Dec 312015
 

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5 albums, 64 tracks and more than 4 hours of lasting listening – including plenty of alt. versions, unreleased material, pieces from unknown or forgotten compilations, tracks previously on tape albums that were never released on vinyl or cds. These are the features of the huge retrospective that was recently released by Erik Skodvin’s label Miasmah, titled “Commencing”. But Volcano The Bear – the brainchild of four imaginative Leicesterians (Aaron Moore, Nick Mott, Clarence Manuelo and Daniel Padden) – has been active for more than 20 years. Their experimental approach to composition consisting of redrawing or cancelling the boundaries between Dadaism, Krautrock, noise, surreal comedy, folk, improvisation and so-called Post punk lets them get out of the obscure shadows of the underground and gain many fans all over the world. We spoke about their recent volcanic ash cloud with Aaron Moore. Enjoy the read!

 

interview picture 1Chain D.L.K.: Hi folks! How are you?

Aaron Moore: Hello. I’m doing well, thanks.

 

Chain D.L.K.: I’m sure many readers of our long-lasting web-zine already know you, but let’s go back over the timeline…first of all, why did you name yourself Volcano The Bear?

Aaron Moore: Nick Mott and myself had an improv band called Songs Of Norway. At this time, Mott and I were hatching the idea of a new music project. We were rehearsing with SON one evening. In the rehearsal room was a poster for the band Volcano Suns and after we’d finished playing a piece of new music one of us said to call that piece “Volcano” immediately after someone else said “The Bear”. We all agreed it was a great name for a band, and on the way home Mott and I decided to call our new project Volcano The Bear.

 

Chain D.L.K.: When you began to add titles to VTB discography in the second half of the 90s, you used to number the releases (Vol One, Vol Tu, Vol iii…) except of the sixth one, “The Inhazer Decline”. Why such a choice? Were you thinking about no longer making records?

Aaron Moore: The naming of our songs and album titles is very much a part of the band’s creative process. We enjoy playing with words. Our self-released live albums on our own Volucan label needed titles, as well as catalogue numbers, so we combined the two. I always remember something Daniel Padden said in the early days as we discussed the naming of things.

He said something along the lines of “Why would a band choose to give a song a boring title when you have so many thousands of more interesting words you could use?”

Chain D.L.K.: Do you remember the names and the faces of the six people who bought the six copies of the first edition of “The Inhazer Decline”? Steve Stapleton by chance? 🙂

Aaron Moore: Yes, of course! Though there were 9 copies pressed. One for each member of the band. One for VTB’s studio engineer Kev Reverb. One for Stapleton, as we were sending it to him to be released on United Diaries (as it turned out some of the tracks were used for our first release ‘Yak Folk’s Y’are’ and some for the eventual ‘Inhazer’ version for UD). The other 3 copies were given to friends of the band who we’d invited to do some backing vocals on one of the tracks. Stu Brackley, Steve Hill and the brothers who ran our favourite record shop in Leicester (Ultima Thule), Alan and Steve Freeman, who got to share a copy I believe.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Most reviewers label your style as improvisational even if there are many hooks to so-called plunderphonics a-la-Negativland, Krautrock or the most provocative side of (more or less esoteric) industrial… first of all, do you like to get labeled or “mis”-labeled?

Aaron Moore: I don’t mind getting labeled. Sometimes they can be quite hilarious. We never set out to create a particular style of music. Our music is about spontaneity. It’s not about us wanting to sound this way or that way. I don’t think we consider that way of doing things as an option. Our music was always much more about sound rather than style. When you’re making a piece of music by throwing apples into a bucket of water, there’s no genre reference for that.

 

interview picture 2Chain D.L.K.: Some stuff (particularly the first one) could surmise Neil Campbell’s Vibracathedral’s outputs…anyway, what are the really distinguishing elements of VTB compared to similar bands/projects?

Aaron Moore: We always found it strange that we were compared to our contemporaries. Be it Vibracathedral Orchestra, No-Neck Blues Band and Sunburned Hand Of The Man, for instance. Those bands had such a different approach to collaborative music making and improvisation. They were/are much more homogenous than VTB. I think they approached their music much more collectively whereas we had a more individualistic way of collaborating. Each member of VTB has a different approach to what VTB music is. Most importantly, and if we ever had a creative manifesto it is this, each member is allowed to do whatever he wants on a particular piece of music and the other members have to allow him to do what he wishes, even if we don’t like it. It’s all about trust. I trust their creative decision making, and who am I to say it’s the wrong thing to play? In VTB there is no wrong thing to play. It’s a beautiful and powerful philosophy which has impacted my life in general. Another difference between us and our contemporaries was our choice of instrumentation. I may be wrong, but I feel other bands on the circuit were centered on rock instrumentation, predominantly the use of electric guitars and bass guitars. Our instrumentation was much more fluid and the use of tape as an instrument was and still is very important. We also sang a lot. Our improvisations were springboards to studio compositions. I don’t think there were many bands at that time using the studio as an instrument. There was a lot of documentation of happenings being released, whereas our albums were more crafted and composed.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Did Leicester or life in Leicester influence your style? How?

Aaron Moore: I personally think it was very important. Leicester isn’t a creative hub like London. It definitely didn’t have an experimental scene. There were four guys making experimental music and they were all in the same band. We had no local contemporaries and that helped in our development as there was no influence from fellow musicians on a scene. We only had each other to be influenced by. At the same time, we had pretty much stopped listening to contemporary music. We started journeying back for inspiration. I feel this was a subconscious attempt to keep our music from sounding ‘of a time’.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Later (after The One Burned Ma), some malicious reviewers implied Volcano The Bear tried to emulate Captain Beefheart…do you agree with them?

Aaron Moore: Ha! Really? I don’t think we ever sounded like Beefheart. We couldn’t have if we’d tried. We’re not good enough musicians. We were determined to not sound like anything else, so emulating other bands would have been counter to our mission.

 

Chain D.L.K.: What’s the weirdest sound object or sample you ever used in your tracks?

Aaron Moore: What is weird? We didn’t set out to be a ‘weird’ band. We were only interested in being un-conventional. Of course, we used dozens of un-conventional sound objects and still do. We were always inspired by using non-musical objects and making them musical. How can we make a piece of music out of this brick or this bag of tools? What does it sound like when we bow this or strike that? I used to joke that we would make a piece of music out of bowing each other’s hair. We bowed everything we could get our hands on. We had great success bowing an electric fan once. The plastic rods that keep jars from falling out of a fridge door is a sound we used many, many times. Not because these things were weird but because these were sounds we’d never heard before. This sonic quest is a journey we are all still taking.

 

Chain D.L.K.: In 2002-2003, some of your members started solo-projects, which didn’t last so long…how come?

Aaron Moore: We all still have solo projects. We never stopped.

 

interview picture 3Chain D.L.K.: The worst compliment and the best critique you received for some of your awesome live performances? What was the most amazing live performance you like to remember today?

Aaron Moore: That’s a tricky one. I remember a performance we did at the Venn Festival in Bristol. I think it was 2006. Someone in the audience shouted out “pretentious wankers”. That really irked us. How the fuck can we be pretending to do this? I think to be pretentious requires a lot of planning and forethought. We never really planned anything. It was always about being spontaneous. A lot of people along the way have asked us which art school we attended. As if we could only make music and perform this way because we’d been to art school! None of us went to art school.

One of my favorite quotes about us was from the music writer Mark Barton. “No one sounds, has sounded or will ever quite sound like Volcano The Bear.”
There have been so many enjoyable performances, but one of the most pleasing and complete for me was in 2006 when we played the Eggstock Festival in Leicester. It was the last concert we played as a quartet and the first time we’d played our home town in a few years. The setting, in the Phoenix Theatre, was amazing and we played a perfect VTB show. (There’s some video of part of the performance on YouTube.) We released the audio of the concert as ‘Egg And Two Books’ on the Polish label Vivo.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to come back on live stage? If so, how?

Aaron Moore: There’s always a possibility but at the moment I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. We all have other commitments. Families, work, etc. I’d love to have the four of us play some shows together again. Mott left the band in 2007 but since working on the new retrospective 5 LP box set ‘Commencing’, which came out last month on Miasmah, he’s interested in playing live with us again. Clarence Manuelo has categorically said no to playing live again so it’s difficult to see the quartet back together on stage. Manuelo stopped playing live after the winter 2007 European tour. Since then Padden and I have toured as a duo, but he now has 2 children so it’s more difficult.

 

Chain D.L.K.: According to some reviewers, “Yak Folks Y’Are” is the most nonsensical output of yours…do you agree?

Aaron Moore: No, I don’t agree at all! The dictionary definition of nonsensical is “lacking intelligible meaning”, “foolish, absurd.” At times our music is absurd but it is filled with meaning. It is thoughtful, and even at its most abstract, cohesively constructed. We’re very serious about our music, even when it’s playful.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Could you tell us something about “Commencing”, the huge retrospective collection recently released by Miasmah?

Aaron Moore: Erik Skodvin (Miasmah boss) is a friend of mine and a couple years ago at a VTB concert he suggested doing a VTB box set (he’d had a few drinks by then). A few months later I wrote to him asking if he was serious about doing a box set and that 2015 would be VTB’s 20th anniversary. He said he’d like to, so for the next 2 years Erik and I worked on putting it together. VTB has a massive archive and we went through dozens of hours of music. The box set is 5 LP’s containing 64 tracks with a bonus download-only album of 10 tracks that didn’t make the final cut of the box. A large proportion of the tracks are unreleased; some were unfinished recordings that I completed during the curating of Commencing. There’s a few tracks from our first cassette releases, a few from our live cdr series, some obscure compilation tracks, a couple of alternative versions of previously released tracks and a live LP. There’s also a 50-page book of writings, photos, old gig posters, etc. included.

 

interview picture 4Chain D.L.K.: Did you choose the organization of the published material? Was it difficult to find old recordings and rarities to include in the 5 CDs of “Commencing”?

Aaron Moore: Erik and I came up with the final track listing with a bit of input from the other guys. Mott helped out a lot with the visual side of things but Erik did all the design and layout. It was only difficult making the final decisions on the tracks to be included. There were so many tracks to choose from. At one point I discovered a bunch more old live recordings and decided not to even listen to them. We had too many choices. There were a lot of tracks that we had multiple versions of from different sources: cassette tape, cdr, mini disc etc. It was quite a task to go through those to decide which was the better-quality version. The whole process took Erik and me about 2 years and hundreds of emails. I must have worked on it for a few hundred hours over that 2 year period. We’re all immensely proud of the finished product. It’s a beautiful set! So far we’ve had extremely positive feedback about it so it was all worth it. It’s been a fascinating journey and the whole band has been surprised at the breadth of music we created over the past 20 years.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Do you think that audience is more trained to understand your art today or do you miss something of the late nineties’ “inner receptiveness”?

Aaron Moore: I don’t think so. I haven’t noticed a difference in how our audience responds to our work. The audience is probably smaller than in 2006, for instance, but I don’t think people’s ears have changed.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Any other work in progress?

Aaron Moore: Well, there is an unfinished VTB album recorded between 2007 and 2011 at Faust Studios with Hans Joachim Irmler. It was initially going to be released on Klangbad but in the end, we bought the tapes. We’d begun the process of mixing it when the box idea came up so it’s been shelved for a while. At some point, we’ll get back to it and finish it. Other than that we all have different projects on the go, independent of VTB. I have a band here in Brooklyn called Gospel Of Mars. It’s more of a live project. I also have a recording collaboration with Erik Skodvin from Miasmah, another project that got shelved for the box set work! Mott recently released a new solo album and is working on a couple of other projects, Manuelo is working on some new Earth Trumpet material and Padden is still active with his One Ensemble group. There’s always something going on with us.

check out Volcano The Bear Bandcamp at: volcanothebear.bandcamp.com

Dec 232015
 
Getting closer to our fourth year of existance, we can think that we’ve draw a personal path, mainly focused on nowadays sounds, thanks to DIY works and other kind of “independent” productions, focusing also on the ones close to us. After the release of the first two compilations (the second one was titled “Dronegazers?”), we’ve thought about a new one which could including the artists we liked the most in 2015.
We chose them among the many projects we follow and we’ve already talked about.
In this new chapter we try to provide to our readers a number of tracks that could be representative of at least two macro-genres, divided in two volumes. The first shows our interest for music devoted to research, especially to the various kinds of psychedelia, improvisations and electronic music. The other one it’s linked to heavier and metal-oriented sounds. We know pretty much well that there are plenty of projects out there and that this is just our “version of the story”.
Have a good listen.

 

Dec 202015
 

Cultural Amnesia announce the release of Bad Meditation, their first new album for four years, and the digital release of Still Hungry, an E.P. of tracks from the 1980s.

 

New Releases December 2015

Cultural Amnesia and Bleak are proud to announce the release of a new CA album, Bad Meditation, and the  first digital release of Still Hungry, an EP of tracks from the 1980s. Each release has an accompanying video.

Bad Meditation is the first new Cultural Amnesia album for four years. The nine-track album comes with digital booklet and video. Free Download from the Bleak netlabel http://www.bleak.at/bleak055

Still Hungry comprises four tracks of 1980s material, released as a download here for the first time. Released in a limited vinyl edition in 2007, it includes a version of ‘Scars for E’, one of John Balance’ songs for the band. Comes with a digital booklet and video. 

Free Download from the Bleak netlabel http://www.bleak.at/bleak054

Video downloads

‘I Sleep Better’, from _Bad Meditation_: https://vimeo.com/144140787

‘Sacrebleu’, from _Still Hungry_: https://vimeo.com/145720400

Dec 192015
 

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Vienna-based Ventil Records keeps on moulding their awesome sound with a cross between ambient, noise, industrial and dark electronics by launching a split release that got signed by Peter Kutin, co-founder of the label, and the young producer Leon Leder, aka Asfast, whose stuff flows between erudite electronic composition, the harshness of 2nd Gen and darker acts… promoters have compared their sound to Varese’s and Swans’ styles, but take a look at their answers of this email interview below to get to know them better and understand what they think of such a comparison… and open up your ears up to check out their stuff, of course.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Hi guys! How are you?

Peter Kutin: Disturbed. I just checked the news.

 

Chain D.L.K.: I’ve listened to your split release and I can only praise your work…I wouldn’t have thought it could come from a newcomer…first of all, do we have to consider you as a proper newcomer, or do you want to tell us some of your history within the electronic or musical territories we may not know?

Leon Leder: I don’t really consider myself as a newcomer in terms of electronic music production. I’ve been dealing with producing electronic music for eight years now, I think.
I never really cared about publicity, so in this regard I feel like a newcomer.

Peter Kutin : I’ve been making new sounds since I bought my very first tape recorder at the age of 14. Since then things kind of developed… For the newcomer question, I do agree with Leon.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Do you remember the very first sound you generated by an electronic device/synth/keyboard or whatever?

Leon Leder: Yes, I remember. It was a distorted “Hardcore Techno” base drum with FL Studio 😀

Peter Kutin : Nope.

 

Chain D.L.K.: ..and the first “composer” to persuade you to get closer to electronic music production?

Leon Leder: I was really impressed with Venetian Snares when I was 16 years old. His love for details, especially in terms of beats, definitely showed me a new way of thinking of electronic music.

Peter Kutin: The synthesizer player Wendy (formerly Walter) Carlos; she did the sound design and music for ‘Tron’, a Walt-Disney production whose radio-play version my grandma gave me (as an audio tape) at the age of something like seven or eight, I think. I was listening to it forever, so I am sure it had its impact, as there are really crazy Synth sounds in it. I later discovered Carlos again due to his work for Stanley Kubrick.

 

Peter Kutin

Peter Kutin, courtesy of U.M.Z.

Chain D.L.K.: You laid the foundations for Ventil Records…could you trace the stylistic or even conceptual ground on which those foundations have been built?

Peter Kutin: The first choice was to have an opportunity to release my own music and music from people around me who do great productions, but who are not represented, nor supported by any sort of label in Vienna. So I got together with Ursula Winterauer and Michael Lahner, both active within that scene, to build up a label. The concept is based on the quality, the originality and the guts of the production, not about the style.

 

Chain D.L.K.: …and which heights is Ventil going to reach?

Peter Kutin:  Once your quality is good and stable, the ‘Height’ you can reach is very much determined by the money you can invest and the brilliance of your media-work. In that sense, as Leon said before, Ventil-Records is a newcomer.

 

Chain D.L.K.: While I’m writing, I see you planned a release party on 19th November in Wien…any “special” guest amidst the invited people?

Peter Kutin:  Everyone is super special.

 

Chain D.L.K.: When I read the introduction of Ventil that said it could sound like a possible collaboration between Varese and Swans, I frankly thought you exaggerated…after listening to it, I understood how those words could make sense… Peter, could you explain that link to our readers?

Peter Kutin:  I think that listeners of both artists, Swans and Varese, can find certain things on the record that are interesting to hear. That’s why we used these names. Also, if you know about the very precise and uncompromising style and the characters of the Swans (Michael Gira) and Edgar Varese, you will know that we are not into hipness, but rather into politics.

And yes, of course it is exaggerated, it is a PR text.

 

Chain D.L.K.: As a matter of interest, Peter, how did you grab the field recordings (supposedly they are) of that track related to dentist drilling?

Peter Kutin:  I put a piezzo mic over/on the cardial bone of my skull. Then I pressed record on my SoundDevice and the dentist started drilling. We both had lots of fun and it didn’t hurt as much as usual. The dentist almost didn’t want to stop ‘cause he got so excited. Which is a bad side-effect. Anyhow, I recommend this procedure for people who are afraid of the dentist.
The funny thing is when I play this recording to listeners who don’t know what the sound source is, they are like ‘interesting sound’ or ‘what plugin does this?’ When I then explain that it is my dentist drilling into my teeth, they feel some sort of pain or something like that.

You see, to me it is a very interesting thing, how knowledge changes our perception. Not always in a good way.

 

Chain D.L.K.: What’s your “intimate” or mental relation to silence and noise?

Peter Kutin:  You probably could write a PhD about that, so I won’t start to talk about it. But basically it’s all in your head, meaning it’s a very individual psychological thing…

 

Asfast

Asfast, courtesy of Fabian Czernovski

Chain D.L.K.: Which living noiseshaper do you consider a living legend?

Leon Leder: I think there are many really good and crazy producers out there, but a living legend? Maybe Ben Frost. I’ve seen him live two times. His unique ideas and how he handles noise in general is something I’ve never experienced before in a live-situation. But of course there are some controversies related to his sound. Maybe that’s part of the nature of a “legend”.

Peter Kutin:  There are too many. Really. But maybe it’s the inventors of all the audio-software we are able to use. Maybe it is the programmers.

 

Chain D.L.K.: How did Vienna influence your sonic art?

Leon Leder: Of course we have a long tradition in Vienna in terms of experimental electronic music. We have eMego with great artists like Fennesz. But when eMego got big I was a little boy, and I think many things have changed since then. I really admire eMego and I already had the pleasure of playing a support show for Oren Ambarchi, but I cannot say that I’m totally influenced by eMego and its environment. I’m more influenced by the events we have here in Austria like Donaufestival and Elevate Festival. There are also some smaller events here in Vienna with great bookings. It happened quite a view times in Vienna that I was really surprised by the “freshness” of live-acts I never heard before. That’s an influence.

Peter Kutin:  I had to stay away from Vienna for quite some time in order to forget all the influences the city and its scenes had on me. The electronica-circle with eMego in its center, the Fennesz breakthrough, the experimental and contemporary scene. So I went off, travelling, changing cities, etc… When I came back I had a much clearer vision of my own musical ideas.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Leon, what’s the source of those otherworldly vocals of “Cocooning”?

Leon Leder: Actually, it’s a synth-sound with a long effects chain.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Any connection with other forms of human expression (literature, video-art, painting or whatever)?

Leon Leder: There are periods where I read a lot and watch a lot of movies; many of my friends are studying art and I’m sure that all this influences my music somehow, but I couldn’t say that there are essential relations between that and my music production.

Peter Kutin:  Sometimes I am asked to do music for Performance/Theater and Films. It’s good to see how these art-forms ‘work’. Every art system has its own mentality. Or something like that. And there is nothing better than reading a good book, or watching a great movie… it all depends on how much is going on at a certain time.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

Leon Leder: I wanna start soon with the production of a “full-length” album. I’m sure that will take some time…

Peter Kutin: Of course! Just subscribe to our newsletter…

 

Visit Asfast on the web at: www.aaasfast.com

Dec 192015
 

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All About Jazz described his previous output, “Bathymetric Modes”, as “an album that, in its combination of lyrical beauty, attractive sound worlds and left-of-corner concerns, deserves to place him on the same international radar alongside his better-known Norwegian colleagues”. This opinion could be strengthened by listening to his recent album, “Sleep Freeze Wait Eat” (Hubro), where Professor Ivar Grydeland – he teaches at the Norwegian Academy of Music at the moment – builds a complex web connecting abstract electronica, Americana, lo-fi and hi-fi drones and improv by means of a huge set of acoustic and electric guitars, pedal steel, banjo, bows, metal, propellers and electronics. Check it out!

 

Chain D.L.K.: Hi Ivar! How are you?

Ivar Grydeland: Hello, I’m good. Busy travelling. Just came back from UK performing with Dans les arbres in Newcastle and at the London Jazz Festival, and performing with Nils Petter Molvær Quartet, also at London Jazz Festival and BBC3. Just been home for a short stop to leave my heavy pedal steel guitar and lots of stuff. Now I’m on my way to Bern to continue the tour with Dans les arbres. How are you?

 

Chain D.L.K.: Pretty busy, but fine, thanks for asking! While listening to your outstanding recent solo-album, a chemistry lesson came to my mind related to the effect of extremely low temperatures on matter…it seems that particles are “hypnotized” by frost and the distance between their electronic spheres are diminished! Do you like such a comparison? 🙂

Ivar Grydeland: Yes, indeed! It is very interesting to hear all sorts of associations that people get listening to my music.

 

interview picture 1

courtesy of Andreas Ulvo

Chain D.L.K.: Before speaking of your album, some readers might be interested in knowing something more about you…how did you decide to become a musician?

Ivar Grydeland: It just happened. I began studying music, and it all slowly developed from there, playing concerts, teaching a little while studying. Gradually I played more, and it just became my job.

 

Chain D.L.K.: How did you more or less mould your sound in recent years?

Ivar Grydeland: Playing the world’s most popular instrument, the guitar, means that there are tons of people that sound great, tons of performers to be inspired by playing the same instrument. It is an interesting challenge, and to me, a necessity to try to find a little something that makes my guitar playing sound a little less like the majority of other players. For many years I have been using different types of tools to prepare the guitar (a tradition that already is 40-50 years old…) and I have worked a lot with electronics. For a while it has been an interest of mine to make the acoustic guitar sound like an electronic instrument – but by the use of preparations and via the use of electronic treatments. Also, I believe that some of my playing approaches are more inspired by electro-acoustic music than by typical guitar-music. My latest solo album Stop Freeze Wait Eat is an example of such.  The majority of the sounds on the opening track and several other tracks are acoustic guitar treated electronically.

 

Chain D.L.K.: You are a musician that could really testify that there are no real boundaries between styles in music by means of your own music and artistic path…could you trace it back?

Ivar Grydeland: I don’t know, really. I have just played the music I like, and not really cared that much if it is this or that style. I enjoy improvising and composing my own music in studio, I enjoy performing with my main improvising groups, I enjoy performing Norwegian artist Hanne Hukkelberg’s great songs, although it has been a little while since I worked with her. Lately I have had the chance to perform a little with Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær. That has been a really nice experience, too.

I think I am more open minded now, compared to, let’s say, 10-12 years ago. Back then I mostly played improvised music, and was quite happy with that. I didn’t want to do anything else.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Frost…some people think it could be a booster for creativity! What’s its effect on your music-making skills?

Ivar Grydeland: My music making skills? Well, frost is not good for guitar playing, that’s for sure. For example, in 2012 we recorded my group Huntsville’s 4th album Past Increasing Future Receding (Hubro) in a mausoleum in Oslo. The room has a great, super long and loud reverb, 12 seconds or so. One of the drawbacks of that venue is that it is really cold. No ventilation, no windows, almost no light, almost no heat. The album was recorded in March. It was COLD.

The sound of walking or cross-country skiing on really cold snow is amazing and inspiring! I can really enjoy a very cold winter. I do believe that the surroundings, the temperature, sun, lack of sun etc. affect how people make music. But it is a little hard for me to tell exactly what kind of effect it has on me.

 

Chain D.L.K.: You teach at the Norwegian Academy of Music…besides techniques or compositional schemes, what do you try to inoculate into your students?

Ivar Grydeland: It depends a lot on what kinds of students. I am not teaching composition, but I have improvisation classes and I have guitar students. On a general basis, I would say that it is often about listening, and musical communication. For improvising classes it is more like I am an observer on the outside, commenting on what I am experiencing, giving suggestions to make the students reflect on their own improvisations. I try to help them focus on their own listening.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Are you more interested in rendering your own emotions or inspiring emotions in listeners by means of music?

Ivar Grydeland: I am not sure emotion is the right word. I would say I am interested in igniting my own curiosity. When improvising, it could be by the combination of known and unpredictable processes, a new variation of something reminiscent. When performing compositions, it could be to find the right energy and a good communication with the band members. A collective process of making coherent and consistent versions of a composition, a song or a piece.

 

interview picture 2

courtesy of Andreas Ulvo

Chain D.L.K.: Could you tell us more about the birth of “Stop Freeze Wait Eat”?

Ivar Grydeland: It was made as part of an artistic research fellowship project at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. The project took place between 2011 and 2015. In this project I have produced solo improvisations that derive from the music of two improvising ensembles to which I belong: Dans les arbres and Huntsville. Both the solo album and solo performances during the project period are examples of such.

I have used my own understanding and notion of these ensembles’ aesthetics and philosophy as a backdrop for the solo works. The album and the other solo works during this project are artistic responses to the collectively created music of the ensembles. The layering of these groups’ music, how we use repetition, our seemingly independent rhythmic loops, etc. have been points of departure for the solo pieces on Stop Freeze Wait Eat. 
The album took 1 ½ years to make, and some of the tracks are compositions, restructured and rearranged improvisations with overdubs, while other tracks are improvisations. For these tracks, the album versions are closer to what they sounded like when I recorded them.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Why did you title it with a sequence of “passive” actions?

Ivar Grydeland: All these actions are also active.  Part of the title stems from my research fellowship project. I have studied how the ensemble music and my solo work stop, how they freeze, how we wait. I added eat simply because it sounded good.

 

Chain D.L.K.: You said you liked the alternation of intuition and reflection while working in a recording studio…what’s the track which is closer to intuition and what’s the closest one to reflection/meditation in your own words?

Ivar Grydeland: “Eat After Me” and “Lag, Accumulated A” have no overdubs, and are thus the tracks closest to being intuitive. “Eat After Me” was recorded and treated on a MAX/MSP tool on the fly. What I play is distributed on 3 different amplifiers. “Lag, Accumulated A” is a stereo setup that presents what I played in the moment in one amplifier (present), and what I played 12 seconds ago (past) in another amplifier. The sound of the present can be frozen and the sound of the past can be chopped up with a stutter effect.

“Stop Freeze Wait Sing” is the track that has the most versions. The original improvisation was 10 seconds on acoustic guitar. The electronics in the beginning stem from these 10 seconds. I have re-arranged, re-composed and re-improvised many of the sections on that track.

 

Chain D.L.K.: What are the main differences of this album and your likewise acclaimed debut “Bathymetric Modes”?

Ivar Grydeland: The general mood is very different. Stop Freeze Wait Eat is darker and slower, more dissonant. My fascination for repetition and small variations in repetitions remain.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Hubro is a wide-open window with many interesting outputs from the Norwegian scene… as you also manage the label (Sofa), what are your suggestions for keeping this windows open?

Ivar Grydeland: We are extremely lucky in Norway to have the opportunity to work professionally with even not-so-popular music. For years we have had politicians that understand the importance of art and culture. Various grants have allowed for labels and artists to keep on working, producing and releasing music, even if the sales alone do not cover the costs.

I think allowing people to continue to develop their artistic careers, even if sales and concert fees alone can’t take care of this, is extremely important.

 

Visit Ivar Grydeland on the web at: www.ivargrydeland.com