MAP011 /// Sarah Hennies – Sisters (by Lenka Novosedlíková)

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released August 01, 2018

We discovered the church in Kyjatice three years ago during our irregular wanderings across southern Slovakia. We were completely enchanted by this well hidden medieval building standing over the village, surrounded by sunny fields and dense forests. We asked ourselves how we could bring life again to the church, how we could fill it with sound which would not interrupt the contemplative character of that specific environment.

The result should have been the sound intervention which would awaken and reveal every corner inside of the church. Just for a moment, we wanted to caress all the monumental fresco paintings, creaking wooden benches, pipes of howling organ, hand painted ceiling and carved saints by sound which could release them from the long guarded and abandoned silence.

In the two compositions for vibraphone she wrote for mappa editions, Sarah Hennies analyses the psychoacustic dimensions of space. Sisters is a sonic exploration which opens the space between the rough walls of the church, an infinite pulse penetrating into every crinkle, hole and fold. In the sense of her quote „When you pulse one note on a vibraphone for 20 minutes, why do you need to do anything else?“, we witness the fullness of one single tone, disappearing resonances and gentle changes, which reveal various performative, spatial, psychic and listening situations.

Sisters was a challenge for Lenka Novosedlíková, who is slovak composer, performer and organizer. Novosedlíková is well known distinctive figure of the youngest composers generation in Slovakia. She moves across contemporary composition and interpretation (percussion instruments), improv or electronic music projects. She is member of Cluster Ensemble which is renowned Slovak ensemble with many international achievements.

The church in Kyjatice is a sacred place of mappa editions. It blesses all our activities. It’s a place of inevitable distance from our everyday life. Here we find distance from our everyday lives.

By buying a vinyl you contribute to better accessibility and maintenance of this significant Roman-gothic monument with valuable fresco decorations.


composed by Sarah Hennies
performed by Lenka Novosedlíková

recorded by Jonáš Gruska
mixed and mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi

design by Jakub Juhás and Zoltán Czakó
cover photography by Zoltán Czakó
liner notes by Jennie Gottschalk

special thanks to Janka Miháliková, Nina Pacherová and Lukáš Ďurian

released by mappa as MAP011 in 2018

Supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council



Sisters is well matched to the LP format, being in two parts that present, as composer Sarah Hennies points out, “similar material but contrasting characters”. Vibraphone player Lenka Novosedlíková brings this piece to life in a compact medieval church surrounded by fields and forest in the southern Slovakian village of Kyjatice. Her intense, obsessively focussed performance seems to grasp and mould the musical material, to burnish its surface, bringing out an innate glow. In the process the intimate Gothic interior of the venue, complete with hand-painted decorations that are reproduced on the album’s cover, appears to be refracted through the patterned shimmer of Novosedlíková’s performance. On the second side repetitive ringing notes and an engulfing swirl of overtones fill the ancient building with ecstatic chimes. Julian Cowley (The Wire)

This stunning work of minimalism, composed by Sarah Hennies, is a solo vibraphone piece designed to explore the lush sonorities of a 700-year old church in Kyjatice, Slovakia. In writing the composition Hennies asked, “When you pulse one note on a vibraphone for 20 minutes, why do you need to do anything else?” and this recording answers that query beautifully. Lenka Novosedlíková deftly navigates the mesmerizing drift of the piece, starting nearly inaudible but slowly accruing volume and depth, as additional notes emerge to shade and accentuate the core tone. A shimmering blanket of sound fills the space slowly, with constant addition and subtraction of sound and intensity, as tones gently ricochet off the walls of the church, refracted by the structure’s nooks and crannies. At times wonderfully discordant harmonies emerge, producing a piercing cluster of overtones that interrupt the surface placidity with ominous turbulence, but in general Sisters basks in a dreamy glow. Novosedlíková delivers a Herculean performance, maintaining intense concentration and focus when it would be easy to lose the thread of the skeletal score. While the work was composed for a specific site in mind, it would be gratifying to hear how it breathes in different sorts of rooms. Peter Margasak (Best of Bandcamp Contemporary Classical: October 2018)

