Re: [rumori] John Watermann 19.2.1935 - 2.4.2002

From: shannon o'neill (
Date: Fri Apr 05 2002 - 20:41:12 PST

Michael Howes <> wrote:
> I've never really know anything about Watermann. but he was one of my
> first exposures to sample based music.
>Yea how do you discover one of the lesser knowns first? Chance I guess.

i first heard john's music in the late 80s on 2mbs-fm
in sydney. i was a teenager still in high school, just
starting to become interested in dada, surrealism,
absurdism, collage, electronic music, etc. and hearing
john's music changed my life.

when i went to film school in the mid-90s i got my
first email account and started to correspond with john.
he was always very generous and supportive - his
encouragement gave me confidence in my music...

> To this day I know very little about him or his releases. I know what
> I've heard, which is the 4 releases I have of his, 2 of which would make
> my all time favorite list.
>I still enjoy "Ambiguity" and "Babell #1" a LOT.....and "Dummyhead" and
>"Raum 312" are worth a listen for sure.

>I even wrote him years back and we exchanged some super boring email....I
>never did find out if he ever performed or if he had other releases.

i don't think that he ever performed his music live..

there is a discography here:

many people are unaware that john was also an extraordinary
writer and visual artist, working with quite a dark form of surrealism
(consistent with his music). his web zine 'lean yellow supporting'
is one of the most amazing uses of the web i've encountered.
unfortunately it is no longer online. (if anyone has a copy of it
please contact me).

john should be regarded as a pioneer of glitch/microsound as
well as cutup. he was using techniques in the 80s (with just a
sampler and multitrack) that anticipated a lot of recent digital
music. although i think he has influenced a lot of composers,
it is tragic that his own work isn't more widely known.

we had planned to rerelease some of his early cassettes
as cdrs this month (including the legendary 'these are workers').
this will now be put on hold temporarily while we consider how
best to present them as a tribute to his memory.

john also contributed a track to the forthcoming 'communication
problems' compilation on vibragun. the track is called 'cut off'.

john was a friend, an influence and an inspiration to me, and
a sort of mentor. he will be missed.


ps here is an obituary by frans de waard, from 'vital weekly':

1. John Watermann 19.2.1935 - 2.4.2002

It's with great sadness that we have to announce the death of John
Watermann. He died AT 5:50pm Brisbane time, 2.4.2002, Ward 4B Royal
Brisbane Hospital. He died from infection associated with myeloma.
John Watermann was one of the truely underground sound and visual
artists. In the late eighties his name surfaced out of knowhere, when
a double CD was released by Walter Ulbricht in Germany . Starting out
in Berlin, Germany, where he was born, as a filmmaker and
photographer, he found out that he needed soundtracks for his films.
He started composing music in the mid sixties and moved to Australia
in the early seventies. Although he was collecting sound equipment,
his first releases do not surface until the late 80s. In the nineties
his music was released on CD's by ND, Dark Vinyl, Walter Ulbricht and
Raum 312. He also recorded a collaborative work with Merzbow. One of
his last big projects was a CDRom "A Rose Is A Rose", which he
released himself and has his visual work and music.
Much of his work incorporated field recordings, which were heavily
treated by electronics, resulting in highly rhythmic music, through
the extensive use of cut ups. Although in the later part of the
nineties he was less actively involved in producing music (mainly due
to his illness), his output will not be forgotten.

Mid 2000 he wrote me that he was terminally ill, but that he would
love to do a sound project with me in the remaining time. We
exchanged environmental recordings and exchanged e-mails over the
practical nature of composing our works. Only a few weeks ago, he
wrote me that he was still working on it, despite all the treatments
he was getting. In exchanging these e-mails he came forward as a very
practical person, with clear ideas as to what he wanted. I will
continue to work my part of this work in order to keep his memory

- Frans de Waard, 03-04-2002

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