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Chosen One: Andrea Belfi

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“I think trying to find a unique sound was my first aim always and that’s what I’m still trying to do.”

 Andrea Belfi

Words: Mark Carry

 1- Andrea Belfi - (Credit - Steve Glashier)

Italy’s Andrea Belfi is a drummer, composer and electroacoustic musician whose unique music path has continually developed and evolved throughout the 2000’s with the release of several scintillating solo works and a plethora of collaborative works (many of which have been released on the prestigious Berlin label Miasmah). The gifted Berlin-based composer’s newest solo work ‘Ore’ is his most captivating and deeply affecting bodies of work thus far that marks new independent label Float’s debut release.

Deeply hypnotic soundscapes are unleashed throughout ‘Ore’, creating, in turn, a timeless exploration in the art of repetition and variation. The opening ‘Anticline’ is a sublime dub odyssey that somehow orbits the beautiful intersection between the dub techno of Germany’s Rhythm & Sound and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s dub marvels at the Black Ark. Space is the place. The hugely enveloping piece continually mutates and transforms into new versions of itself as an ethereal dimension is attained at each and every turn. The synth elements – and the intricate array of divine nuances and sonic details – forges new horizons where stunning, unnerving soundscapes evoke the classic ‘Under The Skin’ score by British composer Mica Levi.

Iso’ is filled with the colours and textures of 50’s jazz music. The majestic drums drift in the ether of unknown possibilities. Certainly, this formidable creation transports the listener to Belfi’s near-mythical live solo performances. In fact, the live feel permeates throughout the aching pulse of ‘Ore’, which represents one of the hallmarks of this truly great record. Rewind twelve months and memories of witnessing the Verona-born musician’s hugely inspiring solo live set (alongside Nonkeen) at Nils Frahm’s ‘Possibly Colliding’ festival at London’s Barbican: the raw energy and sheer power of his drum playing hypnotize and enrapture that pulls you in deep akin to the gravitational pull of the earth itself.

The immediacy and pulsating energy of ‘Lead’ unfolds a rich narrative wherein drums and electronics are masterfully woven together. A fragile beauty seeps into the human space. The spectrum of enchanting sounds reveals the composer’s uncanny ability to create vast, empowering sound collages with minimal framework of drums and synthesizers. It’s the rich organic quality that exudes throughout ‘Lead’ that forges a deeply personal and otherworldly experience.

Ore’s pinnacle arrives on the shape-shifting tour-de-force ‘Ton’ with its deep bass rhythm and spectral palette, which continually expands and evolves with masterful use of delays and reverb. The brooding, cinematic atmosphere could depict the neon-lit city skyline of a distant utopia. The tempo is marvelously slowed down on the drone-infused ambient cycle ‘Syncline’ with its gorgeous ebb and flow of divine textures and gradual, swirling rhythms. The horizon is upon us.

‘Ore’ is released on Friday, May 26th via Float.

http://www.andreabelfi.com/

http://www.andreabelfi.com/

 2- Andrea Belfi - (Credit - Steve Glashier)

Interview with Andrea Belfi.

 

Congratulations on your new solo release ‘Ore’, it’s really incredible. I’d love for you to discuss the making of the new music? As a listener, it’s lovely to hear a solo work of yours and just how much you achieve with your tools of drums and synthesizer.

Andrea Belfi: The process of creating this album lasted probably about nine months or so because basically I started recording in May. I started using a method that I developed last year, I started recording some electronic beats but just to use those beats as a metronome or a beat keeper but at the same time some sounds that could bring me to a different world while recording drum beats basically. The idea was to start composing those tracks from drum beats but using these electronic beats in order to get into the hypnotic mood. So I recorded twelve different beats – like electronic beats – that I would use as a metronome but with a sort of a mood already into it. And then I went to the recording studio and I recorded these drumbeats with Mathias Hahn who is Nils Frahm’s stage technician; he’s an incredible sound technician. While I was on tour with Nils with Nonkeen we got along pretty well together and he was saying ‘Nils is getting this new recording studio at the Funkhaus in Berlin and he’s away for a week’ [laughs] so he said ‘We should use it, you can rent it out and we can go there and record it together because I think it’s the right time to do it’. And in a way he was encouraging to do so but I was already thinking about recording a new solo album but at the same time things came together very naturally. So, I got in touch with Mathias and I had this methodology already in mind and it got together pretty naturally. So, after these drum recordings I started editing and composing but in fact the drum beats came first.

It sounds very interesting how there were many stages in order to complete the music-making process. And what makes the Funkhaus so special as a recording space?

AB: I mean somehow it’s a piece of art because it’s an art piece. I think it is one of these very well crafted, beautifully designed studios where you really feel comfortable while playing music. It’s very difficult to describe but it’s very inspiring; it’s a very inspiring sounding room and that’s what makes it so interesting and important somehow plus the decorations are also part of it. The sound there is truly amazing and it has a very nice and smooth reverb which is present but at the same time you feel it’s there but is a preponderant.

The tracks themselves, I love how the opener ‘Anticline’ it’s one of those pieces that’s quite long but it’s that space you are able to create within the piece but also the close dialogue that’s ongoing between the synthesizer parts and the drums and also how the drums keep coming back at various points.

AB: I like the fact that it’s a very minimal piece of music but there is a narrative at the same time so it’s hypnotic but it’s also dubby in a way. It’s dub music if you look at it from a dub perspective it makes sense I think because there is this hypnotic world where you flow in but at the same time there are minimal variations that keep you inside the track. I would say that the first track is probably one of the most song-oriented tracks that I have ever released as a solo artist.

Throughout the album the effect of each component whether it’s the synthesizer or drums is very powerful and feels very much like one cohesive whole.

AB: In fact when I compose my solo music I tend to think of every element as one so I’m more of a composer than a drummer. So I’m really focusing on the composition itself than just my being a drummer if you know what I mean. When I started composing the songs from the drums recordings, it’s a natural process; I create a mood and then I try to dig into that mood. And to develop the synth parts, first of all trying to be as minimal as I can and then to make sound textures – and treating them almost as a melodic element – it’s very simple because there is not many chord changes, it’s very much like drone music basically. So I tend to compose for drums and electronics in an organic way; the drums is as important as the electronic part.

Your special live performances – and one particularly was your performance with Nonkeen last year and your solo drum performances during the ‘Possibly Colliding’ festival – there’s something about the live performance that very much is captured on this album, which is obviously a great thing.

AB: You’re pointing out something very important which is the live feeling of this album and it makes a big difference from the previous production that I did before and that’s something that I really wanted to keep. In fact part of this record – track number 2 & 3 (‘Iso’ and ‘Lead’) – they were basically live compositions that I prepared these compositions for my live set. While recording the material I had two set-ups in the studio; one for the new recordings and one for the live recording so I developed a solo live set within the last two years that I’ve been playing for about two years and that’s also the solo live set that I’ve been playing for Nonkeen’s tour. So the live feeling or the person playing that was really important even when I was really producing the music and crafting the final master; that was really important to keep the live feeling of it. So you have the feeling there is one person playing in front of you even when it’s very produced music.

I’d love to know more about your current live set-up and whether your equipment has been the same over the past decade of making music?

AB: I produce all of my electronic sounds through this synthesizer called Nord Modular and it’s a Swedish synthesizer that was made in the mid-90’s through the mid-00’s; I’ve been working on it for about fifteen years now, maybe a bit more, so I developed my own sound palette. And I have controllers so I have a sampler pad which is filled with Nord Modular electronic sounds. It’s a digital modular synthesizer and for me it became like my electronic music tool basically; I have a strong relationship with it [laughs]. And of course while producing the music for the record I used also some delays and some other production tools.

Then regarding the drums, when I play live I have a simple drum kit; there is a bass drum and a snare drum, floor tom and I have one cymbal and I have some percussion that I use, it’s not a complete drum set but it’s a minimal drum set. So I’ve been using this particular brand of drums, Ludwig for about ten years now and it’s an old Ludwig Super Classic drum set from the 1960’s and that’s where I developed my own particular drum sound, I think you’ve seen it when I was playing the Barbican. So it’s a big and fat bass drum sound; it’s kind of jazzy but at the same time it can be very powerful and intense. And last year I got this deal with a new drum company called Sari – it’s a Finnish drum company – I was very interested in those drum sets because first of all they sound similar to that sound that I built through my Ludwig but at the same time they had a twist; they are very interesting drum kits because they’re very similar to early Jazz drum kit from the 1920’s for example because they’re very light and they have a very open sound and long sound and very rich with harmonics. Most of the recordings on the record are with both drum kits so it’s kind of a transition: using two different drum kits for two different kinds of feeling. For example ‘Ton’ – which is the fourth track – is made with the Sari kit. I also have a preference for old jazz cymbals which have the same kind of characteristic so not much attack, very smooth and arc; that’s what I like.

I imagine the extensive Nonkeen tour – and your solo sets opening for Nonkeen each night – must have provided a lot of inspiration for the material on ‘Ore’ in terms of ideas and material?

AB: Oh absolutely, it was very important actually. It gave me lots of ideas to work with it and it was a very inspiring tour. And it was also very hard because playing solo and Nonkeen set was pretty intense but at the same time I learned a lot from that tour especially playing my solo set on the bigger stage; that was very important because I’d been playing this solo set in smaller places where I can really control the dynamics very well and in certain places I really had to deal with dynamics in a very different way: different crowds, different dynamics basically. I mean I really want to communicate to translate my music on a different level but the most important thing is to translate my idea of music on different stages and that was a very challenging situation. Sometimes it was very challenging because maybe you’re in front of several hundred people and you got used to maybe maximum one hundred people in front of you and that makes a huge difference because you have to maybe play louder to get the attention of that amount of people and then maybe get quieter again and use the dramaturgy in a different way [laughs].

3 - Andrea Belfi - (Credit - Steve Glashier)

You have improvised a lot in your previous musical output and I loved your Miasmah-related projects you have been involved with, especially the B/B/S releases. I suppose that whole idea of having a certain chemistry with other members and musicians and improvising with your own instruments and music is something you have been developing over a long period of time?

AB: Yeah it’s been a long time since I started working with improvised music. I did my first improvised music show in 2001 actually, I remember I was playing in Verona – my hometown in Italy – I was playing this metal sculpture that a local artist made and that was my first attempt to create improvised music. And then within the last few years I’ve been playing with lots of different people and I’ve been travelling quite a lot and I’ve been playing with a lot of different improvisers; different kinds like electronic musicians. And with B/B/S it’s another improvised music project that I really like because even if we improvise, we have our own language so it’s one aspect of improvisation which is having a particular language and using it to improvise. And that’s what I do with my solo way of improvising but also I would bring this into different projects and contexts. In Nonkeen as well, I brought some of this especially while we were rehearsing actually. Before the tour started we rehearsed quite a lot in order to develop a coherent live set. I have the feeling that it helped somehow for the band to get into that territory. I mean Nonkeen used to be an improvised music band.

You feel that very much on the two Nonkeen studio records as well as much as when you see the live show. I remember you were saying before how you were inspired hugely by Ennio Morricone?

AB: It’s a huge influence. I mean everyone in Italy of my age – but not just my age – and watching Sergio Leone’s films as kids and we know these albums and tracks by heart but then I started discovering more and more of his music through the last fifteen years or so. He’s always pushing boundaries of film music into his own world, it’s really inspiring. He’s very influential on my more song-oriented music but the atmosphere he creates is just incredible and very influential on my music. There are certain albums that I love. My favourite Morricone album is Come Maddalena and there’s something on it which is so complex and so simple at the same time, it’s so beautiful; under the simplicity there is a huge complexity. I mean you can say this about a lot of music but I think that’s the thing I really like about Ennio Morricone. He has a unique sound; that’s what I really like, whenever you listen to some of Morricone’s music you say ‘Ah,that’s him!’ and that’s what I like about artists and musicians in general when you listen to something or when you see something and you recognize a trademark: something original and compelling and at the same time it’s personal and experimental.

I get the impression you probably started playing the drums at a very young age? I’d be curious to know how you started and developed when you were younger?

AB: I started at the age of fourteen playing drums. There was this band  – friends of mine – that I used to skateboard with so it was this young crew who wanted to start their own punk band and I really wanted to join that group so I started how to play drums, I had to be pretty fast [laughs]. In terms of the learning process and also rhythmical wise, it was pretty fast rhythms so I started to take drum lessons when I was fourteen and then I had my first show at fifteen in a local pub, it was really, really exciting. In fact that’s something that I hope I will never lose; this kind of excitement about playing gigs. I mean sometimes it is not so easy to have this feeling all of the time – I play a lot of shows – but in general that’s the spirit I try to bring always on stage basically.

Then I’d been studying for a few years but I started in punk bands from fourteen and then I moved on into different directions after that. First of all, all kinds of hardcore punk; I was into that scene in the mid-90’s when I was a teenager. It was life changing. Then I moved to different strands of music and then I discovered this band Gastr del Sol: for me it’s still one of my favourite bands and in a way I really think that their combination of straight forward rock music and electroacoustic music like the weirdest experimental music is somehow I feel that’s where my music comes from. I also got to play with David Grubbs (the founding member of Gastr del Sol) I started collaborating with him back in 2009, he was based in New York but sometimes we had the chance to play together.

At the same time by the end of the 90’s I got into electronic music a lot, so Warp Music Records basically [laughs] and lots of minimalist music like La Monte Young, Charlemagne Palestine: it was nothing really about drums – sometimes it was about drums – but it was more a different type of music that I really loved in general. And I got into radical improvised music so I started combining drums and electronics. I’ve always been trying to develop new ideas through exciting music that I have discovered through the years.

That’s the cool thing listening to your solo music it’s like blurring the boundaries where it’s hard to describe the music or pin point exactly what  it is.

AB: It’s not a great business tool [laughs] not knowing what kind of music this is but in a way that’s what I like. I was trying to in my own little world to push the boundaries of the music that I knew and to make it different all the time like using references – not really doing it literally but getting inspired by certain solutions like combining field recordings and drums or electronics and drums or certain atmosphere – I think trying to find a unique sound that was my first aim always and that’s what I’m still trying to do.

Are you listening to any particular favourite records at the moment?

AB: That’s a good question actually, I mean I listen to a lot of records at the moment. I really like this sound poetry electroacoustic music by an Italian musician called Francesco Cavaliere, he’s pretty cool in his way of using sounds and narrative, it’s beautiful. I really like Mark Ernestus’s (one of the two from Rhythm & Sound) new project called Ndagga Rhythm Force, he’s producing this Senegalese band; it’s mind-blowing, very unique music. There is a musical style in Senegal called Mbalax (or Mbalakh) so he produced it in a dub way so cutting out solos and dubbing voices, it’s pretty great actually and in fact they’re playing tonight in Berlin so I might go tonight and see them playing. I’m really into Ellen Arkbro’s last solo record, Giuseppe Ielasi’s record and I’m really into Raymond Scott.

I usually listen to a lot of African music in general, I really like Congolese music; Soukous music is the style of music that was developed in the Congo in the 60’s and the 70’s, that’s a style that I really love. I really loved ‘Under The Skin’ by Mica Levi, it’s an amazing record. I like Rashid Bakr’s last two albums he did, those are amazing records and Miasmah Records’s Svarte Greiner records are beautiful. I like Sun Araw’s music, I’ve seen him play two or three times, he’s really great.

There is this cassette that Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy made, it’s called ‘Bonnie Prince Billy II’ and there are some beautiful songs there. I’ve been listening a lot to Bill Callahan’s music. Mario Batkovic’s accordion music is really beautiful and a really inspiring record [self-titled record via Invada Records]. I listen to a lot of Sun Ra’s music. There’s a record that I really like called ‘The Union’ by Elton John and Leon Russell and was produced by T Bone Burnett’ it’s amazingly produced and there are two drummers that I really love who are on there: Jim Keltner and Jay Bellerose who are both crazy drummers. They have the same kind of feeling, in fact I really love those two drummers because they have this kind of blues feeling on drums with a rich full sound but very loose, it’s very musical so it’s not like straight and square, they sing in a way.

I’m also playing in July with Circuit Des Yeux, a singer-songwriter from the U.S. I’m playing drums for her and I’ve played with her for two shows before, one in Berlin and another in Utrecht at Le Guess Who? festival. She has an incredible voice and she is a great performer so I’m really excited to listen to her next solo album; she will send it to me pretty soon as we will play some of her new songs.

Another solo artist that I really like and I’m digging his music is called Seth Frightening. He’s from New Zealand and is very interesting music; he is a big talent I would say and he has a very good sensibility for songwriting.

‘Ore’ is released on Friday, May 26th via Float.

http://www.andreabelfi.com/

https://www.wearefloat.co.uk/

Written by admin

May 25, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Chosen One: Earthen Sea

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Interview with Jacob Long (Earthen Sea).

 Often I find with many aspects of my music that is the most important thing to do….to step back sometimes and let things happen or just to take a broader perspective on what things are rather than trying to force them to be something they aren’t.”

 Jacob Long

Words: Mark Carry

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Chicago independent label Kranky continues to deliver some of the most dazzling and innovative releases with Earthen Sea’s sublime dub techno soundscapes. The New York producer, Jacob Long has crafted an immense sound world of transcendent ambient bliss and techno explorations on his Kranky debut full-length ‘An Act Of Love’, following on from the essential singles ‘An Act Of Love’ and ‘A Serious Thing’ back in February and 2015 debut full-length ‘Ink’ (released via Lovers Rock imprint).

A multitude of synths and looped sonic passages are beautifully spliced together on ‘About That Time’, forming the gripping heart to ‘An Act Of Love’s intense beginnings. A soulful dimension and deeply emotive core immediately strikes you as the gorgeous pulsating waves of ambient bliss traverses the human space. Texture and motion are two further qualities that permeate throughout the record’s far-reaching voyage. For instance, ‘Exuberant Burning’ yields a highly immersive experience amidst dark techno ripples of neon-lit skies. The addition of drums and further organic components forms a lovely parallel with labelmate Loscil’s sonic sphere of rhythmic, gradual dub techno waves. An empty nocturnal metropolis (as previously described by the New York producer) is etched across the sprawling sonic canvas.

The penultimate cut ‘The Flats 1975’ is a divine slice of psychedelic trip hop flourishes wherein dense swells of techno embellishes drift majestically across vast skylines. Beautiful ambient pulses continually build on the formidable closer ‘Also An Act Of Love’ as a delicate lament gradually fades into the ether.

‘An Act Of Love’ is out now on Kranky.

https://earthensea.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Kranky/

earthen-sea-by-shawn-brackbill-600

Interview with Jacob Long (Earthen Sea).

 

In many ways, I feel this record feels like one sprawling sound collage as the deeply engulfing sound world of utterly transcendent ambient bliss and immersive dub techno crafts such raw emotion and intensity. Please take me back to the making of ‘An Act Of Love’, the themes you wanted to explore and your primary objectives for this latest musical venture?

Jacob Long: I would say for the most part, at least the beginning of the process of putting the record together, it was just an extension of the work I’d been doing previously. A handful of the songs on the record were things I had been working on/or made in the year or so leading up to actually “working” on the album. That said once I had those pieces selected for the record I went back and reworked and created new pieces out of other things I had in various states of completion that I felt complemented the overall feel/flow of the record. In terms of sonic exploration I would say that the process I used to make the song “Also An Act Of Love” (which grew out of what was originally a remix of one of my older songs) has led to my current working method which is to take pieces of audio from parts I’ve played and recorded and use them as the raw sonic material to be manipulated and turned into something else.

I would love to gain an insight into your compositional approach and the precise equipment set-up and instrumentation utilzed for these recording sessions? The gorgeous dub techno swells form a lovely parallel with Loscil’s Scott Morgan’s works and a prevailing darkness of a myriad of forlorn sounds brings to mind the likes of fellow luminaries like Tim Hecker. I wonder would you have a considerable library of sounds collected (so to speak) and you carefully splice different elements and motifs together?

JL: Thank you for the great compliment of comparing my work to the 2 of them as I admire both of Loscil and Tim Hecker’s music a lot. My setup is pretty simple….these days my main setup is really just my laptop with Ableton and a few MIDI controllers. I mostly create my own sounds by playing synth parts and recording them either onto my 4-track or into my computer and then chopping those parts up into sounds/loops/samples. I then use those in Ableton, manipulating them into what become my tracks. I also have a variety of different drum sounds that I’ve built into a drum library (though I kind of end up using a lot of the same ones a lot of the time). Lately I’ve been working with some field recordings in the same way and blending them in with other sounds so most likely my new work with have some of them in the mix as well.

The wide range of sonic timbres and elements that are effortlessly crafted on ‘An Act Of Love’ is one of the great hallmarks of this latest release. For example, the more techno-infused explorations such as ‘Exuberant Burning’ – the album’s centrepiece – ‘The Flats 1975’ and part A’s ‘About That Time’ form vital pulses to ‘An Act Of Love’s striking narrative. Can you talk me through these techno tracks and the construction/deconstruction of the techno sound worlds you capture so well?

JL: Thanks for the kind words and I feel similar about ‘About That Time’ being the emotional centre for me as well of the record. I would say the process of making the beat/techno oriented tracks on the record is pretty similar in many ways to making the other tracks. Obviously the big difference is programming drum parts. But I tend to approach it in much the same way where I sketch out some ideas and then “jam” on them or play around with them until I get the feel I’m looking for and then once I have that either to expand on the idea (or more often than not) edit down to the essence of what I feel is needed for the piece and then go from there. I guess the other main difference is feeling out the structure and what is needed to hold interest in a piece is different (for me at least) when there are rhythmic elements involved and sometimes that means that more needs to happen in a piece but often it means that less is needed as everything needs a little more space to breathe.

As a bassist in the punk trio Mi Ami, your musical background must tap into your solo project of Eaethen Sea quite naturally. I’d love for you to discuss your musical upbringing and the various paths that you have ventured thus far, and what the pre-cursors were, so to speak that led to the formation of Earthen Sea? 

JL: Well I’ve played music since I was 5 when I started playing violin. I’ve picked up various instruments over the years since then but I can’t remember ever not playing and/or listening to music. And since I was a teenager I’ve been very interested in a wide range of music. I mean even in high school I was playing in a kinda grunge-y band and also making weird soundscapey things on my own on a cassette 4 track…and over the years things kind of just continued like that. I sort of off and on worked on my own music when I had time outside of bands/etc. Anyway Earthen Sea started as a project when I moved to California from DC in 2004 and for a number of years was kind of off and on as well until a couple of years ago when I decided I really wanted to be doing more of it than I had been and since then it’s been pretty full on for me…

I absolutely love the fragile, bare and stunningly beautiful compositions such as album closer (and title-track of sorts) ‘Also An Act Of Love’ and ‘Delicately In The Sunlight’ and how these tracks drift majestically across the ether. Again, it’s how these eight tracks are seamlessly forged together creates such a timeless quality. Can you discuss the sequencing of the record and also the series of counterpoints – and counter balances – that is so masterfully embedded in ‘Act Of Love’s sonic tapestry? 

JL: Well I’m glad it works as I was looking to create a flow that had a consistent or complimentary feel between the disparate pieces that make up the record. I would say that the sequencing and reworking of a few pieces was some of the harder work that I put into the record but it felt important to have the whole be somewhat a composition in and of itself rather than just being a collection of songs. I definitely went through a number of drafts of the record before I came to the final form for it but in the end it kind of revealed itself to me more than me making it fit or something. Often I find with many aspects of my music that is the most important thing to do….to step back sometimes and let things happen or just to take a broader perspective on what things are rather than trying to force them to be something they aren’t.

I wonder were there any happy accidents, so to speak during the music-making process? Also, I get the impression that many of the layers are almost like musical artefacts that have been unearthed from another time and space? In this regard, is the layering or construction of a particular track quite an intensive or challenging process? I love how there is that minimal nature to your music yet how vast the musical possibilities that are generated.

JL: Ha well much of my process is much looser than that suggests to me. I mean a lot of it is happy accidents to be honest. Not to say that I don’t spend time setting up pieces or running sounds against each other/etc but my main process is just to start loading sounds into my template in Ableton and just let them go and start working on them from there (both in terms of the individual sounds and the combination of sounds and the structure/etc). I pretty much never have an idea of where something is going when I start. Once I start and hear what may be working or coming out of something I’ll then kind of hone in on that vibe/sound and see how to go from there. The minimal vs. maximal is sometimes a challenge as it can be easy especially when working to have everything going at once to create MORE sound but usually a lot of my compositional process is sculpting those sounds down into what is needed and to build a structure from there. Also I have spent some time thinking about how to use FX to create those kind of artefact layers of sound and though I wouldn’t say I’m doing anything crazy in terms of their use that is definitely something I’ve developed into part of my “sound”.

Lastly, are there particular records that you have been heavily immersed in of late?

JL: For sure…I’ve been digging a bunch of older Jan Jelinek records as well as his newest album with Masayoshi Fujita (Schaum), a lot of Vladislav Delay, Georgia (especially their newest LP “All Kind Music”, the new Visible Cloaks LP,  both of the Anjou LPs,  Klara Lewis was a new find for me this past year and I’ve been really enjoying her music, Josh Abrams/Natural Information Society is one of my favorite bands of the last few years and I’m stoked they have a new album out, I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton of stuff but that’s what I can think of off the top of my head.

‘An Act Of Love’ is out now on Kranky.

https://earthensea.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Kranky/

 

 

Written by admin

May 17, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Chosen One: Helado Negro

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“I think those moments when you’re finishing something and you’re sharing it with someone, I think that was my realization of something that I understood as what I wanted to do.”

 Roberto Carlos Lange

Words: Mark Carry

Helado Negro - Private Energy (Expanded) - Pic 001 - Credit -Anna Grothe Shive

Roberto Carlos Lange’s awe-inspiring musical project of Helado Negro reached (yet) another summit with his latest full-length ‘Private Energy’. A divine collection of deeply affecting avant pop music. Last month saw the eagerly awaited reissue of the Brooklyn-based artist’s seminal album – in an ‘expanded’ edition – via  the peerless New York imprint RVNG Intl (whom Lange previously collaborated with on the FRKWY series).

Lovingly assembled and packaged by the record label, the captivating pop spheres are similarly crafted and sculpted together with masterful detail and precision. The deeply heartfelt lyrics resonate powerfully at every turn amidst gorgeous synth layers and spectral production. The expanded version contains three sublime reworks of some of the record’s defining moments: ‘Young, Latin and Proud’(December Mix) is sumptuously de-constructed with echoes of reverb and an intoxicating slowed-down dubstep beat. Wah-wah effect pedals and hypnotic interstellar beats form the ideal foundations to the songwriter’s empowering message.

The achingly beautiful lament ‘Transmission Listen’ is a tear-stained love letter from the heart’s core: delicate woodwind and piano notes evokes the timeless sound of 60’s Brazilian tropicalia and Memphis soul. The immediacy and clarity of Lange’s voice is immediately striking akin to crystalline summer seas. The innate ability to merge electronic music and contemporary pop music is epitomised on ‘Runaround’; a deep soul groove and intricate string arrangement swims a majestic dance beneath an ocean bed of Lange’s meticulous songcraft: “No love can cut our knife in two”. Kindred spirits like LA-based songwriter Julia Holter, Panda Bear, Grizzly Bear and Julianna Barwick drift in the ether of the Florida-born musician’s enchanting song-cycles: at the intersection of latin, electronic and avant pop spheres and forever shining radiant light of prayer and hope.

‘Private Energy’ (Expanded) is available now on RVNG Intl.

https://www.facebook.com/rvngintl

https://www.facebook.com/HeladoNegro/

Helado Negro - Private Energy (Expanded) - Pic 002 - Credit -Anna Grothe Shive

Interview with Roberto Carlos Lange (Helado Negro).

 

It’s such a wonderful partnership between yourself and the RVNG label in repressing your very special Helado Negro album ‘Private Energy’. I wonder how was this experience for you when revisiting this record and looking it in a new way?

Roberto Carlos Lange: I had worked with RVNG in 2010/2011 on a project as part of the FRKWY series, so it was me and a bunch of people did it with David Van Tieghem. So, that was my introduction to working with them – I had been a big fan of RVNG before that – and seven years later now there’s this whole new in-depth knowledge of how thoughtful and careful and so much quality control. It was nice how just everything was taken care of – the remastering of it and the artwork – and just everything about the whole process was really special and a compliment to the music (or vice versa).

I love how there’s a few new remixes and reworks included in the expanded version of ‘Private Energy’. I’d love for you to talk me through these new versions?

 RCL: Yeah, that was super unique. The way some of this record was put together, there were so many different live shows prior to finishing the record so I would grab chunks from the live show and edit them and manipulate them to work within the studio versions. So some of that shines a little bit more and peaks out in those three alternate versions that are on the expanded edition.

I’d love to know more about how you craft these songs because you’re developing and evolving all the time with all these releases, there’s just so much intricacies and detail involved musically and lyrically.

RCL: It’s definitely stacked vertically and I think about music and sound a lot like that; like how many layers can I go down or go up, in the vertical sense as opposed to like when is the end of the song coming. That’s part of the process I think where all the layers are intertwined. I keep stealing things that are improvisations with my sampler or my synthesizers or things that are on my computer and also people playing in real-time and also recordings that I do at a residency or a performance or at a rehearsal and just taking all of these snippets and being able to assemble them as moments of times of process and progress like finishing the record or finishing a song or finishing an idea.

An important part of the album is the incredible ‘Young, Latin and Proud’ – it’s almost an anthem really – so many of these songs are like these perfect pop songs with real depth and emotion inside.

RCL: I appreciate music that is committed to these realms whether it’s pop music or something that is committed to extended technique with an instrument and somebody commits their life to that and I appreciate all that kind of music on both ends of the spectrum. So, for me it’s what makes me up when I try to portray with my own version of me, which I think shines through with ‘Young, Latin and Proud’ where I’m talking a lot about myself mostly and how much I want to reflect that outwards or have people reflect that with me through them.

The album was initially made to accompany a dance performance, which I didn’t realize at the time?

RCL: It was parallel for sure, there were so many different things happening to be honest with you. One of the things that was a big aspect of what informed the record were these costumes that were made to accompany me onstage and after working with them for about a year, they obviously liked the visual aspect that informed a lot of what I did musically and what I wanted to do onstage with them. So there was a series of shows that I was commissioned to do in a few different museums and it was specifically ‘Private Energy’ with choreography with the costumes.

The way you’re involved with so many different mediums and the different contexts your music is created for like performances, installations and so on, when you release a new selection of songs it must all feed into one another?

RCL: It’s funny it’s like everything ends up evolving or like I work on a piece of  music and I end up making so many iterations of the same thing, I think it’s exciting and fun to do that. Everything is like an extension of each other; I look at it more as that than it being like the music is over once the record is out. There’s always a chance for it to evolve into something else with other things.

Collaboration is of course something you’re continually involved in. One of my favourites was the wonderful Ombre project with Julianna Barwick, which was such a beautiful release.

RCL: That was one of my favourites as well. I think we started that in 2010 and it came out in 2012. That was such a special project; she’s a super close friend of mine. I toured once in the UK and at the time I was selling some of those LPs on the road and people in the UK specifically were like ‘Oh wow, you work on this; that’s you… that’s awesome man’ [laughs]. It was cool because a lot of different people know about it and a lot of people don’t know about it, it’s interesting when people discover it as well.

Since you moved to New York several years ago, I wonder just how much of an inspiration is the city on you?

RCL: Being here for about eleven years now. I moved actually from Florida to Savannah Georgia to Atalanta and then back to Florida and then back. So prior to New York I was in Atalanta. It’s a special place and every day there’s not a moment where you’re not feeling stimulated somehow; there’s so much going on whether you’re just going to the corner to get milk or you’re out running errands trying to meet people or trying to do something. There’s definitely like this hyper extreme like sensory push and pull, you’re seeing all types of things. And especially right now where it’s transitioning from spring to summer – or whatever is happening right now with the weather – you see just like the trees are stretching out and the sidewalks are getting super crowded and everything is getting louder and more bustling you know.

I wonder what ideas may you have right now for your next release or projects? I can imagine you must have several different things coming together at the same time?

RCL: It’s interesting because right now it feels like there’s a rebirth for this record and to continue sharing it with people, so that’s really nice to have that for something to occupy your time as I’m still exploring what I want to do. I’m recording a bunch of ideas right now and I’m feeling everything out but I’m not in a rush to finish anything at this moment, I feel really inspired but I don’t feel pressure in any way. I think that’s also a result of working with RVNG and seeing and feeling what they’re doing; the way they’ve been able to work with me on this project. It’s nice to feel there is a little bit of air to just move around.

For your musical project of Helado Negro, were there certain albums or defining moments – perhaps when growing up –that happened for you to lead you on your particular music path?

RCL: I think the moment where I started to take it really seriously was in college and I was really alone, experimenting on my own and figuring out how to manipulate sound and realize that I was making songs. And in a non-traditional sense where I wasn’t really learning music, I was messing around with the computer and that sampler that I have. I think those moments when you’re finishing something and you’re sharing it with someone, I think that was my realization of something that I understood as what I wanted to do. I think it’s like both those processes, creating and sharing of being like the feeling of this is what I want to do. I do think there are a lot of people who do create and I do think a lot of people don’t want to share and I think there is that level of commitment of being able to participate and have people participate in what you’re doing as well.

You’ve been touring extensively around the world as well, you must learn so much about your songs and your music by going to all these venues and playing shows where you gather all these different versions and variations of your songs. It must be a great source of learning in one way?

RCL: Yeah it’s frightening for sure because there’s so many times where it goes really well and there’s so many times where you’re like this is awkward or uncomfortable in the past. I definitely think it’s morphed and changed enough where I don’t feel out of control; I feel like I have opened up enough to know that the things that happen that aren’t exactly how I planned are the things that I appreciate the most, taking those moments and building on that. A friend of mine who plays a lot of improvisational music told me like one of the rules they had was you mess up, you do it three times after that. So, it sounds intentional regardless of what it is and there’s something I appreciate about that, like owning the mistake until it turns into something that you want, it’s pretty exciting.

‘Mi Mano’ is probably one of my favourite tracks from ‘Private Energy’ at the moment. It really shows the interwoven layers and masterful production that’s on display across the album, I don’t know how you do it.

RCL: Awesome, well neither do I [laughs]. I’m glad you dig it, yeah it’s one of my favourite jams too. That song is actually a really good example of the idea of error. That song was originally a much faster tempo and I accidentally slowed it down significantly because I was doing something else for a second but I ended up changing the BPM. When I played it back, I was like what is going on and I couldn’t figure out what had happened for a good couple of minutes and I just loved it that way and it stuck like that.

Have you been listening to any albums lately, Roberto?

RCL: I just made a playlist of stuff that I’ve been listening to, I realized that’s my best solution around this question because throughout the years it’s been the question that haunts me [laughs]. I made a playlist of a bunch of ambient jams that I really dig and something that I’ve been listening to a lot was this Gigi Masin record with George Hayward. There’s this band that I heard on the road, they’re called Sneaks and it’s a duo (a bass player and a drummer) and the woman who plays bass is pretty awesome actually, I dig their tunes. What else has been in my ears? There’s also this Ecuadorian cumbia organ synthesizer player from the 50’s and 60’s that I’ve been listening to a lot and his name is really hard to spell [laughs].

‘Private Energy’ (Expanded) is available now on RVNG Intl.

https://www.facebook.com/rvngintl

https://www.facebook.com/HeladoNegro/

 

 

 

Written by admin

May 10, 2017 at 8:33 pm

Chosen One: Moiré

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Interview with Moiré.

or maybe it’s going to be something totally different because it’s meant to be about the new music; that for me is what techno has always meant.”

Moiré

Words: Mark Carry

Moire-Photo_1_686

London-based producer Moiré continues his remarkable output on his latest full-length ‘No Future’, recently released on the prestigious Ghostly label. The gifted producer has continually evolved with a string of captivating blissed-out techno and synth odysseys (beginning with 2013 debut EP ‘Never Sleep’ via Actress’s Werkdiscs label) and ‘No Future’ sees Moiré exploring further and deeper into realms of deeply engaging and compelling techno explorations.

Of course, ceaseless lines are beautifully blurred amidst Moiré’s masterful songcraft from the utterly transcendent ambient bliss of album closer ‘Auteur (Outro)’ (whose heavenly cosmic synth patterns feel could loop forever) to the hypnotic acid house of ‘Jupiter’ and deeply-affecting soulful hip-hop (DRS is the trusted MC for two sublime cuts ‘No Future’ and ‘Bootleg’). Elements of dubstep and grime are dotted across the James Messiah guested opus ‘Facade’. ‘No Future’ is a reflection on humanity wherein a dystopian vision burns through the embers of fear, pain and doubt. The mantra of “fallen angel” echoes powerfully across the thumpy bass and gauzing synths of ‘Bootleg’.

“Techno music has always been about new music” reiterates Moiré. In many ways, revisiting ‘No Future’ serves a fitting parallel alongside  the enigmatic UK artist Actress, who similarly crafts singular, shape-shifting works. The trippy ‘Opium’ and Afrobeat rhythms of ‘Magma Dream’ supply yet more neon-filled rapturous dance music. The perfect come-down arrives on the final two cuts: the introspective and multi-layered hazy ambient tour-de-force ‘System 100’ and the forever evolving musical patterns of ‘Auteur’ waltzes, mutates and dazzles.

‘No Future’ is out now on Ghostly.

https://www.facebook.com/MoireMusic

https://www.facebook.com/ghostly/

Moire_1-Credit_Netti_Hurley_6863

 

Interview with Moiré.

 

Congratulations on the new album ‘No Future’, which is really quite incredible. Please discuss the making of the new record? I mean you’re very prolific with an array of wonderful releases under  your belt, I wonder when did you begin working on ‘No Future’ and the ideas you had for this latest set?

Moiré: Making music is probably the starting point when I did my first album on my first record because I think once you start you want to continue. ‘No Future’ for me is just a continuation of something I wanted to do from the start. And when I finished my first album and then I did some gigs and I toured and then I did maybe another single or two and then there was time to do another album because suddenly there was so much material to work with that I decided it’s time to make another record (in a technical way). I don’t just go and make music like ‘Today I’m going to make an album’, it didn’t happen that way it’s a more organic and natural process of making something like that. So it was inspired by everything that was happening in my personal life during that time and then it coincided with what was happening in the country in the UK and the announcement of all sorts of political changes that will be happening and then of course the changes that were starting to happen in America. That combined with my life situation and my family situation and some other things created in my head the need to have to finish the record; now is the time because I have the reason to make it, I have the reason to express myself in that way. And so that’s how it started and that’s where it started.

And then I mean the process is I’m sure as you know it’s quite a lengthy procedure. I like to take my time to make sure the tracks or whatever that is I release are the ones that I want. I mean there’s millions of versions of each track probably and you’re getting to the point where you’re doing two hundred versions of the same track and then you’re like ‘OK, actually I think the first version was the best’ and so the process is very long sometimes. But sometimes the tracks just happen, you know there’s certain ideas, certain sketches, certain experimentations, certain emotional expression, or sometimes I feel bad and I’ll go to the studio and make a track or sometimes I actually create a composition where there’s little planning and sometimes there’s a lot of planning into the making of music, I mean it really depends. As I say, I see this as an art form rather than like a session musician going in and doing a job. So, millions of hours in the studio; loads of nights and loads of days. My studio doesn’t have any windows, it’s quite a secluded environment and quite isolated in that sense so I was just on my own for a year with music basically and that’s the effect of it.

As you describe perfectly that’s exactly as a listener you feel as you hear the tracks, there’s just that outpour of everything that you put into the work because it’s fascinating the multitude of layers and moments within each song.

Moiré: That’s always been my thing. I mean I understand what journalists and the industry are always trying to put certain sounds to a certain box so they can tick the box and this is that or this is this. And for me, the music which of course has elements of techno and house in it and ambient and all sorts of things but that’s the thing it has everything because I think of just making music so I’m not going to limit myself to one particular sound or one particular concept. And also that was always for me the main idea behind techno – or any techno-related ideas – was that this was meant to be about new music, not the genre thing that established itself as this one particular type of dance music but actually for me that was never the point; the point was that it was maybe going to be dance or maybe it won’t be, maybe it would be experimental music or maybe it’s going to be something totally different because it’s meant to be about the new music; that for me is what techno has always meant. Or any kind of electronic music for that matter was always like ‘So what I’m going to make the next record and the next record’ is meant to be some sort of evolution; I should be trying new things. That in a way is my obligation as an artist that is engaging with music and trying music and being allowed to make music, to actually give music something back in terms of giving music some justice and some time of the day that actually I feel very lucky that I am able to do and release records.

In a way I don’t like it easy but also I feel like it’s so important, maybe not now but in ten or twenty years someone is going to find this record will be like ‘Oh this is a really interesting record’ and that’s how I discovered a lot of stuff that I’ve been inspired by that just now are getting the recognition after decades of being hidden. And I think that’s my attitude; it’s just basically art. I know it’s  a club music that maybe people are going to dance to it but I never think about it that much. Of course there are these elements that are driving the tracks forward and that there is this constant step and I am always trying to see what’s underneath the classic conventions that we have or industry trends.

Someone earlier today asked me would I be willing to have tracks with no beats or something like that and I thought about it and basically it’s like maybe why not but that shouldn’t really be a conversation, that should be left to the artist to decide I feel like there is an industry push towards certain things to be like ‘OK this season we’re going to do ambient and next season we’re going to do noise and next season we’re going to do new wave’ and it’s pretty much all the same but we’re just going in loops in terms of what’s trendy or what should be done. So, I’m just trying to look in music and tracks and give them as much passion and artistic approach as I can and I guess that’s what you’re talking about and I hope this somehow comes out when you listen to it.

I love the flow to ‘No Future’ as well and the sequencing. For example the closing track ‘Auteur (Outro)’ and its construction and the different sub-sections within it brings everything to a fitting close.

Moiré: Thanks. Yeah, I think it’s interesting how the sequence works on people differently. I don’t know how many people are aware but it’s really like the biggest headache; one thing is to make the track and the other thing is to sequence the tracks if you have several of them, so it makes sense. It’s always the biggest problem like which track will be first and especially with this  kind of abstract concept of vocals on techno beats and the trouble of course for everyone is who is Moire and what is the music and what are the beats and I think it’s like unfortunately because the way things are it’s really difficult sometimes to get it to people because you’re going to be classified as experimental or leftfield dance or whatever.

But I remember when I was growing up in the 90’s and when drum & bass happened in the UK and then in Europe, nobody knew how to dance to it; people leaving the floors, they didn’t know what to do, they didn’t know how to classify this at all. And then fast forward ten years later and it’s like the biggest export from the UK after punk or actually the UK ever had. It’s weird how long it takes for things to break but not in a pop sense but more in terms of having people react to the sounds and compositions and new ideas. It doesn’t have to always be dance and it doesn’t have to be always dancing, just being together in a space and listening to music to be the whole thing. But that’s how the album happened and that’s what my approach was to it.

And of course when I was finishing it everything that I thought would happen in terms of the political changes happened and it was funny because when I spoke with the guys from Ghostly about the current president in America, nobody really thought it would happen. I’m quite socially aware, I come from a standard working class family – even in some standards I would say lower than working class – and I think I understand the basic person and what drives them to make certain decisions and also looking on the politics, I’m quite into it because if affects my life and it affects everyone else’s lif e so I decided that maybe I should engage with it a little bit more and try to understand what’s happening. So this was weird because I called the album ‘No Future’ before any of these things were obvious and then it happened and it was like I didn’t really mean it to be negative or pessimistic in any way. And that’s why the music is not really dark or really depressing because that was never the reason for it to be depressing, it was more about being different and the hinting of something.

The guests who are on the album works so wonderfully and even in terms of where they come in on the album too, the two tracks by DRS are outstanding.

Moiré: Yeah, he did an excellent job and also James Messiah was a totally different thing (in terms of the style) but again he fit perfectly with his message. I  just gave him hints – and with DRS as well – I didn’t have to do any like crazy description of telling them what to do. These collaborations I am very happy about them, they just happened so naturally and it was a really good time just to work with them even over email it was just like ‘click’, they got the vibe and I think that’s when you appreciate how professional people are. How some people basically have that amazing quality of being able to jump on any track and deliver something interesting, I’m really into that.

I’m very curious to know about your equipment and the musical set-up that you’re using?

Moiré: Well the studio I had for this – and I’m still renting – is not my studio but it’s someone else’s who put a lot of work into it. It’s a really amazing room with double walls and it’s kind of a floating box, no windows and it sounds really good. So any imperfections or perfections can be heard and you could be really close to the sound. The room is great and the acoustic treatments is basically excellent and then the speakers actually came with the studio. I used to work in Adams before and on this record these are the speakers that I used. One thing is producing and I go quite often and listen in many different places so at home I have Adams and Dynaudio monitors and then in another place I have a bigger Adams system that I would go and ask my friends if I could use and listen to stuff and then in the studio the speakers that are there I think are Focal CMS65 and they were great. On the back of the room –it’s really clever – other speakers like really bad ones like Mackies, you just listen on the really bad ones as well. So it’s all very compact but perfect. For the vocals of course I made the beats and all the sketches and the MCs would do their thing on them, for example DRS did everything from the internet, I just sent him the beat and he sent me the vocals; it was as simple as that. DRS is based in Manchester so obviously there was a distance issue so email was the best thing. James Messiah is based in south London so he just came on his bike and he just recorded it live over the ‘Facade’ track and that was it. I think we actually did also vocal on ‘Jupiter’ as well but I never finished that, so basically they did their thing.

A lot of the tracks themselves are made live with samplers, a bunch of synths (Moog Nord and JD 800 and Octatrack sampler) and loads of other little synths and boxes that are placked together and I just jam on it until I’m happy with the stuff and then it’s all getting recorded live to old Logic, I still like the old one and so for some reason I’m still using that. And then for production I use Universal Audio, I think their tools are really excellent. It’s all very simple, I don’t have any expensive gear in terms of like crazy compressers that you can see some famous people with and stuff like that, I cannot afford it, I do not have stuff like that [laughs]. I just learned to work with what I have, I mean that was always my concept because as much there is talk about analog versus digital and so on, everyone who makes music knows that even if they’re going to use all the analog gear they’re going to end up having a digital file delivered for mastering and a mastering engineer quite often will use a PC to master it. You can record stuff to tape but it will always go through digital, I mean you will need to have the tape machine and record the tape and then deliver the tape if that’s the sound you’re after. And that fact that we’re dealing with the digital file in my head was always meaning that you can sculpt it the way you want.

The ways you record it are important for me and that’s why having Universal Audio and analog plugins is quite cool and I wish I had some of the hardware but I think for me that’s fine, I like the way it sounds and I like the quality of digital plugins as much as anything else. I may be quite unusual in terms of the way I use this, which is difficult to explain because my whole concept of making music is like obviously pretty much everyone has the same tools and studios are very similar because by default it’s a pair of monitors and some gear but it’s about how you wire stuff and how you plug things and what triggers what and how you play it and this is something that you cannot explain and that’s something that takes time to develop and I think that for everyone is going to be a different process and some people care about certain things and some people don’t like everything is super-tight whereas other people will leave a but of space for loose swing and maybe not accurately cut beats because that’s the idea. Some people record everything live and I do a lot of stuff live, a lot of the tracks happened just as live jams and I would have parts played from a sampler and then parts played from live synth and other synths sequenced together and then everything going through some distortion box and then everything recorded. So that’s pretty much the technical side of how this happened but I think the room is very important for me, the way it sounds for this particular one was important but who knows maybe on the next one I will do just on headphones.

For the live show – and live jams – there must always be new workings and new versions of the various tracks being formed?

Moiré: Yeah, this is true that is happening. I mean for the live aspect of course it allows you to be constantly doing versions and edits and all sorts of things and experiments. My live stage set-up which I’m building right now – but I’ve already played like this for a while – is that I’m trying to bring as much studio gear to the stage as possible. So I’m trying to do what I’m doing in the studio live basically to an extent because you cannot do everything. And there’s certain things you cannot do because it won’t work but that’s the concept and I always loved that; bringing some machines, some toys to the stage and doing edits of the tracks tha have been released. And obviously when you play for the crowd you can also try new stuff and it’s great to do that so you’re not just stuck to doing DJ, you can actually do something else and every show can be different as well.

I was very interested to read on the Ghostly page that Philip K. Dick and his sci-fi stories and the inspiration this had on ‘No Future’?

Moiré: I like this books and I like his dystopian visions. The phenomenal thing about Philip K. Dick is that if you read his books; they’re portraying us moving to mars and all sorts of other things like ‘The Man in the High Castle’ and even if you look on the cover of this book and the American flag and the way it’s portrayed and everything. And the ideas he had; he was predicting a lot of the things that are happening right now and potentially he was predicting a lot of the things that will happen in the future. I mean the ‘Martian Time-Slip’ is this little novel describing our life on mars but some of his books were crazy bonkers like really proper sc-fi but this stuff you read it now and you think we are not so far from it and it’s possible that we are going to do that and there’s actually nothing that futuristic about it anymore. It’s quite funny, us setting up a place in mars, I think we are quite near to doing that and it’s very political as well, they had NATO on mars and all sorts of other things and you’re like, yeah NATO can be on mars, why not? All these kinds of things and issues and problems that actually he was at time writing it he was reflecting the current world problems in his books partly as well like whatever wars were happening on the planet and transforming this to another planet and the same happening, to be more interesting rather than just describing the reality. He’s definitely incredible and I love his work.

As a producer and someone who has so much music in your life, I wonder growing up at what point did you realize you would go down the path of making music yourself?

Moiré: That’s a difficult question. I don’t know, I mean I can only remember when I was growing up when I was a kid I wanted to be in a band and I forced my parents to buy me a guitar and then after a while I was like well maybe the guitar isn’t for me so I think I destroyed that guitar or I did something to it but whilst I was doing it I had a cassette tape deck and I was just recording all the noises of that guitar destruction and I was basically sampling myself doing all this banging as a kid on that tape and not because I had any concept of sampling – I don’t know if sampling was something that was happening – but I was just doing it because I wanted to listen to it myself [laughs]. I was curious about how it’s going to sound if I was going to do this or if I’m going to do that and obviously recording on the tape allowed you to listen to it back and I didn’t loop or anything, I didn’t understand any of these concepts, I was just always into making noise and making something with sound.

And I wanted to be in a band and I was in a band with my friends and we played some punk stuff and all sorts of things. I was always into music like I mean just as a fan buying all sorts of stuff and I was into all sorts of things and also feeling that I always wanted to be a performer because I started doing nights as a promoter with my friends during university and all this kind of stuff and booking bigger DJs to come and play at our parties and then I started opening and being a DJ as well a little bit at the beginning and then my other friends asked me to collaborate with them on some projects. It evolved in that way so in a way to answer your question I was always into it, I was always in it unconsciously, I was following the path and in my case some things happened that pushed me further in that direction and I still do not understand to be honest how some things happen that you do not have control over like OK I’m going to do this now.

There were some other opportunities or I had to do some other work or other directions in my life and suddenly something happened and they disappeared and it’s like OK I think I should be doing music or I should be working with these people. In my case a few things happened like that in life that were really dramatic that in a way I was like OK this is what I am doing or more like I have to do this in a way that I wanted to do it but also life puzzled itself that way. And it’s always been complicated but I guess that’s why my music has a certain attitude and certain abstract concept behind it because it reflects some of the things I go through. So that’s how it all evolved from my early days, it was not always that obvious and it’s still maybe not that obvious even today, I mean I guess anyone can sit there and ask themselves a question ‘Should I be making music?’ I know that people today are growing up thinking like ‘Fuck it, I’m going to be a DJ and I’m going to buy a bunch of techno tracks from Detroit and I’m going to be a DJ’ and a lot of people do that – or electro or whatever that is in a shop – and some of them probably have bigger careers than many other people who are making music. But it’s crazy because if you look at what happened with the digital social medium and how it changed everything.

Someone asked me ‘Is it difficult for people today in the music industry to go forward?’ and if I look on my profile – like some shitty Instagram account or something – every second person that follows me has got a soundcloud account, that says it all; that means that millions of people are doing the same thing and obviously it’s just going to be affecting everyone else and everyone’s going to be affecting each other basically. But that’s the thing it’s always been the path that has been in front of me, I was not planning or I did not have a business plan like I’m going to make millions of dollars making lots of crazy records or something. The thing for me was always like I am expressing myself and I’m going to try to do my best and be the best in the area that I want to be; that’s my goal and I’m still on my way.

Have there been certain records that you’ve been listening to lately?

Moiré: It’s always the most difficult question. There is just loads. Recently I really like these guys Worried About Satan, they’re quite cool. Pye Corner Audio makes some interesting tracks; I heard some of those from a documentary which was cool. I mean there is so much stuff, I’m always going to be listening to any type of jazz stuff; any Coltrane…anything. I always love Moondog, Flying Lotus. The major inspiration was when Actress released his first record – that was great – and that showed that there is a possibility with the music in that kind of fashion. I just listen daily to so many things, loads of old hip-hop as well like Casual, Hieroglyphics, Wu Tang and Mobb Deep and sometimes I come back to these records because I think they’re just so incredible; they had some magic in them like the fire of the new act where there was really no compromise but just really, really well done. And this kind of interesting movements or moments, there isn’t much of it unfortunately at the moment, it’s really difficult to find these kind of acts where they are interesting musically but there is also some movement behind it and I think everything is watered down based on hype, not much of content really. But there are loads of great records out there.

‘No Future’ is out now on Ghostly.

https://www.facebook.com/MoireMusic

https://www.facebook.com/ghostly/

Written by admin

May 4, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Chosen One: Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble

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I always loved music even as a very young child I was very fascinated by it. I always thought it was miraculous somehow, it was divine and otherworldly.”

Laetitia Sadier

Words: Mark Carry

laetitia

French artist Laetitia Sadier has continually evolved along her rich musical path, from the early 90’s inception of legendary indie outfit Stereolab – who released several vital musical documents, encompassing French new wave, krautrock rhythms, film music with an irresistible punk DIY ethos – and later, her own mesmerising solo works (under the moniker of Monade and under her own name) while this year presented yet another of the French chanteuse’s artistic reinventions: Ladier Sadier Source Ensemble.

Source Ensemble represents several of Sadier’s close collaborators, including Brazilian bassist Xavi Munoz and French drummer Emanuel Mario as the trusted rhythm section. The scintillating new record, ‘Find Me Finding You’ sees an ever-evolving spectrum of life-affirming music shine brightly across the sun-lit horizon. The radiant light of Sadier’s artistic vision burns brightly as a deeply empowering energy permeates this new musical space.

The lead single ‘Undying Love For Humanity’ contains infectious melodies and warm polyrhythms amidst Sadier’s undying hope for humanity. The vivid light and colours of ‘Galactic Emergence’ is beautifully embedded in psychedelic flourishes where instrumentation of organ and flute dance a majestic, slow dance. ‘Love Captive’ is a gorgeous duet with Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor. Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble represents the latest chapter in the renowned French artist’s canon of work, crafting an otherworldly, divine sound-world, portraying new extended versions of an intriguing artist.

‘Find Me Finding You’ is out now on Drag City.

For forthcoming UK & European tour dates (kicking off in Dublin THIS Thursday), visit HERE

https://www.facebook.com/LaetitiaSadierOfficial/

https://www.facebook.com/dragcityrecords/

large_Sadier2

 

Interview with Laetitia Sadier.

 

Congratulations on your new album ‘Find Me Finding You’. Even though it’s a new solo album, I love even how there is a new band name of Source Ensemble for this record. Please discuss this new chapter?

Laetitia Sadier: Yeah, I mean it’s always a new chapter in the continuity of a journey I guess, of a self-exploration in a complex world and in a world of relationships to others.

I’d love for you to take me back to the making of the new album in the sense of your approach to writing the songs?

LS: Well, the songs are written according to my usual formula of just collecting ideas as they arrive and as they are magically delivered by the universe. And then, when it comes to actually writing songs I refer to these ideas and develop on certain things and knock them into songs. It’s always a process of just being guided by what the songs need or require and asking certain friends to contribute like Emanuel Mario or have Rob Mazurek play a part on such a song or asking Alexis Taylor to do a duet with me. I mean these things just fall into place as the songs develop and you know there is a place for everything. It’s an organic process really.

