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Hainbach and the Sound of Destruction

Hainbach is the stage name of the Berlin-based composer, lyricist, and live musician, Stefan Paul Goetsch, who is perhaps best known from his YouTube channel of the same name. Descriptions and classifications of Hainbach’s music invariably include references to the musician’s innovative and ‘experimental’ approach to music production and highlight his use of magnetic tape and obsolete tone generators, such as those used by the early proponents of electronic-based music. This article examines three of Hainbach’s recent electronic works: Tagwerk (2022), Landfill Totems (2019), and Destruction Loops (2019–2021), framing them as palimpsests of archived destruction that recall such wide-ranging works as the magnetic tape experiments of Alvin Lucier, the auto-destructive impulse and social engagement of German-born artist and activist Gustav Metzger, or even the ‘erasures’ of Robert Rauschenberg. In this article, I reveal the complex, seemingly contradictory, palimpsestuous structure of Hainbach’s works, where creation meets destruction, collage and décollage are co-planar, and the gestures of ‘play’—that creative act with destruction at its horizon—are ever present. Through play, Hainbach explores the creative potential of both sound and instrument, surveys their affordances, and courts creativity at the unpredictable intersection of serendipity and failure.

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