Zsolt Sőrés (b. 1969 in Budapest, Hungary) is primarily and by nature an interdisciplinary artist. His way of seeing and creating demands that he works with more than just a single medium. With an academic background in literary theory and history, he began making music and various intermedia works in the mid-1990s as a member of Spiritus Noister, SoKaPaNaSz, Mesékstb. and S.K.ψ. These groups performed genres alternating between phonic poetry and free, non-idiomatic musical improvisation. After 2000, Sőrés established himself as a solo composer and performer (mainly of live music for dance performances); thanks to occasional collaborations with Ernő Király, Franz Hautzinger, Adam Bohman, Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg, Jean-Hervé Péron, Christian Kobi, Hilary Jeffery, Rudi Fischerlehner, Anla Courtis and many others he soon gained international recognition.
Sőrés’s profound and versatile mind owes much to his natural abilities to meaningfully articulate pluralities of information and grasp relevant relationships between things and phenomena. The same is true of his approach to creating sound; prior to starting he carefully considers a given sound’s potential space-time trajectory as well as its psychological and social impact. Adhering to the “no sound is innocent” maxim—coined by the musician who influenced him the most, Edwin Prévost—Sőrés pays equal attention to syntactic as well as semantic aspects of selected sounds. The harrowing, surreal imagery of experimental filmmakers (Kenneth Anger, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Shinya Tsukamoto, etc.) has been another important source of inspiration for his music making. He often creates sound settings and imagery that allude to psychedelic consciousness. Three complementary influences driving Sőrésʼ eclectic poetics—non-idiomatic improvisation, surreal film imagery, and an anti-essentialist, anti-systemic and anti-establishment worldview, developed from his reading of Gilles Deleuze, Hakim Bey, and other non-conformist thinkers—have given rise to his potent form of sound-based aesthetics that are divisible hierarchically into the dualities of music and noise, intention and accident, order and disorder, composition and improvisation, affects and emotions. Sőrés does not think of himself as a conventional musician or sound composer but uses the moniker “ghost sonic ontologist” to describe himself and his professional activities. His art has always had higher ambitions than simply representing reality, even if stating so might be reading into things too much. The artist’s engaging sounds reveal social differences, anomalies, wounds, dystopias, and utopias.
In articulating and reflecting on the fluid nature of our modernity, Zsolt Sőrés has become Ahad (one), because it was the only way for him to effectively transcend an overly structured consciousness. In the same way, his iconic instrument, the 5-string viola, abandoned the realm of elitist tonal representations to commit blasphemous attacks on performing arts conventions, becoming an extension of the artist’s body. Mitragyna Metro (2021), Sőrés’s latest recording project, demonstrates this schizo-phonic turn quite impressively.
Text: Jozef Cseres