceral electronics and a cyclorama layered with two image sources: one, an endless film loop of giant, grainy ballerinas repeating arabesque, step, step, part du bras; and the other, medical scans of a human brain in cross-section. This induced a feeling of stasis, that the organic flow of one's body has been stopped and time itself has been arrested.

The inertia ended when Gut appeared high in a black tower of machines, and Davies entered on ground level. In their opening cabaret number, Davies argued that wickedness lurks behind conventional decency. Her point was proved, when the demure Ms. Gut shot her.

No time to meditate on that; two Little Girls delivered demented versions of nursery rhymes and a gay interpretation of children at play that drifted down into a dark, almost obscene sense of enslavement, as they played at hard women's work with grunting and staccato slaps of hands on the floor.

Next an eerie apparition. A white ghostly figure - Tamano- gliding out of the fog-filled primal hole in the centre of the back wall. Here is a master artist. All eyes are riveted to her bare foot, to the delicate placement of each tendon and muscle, of heel, instep, ball, and tow, flexing and balancing on and off the gravity line at a surreal suspended pace. Tamano floats on the transcendent music, pulling us further into timelessness with her mystical blend of sacred and profane, of life and death, of the feminine and of humanity beyond gender.

The Little Girls return and they've got their Prince. The music says they're cygnets in Swan Lake. The Prince is a dummy with glass eyes and golden crown. They throw him off a cliff into the lake and wave bye-bye.

Big Girls, go-go girls? Three in old lady corsets and garters, on a high platform railed by industrial chains and steel pipes capped with butcher knives rampant. Confident, cocky even, but no less slavish, The Big Girls cynically flaunt their wickedness in a not-so-subtle projection of the toughness at the core of this opulent and sensual review. They manifest cultural enslavement and the impact is heightened by their placement within the romantic setting of baroque candelabras (old set pieces from the opera Eugene Onegin). Their daring is rendered tragic by the simple addition of a baby doll stitched onto the garter belt of the stripper which bounces as she dances.

Heroines arrive. Three passion-ridden suicides from the classics: Madam Butterfly, Anna Karenina, and Marguerite Gautier (La Dame Aux Camellias), archetypal reminders of the destructive dialectic that is Romantic love. In a stentorian rant entitled "Heathcliff", Davies revises romantic morality and sinks out of sight on the arrival of the murdering Choppers - Diana the Huntress carries a high-tech hunting bow and a bloody stag's head and these are not theatre props. Salome - vindictive temptress, or innocent adolescent? - carries a man's head on a tray. Judith, heroine of war, and its anguished victim, arrives wrapped in a blanket in a hail of artillery fire. She opens the blanket and the head of Holofernes in a burnished Roman helmet falls from her arms.

Neither the Suicides nor the Choppers have any strength beyond their past stories. They fade away into ghostly presences drifting gently in the fog like reeds in a swamp, oblivious to the Little Girls who play a spirited game of soccer using the head of John the Baptist.

Davies, with the Big Girls as back-up singers, delivers a piece on the use and abuse of power. The sound and pace are building. Five foetuses, wet with red potters slip, unfold centre stage in the butoh tradition, their mute screams a direct hit to the heart.

Wager's "Ride of the Valkyries" and the roar of engines are heard as the hole in the centre wall vomits fog and a glow deep in the recess grows ever brighter. The Valkyries on motorcycles, wings mounted on their helmets, make a landing approach with the help of an airport ground crew. They are pall-bearers for a a mummy-stiff corpse bound to his heroically over-sized sword. The Valkyries reverently lower him to the ground. Gut descends from her tower. It's not clear whether she plans to revive him or feed like a vampire. One thing is evident though, this hero, like the Prince, is a dummy.

Distant, schmaltzy German waltz circa World War I. Headlights blazing on the Harley-Davidsons, the characters wave a fond farewell and shrink back into the smog. A freight door descends walling the retreating forms away from us. Centre stage, the dead hero-dummy lies alone. In spite of entreaties from the audience, nobody comes back for a curtain call.

Kudos Tamano. Brava Davies, Wunderbar Gut. I hope this international combination of artists will work together again soon.

- Dean MacKenzie

PERFORMANCE REVIEW
1994.11.04
LAGERHAUS/BREMEN 94.10.04
(translated from German by Walter Wittich)

Whirl of Emotion

(Vervirrung der Gefühle)

Electro-acoustic atmospheric sounds introduce the show, slowly blanketing the murmuring of the audience at Lagerhaus Schildstrasse, artificial fog was blown noisily onto the small stage, and Myra Davies and Gudrun Gut made their entrance.

The latter stands behind a silvery hip high object decorated with snakes and body parts; half chancel, half cockpit, which hides computer instruments and a video player. The performance of this duo, with the title "Miasma" (both band and project name), uses pre-recorded material called up by the German avant-garde rock musician Gudrun Gut ("Malaria", "Mania D" were names of her earlier bands.) The Canadian Myra Davies speaks her own English lyrics to it. Video cuts (mainly old film extracts, clips from perfume ads, and experimental graphics), and somewhat restrained use of lighting effects round off the multi-media show, that pulls back and forth between romantic confusion of feelings, (longing, desire, lust, and the hypnotic and restless effect of techno-beat stacatti). The lyrics by Myra Davies follow this restlessness, sometimes logical conclusions following on the topic (No Time), sometimes associated series (as in the German-English "Chains/Ketten"), sometimes word play day dreams that lose themselves in a flow of pictures, emotions, and ironic calculations, ("Power").

The sample sounds by Gudrun Gut go from intentionally cool hard electronic beats to lascivious trance passages; from dramatic forceful undulating sounds, to schmaltzy classical extracts. While Davies and Gut ruminate in the cryptic "Lesson 2", about desire and longing, and with irony, forge a morbid chain of moral decay, a tenor exiled to an endless loop, cries of grand passion.

The multi-media project "Miasma" has a lot to do with the early experiments of Laurie Anderson, the literarily ambitious, but basically still Rock attempts of Patti Smith, as well as capricious performances a la Diamanda Gallas or Jana Haimsohn. But Myra Davies and Gudrun Gut stay closer to the topic of primordial gender conflict which they joyfully dissect and comically analyze. An impressive performance.

- Christian Emigholz, Weser Kurier

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NOTES No 10
1994.02
(Translated from German by Walter Wittich)

Gudrun Gut, who most of us probably know from "Malaria", attracted notice for her extremely provocative lyrics, and finally, for bringing the war of the sexes into music. Now it comes even harder than in the days of From Behind! With this unusual Album, title: Miasma , (also a unique project), these two women (Gudrun and Myra Davies), in almost hypnotic arousal, show us a collection of stories, observations and lyrical acrobatics, musically underlaid by electronic sound structures.

Miasma (= Clouds that cause plague) - the deathly Virus that shapes us into something that does not spring from our source; that eats us and slowly leads us into the abyss - into absolute emptiness. Miasma - the infection of desire, (as opposed to pure lust), a trap from which there is no escape and in which neglecting our true nature, we degenerate into beings reflecting the masculine picture of us, in a slow sneaky process that starts happily and leads to unfulfillable longing - a "chained enchantment". The next stage is disintegration, the fall, and loss of personality - Thus the irony drenched question arises "If we two become one, which one will we be?" (in Heathcliff, which was inspired by Emily Bronté's Wuthering Heights. )

Myra Davies, who guides us to the roots of all evil, has mastered the art of dropping herself into roles that at the same time she perceives as observer, grasping them on the basis of her own experience. This voluminous voice goes hand in hand with the musical/electronic sound assemblages of Gudrun Gut. They spin the net of their life experiences around the male - and ironically take the "poor creatures" apart. These women warily avoid the common musical clichés. They let their stories run free. They want to shake us awake and break the chains of enchantment. Metaphorically they feel their way slowly - the cosmic sounds end abruptly in brutal reality. An all too short journey through the feminine brain! I want more of it!

WESTZEIT
1994.02
(Translated from German by Walter Wittich)

Shakespeare's poetics transformed into the nineties, these years that slowly bring the millennium to an end. Gudrun Gut's sound arrangements (Ex-Malaria) and Myra Davies' spoken-sung word. Comparisons with Laurie Anderson and Ann Clark are obvious. An avant garde project, next to danceable, that contains a lot of meditative atmospheric music. Their integration is delicately woven, romantic and yet fragile, emotionally detached, and erotic. The VOICE, as if coming from outside, irrationally describes, a small flirt in a taxi. Is it real, or just imagined in the dreams of the protagonist? "No Time": Zeitgeist captured in the hectic pressure of time in our reality. I DON'T HAVE TIME. "Tattoo": contact wanted yet refused, desired yet rejected. The conflict between men and women is a constant theme. Yet sexual desire remains hidden in small hints. Deceit becomes the program. But who is the deceived? The listener? Or do the interpreters themselves submit to self-deceit? The process of experience of two women, that I as a man can not fully follow, I do not dare to judge.

WESTZEIT
1994.03
(Translated from German by Walter Wittich)

From a completely different corner come Myra Davies (spoken word) and Gudrun Gut, who met in Berlin, where Davies was studying German Romanticism and Ms. Gut was working on one of her projects with bands such as Malaria. Their experiments with lyrics and sound collage were so promising that the two ladies decided to continue to collaborate. Out came a Butoh Opera with Japanese choreographer Hiroko Tamano. At the end of last year they appeared with a new show at The Angry Women Festival in Berlin and Vienna and at the moment they are are on tour. Their project "Miasma" brings romanticism and intellect into a clinch. The listener feels themselves pulled back and forth between sensuality and cool electronic rhythmic. Somewhere between the avant garde performance of a Laurie Anderson and the thoughtfulness of an Ann Clark, two maturing artists show us conflicts that we all know, and not without wit and humour! Very interesting!

AUDIO
1994.03
(Translated from German by Walter Wittich)

The Canadian German lady-duo delivers the sound track of the performance Miasma: The wonderful English lyrics written by Myra Davies float above a synthetic sound carpet by Berliner Gudrun Gut. The controversy between male compulsion and female intellect (and vice versa), is the theme of esoteric compositions. The rhythmically threatening Taxi, the sarcastic Heathcliff, mark the anti-romantic finale: macho notions about power, chains, and tattoos, are musically destroyed and totally made fun of verbally.

MAXI MAGAZINE
1994.03
(Translated from German by Walter Wittich)

Poison Kitchen

From Malaria to Miasma. In the '80s Berlin musician Gudrun Gut, with partner Bettina Köster established the most attention grabbing womens' rock project in Germany. Now, with Canadian Myra Davies, she has created a "Gesamtkunstwerk" consisting of techno-rock, poetry, and visual and theatrical effects. Miasma: a concept album with live performance.

Content of this one hour stage show: Surreal seeming dream visions composed in waves of fog as well as flickering video and light installation. Images in zero gravity of "irrational sensuality and intellectual hardness", (Davies), of feminine perception, and of the gender war in riddles.

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