Hans Unstern


Concert Performance Music & Sound Theatre & Performance
Hans Unstern und Simon Bauer an ihren 7 selbstgebauten experimentellen Harfen. Perkussionelemente im Hintergrund hängen an Seilen von der Decke. Stimmungsvolles Konzertlicht in blau.

Hans Unstern maintains to be not one but rather many persons. This, of course, also extends to questions of gender. The most recent Unstern album was titled “The Great Hans Unstern Swindle” (2012), which dealt with showbiz in tried-and-true punk rock manner. About authenticity fallacies and the human predilection for larger-than-life lies.

Seven years have passed since this swindle. Seven years during which Hans Unstern, together with Simon Bauer, built third album DIVEN. Yes, ahead of composing and writing, there was building to be done. Constructing, sawing, screwing, tinkering, welding, grinding, soldering, and tightening. For they have built a special electro-acoustic harp for this album: The V-Harp. Named for the V in the middle of DIVEN. Around the harp, there are more self-constructed instruments and gadgets made from metal and wood, partially played with a bow, partially controlled via a MIDI interface. So, computer-controlled tines strike tin metal bodies, magnets vibrate harp strings, and combined, they play new Unstern songs.

In an age that saw engineers emulate and imitate any sound with the aid of software, Unstern and Bauer made an artistic move into the opposite direction. They took an instrument that is more than 5,000 years old and transformed it into the now. And yet DIVEN sounds ahead of its time. On the album, contrasexual love songs blend with agitprop tales from the underground workshop. Made for the big stage. Hans Unstern, in the lyrics, shimmers between modern fairy tales and discursive pamphlets.

Perhaps Hans Unstern wants to remind us, with his homemade harp instrumentation, that the building blocks of our society are much more ancient than fibre optic neo-liberalism. Maybe someone wanted to shed the clichéd image of the singer-songwriter at the piano or behind the guitar. Or the Unstern multitude has simply found the right instrument for themselves in the colourful catalogue of cultural history, with the V-Harp, through detours.


partners in crime


Simon Bauer writes music and builds musical instruments. His work includes long-standing collaborations with the choreographers Reut Shemesh, Vincent Bozek and Overhead Project. He has been an integral part of the group Hans Unstern as a musician, composer and instrument maker since 2010. In addition to his compositional and constructive works, he is engaged in building processes as musical-performative and installative actions.

Performance & staging: Hans Unstern. Performance & staging: Simon Bauer. Lighting design: Catalina Fernandez. Sound design: N.A.


DIVEN was developed between 2015 and 2020, coproduced by HAU Hebbel am Ufer, supported by Musicboard Berlin, Senat Berlin