I’d heard a lot of mumbling that Hennies’ LP Embedded Environments was among the year’s best, composed of various percussion instruments played inside an old grain silo in Buffalo. But since I’ve been traveling I haven’t really been buying many LPs, as I couldn’t play them anyhow, and it’s not yet available on streaming platforms. But I did purchase Sisters, two compositions for vibraphone performed by Lenka Novosedlíková in a medieval church in southern Slovakia, and it is just beautiful. ACL 2018: Sound Propositions (a closer listen)

Sarah sums up her album pretty succinctly when she says “When you pulse one note on a vibraphone for 20 minutes, why do you need to do anything else?” This is a jaw-dropping piece of music both in terms of Lenka’s godlike patience and stamina while performing it and the indescribable amount of depth found in these resonating tones. I assume this was performed in the church it was composed for (the liner notes make it a little vague) and I can only dream that someday I could experience this piece in its birthplace. Also, you definitely need to crank the volume on this one. It’s a bit shy. Top 15 Drone Records Of 2018 (Anti-gravity Bunny)

Op kant B horen we juist het lage spectrum van de vibrafoon en dat creëert een heel ander soort spel in het geluid. Het concept is vrijwel hetzelfde, maar doordat er in een totaal ander frequentiespectrum wordt gespeeld is het resultaat totaal anders. Het geluid hier is veel dromeriger, maar ook lijk je meer resonantie van objecten in de ruimte te horen. Dit laatste brengt een extra dimensie in werk waardoor er een bepaalde spanning vanuit gaat die niet goed te plaatsen is, maar wel zeer goed weet te imponeren. Voor mij dus de meest indrukwekkende plaat van het jaar, maar ook één van mijn nieuwe favorieten op het gebied van minimale drone en microtonale composities. Zeker iemand om verder in de gaten te blijven houden, want dit smaakt naar meer… Sietse’s top 30 van 2018 (De Subjectivisten)

A wonderful and deceptively simple work for solo vibraphone, performed by Lenka Novosedlíková, recorded in a 13th century Gothic church in Kyjarice, Slovakia. Hennies sets up shifting patterns, generally  of rapidly played tremolo patterns, that are augmented–sometimes gradually, sometimes abruptly–while also taking full advantage of the overtones provided by the church’s interior. The process is explained in detail by Jennie Gottschalk in her wonderfully incisive and clear liner notes to the LP. Side One both evokes earlier music (Reich’s ‚Drumming‘ and some of Rzewski’s more minimalist offerings, like parts of ‚Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues‘ came to mind) and extends them into rich, fascinating areas. The second side (apparently part one of the piece, ‚Sisters‘) is cooler and initially quieter, the overtones really coming to the fore midway through. Perhaps bot the writing and Novosedlíkova’s naturalness of playing caused me to often hear the sounds as emanating from some „object“, some stationary but vibrating thing that generated quasi-regular patterns in confluence with its environment, including the faintly heard barking dogs outside–very beautiful. It closes with a „simple“ three against four pattern that I could have listened to for a long time. Wish I’d been in the room. Brian Olewnick (Just Outside)

On the first side there is a quick attack of the instrument making it all sparkle and bounce around the space. Novosedlikova’s playing is rapid so lots of overtones emerge and at louder volume can become quite piercing. The second side has a somewhat slower attack and played in the lower region of the instrument it is not per se loud and working the space with overtones but more an introspective piece. I couldn’t help thinking of Alvin Lucier’s pieces that work with spaces, ‚Still And Moving Lines Of Silence In Families Of Hyperbolas‘, which Hennies performed some time ago (see Vital Weekly 732) and surely is a source of inspiration for Hennies in her own work when exploring spaces. With some clever placing of microphones there is quite some space suggested here and it is a beautiful record that leaves much room for the listener to adjust to it’s environment, which is certainly something that worked for me very well… Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly)