Felix Hess – Frogs

ClientDead Mind Records
DateMay 2024
Category, ,

About 10 years ago I tried to contact Dutch artist and scientist Felix Hess, when he was still alive, but never got a reply. Years later, in 2022, I was talking to Frans de Waard, who told me he was administering the sound archive of the late Hess together with Mark Poysden. Together we started working on an album to celebrate his life and many accomplishments. It includes selections from all the highly collectible Frogs releases from the 80’s and 90’s, while the artwork is sourced from his Zenga collection, unifying his two greatest passions.

While in Australia conducting research for his PhD thesis on the aerodynamics and motion of returning boomerangs in 1975, Felix Hess heard frog choruses for the first time. The hills, close to Adelaide, generating amazing natural rhythms and waves of spatial sounds. He started traveling to the outback to record similar frog choruses, camping in quit places to enjoy these wonderful nightly concerts.

Mystified by how the waves and rhythms of frog choruses could emerge without a conductor or a score and by the physics of this method of communication, he started to research the phenomenon in 1982 by designing and building small electronic sound creatures that could respond to each other in a similar way. These creatures and his various other installations earned him international acclaim.

During the 1990s, Hess was invited to Japan many times to present his work and he became interested in Zen Buddhism. One summer evening in 2001 he visited a museum in Berlin and saw actual Zen art for the first time. Overwhelmed by the extraordinary power radiating from this and similar artworks he became addicted to Zenga and gradually built up one of the world’s most representative collections of hanging Zen scrolls. A collection he named Kaeru-An (Frog Hut) to honor his original teachers, the frogs.