After several tape-only releases in 1984, Controlled Bleeding released its first album on the then-brand new Dossier label in Germany, a label with which Controlled Bleeding would collaborate closely over the next years. Experimental, noise-laden industrial, Body Samples is at times less abrasive than the previous year’s tape experiments and was influenced by ambient soundscapes and rhythmic noise. The album also eschews the longer pieces found on the tape releases for a series of shorter works, many under two minutes, reflecting poignantly its name, Body Samples.
Both original vinyl and CD are hopelessly out of print, and the Artoffact Records reissues expand the original vinyl pressing with a healthy dose of unreleased bonus tracks into a gorgeous 2LP remastered edition. The vinyl is housed in a gatefold sleeve and a limited collector’s edition on purple vinyl is available in 200 copies. The remastered CD comes in a digipak.
After we were charmed and almost hypnotized by the beauty of her amazing second album, simply titled ‘two’ (coming out of the Bergen-based label Playdate), we had a chat with Eva Pfitzenmeier, better known as By The Waterhole, her solo-project with which she wisely intertwines jazzpop and bluesy nuances, association-filled poetry, blossoming melodies and her evocative voice within a personal definition of loop-based music. Enjoy the reading and, possibly, the listening…
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Eva! How are you?
By The Waterhole: Very well, thanks! Tired, though (with a 3-month old baby in the house, that’s rather natural I guess…).
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s look back before speaking of current events and a hopefully bright future… what’s the most remote memory related to music you have (besides the maternal bass)?
By The Waterhole: Probably my dad playing the piano (a lot of jazz standards, Bach and Schubert is what I remember best) and a stuffed animal in the shape of a ladybug with a music box inside. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what tune it played, but I remember that I loved it soooo much!
Chain D.L.K.: I wrote that you started singing in churches when you were a teenager. Do you think that religious beliefs or some sense of belonging to a community could help in getting closer to art in general?
By The Waterhole: That’s not entirely correct. I did sing in churches, but that was when I was very young (maybe 6 or 7 years old) – and then just as the “audience.” Back then I liked going to church, only because of the fact that there would be singing involved. The rest of the service I found rather boring…
As a teenager I sang in churches occasionally, but not because I was religious, but because I really liked gospel – the energy and the bluesy, improvisational character of it.
I think it’s often rather the other way around – art helps create a sense of belonging and community. I also think that this is exceptionally true for music. Music is perceived differently than, for example, visual art, and has a much more direct way into our emotions, which again play a very important part in feeling a connection with others.
Chain D.L.K.: You are German, but you perfectly integrated into the community of the wonderful Bergen. Would you say that lovely town and the Norwegian community had an influence on your artistic path and choices?
By The Waterhole: Yes, for sure! After finishing my studies in Amsterdam (I studied jazz singing at the conservatory) I was looking for a new direction, not feeling at home anymore in the world of jazz chord progressions and scatting. I’m not sure if the Norwegian music scene has necessarily influenced me a lot music-wise, but it definitely has mentality-wise. I find that people are open-minded and up for all kinds of experiments – not only in the sense of, for example, going completely avant-garde, but maybe also rather going very simple.
Bergen is known for its DIY rock milieu; there is a great energy there. Also, the avant-garde milieu is quite down to earth and not pretentious or snobbish at all; I like that. The fact that the town is rather small is inspiring, too, in the sense that you easily get to know a lot of people from different milieus, be it pop, sound art or contemporary music.
Chain D.L.K.: Could you tell us something about the most important meetings in your musical history for your growth? I’m referring to meetings with other people involved, or those not into music, that could be considered milestones for your artistic/musical growth…
By The Waterhole:
– My dad, taking me to a lot of concerts as a kid and introducing me to a lot of different types of music.
– A singer that taught at a jazz workshop I went to. Unfortunately, I don’t remember her name. From her, I heard for the first time of the possibility of live looping; that must have been in 2001 or so. It was still a couple of years until I got my first loop station, but this introduction to sampling the voice was relevant to my musical development.
– My fiancé and producer, guitar player and composer Stephan Meidell, who introduced me to a whole new musical world when we met ten years ago, and who has always encouraged me to find my way.
Chain D.L.K.: Well…maybe someone already asked you, but what’s the origin of the name you’ve chosen for your solo-project By The Waterhole?
By The Waterhole: I don’t exactly remember how the name finally evolved out of an extensive brainstorming session with me and myself (this is how it goes with solo projects…), but I liked the picture that came to mind: a well or a waterhole where many different kinds of animals meet to drink, the animals representing many different musical influences and styles. I like many different types of music and don’t like to be restricted to one particular style or genre.
Chain D.L.K.: Would you say there’s a connection with Krachmacher (besides your presence) with By The Waterhole?
By The Waterhole: I think it’s unavoidable to have a connection, seeing that I write (with Krachmacher, together with my bandmates) and sing the music. That being said, By The Waterhole developed from the urge to have a project where I can use my voice and do vocal experiments in a “quieter” environment and with full creative control. It is great fun playing with Stephan (guitar) and Øyvind (drums) – there is so much great energy, and they are both amazing musicians. But as a vocalist – especially when playing in crappy venues that don’t have the best equipment or sound technicians, I sometimes felt easily drowned out. I guess every band vocalist knows the problem of not being able to hear a note of what they’re singing… So I wanted to have a project as a balance to that, and as an experimental platform for my ideas and my voice. I do play rather loudly with By The Waterhole as well, but I have better control over it. A connection is a way of making the lyrics and the music; there is a lot of improvisation involved. I also see an aesthetic connection – the wanted small imperfections, the melody lines… I’m curious, what connection do you see?
Chain D.L.K.: Textures of your music are very simple, and even electronic devices are not so treated, as it’s easy to recognize the source of some sounds, and you didn’t remove what other electronic composers would have considered a mole (the hiss of machines sounds a constant element, and analog sounds come as they are)… why did you choose such a “simple sophistication” in your sound?
By The Waterhole: I like a certain imperfection in my work. Nowadays it has become so easy to produce “perfectly clean” music. However, for me this music is often lacking the authenticity and honesty that you can find in older recordings, for example from the 60s and 70s: soul records where the vocals at a certain point are so powerful that they peak, rock records where you can hear the amp buzzing, jazz records with slightly fucked up solos that then sound even better than the slick, 10th-take-solos that are maybe even edited together – these things make you feel like you are actually in the same space where the music is happening. It’s so much more alive. So, often I choose to leave things the way they sound in real life – for example, keeping the background noise buzz in a sample that I record with my sampling keyboard. Some of these imperfections on the record result from sound material I collected, and some of it was a conscious choice of my co-producer, Stephan Meidell, who also mixed the record. He has a great sense for these small details and understood that with keeping these sounds that “happen” unintentionally, and maybe even lifting them up rather than trying to hide them, the arrangements gain interesting extra elements, since there is space for them in the minimalistic instrumentation of By The Waterhole – to give it a feeling of authenticity, of analogue textures in a digital world, and to give it a certain warmth.
Chain D.L.K.: On the other side, it’s pretty amazing the way you counterbalanced such simplicity with your voice… what’s the role of it in your sonic soup?
Artist Name: For me, the voice is still the most important element. The play with vocal textures and sounds, the melodies and the lyrics. I wish people would listen to lyrics more carefully… I know it’s difficult to hear and understand everything, so that’s why I included a nice booklet poster with the lyrics and artwork in this release.
Chain D.L.K.: Besides effects, what’s the funniest electronic trick or sound by which you try to camouflage your voice?
By The Waterhole: On the record, I used a good old-fashioned tape recorder to record some of the vocals in real-time and then play them back and record again in the studio (on “I fall”). In the last couple of years, I have used tape recorders in several music and theater projects. I like the live use, the playing back, rewinding, forwarding, improvising in this manual and tactile way to create a sound scape.
Another fun fact from the production of “two”: the bass drum in “i want to” is a lampshade (those big old-fashioned ones made out of fabric stretched over a metal frame) played on with chopsticks. We were amazed by the deep bass drum sound it created when putting a microphone inside the lampshade.
Chain D.L.K.: Would you introduce ‘two’ in your own words?
By The Waterhole: Two is an eclectic record. Not quite as eclectic as my first solo record, “one,” but still merging many different influences. Blues and experimental pop meet more conceptual spoken-word songs and African-inspired rhythms. It’s very personal and a solo record in every sense (me writing and playing/singing everything, yet with artistic help and support from co-producer Stephan Meidell).
Chain D.L.K.: I noticed a bluesy nuance in some songs (particularly in Rollin’, one of my faves, or I Want To)…is it intentional?
Artist Name: Oh yes, very much so! At the age of about 11 or 12, I started to listen a lot to Billie Holiday (still my absolute favorite vocalist), Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and two blues records I had by Jesse Fuller and Brownie McGhee. I loved it!
(Of course, I also listened to music that was popular at that time, those more or less embarrassing pop and dance jewels of the 90s, which I will leave unmentioned here…)
I’m still very fond of the real authentic old-school blues (not the modern blues rock, that’s not my thing at all), the simplicity of it. So this has been a strong influence that I finally dared to give into after having deserted it for a while during my studies.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the more or less hidden meaning of another highlight of ‘two’ such as ‘the loudness of no sound’?
By The Waterhole: I wrote the lyrics to this song when my grandfather died. However, I think everybody can make their own meaning of that text; just listen closely, take it in and interpret it in your own way.
Chain D.L.K.: Some songs like ‘I Fall’ seem to have been written while you dig into the electronic elements you melded….was it born as I guessed?
By The Waterhole: Well, the text existed already before I made the music. I usually work in an improvisational way, using elements that I have “lying around” (texts, riffs, rhythms or melodies), mixing them together; then I see what fits, adjust, rewrite, improvise, add, take away… This is also how this song came to be. However, this one was stitched together in the recording studio more than others, testing and layering different electronic elements. (Most of the other songs are more exactly recorded how I play them live.) It is still a very simple and minimalistic composition.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you brought ‘two’ on live stage yet? If so, any interesting feedback?
By The Waterhole: Most of the songs from “two” I have played live, yes, but not all. I have gotten quite some positive feedback (see, for example, this review, so far unfortunately only in German, hoping to get around to translating it soon: http://www.nrwjazz.net/reviews/2016/Frische_Ideen_beim_20._Joe-Festival_/). Often people seem taken by the performance (the music and the video, which is an important part of By The Waterhole live) but also a little confused, kind of like waking up from a dream with a lot of different impressions that they don’t quite know what to make of yet. I was told several times by audiences that they hadn’t heard anything like it and didn’t quite know what to compare it to/which drawer to put it in. To me, that’s a huge compliment; I’m always very happy to hear that!
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?
By The Waterhole: Always! 🙂
Suddenly you might hear a new song at a concert!
visit By The Waterhole on the web at: www.bythewaterhole.com
Following the release of “White Glue” (coming out under MemeTune imprint), the second album by Wrangler, the collaborative project by Stephen Mallinder (formerly Cabaret Voltaire), Phil Winter (Tunng) and Benge (John Foxx & The Maths), we had a second chat with Stephen. Let’s get deeper into it.
Chain D.L.K.: Howdy, Stephen! If you remember, we already had an interesting chat a couple of years ago. Welcome back to Chain D.L.K.!
Stephen Mallinder: Thank you; nice to be asked back!
Chain D.L.K.: Two years can be like a geological era for an artist…could you summarize what happened over them?
Stephen Mallinder: Mmm, that’s an interesting thought. I guess you’re right; subjectively speaking we, as Wrangler, and myself, have been involved in lots of things, but objectively at least in music everything seems to be in a holding pattern – lots of things go on, but plus ca change.
It was in simple terms only six years between Woodstock and the beginnings of punk, which is a considerable amount of change, but we’d be hard pressed to think of that much change in the digital era, and specifically the last two years.
But I have to say the world has changed massively, but music doesn’t seem to reflect that; it’s because we are all working in discreet ways, not the big movements that we had pre-digital.
But we have been busy.
Chain D.L.K.: Could you talk extensively about the key facts occurring over them?
Stephen Mallinder: Well, after LA Spark there was a hiatus because Benge moved the studio, relocating from London to Cornwall, which meant we were working in a slightly fragmented way. But we did manage to pull together the modular album Sparked, which was brilliant to have contributions from Abul Mogard, Chris Carter, Daniel Miller, Solvent, Dean Honer et al. We were really happy with that collaborative effort.
We did also make the initial recordings for the new album White Glue, tracks we’d been playing live. We’d played in Japan and across Europe and so had quite a bit of material, which we finished early this year when the studio was fully operational.
I’ve been working with LoneLady; I DJed on the UK and European tour and had been working on a short film from those dates. Wrangler and LL did a Barbican show together with a special 12-inch to mark the event.
We’re now working with John Grant, recording and playing entirely new material. We are playing a show to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Rough Trade.
Chain D.L.K.: Just by chance, one of our collaborators recently reviewed White Glue…”pop in comparison” to your past acts, according to Stuart’s words…do you agree?
Stephen Mallinder: Well that’s for Stuart to define ‘pop’ – the boundaries between popular culture and high culture collapsed decades ago, and the idea of ‘subculture’ has long since gone. Stockhausen, Eno, Francis Bacon, Deleuze are all part of pop culture; it is simply a matter of where on a spectrum you choose to place a particular work. We have had a piece at the Tate Modern and have done quite experimental, improv shows, plus a very interesting modular album, so we cover a wide range of creative projects. White Glue is another facet of what we do – it is intended to capture lots of music ideas that people can connect with – I don’t see things in those terms, ‘pop’ or ‘esoteric,’ merely good or bad music.
Chain D.L.K.: With no need of light – let’s say so – the vein I can feel more from your glorious experience in modern music is the one of John Foxx / The Maths maybe… would you say Foxx’s works had a strong influence on it?
Stephen Mallinder: Well, Benge has worked with John on The Maths, and we share the same manager, so there are tangible links. John and I emerged around the same time and were keen to explore electronic music, but with a consideration of a wider music culture.
He is someone I like and admire very much, but the actual music that emerges is quite different, so I would think it’s fair to say we admire and respect each other’s work, but we are influenced by similar things rather than directly by each other.
Chain D.L.K.: I’m pretty sure someone could label “White Glue” as a nostalgic act…I remember one of those public speeches I heard in some intellectual circle of a nice old guy claiming the right to be nostalgic nowadays…would you agree with such a claim? If yes, why?
Stephen Mallinder: Well, that is the world we inhabit, and Wrangler is no more nostalgic than any other group or artist. I challenge anyone to select a piece of newly released music and tell me that it isn’t heavily referencing the past.
All culture is in a process of historicizing. Everything builds on the past; nothing exists in a vacuum. The shift to digital meant cultural time stopped, and there has been nothing like a paradigm shift for twenty years.
Because we have made music for some time, it is just lazy journalism to call it nostalgic. Would they say that if it was the first record I had made? Has anyone said it about Factory Floor? (No disrespect, I love them.)
Nothing new is created, nothing is lost, everything is transformed. That is the world we inhabit.
Chain D.L.K.: Like LA Sparks, you recorded “White Glue” at Benge’s studios..would you say such a collaboration strengthened mutual understanding?
Stephen Mallinder: We work together because we respect and understand each other, but the important thing is we are all different and can bring different things to that collaboration. I never quite understand when I see groups, particularly electronic ones, where it’s like a two, or multi-headed entity. It’s better that each of us brings something different, something the others can’t. Wrangler overlaps in many respects, but also we have individual interests and qualities.
Chain D.L.K.: What are the main differences between White Glue and the just mentioned LA Sparks, in your words?
Stephen Mallinder: Well, we played much of White Glue live before we recorded it, so we were able to work on, and refine, parts. LA Spark was more of a studio, live-mix situation, where we worked the tracks as live mixes to create structures and parts.
We had a more concentrated period to do White Glue, and the experience of being hidden away, compared to the mad disruptive London recording of LA Spark.
Other than that, I can’t say; we just develop tracks according to how we feel. We don’t set out to say this album should be like this or that. It’s simply the next record, things develop, things progress.
Chain D.L.K.: You replied to one of my past questions by stating that “music has to have some elements of unpredictability”? What are the most relevant ones in White Glue?
Stephen Mallinder: The whole album was recorded with an unknown destination, so for us it was always unpredictable. No one knew what the next element was going to come from.
I think I baffled the guys with some vocal elements – Real Life was a very complex process using reel-to-reel tape techniques, reversing, processing and pre-delaying the voice physically. It took more than half a day to do and frazzled Benge’s brain.
I think me suddenly singing falsetto on Stupid took everyone by surprise as well.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you think there is something missing in the feedback by reviewers/bloggers/critics you received about your release? If yes, why?
Stephen Mallinder: No, not really; people write what they like and think. Perhaps my only comment is that referencing Cabaret Voltaire as some default review is lazy journalism. I mean, it’s pretty easy to say there are similarities ’cause obviously I’m in both groups, but it seems to come from people’s perceptions of what the Cabs were, than what we actually were.
The technology we use in Wrangler is nothing like what the Cabs had – Wrangler uses a vast range of technology, and it is all played. The Cabs didn’t have vast banks of analogue gear, and we used a lot of found sound, and later on samples, which is something completely absent in Wrangler.
I get it, but it is unfair to Benge and Phil. They weren’t in CV, but they are Wrangler; it’s their music and people should think about that and show respect.
Chain D.L.K.: You extensively talked about the story behind LA Spark’s cover artwork. Well, any words related to the one for White Glue?
Stephen Mallinder: It was done by Paul Burgess, a friend and much-respected illustrator who I work with.
It is simply an image he conjured up, and we loved it. We thought the time was right to reclaim that image – it’s not really a smiley face as such, and is quite a dystopian image, a post-club world where everything has imploded and deflated … sad but somehow hopeful. It seemed very Wrangler.
Chain D.L.K.: “Stop spending money you don’t have” and many other precious suggestions in “Stop”! A warning to contemporary man under market-driven pressures?
Stephen Mallinder: Well, people can take that as they wish. I think the sentiment is quite clear about how we have been pulled into hyper-consumption, debt, waste and the distraction from real issues through fast capitalism and media collusion. The whole album has a theme of wealth, entitlement and the abuse of power, so it was part of that narrative.
But the simpler answer was it was graffiti I saw on a wall of an underpass in Brighton, which was also the very spot where Ben Wheatley filmed a violent scene in his film Down Terrace and is next to where I live.
I love Ben Wheatley’s films, so it was a kind of a discreet acknowledgment of that.
Chain D.L.K.: How real is the real life you portrayed on the same named (brilliant!) song?
Stephen Mallinder: Again, it refers to the theme of privilege and excess – for some people ‘crashing cars, smashing bars,’ laying waste without consequence is real life – the words are about the lack of responsibility the plutocrats and minority wealthy have compared to the rest of society – a tale of caution I hope, ‘crashing right back to earth.’
Chain D.L.K.: The release of the album has been preceded by the release of “Stupid”…any reasons behind such a choice?
Stephen Mallinder: It felt like quite an immediate track, and lent itself to a video idea Chris Turner had. That was it, really. The idea of a single in an online world is quite bizarre, but it is really about using one track to draw people in.
Chain D.L.K.: Any tour on the horizon – I’m not in Italy anymore! -?
Stephen Mallinder: Well, we do play regularly, but it seems to be in a haphazard way, mainly because we play when people ask and we like the particular gig and offer.
We would love to come to Italy, but no one has asked us yet.
visit Wrangler on Twitter at:
Over n` out!!
Justin / COLD SPRING