Vito Camarretta

Nov 132017


Having emerged during the no-wave era, Melbourne-born hyperactive singer, composer, and producer  JG Thirlwell recently forged a new moniker – Xordox (his debut “Neospection” appeared on the excellent catalog of Edition Mego this year) – and added it to the impressive list of his multifaceted musical personalities. Some of you might know other ones such as Foetus, Clint Ruin, or Frank Want, with which he contributed to a likewise long list of releases by Nurse With Wound, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Marc Almond, Lydia Lunch, Jim Coleman, Electronicat and many others. Let’s dig into this new identity, as well as the interesting musical outlook of Mr. Thirlwell.


Chain D.L.K.: Hi, James! How are you?

Xordox: I am fine, thanks for asking.


Chain D.L.K.: It’s a big honor to talk to an artist who often gave some hassles to those reviewers in need of labeling music… I support such a style-drifting “policy”, but the release I’m listening to at the moment veers towards synth electronics, doesn’t it?

Xordox: The Xordox album is unapologetically and unrepentantly made with synthesizer and electronics. It is something I hinted at a little in some Venture Bros works, but this is a full on a synthesizer project, for the first time.


courtesy of Tina Schula

Chain D.L.K.: The above-mentioned confusion was also fostered by the impressive number of alter (or I’d rather say altering) egos…well, can you explain some possible “parental” relations of Xordox to previous alter egos?

Xordox: Xordox is a thing unto itself. The letter X is in common with Steroid Maximus and Manorexia; I like to include that letter. I was looking for a number of things when I chose the name Xordox – a name that would be the only thing that came up if you googled it. I was first trying to use a palindrome with the letter “X”, but most of those are being used by gamers or anti-depressants.


Chain D.L.K.: Do you mind if I say I miss some genial lyrical fits of cynicism and nihilism… In your opinion, what were the best ones?

Xordox: I am mostly happy with the lyrics I have written, but I think the ones on Hide, Love and Hole all stand up.
I also very much like the words I wrote for “Mine Is No Disgrace”, a collaboration I did with Melvins. A lot of people told me how much these words have resonated with them.


Chain D.L.K.: Well, let’s go back to the present… Why Xordox?

Xordox: I was invited by John Zorn to perform at his club The Stone in the East Village as part of a celebration of the centenary of William S. Burroughs. At first, I declined, as I didn’t feel I had anything to do, but I had been messing around with a Moog Little Phatty and Micro Korg hooked up to my laptop making arpeggios, and I wondered if I might do something with that, so I created a few pieces. I had been talking with Sarah Lipstate of Noveller for a while about doing a collaboration, and she was coming back to NY from the tour the day before the show. We had one rehearsal where I showed her the parts, and that was it. The show went well, and we performed it a few more times in NYC and once at a festival in Austin.
When I came to make the album, Sarah was on tour with Iggy and subsequently moved to LA. I wrote some new material which didn’t need any other instruments, so I have hijacked the project back for myself.


Chain D.L.K.: You show an impressive control of the synths you played with in “Neospection”… Would you say it’s related to your experience or the features of the devices you handled?

Xordox: I have been doing a residency at EMS in Stockholm over the past few years, mainly working on Buchla and Serge. I am not an expert on those instruments and usually get someone to help me with the initial patching. Some of that work found its way onto the Xordox album. There are synthesizer sounds on the Xordox album that I have just never used before, like synth string patches – I got to understand how that can be used, and their appeal.


Chain D.L.K.: Besides some classics of synth electronica, many moments of Neospection (particularly Destination: Infinity) resembled some stuff by Clock DVA for some strange reason… Any influence or relations to some of that sonic stuff?

Xordox: No, I haven’t heard ClockDVA since maybe 1980, but I noticed that Adi Newton played here recently. I’m not sure what he’s up to; I didn’t know they made synth music.


Chain D.L.K.: How did you make that sort of chorus in “Alto Velocidad”? Is the title a reference to Palo Alto?

Xordox: No, it means “high speed” in Spanish.


Neospection - cover artwork

Xordox ‘Neospection’ cover artwork

Chain D.L.K.: The kind of musical language you explore in Neospection is normally linked to visions of the future by common listeners… Is your vision optimistic or pessimistic?

Xordox: The view is utopian. Space is the place.


Chain D.L.K.: What’s the track that required more time to forge, and why?

Xordox: They all took about the same time, but some were harder to mix than others. Normally, I work on recording projects, but some of these pieces were specifically written to play live and, as such, I found them harder to mix as they were created relying on volume.


Chain D.L.K.: Just out of curiosity…in your opinion, is it the music that inspires visions or thoughts, or vice versa?

Xordox: I’d say visions partially inspire the music, then later on, the music inspires visions. It’s a feedback loop!


Chain D.L.K.: Imagine you can choose a match of each track to some sci-fi movie, documentary or any other visual media…any tips?

Xordox: I made a video for the track “Diamonds” using footage from NASA, with their permission. Otherwise, I’d rather the track not be tied down to any one interpretation.


Chain D.L.K.: Did you perform Neospection on the live stage? If not, are you going to do that?

Xordox: As I mentioned, I performed a lot of the tracks as a duo with Sarah Lipstate of Noveller. Currently, I don’t have any plans to perform as Xordox.


Chain D.L.K.: Can you tell us something about the cover artwork? It comes from NASA archives, doesn’t it?

Xordox: The front cover features the schematic of the Buchla circuitry. On the back, there is an image of earth shot from the space station. On the inside of the CD, there are two photos juxtaposed – the Buchla control panel and the Space Station cockpit control panel, which was shot by Ben Cooper.


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

Xordox: I am currently scoring new seasons of Archer and Venture Bros; that’s taking a lot of my time. In addition, I scored a short film last month, and I am scoring another short film this month. I am preparing an album release of my Cholera Nocebo project and am hoping to get around to some archival Foetus releases next year. I have started a new Foetus album, but it probably won’t see the light of day until 2020. Before that, I am hoping to make two albums of my string quartets, and maybe some more soundtrack albums will appear. There’s also a bunch of other stuff too numerous to mention. You can keep up with what I do on my website and my Facebook page.


visit JG Thirlwell on the web at:

Nov 132017



Mostly known as the drummer and the percussionist of the appreciated band The Necks,  Tony Buck recently dropped a solo-release ‘Unearth’ on Lawrence English’s label Room40. Better-informed music lovers know that Tony’s activity is much more widespread over the contemporary scene: he extensively played, toured and performed with well-respected projects/musicians such as The EX, Jon Rose, Tenko, John Zorn, Phil Minton and many others. Furthermore, he’s not only a drummer, he’s also an appreciated video maker, guitarist, and producer. In the meantime, let’s get deeper into the above-mentioned release.


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

Tony Buck: A bit tired. Catching up and trying to recharge my energy after some pretty constant touring with The Necks and with SPILL with Magda Mayas.


Chain D.L.K.: Even if I think you don’t need an introduction, due to the fact that many listeners and definitely many readers of our zine (generally well informed) should know you by The Necks…some introductory words about your artistic path by yourself?

Tony Buck: Well, I’m more or less a drummer playing mostly, in the last few years, improvised music, although my roots are probably in rock and jazz music. I still play and am interested in many ways to play. I’ve spent time in the past playing with electronics and sampling, and these days I play and record with guitars and “found sounds” a great deal and make music machines and videos as well.


Chain D.L.K.: Some reviewers wrote that Unearth is your debut as a solo. As far as I know, you already had some releases by yourself…is this correct?

Tony Buck: Well, Unearth is the first real solo recording for some time; probably about 15 years. I’ve made a number of solo albums before that – all very different from each other. A self-released solo record in the 80’s with some friends helping out on different tracks, which was more an experimental rock record. It was called ‘The Shape of Things to Come’. Also in this vein, and around the same time, a 12″ industrial dance type record, The Piston Song.
I made a record at STEIM in Amsterdam that was a series of short improvisations using sample triggering and different interactive electronics called “Solo-Live”. I made a long solo acoustic Drumkit recording called “Self-contained-underwater-breathing-apparatus” (S_C_U_B_A ), which was basically a one-take improvisation in the studio. I contributed a solo track to the collection “Berlin Drums” on the Absinth Label around 2002. The first record by my band TRANSMIT, which was called “Project”, I feel was more or less a solo session where I played everything but electric bass, which was played by Australian bassist Dave Symes. So there have been quite a few more or less solo releases over the years. But it has been about 15 years since the last totally solo release, no guests, no help.


Chain D.L.K.: Before focusing on Unearth, could you explain your opinion on so-called experimentation in music? How do you reply to all those jazz followers who keep on saying that experimentation is an end in itself, which mostly lacks “emotionality”?

Tony Buck: It seems to me all music-making comes out of a process of trying things out; experimenting and amassing a vocabulary, and a certain amount of time trying to hone these skills and find a kind of articulate expression. Sometimes it is an interesting process to carry out this experimentation in public, in an improvising context. I don’t find this process to be inherently unemotional. It can, in fact, be a quite emotional undertaking and process.


interview picture 2Chain D.L.K.: Chris Abrahams already replied to this question, but I’d like to know your feedback… How do you explain the success and the acknowledgments that a remarkably wise audience attributed to The Necks?

Tony Buck: I don’t really know why The Necks seem to resonate with as wide of an audience as they seem to. We have a very clear and simple objective, and although it demands a lot from a listener, it is, at the same time, quite approachable in terms of sound and harmonic and rhythmic language. In a way, we don’t play by the experimental or improvisation rule book (although it’s very important that we do improvise the music) and are quite comfortable getting into quite approachable textures and sounds, which I guess are still pretty engaging without being alienating. It’s always very heartening to feel that people engage with the music like they do and seem to have a meaningful relationship with what we do.


Chain D.L.K.: How does your experience in The Necks influence your personal stylistic and artistic research?

Tony Buck: Well, The Necks are a product of the three of us and our artistic research, collectively and individually. Being in a group that plays with such a focus and specific aesthetic does influence the ways in which I engage with other, different or contrasting projects and approaches. I think, as individuals, we also bring a lot of varied influences from the other things we do back into The Necks. It’s a very dynamic feedback system within and without the group.


Chain D.L.K.: So, ‘Unearth’…why that ‘Un-‘?

Tony Buck: I like the idea of digging deep and uncovering different levels or strata within the music. There’s also the connotation of something unearthly- something strange and alien and also something expanding out from the earth. So the idea of both down and deep and up and out happening simultaneously.


interview picture 3Chain D.L.K.: It seems there’s no intent to narrate or describe something in ‘Unearth’, or am I wrong? If there’s any narration or description, could you help us?

Tony Buck: I think the main thing I wanted to achieve was a sense of a slow expansion; from quiet and seemingly insignificant sounds to bigger, massive walls of sound. As the piece developed, I found some sections suggested or followed a kind of narrative logic, although mostly quite abstract. I’ve noticed certain motifs that I wasn’t really aware of until it was finished – certain arpeggios that are always echoed with gong hits and splintered-sounding electronics that seem to punctuate the piece like little sound posts along the way – like a VERY slow pulse every 5 mins or so. There is a section towards the end where I definitely had a kind of specific narrative in mind, where I tried to get these Chinese drum rolls to increase the tension somewhat, leading to very harsh and dissonant horns, crying like multiple screams. I actually had in mind a kind of Hieronymus Bosch, visions of Hell type scenario! Quite early in the piece, I wanted to have a reference to something that happens later, but not like a prediction of something to come; more like a memory of something that is yet to happen, kind of like an attempt to suggest the whole piece is existing simultaneously, even though, of course, it unfolds over the music in 50 min or so. There is also, somewhere in the middle of the piece, a match strike, a sizzling cymbal leading to a quiet gong ‘explosion’ which I added in as a kind of hidden and somewhat tongue-in-cheek aside. Apart from this, my main aim was to deal with the idea of a piece that would operate at different levels simultaneously – Fast / slow … Moving inexorably forward but almost remaining static. That kind of thing.


Chain D.L.K.: ‘Unearth’ has something ritualistic in its sound… Closer to some stuff you did with Christian Fennesz and David Daniell than the stuff I heard from you in The Necks…isn’t it?

Tony Buck: I don’t know about that. I guess it has a darker and somewhat denser basis than some of The Necks’ things. Interesting you use the word ritualistic, as I am finding an element of that in the ‘live’ adaption of this music I am working on. A kind of functional process at work. I played a ‘work in progress’ version of this approach in NYC recently, and one critic describes it as feeling more like “an installation piece… More like an atmosphere than a performance,” which to me was a great response.


Chain D.L.K.: Is ‘Unearth’ entirely solo, or does it feature some hidden support/contribution?

Tony Buck: It’s totally solo. Every sound on it is made by me, or, in the case of the small amount of field recordings, recorded by me. I edited and constructed the piece last summer when I was in a residency at Villa Aurora in LA. Most of the material was recorded already by then and a basic form had been sketched out, but this residency afforded me the time and focus to really shape the piece. I was pretty meticulous in the mixing and timing of all the sounds in relation to one another, dealing in microscopic, millisecond shifts and tiny level adjustments, although I did want it to flow and develop like a piece that might have been improvised. In some senses, it has a similar flow or dynamic shape as the S_C_U_B_A solo drum record, almost as if it’s an orchestration of that piece.


Unearth - cover artwork

Unearth – cover artwork

Chain D.L.K.: Any weird fact related to it you’d like to share?

Tony Buck: Well, there is one bass note on the record that was actually played by my cat Spooky (so I guess that disqualifies my last answer!). I was recording it at my living room table in Berlin, and he came in and sat in front of me and leaned forward and played a note with his paw. It’s a very slow part and I actually can’t tell which note was his, but it’s definitely there on the record!


Chain D.L.K.: Did you bring Unearth on live stage (if it’s possible to have a live dimension of this release)?

Tony Buck: I am working on a solo set or piece that is directly influenced by Unearth, if not exactly the piece, per se. I’m using some machines with little motors that play a kind of randomized persuasion loops and overlaying guitar and percussion with that. I’ve played elements of this performance before, but it’s become much more focused and expansive lately, also engaging in this ritualistic and performance aspect I spoke of earlier.


Chain D.L.K.: ‘Unearth’ was released by Lawrence English’s imprint Room40. Besides nationality, what do you have in common with Lawrence in terms of sensitivity and art?

Tony Buck: I’ve known Lawrence a long time. He’s always been a big supporter of The Necks. (Chris and I actually played on his latest release.) I think we share an interest in long-form music that evolves slowly and offers the opportunity to explore timbral dimensions of the sound in a detailed way. I get the sense Lawrence is influenced by his environment visually, socially, politically…as well as sonically, and these things feed each other somewhat. He is a very multi-leveled individual. An inspiring presence in the scene for sure.


Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

Tony Buck: I’m putting a lot of thought and focus on this new solo live setting at the moment. I have started to work on another solo recordings piece as well, although I must say it’s more at the conceptual stage and I’ve yet to commit any sound to ‘tape’ at this point….. But it’s slowly taking shape!


visit Tony Buck on the web at:

Oct 182017



Some of the recent releases by Marc Kate (the self-released “Despairer” and the more recent “Deface” – you can check them on Marc’s bandcamp Failing Forms together with other older releases – as well as a forthcoming release on Yann Novak‘s imprint Dragon’s Eyewhimsically titled “As If We Were Never Here”), which landed on my desk, managed to grab my aural attention. Hailing from San Francisco, I found out that this producer and composer, “originally trained as a filmmaker and visual artist” – according to the words of his biography – explored many different styles before digging into the current style and its underlying theme (or non-theme). I’ll give Marc the floor to explain it to us.


Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Marc! How are you?

Marc Kate: Pretty well, thanks. It’s a strange time to be alive. Thankfully, my life is far from the worst of it.


Chain D.L.K.: As usual, can you introduce yourself to our reader(s) in your own words?

Marc Kate: I’m a Canadian electronic musician who has been living in California for most of my life. I also have two podcasts: Why We Listen, which is conversations about music and sound, and Scary Thoughts: Horror/Philosophy/Culture. Which is described pretty well in the title, I think, though we mostly focus on horror movies from the last few decades.


interview picture 1Chain D.L.K.: While checking some info about you in the archives, I found out that I should have heard something from you as Never Knows… Is Marc Kate another alias?

Marc Kate: Marc Kate is the name on my passport. I’d always used aliases until I started making this very personal, intimate (but sometimes aggressive) music, so I decided to use my “real” name.


Chain D.L.K.: Silencefiction is a really nice choice for a moniker…by the way, can you tell us something about these…aliases? Side-projects?

Marc Kate: Thanks! Though I have to confess, I took it from an old Dumb Type track title. When I was producing as Silencefiction, I was DJing and producing techno. But the through-line between Silencefiction, Never Knows and my current work is an abstracted approach to identity. I think my music has always had ideas of asserting one’s identity versus sublimating one’s desires at its core.


Chain D.L.K.: Do you remember the moment when you were seduced by sound to the point that you decided to get deeper into it?

Marc Kate: I was pursuing an MFA when I realized I was spending more time in record stores than in my studio producing work. For a while, I’d convinced myself that the record store was my studio, but then I recognized that, rather than make art about music, I should just make music. However, I still draw from my training during those years and create work from a conceptual foundation. The medium has changed, but the strategy remains.


Despairer - cover artwork

Despairer – cover artwork

Chain D.L.K.: I was listening to one of your more recent releases, Despairer, and the cover artwork was close to my sound system. A friend came to my place and exclaimed: “What the fuck is this?” I guess his eye was caught by the cover artwork…imagine you could have appeared like a ghost in that situation…your reply?

Marc Kate: Again, back to these ideas of identity, I’m fascinated by this moment when we’re all clamoring for clicks, trying to claim attention for ourselves, constantly reifying our preferred identities in the public world. Yet, the only answer to the question “why?” is for vanity or lolz. So, when thinking of how to present my music, I like the juxtaposition of presenting a personality, but remaining hidden. Rather than hiding behind a pseudonym and some minimalist graphics, I use my name and a photo of myself, but maligned, abstracted.


Chain D.L.K.: I noticed a focus on your face in cover artwork…there are more or less deformed portraits of yourself on them. Why such a focus? Is there a relation to the listenable part of the release?

Marc Kate: I like the way in which the Surrealists approached the human body – altering it as a metaphor for the subjective, inner world. All of these images are collaborations with the artist Jonathan Solo. He has incredible vision.


Deface - cover artwork

Deface – cover artwork

Chain D.L.K.: While typing these questions, I’m listening to the second track of Deface…it’s filling the sonic sphere as wisps of smoke/mist…somehow disquieting, but very entrancing…what did you have in mind while making this track?

Marc Kate: That whole album was created with very specific parameters: I wanted to create an entire album of “beautiful”, meditative music, but using only the most extreme, “evil”, racist, barbaric music as source material. If you google “national socialist black metal” you can get a sense of what I was using as my palette of sounds. I then subjected their tracks to all manner of processing to extract harmonic content, so these wisps of floating sound are a sort of neutralization of hate speech.

I also have a fascination with New Age music. Music that is, at its core (usually), functional for meditation, relaxation, mystical purposes. I wanted to participate in that spectrum of intentions, but using the music of hate as its source. I wanted to see how far from the source material I could take things, how much erasure was possible.


Chain D.L.K.: Deface seems to be based on a perpetual amalgamation of slight dissonances and seemingly innocuous mists of pure frequencies… Someone could have labeled it as ‘introspective’… Would you say its spark is mostly introspective? If so, can you give us some clues?

Marc Kate: The primary objective when making “Deface” was to remove the edges of the source material, conceptually and literally.

Technically, to do this at its extreme means not only getting rid of harsh distortion, but also overtones, the part of sound that creates depth and richness. So what you’re left with is a lot of sine waves, pure, clean tones without many overtones. That kind of pure sound, when it drifts around, gets pretty eerie. It doesn’t appear so much in nature, so it has an uncanny quality to it. That’s what a Theremin is. And I can’t think of anything much eerier than a Theremin.


Chain D.L.K.: Other reviewers might label your sound by a word that was maybe coined in the 90s, with reference to some ambient releases: ‘isolationist’… Would you agree? If so, is there something related to the contemporary human (or just artist’s) condition that you tried to translate into sound?

Marc Kate: I love a lot of the music that was lumped together as “isolationist” in the 90’s. I could easily trace a historical progression from those artists’ work to mine – minimal, intimate. But where I believe I differ is that I insist on some sort of “emotional weight”. I mean, not to be too simplistic, but almost all my music of the last many years is minor key chord progressions. A traditional approach I can’t seem to shake. I’m always exploring new sounds, new forms of synthesis, trying to discover some new sound, but I keep coming back to the minor key.

If there’s anything that concerns me with the contemporary human condition and music, it’s that current music doesn’t strike me as being much of a reflection of current culture. We’re currently obsessed with retro sounds, emulation, modeling, “classics”, reboots and reissues. I believe we do so at a peril. Music used to be engaged with culture as a harbinger of the moment. Now it is pining for the past.
I’m not positing my work as being the solution to this issue, but I’m definitely concerned with pushing these ideas forward.


Chain D.L.K.: There’s a strong political reflection surrounding your recent releases…would you explain it here?

Marc Kate: I feel a deep kinship for that moment in Western Philosophy when the Existentialists were reconciling concerns of Being and meaning. But also, “fuck Nazis”. I really don’t know that formalist music is an efficient way to roll out political ideas. Actually, no – it’s definitely inefficient. I have an ongoing struggle: believing in the power of music and art, but knowing that it’s not the same as activism and legislation.


As If We Were Never Here - cover artwork

As If We Were Never Here – cover artwork

Chain D.L.K.: By chance, I also received a release of yours on Dragon’s Eye in my box… Any word about it before I (and I guess some readers of these words) listen to it?

Marc Kate:  As If We Were Never Here is a collection of four tracks, fairly blown-out and droning. Calling them “Power Ambient” is pretty accurate. I’ve been using the static nature of drone music to explore states of being and listening, but for this new album, I focused more on non-states and non-being. I think we’re very stuck in a nihilist moment, especially in the US. So I’ve been lost in this fantasy: what if we just took ourselves out of the equation? Sort of post-Anthropocene without the drama of an apocalypse.


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

Marc Kate: I’m about to leave for a short tour, going strictly modular synth. I’m excited to discover how a box of limited possibilities forces my hand. When you play live with hardware, everybody wants to talk about your gear, whether they’re mystified by the blinking lights, or they’re also into modular and want to talk about modules. My capacity for nerding-out tends to be limited, but I really do love the tools of synthesis and the possibilities they introduce.


visit Marc Kate on the web at:

Sep 292017



We recently had an in-depth conversation with Canadian electro-acoustic composer Paul Dolden, following the review of his recent output “Histoires d’histoire” on empreintes DIGITALes. You’ll understand the reason why his musical production – focusing both on harmonic and tonal research as well as on the superimposition and juxtaposition of different music styles – deserves to be delved into.


Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Paul! How are you?

Paul Dolden: I am good. Thank you for taking an interest in my music and contacting me. I always love to hear from people who enjoy my music.


Chain D.L.K.: Could we take some steps back for readers who are seeing your name for the first time, starting from the very first ones? How did you get closer to “experimental” music?

Paul Dolden: My musical history is a classic North American West Coast baby boomer story. Born in 1956, I practised various musical instruments as a boy. I started playing professionally when I was 16. I grew up in a home where my mother’s side of the family were classical musicians and she was constantly playing the classical literature. My father was not a musician, but came from a long line of string players and was invariably listening to jazz. During these early years, I owned a tape recorder and became fascinated with audio technology.

Paul Dolden - courtesy of Mark MushetMy curiosity about modern music began when I was about 14 years old. In the late 60s and into the 70s, the idea of a new music, a new art, a new society, etc. was on everyone’s mind. So there I was, a 14-year hippie child buying my Xenakis, Bartok, Muddy Waters, Coltrane and Hendrix albums. Although I had some music teachers as a kid, I am primarily self-taught in music. Therefore, when it came time to go to university, I skipped over music and studied liberal arts. Ultimately, I would have loved to be a historian or philosopher, but let’s just say my talent for music was stronger. During the university years, I started composing short works, mainly using technology to create this music. In Vancouver at that time, there were almost no performers who would play a contemporary score. Indeed, there was really no “new music” scene to speak of. Very quickly, the unique musical possibilities of the recording studio, computer music programming, and live electronics appealed to my musical imagination.

During my 20s, I transitioned from a full-time performer to a full-time composer. Now I only perform on my own recordings and with a few friends just for fun. Composition and audio technology has taken over my life!


Chain D.L.K.: Do you remember the dreams of musicians and composers when technology began to spread into the scene? How did they change over the years, in your viewpoint?

Paul Dolden: For sure, I remember the dream that we would all produce music, and through published recordings, people would hear your sound and you could access the musical thoughts of others without leaving home.

Musicians would all become like Glenn Gould or the Beatles, with the studio being the centre of creation and performance. Many of us announced the death of the concert hall, but we underestimated people’s attraction to public rituals.

In addition, many of us had the dream that a new music would transform culture and society.

For sure, as time went on, and the 70s turned into Reagan, Thatcher, and Mulroney, just surviving as a full-time modern music artist became the dream!

At the level of day-to-day tools, I can remember the excitement of getting my first 4-track tape recorder and then an 8-track tape recorder. I remember programming a mainframe computer in 1977 with Stochastic and Gaussian distributions and thinking I was hearing something new.

Back then, I could have never imagined that today, on a home computer, I would be recording, mixing and processing hundreds of tracks of sound.


Chain D.L.K.: Is there anything you criticize about GRM precepts and teachings?

Paul Dolden: GRM and the German school at Cologne were important for establishing the studio as a place of creation that did not involve live performances.

They are also important for discovering ways to use audio technology to manipulate sound.

Having restated the “official” history of electroacoustic music, I do hope that in the future they tell the full story of technique and tool development. For most of us, it was the development of these techniques, at the same time or earlier, by Les Paul, Hendrix, Pink Floyd and numerous Foley artists since the 1940s, that informed our sonic imaginations when we were younger.


Paul Dolden - courtesy of David Strong

Chain D.L.K.: Any complaints against contemporary musicians and their audience? Is there anything that audience had problems understanding regarding compositional experiments like the amazing ones you made?

Paul Dolden: The “contemporary” music or “new” music scene is so wide and varied that it is hard to make a summary comment. Among the mid-century modernists I still really like are Ligeti and Berio. And there are a lot of composers since then I really like, for example, Adès, Abrahamsen, Sallinen, etc. However, I have to answer the question in a different way.

When we say contemporary music, we usually mean music that does not sound like 19th-century music. By contrast, for years, I have been following a lot of composers who continued writing in the tonal tradition with clear structural articulations or “climaxes”. About 60 of these composers, living or recently dead, are documented by Robert R. Reilly’s book “Surprised by Beauty”. By definition, they are contemporary musicians, although largely ignored by the “new music” scene.

Among my reasons for listening to these composers is that I still struggle with most modern music that is constantly dissonant in our tuning system. Twelve-tone equal temperament (12ET) was designed to create tonal music that can modulate rapidly. The most accurate representation of our 12ET semi-tone in the harmonic series is the distance between the 84th and 81st harmonic. Let’s face it; even heavy metal guitars or Peter Brotzmann’s saxophone do not produce 84 harmonics! There is an infinite amount of varying dissonance possible in new tunings, so why the semi tone over and over in “modern” music?

As far as audiences go, there are lots of people who love my music in various ways, and when I do a concert the audience is enthusiastic about what I am presenting.

Performers today are amazing, and I have had a chance to work with some of the best over the last 35 years. We often talk about how music language has developed so rapidly over the last 100 years. I suspect an ever-greater growth has occurred in instrumental technique.


Chain D.L.K.: Recently, I heard Histoires d’histoire, but the first time I met your music was on L’Ivresse de la Vitesse – wonderful release! – …Can you introduce it to our readers?

Paul Dolden: The double CD, now two separate single CDs, “L’ivresse de la vitesse” (Intoxication by Speed) mainly includes works from 1989-1995 and is inspired by postmodern theory. The program notes suggest which part of post modernism I am taking on musically. The music is dominated by speed and density and quick changes in musical style. Indeed, many musical styles occur at once and are transforming at the speed of sound. Since 1983, I have had the same simple working method: first I compose the works with hundreds of musical parts on large manuscript paper, then I hire musicians to play the parts individually, and finally I mix and master all the musical parts or tracks separately. This working method allows for each part to have its own tuning system and/or tempo, if I want.

I could talk on and on about compositional technique in the each work, but most of my concerns are clearly summarized in the introduction to the main score for the CD.

