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


Jan 092019


Tapes - cover artwork

“Uprootedness is a theme I was concentrated on and was dealing a lot with in my past
exhibitions and art projects. For many years I was searching for a place which I could call home. When I returned to the piano 4 years ago after a long break since my childhood (started at 6, quit at 14) I had the feeling I was returning home. I realized
that my home is not a psychical place that I can touch rather it is an abstract such as music which has no boundaries. So this album is celebrating the discovery I found home in music”. These are the first words by which Daniela Orvin introduced her debut album ‘Home’ (recently out on Berlin-based label Seasides on Postcards)… Let’s get into her home with her own words!

Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Daniela! How are you?

Daniela Orvin: Hi! I’m good, thanks, really happy about the attention and feedback that my recent album ‘Home’ is getting. Thanks also so much for your wonderful album review.

Chain D.L.K.: Your name came out on this zine on the occasion of a chat with Yair Etziony, another Israeli expat, who mentioned a collaboration with you…could you tell us something about it? How did you meet Yair?

Daniela Orvin: I know Yair from a mutual friend who sent him some of my music just before he moved to Berlin. So, here in Berlin, we became friends. A remix I did for Yair’s track Avalon was released half a year ago, in a remix album of his music on False Industries, and yes, we are working on some collaborations…but let’s keep it as a surprise.

interview picture 1Chain D.L.K.: Compliments for your Home! Before talking about it, let’s look back a little…how did you get closer to music composition and listening? Do you remember any staggering moment (a concert, listening to something in particular or any event) related to this path?

Daniela Orvin: Thank you for the compliments again! Coming from a music-enthusiastic family, I’ve listened to music since I was born. Looking back now, understanding my process and musical development, I realized that while starting to play the piano at a young age, I also started to learn about composing music from just listening to it in a more critical way, developing my hearing, and understanding and feeling music from my guts. In my teenage years, I was also a big radio fan, and a bit later also a clubber for many years, so music was always present and there for me.

I was always dreaming or secretly wanting to write my own music, but I didn’t dare until about 4 years ago. I just love music so much and it’s such a major factor in my life that I was afraid to touch this, afraid I would not be good enough and that I would just be disappointed with my efforts. It was a combination of severe perfectionism, severe insecurity and some severe stupidity.

Chain D.L.K.: You were born in Israel, but you’re currently living in Berlin. In between, you changed other towns and cities for different reasons according to your official biography…well, is there a place you really consider as your Home?

Daniela Orvin: No, I was born in Berlin! So, originally from Berlin, I came back to Berlin hoping to find my home here after not finding it in other places including Israel, where I lived most of my life. As I have studied art I have also expressed my uprootedness in my photographs, discussing this in my solo exhibitions but eventually returning to play the piano after a very long break. Starting to write my own music made me realize that my home is Music, a non-physical place that has no boundaries. It’s where I feel the most comfortable; it’s where I feel I belong. My album Home is referring to this personal discovery and celebrates it.

Chain D.L.K.: I read you started playing piano when you were 6 yrs old. Is that recognizable composition on the first moments of the opening “Prelude (Part 1)” related to that age?

Daniela Orvin: The beginning of Prelude (Part 1) is a recording of my performance of Bach – Prelude 1. Although I didn’t learn to play this specific piece in my childhood…it was more recently…I practice/ play it a lot to myself. My intention was to open to the listener a door to my private space/ my home by starting the album with a recording of me playing this familiar piece to myself at home, which gets blended and turns into my own composition.

interview picture 2Chain D.L.K.: Those first notes of Prelude seem to gradually “expand” and float over the environment where you were maybe hitting those keys (as suggested by the field recording I can perceive)…would you describe the images in your mind that were mirrored by such a movement in that Prelude?

Daniela Orvin: Ooh, most of the album, including ‘Prelude,’ was written so fast last April, and I have a total blackout of the specific moments / thoughts/ images in my mind/ decisions/ inspiration etc. while writing it. I just remember it was magical, very pleasant and a lot of fun.