The idea with the Source Ensemble was to have an insistence on the collective aspect of doing things and of making sense of the world and that always inscribes itself in a wider political world of human existence. I like the parallel between doing something – in this case artistic – but making it a collective process as well, we’re not alone in this and we need to establish connections with others, to make sense of the world.

I loved the first single – and first taste of the new album – ‘Undying Love For Humanity’ because like you said, this song really touches on the themes and the message of the album, in terms of the lyrics.

LS: I came up with this title after watching a documentary on the Black Panthers and how they organized their struggle to be properly respected and accepted as full members of American society and to what extent they had to go. It wasn’t just about fighting off the opression, it was also about them organizing themselves in a revolutionary organization; they organized schools and they organized breakfasts in the morning for children who didn’t have breakfasts in the morning. And how revolutionary it all was; of how people gathered to organize a society that was viable for them and taking their destiny into their own hands, which they actually achieved but then of course it was all destroyed by outside forces who didn’t want the people organizing themselves autonomously and successfully and so it was a rather tragic end for that movement but still they did do it.

It also reminds me of the French Communes, the Communards at the end of the nineteenth century and how they organized also their schools and how everything was distributed and they even had an army because they needed to defend themselves. It was really democratically organized for the best of anyone and how that was truly revolutionary, it was a revolutionary struggle to self-organize. It also ended up tragically because there are forces out there that don’t want us to organize – to organize for our best needs – but it is still possible to organize in that way. And I find that very inspiring and I see how it’s feasible and how we can achieve that as a human society.

I love how your music is almost like a platform where there is a powerful commentary carefully placed inside the music. Your music always belongs to this very unique sound world where there’s always new directions which you explore.

LS: In every album I want to be new [laughs] and in the end it’s still always me, always the same person making this music and so it’s kind of recognizable. But indeed I see life as an evolutionary process whereby I want to venture into new versions of myself, new extended versions of myself and of course that should reflect in the music and I hope it does and sometimes I feel it doesn’t do it enough, you know [laughs]. Of course I want a more mature expression of myself through my songs and thank you for saying that this is a new direction because this is how I wished it to be.

I love ‘Galactic Emergence’ and the beautiful video that accompanied it. The visuals match the music so well, I suppose it shows your love of nature and the universe as a whole.

LS: Yeah, of course, whenever I can I will honour nature and art as much as I can. When it comes to videos, I mean to me video is a very tricky art form whereby it has to serve the music and enhance the music through image. I find it’s a difficult thing to really achieve and again thank you for saying that it matches the image. I see us as natural beings living in a natural environment that more and more perceivedly, it’s being spoilt or exploited and tragically because we are cutting the branch on which we are all dwelling and it’s the tragedy of our time.

We are faced now with a choice of carrying on the way we’re going or breaking away from our ways and maybe calling ourselves into question and reorganizing life on earth in different ways so that we can sustain ourselves and sustain what sustains us, living more harmoniously with the forces of nature. At the moment we are not doing that – well some people are – some people are realizing that. We’re currently staying with friends here [in LA] and they work on an organic farm and they host schools to teach young people to pass on a certain knowledge of how best to harmoniously cultivate the land and the products that come out of this land are really beautiful, tasty and nutritious. So, some people are quite active or proactive. We just need to have a shift in human consciousness, to shift our ways of living towards something more harmonious with nature. I quite intimately know this now and I guess more and more people are and lets see if the shift is important enough that it can prevail or not.

You mentioned the Black Panthers documentary, was there other sources of inspiration that you drew from on the rest of the album?

LS: For instance, in ‘Psychology Active’ I usually observe myself [laughs] and I see how for instance, I will tend to not want to do the hard things or the unpleasant things. Like how we as a species want to eliminate any effort, any hardship and in fact in the end it’s quite punishing. In fact, we should always face our hardships and try to also live with them and develop our own strength. I feel we are weakening ourselves. I feel that the system by creating all of these desires and thekind of sit down in front of the telly and forget about it is aggravating our situation and the narcissistic thing of how to please ourselves all the time and have everything on demand now and the idea of instant gratification and all that. And how in fact it is disservicing us quite profoundly and how there is value in patience and  facing up to hardship. So, I explore this theme in ‘Psychology Active’ for instance.

Also, in ‘Undying Love For Humanity’ it is a song about replacing the power onto us, onto the people who really have the power by just voting every four or five years, going here you have the political power and displacing the power onto other bodies. The professional politicians are also doing us a disservice because we know that this displaced type of power only leads to corruption, 99% of the time. It’s also about learning from that; historically we’ve seen it happen time and time again and how it doesn’t work like that like we have to dig deeper into the structures of power and how to really empower ourselves. And already that’s difficult enough but it leads to more successful ways of interacting and organizing. To remember that we’re impactful as a societal body, as individuals we impact society and society impacts us in return. We’re not powerless but we are in fact quite responsible in our ways of being, we’re very powerful.

There’s of course ‘Love Captive’, the song about free love and how we could look at reinventing love and our rapport to love and ownership of the partner in wanting to belong. And how it’s not completely realistic to how we’re built as a human being that inevitably it leads to conflict and deflation of desire. What’s the way around that also like do we need to seal the deal through marriageand through the idea of living together for eternity. I mean they are all subjects that we are being faced with and either we really embrace them – and seriously and honestly look at them – or do we sweep it under the carpet and then have to learn to deal with these things in more brutal ways.

Of course I am thinking of the political situation like Brexit and over here it’s Donald Trump, how the refusal of a system that is not working and that is not bringing about satisfaction and how there is a vote of revolt of saying ‘no’, which I think is healthy but how it’s also misplaced because these things will send us to a collapse, I mean quicker because we’re heading anyway towards a collapse. How we’re organized now is not sustainable; the capitalist forces or the neoliberalists are not sustainable of course. It’s like do we want a soft collapse or a hard one? It looks like we’re heading towards the hard one and I guess that’s how people learn when there’s something really hard happening. Do they go ‘So what do we do now? Where do we turn to next?’ in terms of reorganizing. I don’t know if it’s desirable but that’s what people chose, you know, the hard collapse.

And it’s repeating itself across the world in different countries.

LS: Yes, it’s a general thing. I think we are becoming more and more aware of our unitedness here; that planet Earth is rather small and we’re all interconnected. I mean that’s a good thing to realize, I think to best organize in the future. It sounds paradoxical but we have to organize more locally. I think that’s what Buckminster Fuller was saying,  ‘Act locally, think globally’; be aware and be conscious of the global aspect and this goes even beyond the realm of our planet, the earth and our cosmic connections. If we could organize ourselves around this principle, I think we would be more successful at living harmoniously and happily. And of course there will still be conflict but we could accomodate human life much better.

I particularly love towards the end of the album ‘The Woman With The Invisible Necklace’, there’s something very intriguing about the song-title.

LS: Yeah I mean I followed the footsteps of the Stereolab legacy of having strange titles that don’t neccessarily immediately match the song. Here we have a text about tyranny and how tyrants only exist in as far as we confer certain power to them. If we don’t feed them energetically, the tyrants and through our beliefs they are nothing, they’re just like thin air. To a large degree, we also as a collective also create our own tyrants – again people voted for Brexit and people voted for Donald Trump – and also the whole mediatic realm fed these feelings and fed these votes. Trump, even in the Guardian every day they talk about him, sometimes in two or three articles, it’s like there’s a fascination for him, which confers him power. So we have to be careful also what we feed with our intentions and our energies and that we could be looking at feeding other things, more positive things but we’re morbidly fascinated by these people.

Growing up in France, there must have been a wealth of music surrounding you and great records that made a really big impression on you?

LS: I always loved music even as a very young child I was very fascinated by music. I always thought it was miraculous somehow, it was divine and otherworldly. I mean I think music really saved my life and was like my best companion; it just transported me, it gave me the confidence I needed, it gave me ideas, it motivated me. I used to go to concerts alone as a teenager and it was my raison d’être. I was really into all the after punk era of do it yourself, you don’t need to go to school, you don’t need to have a degree in music, if you want to do it get some amps, get some guitars and get a band together, do it and be in the act of it.

And there was a really vibrant scene in the mid-80’s and late 80’s that I was totally into. In France too there were some really good bands going on and they were unapologetic or uncomprimising like there was a vision and they were serving that vision. And often that vision was a political one in the sense of transforming society; transforming oneself and to lead a more exciting and full life; a life that you create and not be a victim but be an active participating member of this world, of expressing and manifesting your visions and your ideas. And I loved that, it made sense to me – it made so much sense – it was complete, you know because it was about the self and it was about society and about the self within that society. I was very elated by the music of the mid to late 80’s and I wanted to serve that. I really wanted to be part of that.

I met Tim [Gane] and we started Stereolab together and that was where I wanted to be. And there were no expectations of becoming big stars or anything, that was not the goal but doing it and we were very lucky. We grew very organically – there was no big hype or nothing – and somehow the people responded to the music. We had a great run of making albums, touring and having a very thriving band life all this time. And I carried on, after Stereolab stopped I thought ‘maybe I’ll get a job’ but no, I signed up to facebook and I had invitations to go and play in Greece, in Belgium, in Portugal, in Brazil and I was like ‘Oh right, I’m taking on board for another run here’ [laughs] and I went along with it because it was there, like the path was opening and I’m going, I’m going [laughs] and so it was really exciting.

That’s the great thing, like you said about the DIY ethos that has been – and continues to be – so inspiring where there was something so organic and fresh about all your albums, with Stereolab and after.And there is always a natural connection and development with them all.

LS: To me that’s how it should be; that’s what I want in a band, I want a true expression and not some kind of formula where they think they should be projecting so that they are better liked. But just the real thing, the real singularity of an artist is what I’m after; of an artist and of people I meet and I want to sense that; the deeper insights can resonate with me.

Are there certain albums or books you have been inspired by lately?

LS: As I grow more mature, it’s true I feel there is a more spiritual connection being established with my environment and coincidentally I was offered a book at Christmas called ‘To Believe In The Forces of Spirit’ (a French book) and it’s about a woman, she’s a psychologist and she started in the 80’s and she was appointed in the role of end-of-life care, it’s when people are about to die and maybe have one month or a few weeks to live and how to better make them live those last few moments, to accompany them towards their death but within a life affirming situation and environment. It’s a really nice book, it’s very unassuming – it’s not hippie or anything – it’s very down-to-earth experience of this woman how to better bring people to that moment. Also, she had a spiritual relationship with François Mitterrand in the last twelve years of his life and so he was the President at the time and very erudite and it’s relating their conversations around the subject of spirituality and how it manifests through the body, how it manifests through land, how it manifests through trees and through certain stones. It’s a very nice book and I’m happy to be reading it at this moment.

In terms of albums, there’s an album that I love at the moment, the Aquaserge album, which is on Crammed Discs, it’s called ‘Laisse ca etre’ (to translate the French version to ‘Let It Be’). It’s a fantastic album, both moving and invigorating, it’s really a perfect album. And listen to it fully because what you first hear is not necessarily where you end up, it’s a journey.

‘Find Me Finding You’ is out now on Drag City.

For forthcoming UK & European tour dates (kicking off in Dublin THIS Thursday), visit HERE

https://www.facebook.com/LaetitiaSadierOfficial/

https://www.facebook.com/dragcityrecords/

Written by admin

April 5, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Chosen One: Saltland

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And that’s what I love about music is trying to transcend or get out of this reality and move yourself and channel something deeper and find emotional depth within it.”

Rebecca Foon

Words: Mark Carry

Rebecca playing cello

Rebecca Foon’s second album as Saltland unfolds a deeply moving and intense journey, which forges an indelible imprint on one’s heart and mind. ‘A Common Truth’ centers on climate change and the state of the world (issues which Foon has worked tirelessly on over the years as an activist, organizer and co-founder of Pathway To Paris and several other environmental groups). The message of ‘A Common Truth’ resonates powerfully: Humanity needs to act urgently in order to save our planet Earth.

Employing the Montreal composer’s looped layers of cello and voice, stunningly beautiful cello soundscapes furl into the atmosphere as a transcendent flow of captivating strings is channelled from deep within the cosmos. An undeniable force is formed when Foon’s beguiling vocals blend with her layered cello instrumentation. On the achingly beautiful lament ‘Light Of Mercy’, Foon asks “How did we get ourselves here?” beneath mesmeric passages of brooding strings, akin to a late night vigil or desperate prayer to mother Earth. A deeply moving, meditative quality permeates throughout Foon’s otherworldly song cycles, capturing a rich intensity and raw emotion at every turn.

A striking intimacy prevails throughout ‘A Common Truth’. The hypnotic wordless vocals of album opener ‘To Allow Us All To Breathe’ flickers like stars dotted across a night sky. ‘I Only Wish This For You’ is a deeply affecting exploration that navigates the depths of human darkness where a vivid colours of hopelessness and despair engulf the utterly transporting sonic layers (bringing to mind the likes of Dirty Three, Rachel’s and Sarah Neufeld’s solo works).

A Common Truth’ features multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis (Dirty Three, The Bad Seeds) on several tracks, further heightening Foon’s divine tapestry of enchanting sounds. The renowned Australian composer’s instrumentation of violin, pump organ and loops supplies rich textures for Foon’s voice and cello; the record shares the gripping intensity of the scores penned by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, creating, in turn, a timeless journey that forever orbits an ethereal realm.

‘A Common Truth’ is out now on Constellation.

http://www.saltland.ca/

http://cstrecords.com/

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Interview with Rebecca Foon (Saltland).

 

Congratulations on the new Saltland album ‘A Common Truth’, it’s such a gripping and moving journey. Please discuss for me the making of the new record, Rebecca?

Rebecca Foon: Well basically, I was writing this album mostly in 2015 and at the same time I was working quite heavily on organizing with my partner Jessica Smith a concert in Paris at the lead-up to the UN climate change. I do a lot of work in Climate and Change as well so I had that on my mind a lot so it was pieces of creative expression on what was heavy on my mind at that time, and still to this day. And also, it’s a wonderful way for me to challenge myself in different musical ways with singing and writing lyrics and trying to sing on top of my cello playing with loops. And then four songs were co-written by a friend Warren Ellis and that was really a project I worked with him on those four songs and we would send files back and forth. I just really admire his playing and it was such a wonderful opportunity.

I love how the album itself the mix between the voice and instrumentals – it works so wonderfully – and how  you’re able to blend your voice with the cello instrument is amazing and how it comes back and forth throughout the record at different points.

RF: That’s so nice, thank you. It’s definitely been a fun process. It’s challenging for sure because it’s new territory for me but also really exciting and fun.

In terms of the lyrical content – you’ve already mentioned – is stemmed from the world as it is present and climate change, and the effect of these lyrics they really hit you. And more so, the message of the album is very hard-hitting, which is a good thing obviously.

RF: I’m so glad to hear that and your feedback, thank you.

Your approach to writing these pieces, how challenging must it have been to write the different layers to these compositions? It’s a process you must be getting more and more used to?

RF: Yeah it’s interesting because I wrote the lyrics before the music except for that song ‘Light Of Mercy’ which I wrote at the same time. But that song – unlike any of the other songs on the album – just came out, which was very interesting, that was probably the easiest song to write like it truly just came out of me. The other songs, the lyrics I wrote first and then wrote the music and then I would sing on top. I was writing the layers – like a cello groove happening, like a world of cello sounds – that I could then try and sing on top of and then I would flesh them out in the studio.

But because with music – like the melodies and chords –there are no words so it can take you into this trip, playing this. And that’s what I love about music is trying to transcend or get out of this reality and move yourself and channel something deeper and find emotional depth within it. And for the lyrics, writing the lyrics for me there was that poetic element but also because I was tapping into this really real, raw feeling around climate change and the state of the world with a sense of urgency. I think that’s what’s different about this album is like for me and where I’m at I really feel a strong sense of urgency, for humanity to act and I feel very compelled to channel that within my music. And so within that there is definitely a bit of a cerebral element to the lyrics like I’d find my own creativity within it and poetic feeling within that, there is almost an intellectual component to it. But then the music is quite a different experiment and then trying to bring them together was a fun challenge because it’s using two different parts of the brain in a way.

With the input of Warren Ellis as well, I wonder did you have him in mind or particular parts in mind for him before the songs were completed or was it towards the end of the process?

RF:  It was quite organic. Before writing the album, I always wanted to invite him to be part of it but I wanted this album to be very stripped down like on my first album, quite  few friends of mine play on it but this album I wanted to be much more intimate and much more of a cello vocal record. But I always had the intention of inviting Warren to be part of it and then the organic part of it is this concert I organized in Paris with my partner Jesse, Warren ended up performing at it – which was also spontaneous – and that concert was like a unique concert because it was during the UN Climate Change conference and it was really to highlight the importance of establishing the Paris Agreement. So, we had that connection then and so from there, it all came together organically.

The intimacy and just how raw the journey is really is striking. The album has a similar feel to scores by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis as the intensity really hits you.

RF:  I mean I’m really inspired by them and the emotional depth that they can convey in their music is very powerful. I think with the first record, it was my first time doing that world of cello and voice and writing songs from that foundation. I brought in a lot of friends for that record [‘I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us’] because I really wanted to try to not hide away from anything and try to really get to the essence of what I’m trying to channel without trying to vary it in any way and not being scared of that being raw or naked or whatever it is you know. I’m glad that you find that come through; it’s rewarding to hear that.

You’re part of so many groups and bands and being part of the wonderful music scene in Montreal, I suppose all these different projects must feed into one another; as you’re finishing one thing, you’re beginning something else almost at the same time?

RF: Yeah, definitely and that’s quite beautiful because it’s all inter-connected like all the music is connected and everyone’s stories are woven together like my solo record, I would never would have created what I created if it wasn’t for everything; all the experiences that I’ve had leading up to it, which is a beautiful thing about life and the scripts of our lives, it’s so magical in a way.

Would you have memories of first learning music or discovering music in the first place?

RF: Well I started when I was eight. I had a funny story where I don’t come from a musical family. So I started playing cello because I went to a school that had a string programme and so I saw the cello and I totally fell in love with it and then I told my family that I wanted to play that instrument and they were like ‘What’s that? It’s so big’ [laughs] So, because of that experience, I really believe in public education because I never would have had the experience of playing music if I hadn’t had access to that as a kid. And playing a string instrument, it’s hard to start it when you’re older, even when I was eight that was quite old to start playing a stringed instrument so I always felt like I started way too old.

Just thinking of today and the last few years, it’s amazing too with just the cello instrument alone, how much wonderful music is being made with the cello.

RF: Totally because when I was growing up, there was not like the language of cello – it wasn’t violin even – it felt like classical was the way and anything else didn’t exist. There was no musical language outside of classical music like when I was growing up. I decided to not pursue classical music and so that was hard for me because I didn’t have a lot of reference points in the cello community but now that’s changing. It’s still not huge but there’s definitely more out there that I’m inspired by, for sure.

You’re probably touring the album ‘A Common Truth’ quite soon as well?

RF:  Yeah, I’m doing one-off shows and I’ll probably open up for Esmerine on tour. I’ll do my album launch in North America, in Montreal and New York.

Do you have favourite albums at the moment that you’re listening to?

RF: Yeah I guess for me within the Constellation/Montreal world, I’m really inspired by Matana Roberts and Colin Stetson. I love the new Bad Seeds record ‘The Skeleton Tree’, I love some other stuff on Constellation like Jerusalem In My Heart and I love listening to old albums like Mary Margaret O’ Hara ‘Miss America’, I love Marvin Gaye, Neil Young [laughs], I always go back to classic records that inspire me. But you know I have to say something about Marvin Gaye because there is this one album when you listen to his lyrics – it’s super-trippy – he references environmental degradation a lot on some of the songs. It’s interesting that you can go back to some albums from way back and it’s fixed like where we are now as a society. I love Sarah Neufeld and there’s some very interesting female solo albums put out now that makes me feel happy, who are doing things untraditionally like going for it.

There’s a lovely parallel between you and Sarah Neufeld and it shows just how much wonderful female solo artists there are making such important music.

RF: I think we inspire each other too and it keeps us engaged like seeing each other do it, inspires us to keep doing what we’re doing and it’s helpful to have friends in the community, it’s like a nice and supportive environment.

Lastly, you work so hard and well with all these issues concerning climate change, where do you see the state of the world as we are now and what do you hope for the next decade?

RF: Because I feel the urgency so strongly and because of the world right now with politics all over, I really believe – and part of me is because I am an optimist by nature – we can make it through but we can only make it through with really powerful collaboration and that needs to happen on a city level. And because federal politics are so murky right now and will probably continue to be murky for a while and we don’t have much time in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. I think what needs to happen – and this is what I’m working on with this organization that I’ve started Pathway to Paris – is really focusing on at a city level and I think that if cities can come together around the world and make commitments and action plans and implementation strategies to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 80-100% by 2050, I think that we will be OK.

If that can happen and it’s going to take flagship cities from all around the world to really start moving on that and for governments to support cities that don’t have funds to do it and have creative funding and creative mechanisms to help cities around the world to join in that effort because it’s much harder for cities like New York for example to make those kind of commitments and implement strategies and movement forward to move towards those kinds of reductions. But I really do think that if we can do that we’ll be OK but it needs to happen fast and it needs to happen very collaboratively. It’s exciting if it does because imagining cities that are not dependent on fossil fuels like that’s a pretty cool world, you can conquer a lot of problems at the same time reinventing those cities. So, for me that’s what excites me, to work towards that goal.

But I do think it requires a global effort and a global effort at this point. It’s unfortunate because with the state of the world right now with federal politics going more and more within federal boundaries and creating stronger and real walls to protect those boundaries but really the world needs to break away from all of that and think of us as a planet and think of it like a global picture to conquer this issue. And this issue is just a reflection of how we see the world, it’s showing us so strongly how we need to perceive the world but unfortunately the reaction is going in the opposite direction. But I do think there is hope there if we take another route, like the city route.

‘A Common Truth’ is out now on Constellation.

http://www.saltland.ca/

http://cstrecords.com/

Written by admin

April 4, 2017 at 6:38 pm

Chosen One: Hauschka

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It’s always a wonderful and fun process to create new music where you actually find yourself unfolding something new and I think that for me is always inspiring and refreshing.”

Volker Bertelmann

Words: Mark Carry

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A wealth of magic emanates from the scintillating piano works of Germany’s Volker Bertelmann. Under the guise of Hauschka, the gifted composer has released his most ambitious, radical and enthralling works thus far. ‘What If’ feels like a culmination where the dynamics of Hauschka’s incendiary live performances – particularly post-‘Abandoned City’ with his shows often built around one single, three-dimensional long piece that continually weaves in and out, unfolding into an infinite array of possibilities – becomes etched across the record’s deeply fulfilling journey.

I recall fondly an interview with The Necks’ pianist Chris Abrahams and some of his words echoes powerfully throughout ‘What If’s otherworldly sound-world: “Sometimes, through the combination of a strange instrument and weird acoustics, I have heard the piano speak words.” As the fragile piano melodies of ‘My Kids Live On Mars’ morph into reverb-laden tones amidst deep bass techno flourishes, the piano speaks words so absolute and true. It feels as if Bertelmann’s piano-based odysseys are navigating the deepest parts of our inner selves, a cosmic exploration of immense magnitude.

A circularity resides in these nine sublime texturally rich compositions where certain piano motifs (the rhythmic pulses of the player pianos masterfully employed in several places, for instance) and far-reaching, dense textures (deep techno bass and analogue synthesizers depicting a dystopian universe) circulate the divine minimalism of Hauschka’s singular soundscapes. The record’s penultimate track ‘Trees Only Exist In Books’ transports you to another realm with the suite of synthesizers and piano patterns forming an ethereal bliss of faded dreams. This piece somehow feels inter-connected to Mica Levi’s ‘Under The Skin’ score, such is the intoxicatingly bewitching sounds that are masterfully sculpted.

What If’ is the sound of a producer as much as a pianist. Hauschka’s piano-based tracks of earlier works still remain, albeit as sacred artifacts buried beneath a sea of beautiful noise and electronic elements. New patterns and shapes are forged at every turn, sharing parallels with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark studio of miraculous sound creation and immaculate hip-hop production. ‘What If’ asks for reflection of the deepest kind.

‘What If’ is out today on City Slang (Europe) and Temporary Residence Ltd. (USA).

https://www.facebook.com/HauschkaMusic/
https://www.hauschka-music.com/

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Interview with Volker Bertelmann (Hauschka).

From your live shows, you have focused more so on creating one long piece – and obviously that’s something you’ve been developing a lot since ‘Abandoned City’ – how the different ideas and motifs from these performances must go into the new album’s recordings?

Volker Bertelmann: I actually recorded a lot of the music in Berlin with Francesco Donadello and we were setting up the studio like in the way I am doing a concert so we had the two pianos. So, I was performing in the way I was performing live and that was the foundation for at least six tracks of the album and the other three tracks were tracks with player pianos.

The player piano is something new for you, is it?

VB: I have played it at the Brighton festival two years ago and I also played a release show of the ‘Abandoned City’ album in Berlin. I’ve wanted to find a way of playing multi-track things with an acoustic instrument. So I figured out it would be nice to have two pianos to be my band and that was the first thought of it and then I felt very good about preparing one piano as a drum kit and preparing the other piano differently so I was very happy about that.

It feels as if the record goes further and deeper than even the previous releases and particularly the electronic element is very important and where all the many elements come together so well?

VB: Yeah I agree totally. It was challenging because when you work with the player pianos, you have your hands free to actually prepare the pianos with all sorts of stuff while the piano is playing. It was very interesting to work with. I really feel attracted to the precision when working with the player piano because you cannot force create a very electronic and precise score using the prepared piano and that’s very nice.

Did the more analogue equipment like the synthesizers you’re using, would these have been the same equipment used on tour and on previous releases?

VB: No, actually this time I’ve used different equipment. I mean I was always a synthesizer man already when I was young and I collected a lot of synthesizers  but I had the feeling on previous records that I didn’t want to use them. I’m not a big fan of this Jean-Michel Jarre kind of repetitive sequence for using the synthesizer in a particular way. So, I was using an old Roland Jupiter 4 synthesizer and using a Minimoog , which is one of my favourite ever synthesizers and that’s mainly it.

I think the pinnacle of the record for me comes on the penultimate – and longest track – ‘Trees Only Exist In Books’ it feels like these mesmerising strings arrive in halfway through , it really sums up how far-reaching the entire album is.

VB: I was thinking as well about my hip-hop times because there is also a lot of songs that have a little lower tempo but they’re still clubby in a way and there’s some neatness to them. And they’re at the same time not only house or techno tempo but they’re a little bit more in the middle like 100 BPM or 90. I felt like some of the tracks would be nice to get into that channel again – when I was twenty to twenty-five – where I was listening mainly to hip-hop artists and I’m always a big fan of that. Some of the tracks are a little bit oriented on that time as well.

Listening to ‘What If’ you can really hear the sound of a producer as much so as a pianist. For instance, the production of ‘Familiar Things Disappear’ with the transforming sounds throughout.

VB: Yeah totally, I mean it’s something that I’ve always done. I think it was never a part of my previous records because I mainly just played one track and that was it or a little laptop overdubs. But I have the feeling that I want to go more into a direction where I can go more extreme and I felt like this is maybe the way to go.

The album – just like all your previous records – there’s always very much a narrative or a particular chapter with a beginning, middle and end and the pieces on ‘What If’ certainly all feel closely connected with each other.

VB: This time I recorded twenty tracks with this kind of style and at the same time I was recording more piano pieces that I haven’t released yet, about forty that have nothing prepared and no electronics, just one take with me and the grand piano. I have the feeling that I have to switch between my work having all these sounds and my work that has the clearness of the piano; I love both of them so I’m trying to switch between those two styles.

Throughout ‘What If’, there’s like a series of contrasts and wide range of sounds and I love how ‘I Can’t Express My Deep Love’ fits so nicely in the middle, the more bare piano compared to the rest.

VB: This one song ‘I Can’t Express My Deep Love’ is actually from one of those takes that were pure piano recordings and I used this specific track on that album in the middle because I wanted to cut the tracks a little bit in half. This is the only piece that does not belong to the session I did altogether – this was a completely different session – from that session I have many more but I want to focus right now on the more textural  and more electronic and darker side of the music. At the same time, I’m doing a lot of film scores, there’s a lot of music out from my workflow that is very melodic and beautiful and so I felt my own music wanted to be a bit more edgy.

A track that just turned out amazingly is ‘My Kids Live On Mars’ and how there’s this fragile piano and that deep bass sound that floats in the mix.

VB: I really tried to find the balance between my melodic and my rhythm sides but at the same time I also feel like maybe the pieces are not only getting more diverse but they’re a little bit more like a composition, for example more pattern oriented music, which maybe in the beginning it was much more repetitive and I slowly feel like I can give the music more the sense of a journey and let it feel more like a composition that goes in and out and that has more different themes involved.

It brings you to your live shows as well, especially after ‘Abandoned City’ where some of the shows had this feeling like it’s this blank canvas and you start at one point and you don’t know where you’re going to go from that point on.

VB:  Yeah absolutely, that’s what my intention was to actually connect those two worlds with each other.

VB: I remember how you mentioned before how much an inspiration Nicolas Jaar was for you and it’s actually his first album ‘Space Is Only Noise’ that shares that atmosphere and dimension when revisiting your new album.

VB: Totally, I think above inspiration, music that you listen to where maybe a part of your world is incorporated where you feel like this is something that where the mixture is different from where you normally would mix everything up. But I think especially with Nicolas Jaar’s way of combining real instruments with a DJ approach is very nice and I have a feeling there are elements in there that I would say a musician would do differently in a way when you just come from the instrumentalist point of view. And I really like how he’s dealing with samples and how he’s like weaving it into each other, I really love that.

In terms of your own studio – you mentioned how one part was made in your own studio and also in Francesco Donadello’s studio– is this set up where you create most of your work in general?

VB: Francesco works a lot with Johann Johannsson and Dustin O’ Halloran and he mainly mixes a lot of their albums. He went on a couple of tours with me, doing my sound and I know him from back in the early days when he was in the band Giardini di Mirò. He also mixed the album and he had a different view on my music, which helped as well because I wanted to find somebody that I feel very close with in a way but at the same time I wanted a viewpoint of looking into the mix and finding maybe weaknesses or strengths. In his studio [Vox-ton] they have a Steinway D grand piano and I was very inspired by that piano so I think I will get one pretty soon. But at that time when I recorded the album, I had no grand piano and I wanted to have this full-bodied sound. All the albums beforehand were made with an upright.

And once the mixing stage is completed then, is it a case of doing overdubs and other final tweaking by yourself?

VB: Yeah, I mean mostly I’m trying to go in different places. In previous albums I was mostly recording the albums in my studio so the whole workflow was already clear, I just started it and recorded something and then I finished it in a way. With my workflow this time, it was forcing me into a different field, make an appointment and just go in by yourself and start recording as much material as possible and then go back with that material to my studio and mix that with stuff I already had. There were a lot of tracks of mine that were very, very rich in how I worked with them because there was already an option of live recordings and rich textures that I had collected.

So, this time I said I’m working much more like in the live situation as you mentioned but in a very good surrounding with great microphones and all sort of stuff. So, I am very pleased that it turned out so well especially as I was doing two films at the same time, back to back. And I was not sure I would be able to do it but I’m very happy in the way – like the flip-side in what I was doing with the moog in a way.

In the moment that you have laid down all your tracks – and you know there’s obviously a pool or a well of material to choose from – I wonder is that a fun process or is it challenging to select the right parts, considering the wealth of material that has gathered?

VB: I mean you know yourself, you have for example the opportunity to find out when you work best and a lot of times I have the feeling that I need some pressure when I’m working best and not pressure that is stressful but it’s more like I’d rather wait longer to the point where now I have to start otherwise it’s taking too long. So, that’s how I work and so a lot of times I’m trying to force myself into the situation where I have to move. It’s always a wonderful and fun process to create new music where you actually find yourself unfolding something new and I think that for me is always inspiring and refreshing. I’ve never failed so far making a record and having the feeling like it’s painful or I won’t get this done, so far I’ve been lucky [laughs].

I must congratulate you on the ‘Lion’ score you did with Dustin O’ Halloran and the many nominations you received for this music. Like you said about Francesco Donadello, it must have been a real pleasure to create music together with Dustin?

VB: I mean he’s the most humble, non-egotistic person in the world and that makes it totally nice to work with somebody who you can actually work on the creative side but you never have to battle the human element. But you know with musicians it’s not always easy because musicians of course want to express themselves and they want to be seen in the right way and at the same time when you have to make a movie it’s also a service and it’s also collaboration with the director who has certain ideas. So you have to decide what’s best for the film rather than for your own artistic expression. And finding that balance was so easy with Dustin and we are already long-time good friends so that was a pleasure to experience this whole journey with him.

As you mentioned previously, you obviously had a big starting point with hip-hop and a love for rap music, I’m curious to know would there be defining artists and records for you from this world of hip-hop that was very important for you?

VB: I was always a big fan of Timbaland as a producer and I love his way of approaching rhythms. I was a fan of N.E.R.D and all their records, it had the minimalism, which was the most interesting thing for me: how they work with beats and so I would say these two. And also, of course all the work that Timbaland did with all the collaborators. There’s also one collaboration with 2Pac and Dr Dre that I really love. This kind of hip-hop production for me was very inspiring I have to say.

With your tour coming up, it must be exciting to have this new music that’s so fresh, it must make the experience of the live show different and new again for you?

VB: Totally. I’m trying to prepare right now. Touring and finding the right sounds and the right lights and I am working again with Michael Buchholz who is doing the sound and we’re travelling with a light guy. But you know what I don’t want to do is like I’m not going towards the stadium show – I’m not a big fan of that – I rather smaller and more intimate spaces, I have to feel the audience, so that’s what I’m aiming for on this tour.

‘What If’ is out today on City Slang (Europe) and Temporary Residence Ltd. (USA).

https://www.facebook.com/HauschkaMusic/
https://www.hauschka-music.com/

 

Written by admin

March 31, 2017 at 2:05 pm