Instead of talking on and on about the early works, I would like to take this space to clarify an important aspect of these works that many people are left confused by.

Two times in my life, I have gone through a massive re-mastering of early works (everything before 2004). This often takes almost a year to do. I go back to the original recordings and remix and master. This habit is inspired by the ever-improving sound of modern audio technology. I also do this because it often takes me years to fully understand the music and how to maximize the mix for the work. Remember, the works involve hundreds of musical parts occurring simultaneously. This musical understanding of a work could be compared to the career of many conductors. Conductors often talk about conducting the same work for 30 years and preferring their later performances because they understand the work better. Likewise, I prefer the later masters and, yes, they are more true to my original music score for the work.

The first major re-mastering job was done in 2000-2002. These re-mastered versions were published by empreintes DIGITALes at that time on CD. After years of listening, I re-mastered the works again in 2012. Only recently have I turned these new masters over to empreintes. I hope they will have these 2012 versions on their streaming service soon.

I promise my listening public I will not re-master or “re-conduct” my works again! I am getting too old!


Histoires d'histoire (empreintes DIGITALes) - cover artworkChain D.L.K.: Why was the above-mentioned last release titled Histoires d’histoire? Sounding like a ‘best of’?

Paul Dolden: Although I have lived in Quebec for almost 20 years, my French is still a work in progress. My understanding of the title of this new CD is “Stories of History.”

Like my previous work, the main artistic inspiration is history or stories from the past. In this work, a different historical myth inspires each movement, hence the title.


Chain D.L.K.: Some reviewers labeled the triptych of Walls of Jericho as apocalyptic…Would you say the same?

Paul Dolden: When I hear my work from the 80s and early 90s now, I understand why people thought they were apocalyptic. I prefer to think of those dense music worlds as creating a sublime music. Specifically, I wanted the music to create a sense of grandeur or power, and of inspiring awe and reminding us of the things that are larger than our banal lives.

The program notes for the works usually had a historical/philosophical idea I was trying to capture in music. These ideas were based on topics as wide ranging as the biblical Walls of Jericho, the Romantic notion of music creating the social revolution, the postmodern idea that the speed and density of the information of our times are creating an intellectual and emotional stasis, etc., etc. With such big ideas, the music itself had to be larger than life!

But whatever my artistic intentions were is of little importance. The listener will always decide for himself or herself the meaning of an aesthetic encounter. The real artistic or aesthetic moment happens in the relationship established between the listener and the music. For example, the Walls cycle of works has been described by some as transcendentally beautiful. By contrast, I know of two scientific experiments in which the same music was used to create an environment of pain for the test subject.


Chain D.L.K.: Regarding labels, your music has been often labeled as ‘maximalist’ (supposedly to highlight the fact it’s opposite to minimalist)… Do you agree with such a way of filing your music?

Paul Dolden: Apocalyptic and maximal are adjectives that work for much of my music. I understand the need for labels and pigeonholes for music. Indeed, I spend great amounts of time on streaming services finding new music and I always put reductionist labels on it so I can remember what it is at a later time! That is just being human, with brains that only have so much RAM and so much hard drive space. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that music exists to express things beyond words.


Chain D.L.K.: As a former and current fan of drum ‘n’ bass and fast-paced music in general, I still remember a masterpiece by yours, Who Can Play The Fastest… what was the spark for that?

Paul Dolden: This is from the “Who Has…” cycle of works. The largest work in the cycle is the 52-minute studio work called “Who Has the Biggest Sound?” which is published on Starkland Records (USA). Then there are five works for instrument(s) and tape. For example, “Who Has the Strangest Melodies?” is for chamber orchestra and tape, or “Who Has the Biggest Noise?” for electric guitar and tape.

In this cycle of works, I am studying different musical styles and nature sounds to uncover their relationships. In short, nature’s sound patterns create most of the music and are everywhere in this cycle. For example, the same intense microtonal and polyrhythmic patterns of a swarm of insects are modeled onto brass, wind, and string parts. In this work, I found that country music sprang to life alongside the howling hounds of the open plains, and that Spain begat Flamenco alongside crickets that chirp in 6/8; I found Chinese and Thai tuning systems in the insects of south-east Asian rainforests, etc., etc. In short, in these works, I am considering the relationship between culture and geography and take it to its logical extreme.

Many of the titles in this cycle of works are questions, because I am creating an imaginary battle of the bands in which, for example, our soloist tries to play faster than the accompaniment, which is music based on cricket sounds, or our string orchestra tries to play a more mournful melody than the combined pitch bends of a herd of cows.

By the end of this cycle, my belief that I or other musicians were “original” music thinkers was shattered. With the musical styles I explored in the work, I found each of their fundamental music patterns pre-existing somewhere in nature. Perhaps we are only mimicking what already exists, given, for example, that it is now estimated that insects first appeared 480 million years ago.

I should add that, for the listener looking for a Soundscape work, I would not recommend this cycle of works. All my source material, the nature sounds, were transformed into music, and the unsuspecting listener hears what I hope is a series of entertaining and engaging moments and goes on a musical journey unaware that they are listening to insects or barnyard animals. The lack of clear identification on my part, between human music style and natural source, is because I believe that any artwork that is totally complicit in its own absorption, so that it no longer makes apparent sense on the surface, will exercise a remarkable fascination. In short, an artwork fascinates by its esotericism, which preserves it from external logic.


Chain D.L.K.: Is there anything not explained by the liner notes of Histoires d’histoire that you would like to share with us?

Paul Dolden: The program notes do not really discuss the musical problems I am working on. To summarize:

1) I have been trying to figure out for years how to combine textural writing and density with the singular identity and memorable aspect of melody.

2) I have become frustrated as a listener and as a composer with the metronomic or “steady tempo exactly on the beat” aspect of classical music. Therefore, I have been exploring how to use what are called groove rhythms as a basis for the “skeleton of time” in my work. These rhythms are based on performances of African, Latin, jazz or rock music.

Secondly, the tempo of my work is almost always changing, usually quite slowly, inspired by Indonesian music but also observable in many ragas and Western improvised music, including rock and jazz.

Paul Dolden - courtesy of David Strong

3) From the beginning of my career, I questioned the idea of only 12 tones to an octave fixed at set vibrational rates (i.e. A=440). During the 1980s, and for the last 15 years, I have developed my own tuning systems or used historical tuning systems. I often use the more “true” or “natural” Just Intonation, but I am also interested in discovering new types of irrational dissonances. For example, one of my favorites is to design non-octave tuning systems or tuning systems with no octaves or 5ths. By that point, throw out the entire ear training you ever did and start all over!

4) Marshall McLuhan coined the term “global village” 55 years ago, and yet most musicians specialize in a specific style of a specific genre.

I have always been fascinated with all the music of the world and have tried in my own humble way to bring it all together into one artistic vision.

I am not interested in “cross over” music, or fusion. Instead, I want to understand and use the deep grammar of different music to create a unified aesthetic picture. I hope this is not another version of cultural imperialism.

On the other hand, I do realize my ambition of combining diverse music and orchestrations is based on being a privileged Western educated male who can listen to Indian or Thai music on recordings and read books on this music. And the fact that I grew up in a surplus economy, which allowed me at age 16 to buy, at the same time, my first Les Paul and Sitar. The same surplus economy which has allowed me access to recording gear which meant I could learn how to balance all these different types of timbres and gestures through the use of equalization, compression, expansion, transient and sustain shaping tools, panning, spatial enhancement tools and extensive mixing.

The listener will have to decide whether my music represents another brick in the wall of Western decadence and decline, or if it is part of a new perception and understanding of what it means to live in the Global Village.


Chain D.L.K.: The core of this release is the 5-piece set of Music of Another Present Era, a brilliant collage ranging from the reverie of Space Age music to African deities (Shango’s Funkyness refers to the god of storms in Nigeria’s old beliefs, if I remember correctly)… Can you tell us something more about this impressive composition?

Paul Dolden: The previous answer covers my main concerns.


Chain D.L.K.: Any words about the other two wonderful ensembles attached to Histoires d’histoire?

Paul Dolden: As I mentioned, I have had wonderful opportunities to work with great musicians over the years. Maurizio Grandinetti (guitar) and Lukasz Gothszalk (trumpet) are both great soloists and amazing musicians. In each of their works, there is a pre-recorded tape part. Like the rest of my works, the tape part creates different musical environments for the soloist and listener. For example, the tape may be in a heavy rock music mode with two drum parts, two electric basses and a wall of electric guitars with the soloist essentially going wild on their instrument. Within a minute or two, the soloist will be surrounded by soft wind instruments from around the world, usually playing the same musical material but in a soothing manner. As much as I love other people’s music, I still feel frustrated that 99 percent of most recordings document a performance. Why can we not have constantly changing orchestration, densities, and moods in our music? The string quartet is one of my favourite chamber ensembles, but after 15 minutes, I am tired of two violins, one viola and one cello. Can we not have, simply, 2 cellos, one viola and one violin, or two of each, or one of each, etc., etc. And why the constant buzz of a bow at 8khz? Can I have a cymbal ride up there, or a shaker every so often?

Needless to say, these two “concertos” that appear on the CD pose a challenge for most listeners, who are expecting a set proscenium arch or background around the soloist. In this case, Maurizio and Lukasz rose to the occasion of a stage that is constantly changing size, shape, colour and mood.


Chain D.L.K.: Are you performing something on live stage, by chance? If so, are you going to make a jump in Europe?

Paul Dolden: All I know right now is that I will be doing several concerts of my electroacoustic work in England in the Spring of 2019, for which I will be attending. Performances of my works for instrument(s) and tape go on without me knowing most of the time.


Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

Paul Dolden:  I am doing research for my next cycle of works that will be inspired by String Theory and that our “reality” may be vibrational phenomena at its core.


check Paul Dolden biography on the web here:

Sep 292017



On September 8th, Sofamusic released Lieber Heiland, Laß uns Sterben, a very interesting output by Swedish jazz and improv saxophonist and composer Martin Küchen. The author wrote some introductory reflections on it: “On Lieber Heiland, Laß uns Sterben historical events intersect right into the contemporary sound making, slit through their titles sharp cuts in our listening present era and pry our eyes towards the seemingly inexplicable backyard of history; which nevertheless created the plateau of disintegration and opportunity that we now seem to live on. At the same time all the sounds on this recording – all the scrunching, the breathing, all the tones, all the composed-processed material – completely and fully give themselves to the listener, escaping all human epithet making and denominations, as the sound becomes manifest, becomes apparent.” Let’s dig deeper into it through the words we had with its author.


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

Martin Küchen: I am fine. Church bells are ringing. No shootings in Malmoe so far this day! 🙂


Chain D.L.K.: The artistic path that you’ve been tracing for 20 years, more or less, is really interesting… I know some of it, but maybe some readers don’t…can we trace it back? Let’s start from the very first steps…

Martin Küchen: My first professional job as a musician was in a circus in 1996, a Swedish nouveau cirque performance….from 1992 onwards I had done a few door gigs with improvised music, mostly in the region of Stockholm (where I resided until 2008). In 1998, I started to play more extensively everywhere I could and with a lot of different people, from different disciplines and backgrounds, etc.


Chain D.L.K.: You toured with John Tilbury as well…can you tell us something about that experience?

Martin Küchen: Touring with John Tilbury was a very interesting story, especially when we were traveling in Poland. I remember most vividly our quite intense discussion one time in a café at the Warsaw airport, where the other “Loopers” didn’t really take part, only me and Mr Tilbury were doing the talking…btw, a fantastic musician….


Chain D.L.K.: Aside from touring, it’s really impressive the number of concerts you took part and performed in…are there some that marked your artistic growth in a specific way? If yes, why?

Martin Küchen: When I went with 3/4 of Exploding Customer to Mexico (the bass player had cancelled the evening before our flight from Stockholm, because he could not find a babysitter for his one-year-old 🙂 – the way we then had to promptly rearrange the songs during these exotic concerts in Merida and Mexico City – the bass line on the alto sax for example – maybe not the best idea 🙂
And the first time I came with Angles 6 to Coimbra, Portugal in 2009. Three nights in a row. That was fantastic!
And most recently in a wintry, cold Moscow (in December 2016) with Steve Noble and Johan Berthling – we had the most dedicated, warm-hearted audience ever….


Chain D.L.K.: The number of bands and collaborations you have made over your career is likewise impressive…what’s the brightest creative spark that really inflames a collaboration, in your own words?

Martin Küchen: A collaboration can start from any point, really; from an ad hoc – situation the first time you meet a new person/musician at a concert you are just about to play (for example, with Ferran Fages, it was like that),  to someone else’s suggestion or having been impressed by something I’ve heard from someone, etc., and then making contact… But, I think, the most spark-inducing encounter – meaning, a spark that can hold for a lifetime – is when you are able to communicate OUTSIDE the music as well….


pic by Christer Männikus

courtesy of Christer Männikus

Chain D.L.K.: This interview follows the listening of your solo release ‘Lieber Heiland, laß uns sterben’…before focusing on it, I’d like to know if you feel more comfortable or free in solo projects instead of collaborative ones?

Martin Küchen: Playing solo and/or playing together with others are one and the same, really. The one thing that clearly separates the two, though, is in a solo situation, there will NOT be any input from another breathing human being while you are alone on stage, but no real distractions, either; maybe only from the audience in certain circumstances… For me, the two feed on each other; they are each other’s parasites 🙂


Chain D.L.K.: In the liner notes of ‘Lieber Heiland, laß uns sterben’, I read that ‘music is uninterested in genre denominations and ideological markers’…does this thought apply to music in general, or to your music?

Martin Küchen: It must mean to music in general, even though you can, of course, try to subdue the music with agitating lyrics and manipulating emotional sequences(!) and by doing so, that also then subdues an audience.
With the music I do and, maybe most specifically, the solo music, the titles are bearers of a certain meaning/symbolism, etc. – but the music, I think, is always unharmed by any encounter with certain titles…..
On the other hand, I can’t help always being on the hunt for good, strange and poetic informative (!) titles….


Chain D.L.K.: I agree that reality and poetry seem to coexist in your album… In your own words… How do you balance ‘reality and poetry’?

Martin Küchen: Reality and poetry light each other up, or put each other in the dark for a certain amount of time – there is no end to the one which is not the beginning of the other… It has to do with your specific life circumstances, past and present, how these two entities interfere and correspond over time… Sometimes poetry has to be dragged out of the reality of a man’s circumstances, and sometimes reality has to ignite the poet within man….


Chain D.L.K.: There are moments when it seems you quoted a piano sonata or classical music… Can you explain some of the inserts you used in many parts of ‘Lieber Heiland, laß uns sterben’?

Martin Küchen: It’s from an iPod, and then through speakers inserted into the saxophone and also through an old radio speaker from the 1920’s, which is standing on a pedestal on my right-hand side. On this specific piece you mention, it’s the Busoni written interpretation of Bach’s “Ich Ruf Zu dir Herr Jesu Christ” played by Nikolai Demidenko.


Chain D.L.K.: You recorded after a visit to Lieber Heiland, laß uns sterben in the Crypt of Lund Cathedral, right? How did this place influence the sound of ‘Lieber Heiland, laß uns sterben’?

Martin Küchen: The acoustics of the crypt are somehow out of this world; it’s so magnificent and old and breathy, and influenced so much of what happened musically that very warm, humid evening in May 2016…

Chain D.L.K.: I have to forward a question by a collaborator of our zine… The title of a track that could crash many file compressors, if someone opts for the digital release (!): “Atmen Choir (I det stora nedrivna rummet med bortvaênda kvinnoansikten, skylda av veck; bortsparkat, ihopfoêst segel, krossat roêtt tyg stelnar i vinterkylan”…what does it mean?

Martin Küchen: It’s a long poetic line in Swedish – you can easily google it 🙂 but its content has to do with this long winter night in January of 1945 in East Prussia, and how this bunch of women simply tried to survive in this maelstrom of mass terror and rape…and a lot of them simply didn’t….


Lieber Heiland, Laß uns Sterben - cover artworkChain D.L.K.: The cover artwork can arouse some curiosity… How did you choose it?

Martin Küchen: I first came across the photograph in a book by historian R. M. Douglas called “Orderly and humane”. It’s a photograph taken in secret (that’s why you have “SECRET” stamped on the original copy) by a British embassy staff member just outside the Jaworzno concentration camp, Poland, in 1951. Inmates at the time were young Polish “enemies of the state”, Ukrainians and still some ethnic Germans.

The camp was taken over by the Communist authorities (Soviet NKVD and Polish UB) in February 1945, and at that time the camp was filled with ethnic German civilians (also women and children), German POWs and Polish adversaries to the new regime, etc.


Chain D.L.K.: Any word about the techniques you used on the album?

Martin Küchen: I didn’t use any particular techniques, other than the putting one speaker in the saxophone bell…. Everything is live recorded, but two tracks are multi-tracked but recorded on the same occasion…..


Chain D.L.K.: I checked your website…a link to a sci-fi movie (The Dark Tower)?

Martin Küchen: Well – then my site has been hacked again – simple as that. This summer it was hacked by an alleged pro-peshmerga fighter (!) who called himself MahmudEmad… we had to change passwords and all my last year’s listings of concerts were gone, etc. – and now a Stephen King movie….scheisse…..:-)


visit Martin Küchen on the web at: