May 142019
 

Shohei Amimori started his career as a composer and arranger of both classical and contemporary music when he was still a student. His orchestral graduation work was so appreciated that Tokyo University of Arts decided to purchase it and preserve it permanently at the university’s art museum. After his initial stylistic fields, his interest gradually moved to different forms of sound art and pop music, and he also began to produce music for commercials and television programs. His output on Noble Records (released at the end of November 2018) partially mirrors this path, but also embraced the bizarre concept of pataphysics that French writer Alfred Jarry defined as “the science of that which is super induced upon metaphysics, whether within or beyond the latter’s limitations, extending as far beyond metaphysics as the latter extends beyond physics.” It’s a sort of parody (quoted by many musicians in the past including the Beatles, Soft Machine and the awesome Japanese band Acid Mothers Temple) that Shohei tried to apply to his music generation according to a derivative process and the bold hypothesis that “music does not yet exist ≈ imaginary music ≈ PATA MUSIC.” We had a quick chat with Shohei about this concept that we invite you to explore by checking out his nice album.

Shohei Amimori “PATA Music” cover artwork

Chain DLK: Hi, Shoei! How are you?

Shoei Amimori: I’m good.

Chain DLK: What is PataMusic in your own explanatory words?

Shoei Amimori: For me, ”PataMusic” is an issue for the existence of music by using pop music.

Chain DLK: Any conceptual connection with the notorious Jarry’s Pataphysics? Do you feel like a Dr. Faustroll for music? 🙂

Shoei Amimori: Of course I was inspired by the Pataphysics that Jari advocated. However, rather than using it as a concept, the issue I was thinking about at the beginning was Pataphysics.

Chain DLK: How many possible approaches do you take into consideration to inject abstractness into music? What’s your favourite one?

Shoei Amimori: Today, I think that with the way of listening to music, the power of the album package has been disabled. So, I did something to highlight the contradiction of the package form itself. For example, if you move on to the next song, the previous song will be seriously ruined. I set up such an element. Bringing abstraction into music, making it stand out and sharing it, is always a big goal for me. But that’s very difficult.

Chain DLK: Can you provide some commentary on the tracks of PataMusic? Any hidden story behind it that you want to share with our readers?

Shoei Amimori: Anyway, there were many kinds of songs and it was difficult. I’m not a singer but there are some songs where I’m singing, some songs like “Climb Downhill 1” that require elaborate post production on a computer, and so on. I made full use of the right and left brain poles. However, in order to raise the above-mentioned issue, there had to be many kinds of songs.

courtesy of Arata Mino

Chain DLK: You have a relevant academic background…is there any composer you studied that paved the way to PataMusic? If so, how?

Shoei Amimori: I have always given respect to and credited some critical aspects to John Cage. Cage had valued the ‘‘sound’’ and ‘‘listening.’’ I would like to draw out the power of such elements without making them mysterious.

Chain DLK: Some tracks sounds like mirroring TV commercials…any jingle that became like a recurring nightmare during composition or over your career?

Shoei Amimori: For me, the most interesting element of music is melody. The reason is that it is difficult to create or listen from a quantitative point of view like harmony or rhythm. Nevertheless, it can be addictive to listeners. That may be why it sounds like TVCM.

Chain DLK: Many moments of PataMusic resemble the amazing experiments by other great Japanese composers, who became famous out of national boundaries, like Haruomi Hosono or Nobukazu Takemura…do you feel closer to some of them, by chance?

Shoei Amimori: As you say, my work may resemble their works in some ways. I’m intending to look over the music all over the world in the same way as them, but that may be just “Japanese.”

courtesy of Arata Mino

Chain DLK:  Are there any connections of PataMusic with your previous outputs? Can you talk about your more or less recent past releases?

Shoei Amimori: Last year, we presented an orchestral piece of contemporary music under the commission of NHK (State-owned broadcasting stations of Japan). Since the premiere on the radio was released, I added a part just before the broadcast occured in the piece to be interesting when listening on the radio. For example, using a very long silence. This attempt is similar to the challenge for the form of the album that was made in “Pata Music.”

Chain DLK: Did you plan any touring to spread PataMusic out of Japan as well?

Shoei Amimori: Regarding the live performance related to my solo works, I’ve only done them in Tokyo. So I want to do it all over the world. I will make plans in the near future.

Chain DLK:Any other work in progress?

Shoei Amimori: This year, I am planning some productions. These are an exhibition of sound installation, a production of other artists, and so on. Now I’m enjoying some collaboration works. I want to start making my own work next year.

Shoei Amimori website URL: www.shoheiamimori.com

May 142019
 

About Miguel Ángel Ruíz aka Orfeón Gagarin, the Spanish artist we recently interviewed after listening to the re-release of his self-titled debut album (initially released in 1986 by the Spanish independent label Toracis Tapes) on Valencia-based record label Verlag System, Antoni Aura, director of the label, wrote: “This Orfeón Gagarin’s debut of 1986 sounds to the XXI Century and collects the savoir-faire of Miguel. The signal of the DIY punk spirit is evident. It is a clear designation of origin for that underground electronic 80ies cassette from outdated Madrid; the one who had no place in the exquisite ‘movida madrileña’ (madrilean new wave). It is evident that ‘In vitro process’ could never access that Olympus of the gods. It is perceived in courts as ‘Last Instance’ to that young man who is around the twenties, who hears crackling needles of the turntable in the groove of the German LPs of Sky, as it would happen to the founder of Mute Records or the ambient series of Eno in ‘Eucarystics.’ It is that crude, hard cover, full of thick points, that portrays the viewer’s gaze beyond the shape of the dish. This image captures the essence and mystery of this album. Do not be deceived, that look goes beyond the O.V.N.I. and from human finitude observes with stupor the immeasurableness of the cosmos, its infinity, its power.” Let’s validate his feedback by meeting this interesting artist.

Orfeón Gagarin – cover artwork

Chain DLK: Hola, Miguel! How are you?

Orfeón Gagarin: After dinner, grateful to appear in your magazine!

Chain DLK: I’ve recently relocated to Spain… I only know some aspects of contemporary and modern music development of this country (the first name that pops into my mind when thinking of the Spanish experimental/electronic music is the one of Esplendor Geometrico… but there are many more…), so I’m happy I have the chance to have a chat with a veteran like you… Any introduction to the Spanish electronic music scene of the recent decades? Anything that foreign listeners could have missed (even if worthy of consideration) in your viewpoint?

Orfeón Gagarin: Yes, Esplendor Geometrico were (and still are) the best known worldwide. But there was an amazing movement in the 80s for bedroom artists and some groups, and a cassette exchange network that also expanded across Europe and the USA. An important point was a program on Radio 3, a state radio station, dedicated to electronic alternative music. There I could hear the most outlandish things, from Comando Bruno, Avant Dernieres Pensees, Macromassa, Luis Mesa, the Necronomicon fanzine, etc., so I realized that there were people doing strange things like me at that moment. But over the years everything changed; many left the guerrilla and the new generations already in the 90s fell into the temptation of techno and dance music. Recently, there has been a return to the primitive artisan roots thanks to the popularization of electronic instruments, musical software and Internet communication, where the producer and the listener can deal without the need of an intermediate.

The problem is that many works have sometimes been relegated to the retail boxes of record stores, international distribution has always been the biggest problem. Spanish listeners often overlook what has been done within their borders.

And also, there are few festivals and occasions to listen to this music live, except for brave initiatives, almost always counting on dark & uncomfortable, bad sounding venues.


Orfeón Gagarin in 2018 – courtesy of Carlos Lopez

Chain DLK: Can you tell us something about the very first days and sources of inspiration for the birth of Orfeon Gagarin? Why such a weird name?

Orfeón Gagarin: Once, I saw an exhibition of Russian cosmonauts here in Madrid at the beginning of the 80s. I took pictures, I became interested in the subject, I bought a gigantic book about the life of Yuri Gagarin in a Russian Spanish bookstore. The name came to me simply because of the union of two seemingly unrelated words. Cosmonauts, surrealism, the unknown, everything is part of my private universe.

Chain DLK: Your self-titled album, which recently come out on Verlag, is your third one, isn’t it? Any word about your first two albums? Do you think they might deserve a re-release?

Orfeón Gagarin: No, actually the Orfeon Gagarin album recently published by Verlag is my first work on cassette, in 1986, reedited and improved in vinyl format. KEDR was my second cassette, which will probably also see its reissue shortly by the same label; this work is dedicated to Gagarin’s space flight, because “KEDR” was the name of his ship in the conversations with the terrestrial control. “Contestacion Capilar” is a CD that was published in 1996, as a compilation of short pieces from the Toracic archives. There are more albums like Neumotorax s.XX, which was published in a small edition by the Italian label Menstrual Recordings some years ago. It is frankly a difficult task to summarize all this in words. An “orfeon” is a traditional choir in Spain with just voices, no instruments. A solo speaker but many personalities at the time. That’s how I consider myself.


Orfeón Gagarin in 1986 – courtesy of Miguel Ángel Ruíz

Chain DLK: The fact that there’s a ‘gagarin’ maybe influenced my imagination, but while listening to Orfeon Gagarin, my mind often jumped to the sceneries evoked by many works by Gennady Golobokov, a well-known Russian pop-artist, and his socialist space workers…do you know them? Any space age reverie in your music?

Orfeón Gagarin:I did not know the Russian artist that you say, but I see that it can be a form of plastic expression compatible with my aerial and dramatic sounds. Recently, 2 vinyl albums have been published in a collaboration with a friend from Madrid under the name of Dekatron, whose covers include retro-futurist paintings by Adamo Dimitriadis, a contemporary painter with whom I feel very identified.

Chain DLK: Re-releases normally occur for releases, which can be considered forerunners of something that could be better appreciated or understood years after its initial birth date…would you say the same for Orfeon Gagarin?

Orfeón Gagarin: Many young people listen to this music and are surprised that is was created so long ago and still sounds quite current. Keep in mind that in my case, they were recorded with few resources, exploring the possibilities of recorders, tapes, organs that now seem outdated, primitive computers or even electric razors that challenge the listener with devilish noises. Bearing in mind that now it is difficult to be surprised with new sounds, even though now stupid music software has thousands of them.

Chain DLK: There are many awesome tracks in Orfeon Gagarin. What are the more interesting (and more difficult to catch by contemporary listeners) technical aspects of some of its tracks, in your own words?

Orfeón Gagarin: At the time I recorded that cassette, my primary focus was to organize my existing brain chaos, since I wanted to do everything in a short time. I’m not disciplined, so they started to emerge as disparate themes, and always trying to use exciting tools and methods, like the voices of “Not is possible landing” created with a speech synthesizer for my newly acquired Commodore 64, the wave radio cuts through my Korg MS10, the rudimentary multi-track recording using two half-speed tape recorders, or the analog sequencer in Gulag. Unlike my contemporaries, I did not enjoy the UK industrial noise so much that I felt more comfortable between the cosmic couriers, the electroacoustic experiments of krautrock, or the American minimal composers, all contaminated by my own eclectic breath.


Orfeón Gagarin (2017) – courtesy of Lourdes Garcia

Chain DLK: …And any weird samples, such as the ones in “Voces Mauritanas”?

Orfeón Gagarin: Yes, the Maghreb stations are easy to tune to here, late at night. Then, modified by the synthesizer and with touches of persuasive percussion that can remember the nights where the moon shines in the desert and songs of fraternity resonate worldwide. Gagarin saw it from above.

Chain DLK: What does Omsk 1939 refer to?

Orfeon Gagarin: I am sure that year something important happened in Omsk, but I am not authorized to reveal it.

Chain DLK: One of my favorite moment of the album is the highly hypnotic “Ultima Istancia”…any words about this amazing track?

Orfeón Gagarin: That was a mix of different recordings. The sequencer was amazingly more or less tuned in that key, so I pressed the REC key and the miracle happened. Now with a computer everything is too easy, but it loses the magic. No space for accidents or casual coincidences.

Chain DLK: When you re-listen to some of your old entries, do you ever think that something could be better embellished or recorded?

Orfeón Gagarin: Next June I will play a reinterpretation of these songs live, at the Tagomago festival in Valencia, one of the few electronic music festivals in Spain. I, of course, do not call electronic music dance or club music. I do not think it will exceed the original versions, but for me it’s a challenge.

Chain DLK: Any work in progress?

Orfeón Gagarin: Soon a collaboration with another musician from Madrid (Giron) will appear as “Zytospace” in Verlag System as well a new solo album as Orfeón Gagarin with new material at the famous Geometrik label. Zytospace is music with multisequence and vaporous attitudes. Also preparing a reissue on my own Toracic label of “La Cámara Gamma”, another cassette from the late 80’s, dark and threatening and my solo second album “KEDR” as Orfeón Gagarin in vinyl for Verlag System record label too. Unfortunately some reel recordings are in poor condition so it will not be purely a reliable reissue. But also this can provide a point of risk. In Toracic things never go as planned!

Apr 072019
 

After studies of composition and improvisation under Phillip Wachsmann in London and an academic training on electronic music and sonology at the renowned Royal Conservatory of The Hague, the German (currently based in Berlin) composer Dirk P.Haubrich has started many important collaborations in the field of dance with many well known performers and choreographers. On the occasion of a night at the Opera Garnier in Paris dedicated to the famous Czech former dance performer and choreographer Jiří Kylián, who collaborated with him, Dirk’s sound grabbed the attention of Quanta Records. That meeting brought about the release of Dirk’s debut album, including two long pieces, “Robinson Out Of Context” and “7 to 8”, initially born as compositions (in between experimental, drone music and ambient) to accompany choreographic works by Bruno Listopad and Shen Wei respectively. We had a chat with Dirk focused on this interesting debut. Check it out!

cover artwork by A Trois Studio

Chain DLK: Hi, Dirk! How are you?

Dirk P.Haubrich: Hi, Vito, fine. Thank you very much for showing interest in my music.


Chain DLK: Can you tell us something about the way the Paris-based label Quanta got in touch with your sounds?

Dirk P.Haubrich: Quanta Records got in touch with me after listening to my music at the Opera Garnier in Paris during a modern dance performance. Adrien and Michael from Quanta Records seemed to like what they heard and they contacted me to buy a copy of my music. As there hasn’t been anything released yet, they offered to publish a record on their label Quanta Records.


Chain DLK: Would you say that the connection between you and Jiri Kylian could be compared to the one between Bejart and Pierre Henry or Michel Colombier?

Dirk P.Haubrich: I am not familiar with the ways of collaboration of Maurice Bejard and Pierre Henry and Michel Colombier. I would guess that it is very different, as there is not a standard way of collaborating.


Chain DLK: Does your sound follow the scenes or the movement of the performers, or would you say they follow your sound?

Dirk P.Haubrich: There are different routes and different states during a creation. But during a creation it is not like, for example, in a film production, where the music comes at the end and glues everything together to one coherent creature.

The coherence is developing in much smaller steps. Dancers like to move to music, so it is up to me to give them something in a quite early stage of a production. If they are working in the dance studio for several days without music, it might happen that there will be different music during rehearsal than mine. It might not necessarily be a bad choice, but it might create a different time space than the one I intended to. Rule of thumb: be first with the music. But after that, both fields get inspiration from each other.


Chain DLK: Which context did you imagine for Robinson during the composition of the first of the two suites of your output on Quanta? Any words about the way you built this composition up and the differences between the original version and its supposed reprise?

Dirk P.Haubrich: The original version of ‘Robinson out of Context’ was composed in 2003. I was working with a group of dancers and a choreographer, Bruno Listopad, on a creation for stage in a small 150-seat blackbox theater in Rotterdam, Holland. The premiere was in October, but I started collecting materials and moods, making decisions on directions and starting composition already in April. Initially I called the project Gamelan Project, as a reference to creating a dense but distinct swarm of sound and acoustic elements. Maybe some great sound-art might emerge, I thought.

The group listened to Marcel Duchamp’s “Creative Act”, (https://soundcloud.com/brainpicker/marcel-duchamp-the-creative-act) and it seems that people have had a good summer, not pressuring oneself to succeed.

During the project, I went through different directions of sound creation. I found it fascinating to use the ER1 Electribe drum machine as one input to a compressor program I wrote in Supercollider, a music programming app, in combination with granulated choir recordings created by moving through the sound using the mouseX value to position the grain. Some FX from the Eventide 7000 DSP did the rest to smooth things together, I guess.


Chain DLK: “7 to 8” on the other side was composed for another coreography as well… Can you introduce this piece?

Dirk P.Haubrich: For 7 to 8, i was moving for 5 weeks to Monte Carlo, where the Ballet de Monte Carlo offered me their Sound Studio to work in. Somehow luxurious to work, but not many connections to the city. Half the city was still closed for cars because of the Formula One that had just rushed through the city. Meanwhile, the pictures of the oil catastrophe of the Deepwater Horizon were still in our hearts, birds in a shimmering, black oil.


Chain DLK: Would you say that your music couldn’t exist without the arts you’re concocting with?

Dirk P.Haubrich: It can exist just by itself. When somebody takes the steps and starts the vinyl, sits down and listens, it starts to exist.


Chain DLK: Considering that potential listeners can’t see the related choreography, how do you suggest they listen?

Dirk P.Haubrich: The listener is not obliged to imagine anything, he rather is obliged to imagine nothing.


Chain DLK: Did you give any instructions to Rashad Becker for mastering?

Dirk P.Haubrich: I did not want to give him instructions before seeing his way of working and what his focus of listening would be. Very quickly, it became clear that he is a very aware listener. This was a very delightful experience. We did a lot of A-B listening, so he offered some opportunities for me to intervene, but I liked very much the way he was approaching my mix. So the time I spent remixing my material was well spent, and after all, I guess I spent several 10s of hours just listening, adjusting and remixing my material before meeting with Rashad in his mastering studio.


Chain DLK: Any work in progress?

Dirk P.Haubrich: I am preparing a new release; further info will be available soon.

Feb 132019
 


Someone says that silence is an impossible condition. A confirmation could come by the renowned talent of French multidisciplinary artist Julien Bayle, who decided to isolate himself in the very quiet Mechanical & Acoustic Research Lab LMA-CNRS’ anechoic room during the summer of 2016 with the intent to explore his own inner silence during a difficult moment of his life. In this laboratory-like room, sounds don’t reverberate, as they get absorbed by the geometry of walls and their repetitive structures. Let’s see by Julien’s replies how the result of such a fascinating residency in this seemingly silent place turned into a very interesting release, Violent Grains of Silence (coming out of the Elli Records catalog), which can present possible evidence of what was stated in the beginning of this introduction.

Chain DLK: Hi, Julien! How are you?

Julien Bayle: I’m pretty fine and busy. Excited by this upcoming release on Elli Records and these pretty thick months I had from presenting my new 3D sound installation at the MIRA festival Spain, giving a couple of lectures and performing FRGMENTS in Buenos Aires, thanks to Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Institut Français and Leandro Frias + Jorge Haro.

Chain DLK: The very first introductory lines about your recent Violent Grains of Silence says that the first grains were born after a fugue from personal issues in an anechoic room during the summer of 2016… first of all, I hope those troubles (I don’t want to know which one(s)) are gone…but I’m more interested in knowing if you think sound art is effective…if so, how?

Julien Bayle: Well. It was a very hard time for me. I had already planned a couple of projects running at this time in the famous Laboratoire de Mécanique et Acoustique CNRS (Mechanic & Acoustic Research Lab, abbreviated LMA-CNRS) in Marseille, which was one of my main partners & collaborators at the time. I couldn’t cancel these projects and I decided to feed them with my darkest feelings at the moment. Like…for converting them into another matter, into another matter I could control and handle, from all my feelings to sound matter. The conversion worked well. I really felt and still feel this idea of being an artist is like being a collector, an antenna collecting and converting the load of spaces, of people.

Planned projects are still unreleased, by the way. One of them was the sound recording of very high acoustic pressure audio feedback loops with systematic variation studies between microphone & speakers. Larsen effects were recorded automatically with no one inside the room, in the dark, too, thanks to a Max MSP patch I programmed. It still has that HUGE sound bank of real physical audio feedback loops. I want to use them. This was the yelling part of the work at this special moment of my life. The noisy one. The howling part. Violent Grains of Silence is something else. It howls but with a very different raw matter. In a way, yes, sound art every time helps me to convert more or less personal and internal feelings, ideas, concepts into another material I can twist, tear up, stretch or shrink, cut or smooth. It is a way to retrieve a part of control, for sure.

Julien Bayle @ELEKTRA (Canada)

Chain DLK: Can you tell us more about this (17dB!) anechoic room and its specs where Violent Grains of Silence was recorded?

Julien Bayle: Anechoic conditions are often required by scientists for measuring how a piece of material reacts to vibrations, for instance. A space’s walls absorb mechanical vibrations in quite a wide bandwidth range.

If you are placed in the middle of the room and you speak or shout, you can hear your voice from inside your head, a bit through your ears as well, as the sound is traveling all along your face, but the sound doesn’t reflect in any way because it is absorbed by the walls. We are absolutely not used to hearing sounds in such conditions. Even in our kitchen, at the terrace of a bar, our voice is reverberating a bit, also providing us information about our immediate environment.

Specifications of this particular one in the LMA-CNRS space are very interesting and rare in the way that they’re very isolated, very absorbing. Thanks to Patrick Sanchez & Christophe Vergez from this prestigious lab, I could enter and work in this unique room. For the record, I consider an LMA as one of the most advanced places for artists to partner and work with.

This is the former research lab of emeritus professor Jean-Claude Risset, who I had the chance to meet when he visited one of my sound installations in Marseille, done with some students through a workshop I led in GMEM CNCM. Jean-Claude Risset combined both a conservatory & acoustic doctorate cursus. He was and still is very inspiring for one who believes that science and art are linked forever as a same way for describing the world. One way is just a bit more poetic than the other, but that’s the very same goal, in my humble opinion.

Chain DLK: Why did you release VGoS on Elli instead of your own imprnt VØID? Any words about it?

Julien Bayle: I wanted to make it living outside of me. VØID (http://void-label.net) is still currently my very own place. I haven’t released or produced anything from someone else. That could change in the near future, but at the moment, that’s it. I wanted to make VGoS as a kind of output. Something that could be from me but spreading outside; I cannot explain it differently.

ELLI is one of the most interesting labels today. They are both interested in algorithms / processes and results, too. Even if some people won’t know the underlying processes related to the EP, the label will talk about them, and consider them as a part of the piece. According to me, conceptual art is not the best way for creating a link, a communication with others. The artist is alone, with her/his concept. We can do lectures or meet people for discussion sharing, and it can help, but regarding a release, it’s often hard to do that.

In my case, I’m often alone with my concepts, ideas and feelings in my studio, but I more & more want and need to create links, share, discuss with people and connect with the audience. With that way of thinking, I felt very comfortable with ELLI releasing this piece because I know that the process won’t be ignored. It’s up to the audience to dig it or not, but the process will be like embedded. That means a lot to me.

Julien Bayle – portrait by Arina Essipowit


Chain DLK: I heard all the stuff you dropped on VØID…very interesting! Some questions about some of them… Unpredictable (VØID0001) focuses on the concept behind a quote (‘no center in the middle, but the center is everywhere’) by one of your artists…who? How does it relate to the sound you explored in that output?

Julien Bayle: [off the record] There is some confusion, as this descriptive text has been written for me by a friend, and the author of the album is myself. This album, silently released with absolutely no promotion or high exposure, is a collection of tracks done with my modular synthesizers & triggering systems only. In our very computer-centric environnement, I wanted to put some distances between myself and my previous creative practices. Indeed, until around 2015, I didn’t record any sound outside of my computer. Nothing was coming from outside. I wanted the sound to be completely synthesized and created bits per bits by my algorithms and software (i.e Max MSP’s patches).

This is a weird and harsh process. I wanted to have a global control over the whole synthesis, over the whole process. Even if I used a lot of modulations & interferences between signals to other signals, all was under control; my control. It was very related to my own personal life. I wanted to be sure, to be safe, to control. I was seduced by interferences between different elements in my music, but I didn’t want to let the system go by itself.
Then, 2016 changed a lot of things in my life, and I started to inject elements from the physical world, from my life, into the computer. I opened it up. I started to record sound outside, and also to record sounds and reuse them into other compositions. When students question me about that, they are often surprised by my answer, as I started field recording practice very late.

Chain DLK: The ninth track of Unpredictable was titled ‘anti anti 4’ 33″‘…should we consider and anti John Cage or an anti anti John Cage? 🙂

Julien Bayle: Maybe. It is interesting to see how 4.33 triggers “Cage”, btw.

Chain DLK: Both Unpredictable and CNTAMNT were made with machines; no computers, only machines. Such a choice has been described as a “specific radical dogma”… Could you explain such a statement/dogma? Are computers evil entities or what? 🙂

Julien Bayle: Dogma is not only related to sorting things as good on one side and bad on the other side. In this case, it was only related to the fact that I created a specific constraint to trigger new ideas & new creative processes.

I wanted to play with this idea of choosing radically to use only machines.
It was an experiment, as I would choose to use only this type of sound for making a track or this technique instead of the others. I never felt computers as evil. They are tools and should only be used as this. As any tools, they should be considered only as an extension of the hand, a new help, and a very powerful one. Granular synthesis and sound analysis are now so easy with a machine like a computer.

However, with the computer, you are in world where you cannot lose anything. That is good and bad, but this is exactly the same debate as writing with a pencil & paper versus typing with a text editor. We have backups, we can keep everything, all steps of a work, all elements, everything, even if it takes a lot of space on the drive. It is up to us, of course, to not keep anything, but computers make us feel sometimes uncomfortable if we don’t do that, and we are like trapped in a never forgetting anything loop.

Sometimes, I want to forget. I need it. Mark Fisher wrote a lot about that. I don’t want to keep everything. I think that concept will be present more in my creative processes. For instance, I can record a sound that I want to use as raw matter and I can start to modify it again and again, and I can keep each version related to each modification, but why? Just in case? Just in case what? I want to reverse the process?

This is a very engineering and scientific approach which, because of my background, I could like, but I won’t keep that one. Using machines could also be a way of not being able to save everything. Some machines have limited memories, or then, it is just a pain in the ass to retrieve parameters. I like that because it forces me to work on the machine itself, record sound and forget about the machine. This is what a machine can bring to me.

I still don’t understand people that want to remove the computer from the equation with no clear reasons and who often tend to reproduce exactly the same computer workflow with machines. This is nonsense, according to me.

Julien Bayle – portrait by Dennis Laffont


Chain DLK: The previous question and maybe the previous answer could collide with your appreciated activity as a programmer…is/was there any algorithm that keeps/kept you truly engaged for a long time?

Julien Bayle: Programming is only knowledge that helps me to do what I do. This is my tool. Obviously, all tools can be inspiring, in the way that they can provide new ideas, new concepts to be applied and thought, but these are tools. We are the thinking part, humans, artists. I used to build all what I’m doing myself. That’s a piece of work, but this is so specific that I cannot even use a program for doing that out-of-the-box.

For the FRGMENTS visuals system, I built the system with a Max/MSP framework. The patch I built is very flexible for what I need to do on stage, and it has some room for chance; I call that “constrained chance” (I let the program go to territories by itself, but I’m defining the outline). The design of the system took several weeks in my studio and it has been done during the sound composition process. It is a usual process in my audiovisual live performance creation. I have strong ideas in mind, I have prototypes and I have schematics on my sketchbooks. I start to design a sound piece. Progressively, parts, sounds themselves are recorded or sequences are written, and then I need to watch and see how the sound I started to spread could alter visuals, could influence and contaminate the visible generated matter. So, I need to go further with the visual system. I stop sound composition and I go further. Then, when it can react more than I’d expected, I challenge it by playing my sounds, altering them live exactly as I’d do on stage… Refining the visuals system, changing some sounds. And I’m doing that for each part, for each moment/context of my live performance.

Here is how I would explain a piece of my work. Diving deeply into the creative process. Of course, if I had a whiteboard, I’d draw some schematics for you now !

Chain DLK: Let’s go back to Violent Grains of Silence… is there something that makes this output authentically different from all your previous releases?

Julien Bayle: I think there are many things. The nature of the sound itself. Sounds have been produced using different kind of synthesis, sampling/resampling, and each channel was influencing other channels. This is very new to me, especially by using only machines. This makes the output quite unique. But that’s not the only thing. This is the first one in which I used floating tempos. I love to call it floating time. Music, every time, relates to time. We are fixing ideas on a time line, we are writing the story on a page. In this case, I used accelerations, decelerations. I like the idea of compressing / expanding the time itself. I’m about to work on a series of releases following these ideas.

Chain DLK: Do you remember any moment of those two hours of recording during which you had the impression/illusion of having reached silence?

Julien Bayle: This is an interesting question. Reaching the silence. Actually, even if I was in the room while the recording was running, even if I had been there completely silent my self, I wouldn’t have reached the silence myself.

The sound recording could approach this, as it doesn’t think. But me…?! If I think, I know. If I know, I know that silence can’t be reached, end of story.
It reminds me of Vercors’ Le silence de la mer. The silence of the sea. If the surface seems silent, the depth are full of moving and sounding creatures. If you know it, then the sea is not silent. In that case, I knew I have absolutely no silence in me, so the silence can’t exist. Our emotions are loading things. My emotions loaded this moment of silence as absolutely deafening and yelling.


Chain DLK: Would you say that this apparent refusal of algorithm and computational process in your current compositional strategy is a sort of refactoring (to use a term inherited from programming)? Should we expect some forthcoming changes of your sound toward something supposedly more “organic”?

Julien Bayle: We are refactoring and rebuilding every time. At each step of our lives. I feel a refactoring each time I start a new big project. When a project comes to my mind, this is because I made some radical decisions in a part of my global creative processes. So, basically, there is a more or less important refactoring. But I don’t think computational means not organic.

There is not a straight line for producing sounds with computer, or with any tool. Some very sharp mechanical riffs in Catch 33 Meshuggah’ album, for instance, sound like very algorithmic (especially because of poly rhythmic and poly-metres), but these are guitar riffs played by a human.
But if the underlying question was about my new sounds, I think my sound is going to more industrial and electric than before. This is also why I feel close to metal, in a way. If I had to oppose organic to industrial, I’d say that organic side, in my creation, comes from field recording. Field recording is a recording of reality, compared to pure synthesis, which is the less organic source. But for instance, my piece STRUCTURE presented at the MIRA Festival includes a lot of both techniques. Generative and self-evolving synthesis, merged with field recording of metal crackling, Chicago’s metro rails squeaking, some brutalist building’s big metal door slamming, etc.
From a listener’s point of view, I think this is different; we can pay attention to the globality of a track and, in that case, it is not because you put a very organic sound merged with very cold, pure, synthesized sound that the whole result will sound organic, or not.


Chain DLK: Is there any track of Violent Grains of Silence that you liked more for some reason?

Julien Bayle: Satu is one I like particularly.

It starts slowly, with no space; noise is listenable and also resonates in the reverb space itself. The colorful reverb I used includes a resonators network that makes it very specific and very singular. Progressively, the sound is like propagating in the space. Space is a concept I cannot stop digging. From a real space propagation to reverb (which are simulating the space), I’m interested in the perceived effect. With earphones, or a very good sound system, we can really perceive space, distance and the environment surrounding us. This is a very nice tool, as a sound producer, to express the idea of a sound traveling from a point to another, often telling a story related to time as it starts to travel and is loading itself with the space; it comes to a destination and has changed.

It is a very raw metaphor of us, humans. Traveling through time, progressively evolving, loading ourselves with people’s emotions, our own emotions and more. It reminds me the release I had the chance to do on the ETER Lab label a couple of years ago. I used a weird concept of noise provoked by wire parasites, and I was resonating the same reverb. The whole EP is done only with that. No sound sources, except parasites. It is “void propagate” on the ETER Lab: https://eterlab.bandcamp.com/album/void-propagate

Violent Grains of Silence (2018, Elli Records) – cover artwork

Chain DLK: Can you pick one track and (paradoxically?) explain it as if you were using it for one of your lessons as an Ableton trainer?

Julien Bayle: I would more explain that from the art & aesthetic point of view than technically only. I wouldn’t explain any track of this release from this point of view as I’m more like a guest art teacher than an Ableton Certified Trainer. Actually, when art & design schools or studios call me for me to teach a proper course, a masterclass or a workshop, this is because they want to understand two different things: what I use as triggers for my creative process and what the underlying technique is.

I cannot separate the technique from the creative process, and I don’t want to remove one of them. This is also, often, a test for me to challenge art school directors. I can see directly if they are repelled by technique or not, and it can drive to more collaboration or less. I’m not teaching pure thinking and I don’t want my students to only think about their project but to make it. Making it is important. I think we NEED the experience, the feelings. As soon as we think about the global outline of a project, I’m sure we need to start to build, test, trial, error, rebuild. From this point of view, I’m like an engineer, but I’m driven by the feelings and mood; these are my only measurements for evaluating and checking if my art coefficient is quite OK. If it is not, I have to refine, to recheck, to rebuild; which could mean more sound captures, less processing or whatever else.


Chain DLK: Any work in progress?

Julien Bayle: I’m currently working on a very new live performance. If I’m still touring ALPHA (very algorithmic from a synthesis and sequencing point of view) and FRGMENTS (very based on sound recording as raw matter, recombined and wrapped and processed live), I now want to merge both parts from pure algorithmic to pure reality recording (I mean sound capture, video capture).

I’m at a specific step at which I’m gathering all in the same place. ALPHA was me in 2014, FRGMENTS is still me in 2018 but I feel sparse if I don’t have my new projects including all parts. Probably the refactoring is that one now. I cannot say too much about the project but the name will be relative to STRUCTURE. This won’t be the live performance version of the installation I exhibited at MIRA. This will illustrate the idea of packing to the core, having the structure at the core of the piece. Gathering, aggregating, creating links between elements I felt were separated before.

This project’s aesthetic will have to express all these strong concepts of being exploded, destructed and refactoring, aggregating again, making the core infrastructure very solid. This is a big challenge. It will be audiovisual with a very strong link between sound & visuals. Sound will alter visuals, as in all my work. Visuals will be generated in real-time, and the system (the machine) will have room for random, which means it will “behave” as a partner, on stage. I will push it with the sound triggers and the sound nature itself. Depending on these, visuals will react. This is the room for uncertainty I inject in all my works: I have some parts I can control, some other parts are control by parts on which I think I have control and maybe there are differences between what I expected and the result; life runs like that, and this is why I design controls in my piece like that. Visuals will be a merging of 3D captures, models and visuals elements that will be rendered by the system.

This project will be very dark sounds, but probably more electronic music than pure experimental music. Besides this, I’d really like to produce & release a series of works relative to time, as I was writing before.

Visit Julien Bayle on the web here: www.julienbayle.net

Feb 132019
 

Following the positive feedback and some relevant matching with notorious bands/musicians like Massive Attack or Thom Yorke, Robert Toher recently deployed Demolition, the second album of his project Public Memory, through Felte. Delighted by its listening, we had a chat with Robert to get deeper into his sound and his release. Enjoy the reading!

courtesy of Robert Toher

Chain DLK: Hi, Robert! How are you?

Robert Toher: Hello. I am very well, thanks.

Chain DLK: Your music and your style are very interesting… I guess there could be many steps, but what’s the path (and I also mean the music you’d like to repeatedly hear in your earphones) you followed before defining it?

Robert Toher: Thank you. So, do you mean what is the path for the music I am interested in, and thus has inspired my own music? That could be quite a lot to write. When I was young in the eighties, I listened to a lot of music that my father would play. Old rock and roll, sixties and seventies music and such. In the nineties, as a young teenager, I got into punk and played in some punk bands, but also liked Tori Amos, Radiohead, NIN, Smashing Pumpkins, etc. As I got older and time drew on, I got more into things like trip hop, krautrock, jazz, ambient and experimental music. I feel like the music I make is naturally some kind of “reduction” of the many influences I have. Like many people, I’m not trying to make one set style of music. I just feel inspired and then make whatever comes out. I think you can hear some of my influences when you listen to Public Memory, but I also don’t want to simply imitate what inspires me. I like to try and capture inspiration, but intentionally end up somewhere else by the time it’s finished.

Chain DLK: The media has compared it to Thom Yorke, Portishead, Massive Attack and many more… Many artists don’t like this kind of matching (even if generally it’s made to give an idea to readers of reviews of what they’re going to hear)…is there any comparison that you think fits your sound?

Robert Toher: I don’t mind these kinds of comparisons. If I am really into a record and I want to tell a friend about it, I will naturally make comparisons of some kind, so that my friend will have an idea of what I’m talking about. They are reference points. If someone hears something in my music, that’s OK with me. I don’t particularly associate my music with “goth” music and I find it odd when there are comparisons to Clan of Xymox and Dead Can Dance and things like that. But if that’s what someone is hearing, who am I to say they’re wrong? Again, I have been inspired by a lot of music over the years, and of course some of that comes out in what I make. But I don’t want to find myself playing a “style” of music, which I think has been happening a lot over the last few years, especially in the realm of so-called “goth” bands. There’s a lot of nostalgia, lots of pretenders wanting to sound like this band or that. That’s fine, but personally, I’m not into that. Maybe one day I’ll do a stylized record, but I’m not sure if I’d release it under the same name.

courtesy of Robert Toher

Chain DLK: Before digging deeper into your recent album “Demolition” that I am recommending to our readers in these lines, can you give a retrospective of your past outputs as Public Memory (in particular with the likewise good Wuthering Drum) and their possible connection with Demolition?

Robert Toher: I first released the Public Memory debut Wuthering Drum in 2016. I had left NY in 2014, moved to LA and began writing an album. I finished it in 2015, and a year later it came out. When I made that album, I was trying to find something new, getting away from what I had contributed to my older bands, ERAAS and APSE. I limited myself to one synthesizer, and had some other rules about having a limited palette when I was writing and recording.

A year later, I released the Veil of Counsel EP, which is comprised of two outtakes from Wuthering Drum and one other song that was written very quickly (“Afterlife”). At the end of 2018, I released Demolition, which had taken me about 18 months to write and record. For me, that’s a little bit too long. The next record, hopefully, will come together a bit faster, but of course, it will take whatever time it takes. I am working on something more minimal, back to a limited palette, and shorter songs at times.

Chain DLK: Any relations (even just metaphysical or conceptual, so to speak) with the outputs while you were in ERAAS or Apse?

Robert Toher: Not especially. In my contributions to ERAAS and APSE, I was always drawn to darker themes and sounds, but all the people in those bands were also exploring those things. Public Memory is more electronic than the other bands I was in, but I approach writing for Public Memory as just songs, and they turn out however they do. I try not to steer it too much. I just work, and what comes out, comes out. I find that to be better than setting out with too much of an idea in mind, because if you just write and enjoy it, I find things will usually just come out naturally.

Chain DLK: The opening of “The Line” sets the listener’s mind on something that sound a bit contrasting to me…that sort of aware self-seclusion and lucid insight seems to contrast with a musical movement that sounds like following a gradual uprising… Do you agree with such an analysis or not?

Robert Toher: It isn’t the same for me, but I can’t say I “disagree.” This is simply what your experience has been, and that’s fine for me. “The Line” to me is about flying over different scenes in my life, different neighborhoods, different experiences, and watching from above, or watching from right next to myself. Taking on a spiritual form and revisiting the good, the bad, the neutral and the other, over the course of one’s life.

courtesy of Lisa Andrews

Chain DLK: The general atmosphere of this song sounds closer to the sound of Blue States’ soundtrack for 28 Days Later instead of the above-mentioned comparisons by the media, in particular, in the use of that thrilling whistle (a theremin?)… What’s the source of that sound?

Robert Toher: I’m not familiar with that soundtrack. I do know that there was a GYBE song on it, because I saw the film back when it came out. I don’t listen to a lot of GYBE these days, but I am very fond of F# A# Infinity and Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven. Both of those albums were very important to me when they came out. I have seen GYBE a few times, the most memorable being in December 2000, when they played at Bard College in upstate NY in the “Old Gym” and Will Oldham opened the show with The Dirty Three as his backing band. I was floored by that show.

Also, the sound you’re talking about is a synthesizer.

Chain DLK: Massive Attack’s possible influence (particular the MA of 100th Window) came out on the following Red Rainbow… A nightmarish atmosphere that was inspired by a nightmare, by paranoid thoughts or just by reality?

Robert Toher: I should listen to more Massive Attack. I know some of their more popular songs, but in trying to listen to the records, they didn’t really pull me in. No offense to them or their fans… I just never got big into them.

Red Rainbow was inspired by the concept of forces at work behind the scenes which contribute to your perception of reality. What’s real and what’s not, who’s in control, who laughs last. You can run but it follows you.

Chain DLK: The specific way by which your voice gets recorded in your songs could remind some of dark/gothic outputs…. Is there a reason that explains such a choice?

Robert Toher: I think the style of my voice is informed in part by my influences and in part by what comes naturally to me when I hear a bit of music I’m working on and I just respond to it, vocally. I also am not a fan of “direct” vocals (once in a while, this is fine). But I like effects. Like so many others, I have always enjoyed vocals that have delay/spring reverb/etc. But I like vocals to convey a feeling without the listener needing to know the lyrics right away. It’s more immediate to me, more interesting. That’s hard to do without singing a certain way, and that’s hard to do without effects. Yes, there are some that do it well without any of those things. But for me, I like to use effects to impart an emotional nature and a mood to the feel of the vocals. It only adds further depth to it when someone reads the lyrics later. But for my music, at least right now, the lyrics don’t need to be crisp and clean and up front. I like them to be another instrument in the music, a character with a role to play, even though that sounds a bit pretentious – that’s what I want out of it. That doesn’t mean I want to take a reverb pedal and turn everything up all the way and mumble into the microphone. There is still a presence in the lyrics, a foothold to the vocals. So while I don’t want them to be a wash of reverb and unintelligible syllables, I also don’t want them to be so absolute. They should exist somewhere between the two – and that creates a feeling and a purpose that’s very important to me.

Chain DLK: The only exception to the previously described style is “Falsetto”. That sounds pretty self-ironic, as it’s maybe the song where there’s no trace of that sort of androgynous falsetto you often used over the album…why?

Robert Toher: Hmm, I disagree. I think there is falsetto in that song. The title had nothing to do with the singing style in the song; it just fit and felt right. I don’t see how it stands out, in terms of its vocal style and approach. I suppose during the verses I am a bit more in a “talking” range of my voice, but it goes up and down – and later, toward the end, it goes quite high. I wouldn’t mind having a shimmering, delicate but powerful voice like Jeff Buckley. I don’t, but I try my best to get by with what I do have. 

Chain DLK: Are there any religious or mystical references in the Trick of the Light lyrics? Can you share the source for inspiration for writing that song?

Robert Toher: There are a few references there… It’s all in the lyrics, which are available in the physical copies of the album. That song is about getting older, being true to yourself and coming back to nature, but also, in the process, isolating yourself. I guess it’s about preparing for death, but I don’t think in a dark way. It’s bittersweet.

Chain DLK: What’s the line joining together all the songs of Demolition? Why did you title it Demolition?

Robert Toher: Lyrically or figuratively? Lyrically, maybe from “Trick of the Light”, where it says “turning out the lights on your illusion” – which is also the last line of the album.

I called it Demolition because the album is about renewal. In the context of relationships, but also simply within the self. It’s a story of coming-of-age, but not a young age. Just, getting to a certain point on various timelines where important and unforeseen things converge at once. It’s about love, failure, paranoia, spirituality and death.

Chain DLK: Are any songs from Demolition that are going to be rendered into video clips?

Robert Toher: No.

Chain DLK: Any plan of bringing it on live stages?

Robert Toher: We did a west coast tour in November, and we have some plans for the US and potentially Europe this year.

Chain DLK: Any work in progress?

Robert Toher: Yes. A new PM album, some remixes I’m doing for bands I like, and another little project I’m working on. 

 

Check out Public Memory on Soundcloud and Facebook