Chain D.L.K.: The second part of this incipit was titled Unexpected Coincidence…what does it refer to? Why do I have the feeling its synths are close to the ones of the soundtrack of Stranger Things (as well as some stuff by Sigur Ros, that you explicitly mentioned as sources of inspiration)? 🙂

Daniela Orvin: ‘Unexpected Coincidence’ is a direct continuation of Prelude; it shares the same notes and chords, but instead of playing it on the piano, I play it on the synth. As the album has a personal reference and my life or path is full of coincidences, including the discovery that my home is music, I decided to name this piece like that as well. Track 6 is titled Surrendering to Coincidence, so I thought Coincidences could be a nice title connection on the album, and hopefully the track is unexpected because it starts with one melody and mood but develops and ends with a completely different mood and melody.

I am not so sure why it feels as if the synth is close to the one on the soundtrack of Stranger Things. I had to check the trailer on YouTube as I wasn’t familiar with the music or the series and I don’t have Netflix, but maybe generally it’s the same synth. I use a Minilogue, which is a polyphonic synth, and it has basically and mostly a very specific, characteristic sound.

Chain D.L.K.: I like that image on the cover artwork where a pic of sea waves replaced the score. Did you make this graphical choice?

Daniela Orvin: Thank you. I made the graphical choice and also photographed both photos: the photo which replaces the score on the piano and the cover photo of the album itself.

Chain D.L.K.: It brought to mind The Waves by Ludovico Einaudi…any reference to him? Did you like his kind of “minimalism?”

Daniela Orvin: So, now I feel really ignorant or living on another planet…I had to google him and check the music. I’m listening to it now, and to be honest, it’s OK, but not really my taste or something that might inspire me. I love minimalism, but the melodic decisions or choices are mostly not my cup of tea.

Jóhann Jóhannsson – Fordlândia or “Flight from the City” for instance, or any other piece by him – are also minimalistic and repetitive and work, which I enjoy and am very much inspired by every time I hear, although of course what I’m doing is very different from what Jóhann Jóhannsson did. It might be an inspiration point, but from there, I take it to my own place.

Chain D.L.K.: We already mentioned Sigur Ros. The style of the Icelandic band (as well as the ones by Amiina and maybe Mum…other wonderful Icelandic entities) becomes clearer on the first vocal track we meet during listening, the intense For Now… any words about this song?

Daniela Orvin: Mentioning Jóhann Jóhannsson in the answer before…I love Icelandic musicians and music. I visited Iceland in 2012 because I was so curious about the origins of those amazing musicians and their unique music. I wanted to understand their inspiration and background, and I think I did. My visit in Iceland really influenced me, and it’s also where I decided to move to Berlin and realize my dream to write my own music. In Berlin, I’ve started playing the piano again and discovered my new/ old home in music, so everything has a connection and to do with Iceland. Also, the photo I took, which is placed on the piano instead of the score on my cover artwork, is from Iceland. And thanks so much for thinking that For Now has some Icelandic style or influences; it’s a great compliment for me.

‘For Now’ is a song that I wrote a while ago, separately from the rest of the album, and it was musically the core of the album. It’s a love song, and I sing in it 3 words in Hebrew: ‘Le’et atta, Ata,’ which means, ‘for now, you.’ In Hebrew, it’s a word game, because Now and You sound the same but are written differently. The kind of electronics / percussion sounds are actually a recording of me typing on the computer keyboard, and I also use some recordings of the Mediterranean sea I asked an Israeli friend to record for me.

interview picture 3Chain D.L.K.: One of my favorite moments of the album, “Spring Came Early”… what does that refer to?

Daniela Orvin: It’s my favorite piece on the album. It just refers to the fact that spring came early at that specific time, and it felt so wonderful and refreshing after another Berlin winter. I was in such a good mood while writing it. Hopefully it’s possible to hear my joy in the music.

Chain D.L.K.: “18:00 From My Balcony”… what were you staring at that time? Which balcony? A “spiritual” one?

Daniela Orvin: It’s the only piece on the album I wrote notes first, so I wasn’t staring at anything rather struggling to learn the notes and perform it, as it was as unfamiliar to my fingers as if someone else wrote it. The balcony is my home physical balcony and the field recording accompanying the piano was taken at 18:00 from that balcony; you can hear the church bells in the background that are hinting that it’s 18:00 and the sounds from the street and the street train/ tram near my home.

Chain D.L.K.: Are you performing Home on live stage yet? If yes, have you planned some tour yet?

Daniela Orvin: I’m not performing live at all. The last time I performed in a concert was at age 13. I made a mistake on the last note of a piece which made me think I was not a good enough pianist, and therefore, I also quit playing the instrument. So, big issues and trauma for me. I never really enjoyed performing in front of an audience. I always felt it was some kind of test that I needed to prove myself and it’s very stressful for me. I prefer and enjoy composing music much more, being behind the scenes or writing music for film or video games, for instance. The music for Home is also mostly not easy to perform live, so if at any point I decide to play something from this album in front of an audience, I will need to write performance versions.

Chain D.L.K.: Besides listeners (and hopefully all those who are reading this interview and listening to your music while doing that), would you open the gates of your Home to some other musicians to remake some songs?

Daniela Orvin:  That is actually a great idea which didn’t cross my mind at all. Of course! If anyone is interested, please contact me!

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

Daniela Orvin: I’m trying to work on new material and have ideas and drafts, but life itself and some non-fun things have recently been interfering. Hopefully, this will end soon; I’m very eager to get back to concentrating full time on music. But there is also music ready and waiting to be released. There is the album “The Writings,” which is a mutual work with Sven Laux, who is also owner of Seasides on Postcards, which released the album Home. The Writings will be released on Dronarivm next year, and I’m very much looking forward for this. A new piece will be released soon in a compilation themed Sleeping Music on the British Whitelabrecs, and another mutual track with Sven which will also be released soon in a charity compilation that Dronarivm is involved in.

Visit Daniela Orvin’s website at: www.danielaorvin.com

Jan 092019


Discrepant recently released (or I’d better say re-released, as it was originally released by Turkish label Wounded Wolf Press) Loopworks, a collection of tracks that Turkish audio and visual artist Koray Kantarcioğlu made by means of the process known as databending. Most of the sonic sources came from old Turkish records (mainly of the 60s or 70s) whose samples were transformed by a series of effects. This formula has been matched to the recent outputs by James Leyland Kirby as The Caretaker and its ‘haunted ballroom’ effect, but according to the introductory words attached to the record, “Kirby connects more with the idea of memory and its disappearance/transformation, Koray Kantarcioğlu explores the usage and the dynamic of these sounds as ambient music for different scenarios and the importance of a new-found life of the raw material he used to create these songs.” Let’s give voice to Koray to talk about his interesting art, then…

Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Koray! How are you?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: Happy with the recent re-release of Loopworks 🙂

Chain D.L.K.: It was a great surprise to find an artist from Atay Ilgun’s imprint Wounded Wolf Press on Discrepant. We had a talk some years ago as I found the artists, who were re-united on his label, extremely interesting…and maybe you were one of them. How did you meet Ilgun and his editorial project?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: I met him after my solo drawing exhibition in 2013. He wanted to release a monograph from WWP including my landscape drawings. We ended up adding a complimentary mixed CD with the ambient/drone material I produced. (http://www.woundedwolfpress.co.uk/portfolio/bitmap-landscapes-2/) Later I released Loopworks from WWP in 2016 as 100pcs tape.

Loopworks cover artwork

Loopworks – cover artwork

Chain D.L.K.: ‘Loopworks’ itself, the album on the likewise appreciated label Discrepant, came out on WWP before (in 2016, as far as I know). How did Discrepant meet your sound?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: Actually, I was in contact with Discrepant back in 2011 for different projects. Somehow we lost contact after some point. Last year, we found out that my emails went to their spam folder. So after a long pause, I presented some material I had to Discrepant, including Loopworks. That’s how it happened.

Chain D.L.K.: I really appreciated the whole collection of loops, so let’s dig deeper into it as you dug deeper into old Turkish records to grab some samples…first of all, would you like to introduce some of them to us?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: The whole Loopworks Lp is made from samples I took from 8 records, mostly in jazz, funk and folk genres. The titles of the tracks come from catalog numbers of the records, except a few.
I don’t want listeners to be influenced by the source material, and that’s why I keep the originals to myself.
Unlike Caretaker’s music, I tried to melt nuances of the original material.

Chain D.L.K.: Some tracks (“22 47 91 Take 1,” for instance) keep the typical hiss of vinyl, yet…any technical issues in grabbing some of the above mentioned samples due to the age of the original support?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: I used a typical turntable to rip the tracks I wanted to work on. I actually enjoy the byproducts of the mediums. So, I’m happy with the crackles and hiss. I also made poor quality mp3s of some samples I took on purpose, to insert that whistle kind of noise to the mix. You can hear that on AC RU 29 Part 2.

Chain D.L.K.: I had the impression (particularly on the tracks on side A) that there was a sort of sonic glue that joined together the tracks, sounding different but homogeneous at the same time… Could this ‘glue’ be what has been described as the ‘haunted ballroom’ effect?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: The tracks on the album were made between 2009 – 2016, and there are many unreleased ones I put aside. I selected tracks that give the feeling you mentioned. Also, the overall use of same kind of reverb, delay and granular effects also has an important part.

Chain D.L.K.: Any of your loop works that really hypnotized or hit you to the point that you had the urge to listen to it in your mind for days and days after recording?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: These are the ones: 500606, 22 47 91 Take 1, Organic Extract KP 001, AC RU 29 Part 2, AC RU 29 Loop TK2.

Chain D.L.K.: Are there any nuances that a Turkish listener will perceive better than a non-Turkish one in your opinion? If yes, any hints?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: Actually, no. For instance, there are some words you hear on ‘263 Loop,’ which is sampled from a random part of a sentence in a folk song and doesn’t make sense for a Turkish listener, either. My aim was to create abstract sound textures from material that’s familiar to me.

Chain D.L.K.: What’s the source for AC RU 29 (I guess the same for the five tracks whose title include this tag)?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: Tracks starting with AC RU are all from the same LP, which is a Turkish pop jazz record from the late 70s.

Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to join these Loopworks to your activity as a visual artist as well?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: I already did. The complimentary mixed audio cd of my monograph ‘Bitmap Landscapes’ includes some material from Loopworks, too. The theme of constant erosion is one of the recurring elements of my landscape drawings, and tracks in Loopworks gives me a similiar kind of feeling.

Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

Koray Kantarcioğlu: I have other projects coming soon on Discrepant under different monikers. There may be a new volume of Loopworks in the future. It may be a collaborative project with local musicians.

visit Koray Kantarcioğlu on the web at: www.koraykantarcioglu.com

Nov 152018

A Place Both Wonderful And Strange is the Brooklyn-based duo whose name, while a reference to the cult TV series Twin Peaks, also exemplifies the dynamic of their personality and sound.  Call it “occult electronica” or “doom gaze.”  Whatever. Call it what you will; they mix electronica, goth, shoegaze, and dream-pop among other genres to create something truly unique.

The new EP is titled The City Smells Like Cat Spit and features the ultra-hypnotic and intoxicating “Kristae” as well as 3 remixed cuts. We’d like to thank them for taking a few moments out to answer a few of our questions.


Chain D.L.K.: The new EP, The City Smells like Cat Spit, is due out later this month…how did you come up with the title, and can you talk a bit about the album art?

Russ: The title is a lyric from the song Every Stone A Seance, off our 2017 album What I Speak I Create, presented in a refashioned form akin to how we do it live on this EP. It’s such a weird twist of phrase but it was the first thing I wrote for that song, which is the first and only love song I’ve ever written, so it seemed fitting. It’s something that, I think particularly in New York, registers as a kind of ongoing condition that you deal with, but not in a negative way.

Laura: On tour, we saw this weird little guy on top of a car in the parking lot of the Best Western in Virginia or someplace, and at first I couldn’t believe my luck! I asked Daniel (our tm) to be sure he saw it too! Who is this little guy?? We just had to get a picture, and that’s how the cover artwork came about.


Chain D.L.K.: There are 3 remixes on the new EP and 1 new track, Kristae. Can you talk a bit about the mixes and who Kristae is?

Russ: Kristae is a girl with a past, a little bit of history, what all of us can/could be on the proper night out. To some extent, she’s a correction of “American Psycho”.

Laura: We played a show upstate for this great party our friend throws, and it was the middle of winter. Russ and one of our friends who used to be funny started riffing on this idea of post-punk songs. Ultimately, Kristae is every lost girl who our poisonous society of terrible men pushes aside and renders meaningless and helpless within their own lives.


Chain D.L.K.: For the new readers, can you talk a bit about the meaning behind the band name and provide a bit of a brief history?

Russ: A place both wonderful and strange started as a solo noise project of mine and has gone through a couple of iterations–essentially processing how to make the leap from noise to a darker leaning of pop. Laura and I met at a Prince memorial party I was throwing, and we immediately decided we needed to work together, and now a couple years later, we’re here. The name is a quote from Twin Peaks, a line spoken by Special Agent Dale Cooper, that I’ve actually had as a tattoo since longer than the band’s been in existence. The love and appreciation for an intersection of beautiful and weird–or wonderful and strange–is really at the heart of this project.

Laura: Which one of us do you think is wonderful, and which one of us do you think is strange? I keep changing my mind about it.


Chain D.L.K.: You have some upcoming shows, including the EP release later this month and a special Halloween performance of your David Lynch commission, “Laura Palmer Deviations,” right?  What’s the difference musically and visually with this piece as opposed to your normal show?  What can people expect to be different?

Russ: Yes! The Laura Palmer Deviations performance is one that’s special, and we haven’t done this one in quite some time. It’s a massive audio/visual/movement piece that incorporates Palmer Family home movies, hidden parts of Twin Peaks, and found footage to tell the story of the tragic final hours of Laura Palmer’s life, soundtracked by Laura and I.

Laura: This party is going to be nuts. We have some surprises and some great art lined up at one of the most interesting venues in Brooklyn.

Chain D.L.K.: You recently made an appearance in pop star Robyn’s new video, “Missing U – Message to My Fans” which has now been seen over 200,000 times. How did this whole thing come about?

Russ: This is a long and crazy story that’s kinda captured really well by the film’s director, Danilo Parra, but to try to get the entirety of it: two of my other friends and I have a DJ trio called ADVENTURE[s], and we’ve been doing a Robyn tribute party for about 8 years now. Laura started helping us out with them a couple years back, because she’s a jack of all trades, and lo and behold, in May we got word that Robyn was aware of these parties and wanted to come…the rest is history.


Chain D.L.K.: You and your bandmate, Laura, also have other endeavors; DJing, films etc.  Talk a little bit about that.  Where might you be found elsewhere outside of the band?

Russ: Well, I’m a DJ with ADVENTURE[s]–we do parties monthly at Brooklyn Bowl (in, of course, Brooklyn)–and I work in fitness. Then, with my wife Vanessa (who has her own band, knifsex, and under that name she’s worked on music with APBWAS for quite some time here and there) I co-run the New Jack Witch site (newjackwitch.com), that’s essentially magical workings for the oncoming apocalypse. I started working on a non-fiction book, so we’ll see how this goes.

Laura: Oh, I’m always knocking around the tabloids in one way or another.


Chain D.L.K.: Other than the EP release show this month and the Halloween shows, what other plans do you have for live shows?  I heard a rumor about a mini-tour in November.

Russ: Hometown shows–we’re performing at one of our fave local spots, The Footlight, Sept 6, with a bunch of really great bands: www.facebook.com/events/1512717505499832 . On the whole, though, we’re working on new music–it’s a change of pace for us to be in a situation where we start writing, try a song out live, then take it back to the studio to tinker, and then take it back out.


Chain D.L.K.: How do you think that the new material differs from your previous work?

Russ: See above–it’s all cohering together in a really cool way. If you’re looking towards our way forward, Kristae was definitely a song that as we hammered on it was like, “more like this”.

Laura: I get to go hog wild on a guitar!


Chain D.L.K.: This summer you did your first real mini-tour of the US. How was that experience? Any noteworthy shows or spinal tap events?

Russ: Actually, our second–the first was in 2017, for the What I Speak I Create tour–this time was with the covers EP under our belts and the desire to try new things live, where it feels more electric. Let’s see, we stole a tambourine…I don’t think I can talk about that…


Chain D.L.K.: What other plans do you have for the rest of the year and next year? A full-length release, perhaps?

Russ: The rest of this year is writing, performing, writing, performing, rinse and repeat. Ultimately I think we’d like to get something that’s cohesive together for next year, then tour en force behind it.


Chain D.L.K.: Many many years down the road, a very distant relative locates a box in the attic of an old home.  In that box, they locate some of your recordings and something to play them on. What would you like this person to know about your legacy simply from listening to your music?

Russ: That this band was more than the sum of its parts. We scoop a lot of genres into our bands, then smear them on the wall, and what comes out is uniquely this sound.

Laura: That this is best friend music and that idea is massive.


visit A Place Both Wonderful And Strange on the web at: