Dec 102017

Founded in 1988, The Cascades are a Gothic/Post Punk Rock band from Germany. Their style is old-school goth (think Sisters of Mercy) with a modern, artistic sensibility. Over the years they’ve gone through some personnel changes but the band now consists of M. W. Wild – vocals; Morientes de Silva – guitar; and Markus Muller – keyboards, with live and/or studio support from Tommy Dietweger – drums, and Esther Widmann – backing vocals. Recently after having reviewed M. W. Wild’s solo album – “The Third Decade”, and The Cascades’ retrospective double CD  “Diamonds & Rust” (with some new tracks as well), I felt this group needed to be explored in more depth, so I arranged an interview with M. W. Wild. Here is what we came up with:


Chain D.L.K.: Most Americans are unfamiliar with The Cascades; in fact, the only band some (oldies) may know by that name is the American pop group that had a hit in 1962 with “Rhythm of the Rain.” Could you tell us about your early history and how you came to be?

M. W. Wild: As I decided in 1988 to found a new Band out of my punk band “GODOT”, I searched for a band name. A friend told me about a cool shop in London/Carnaby St. named “The Cascades” with real water-cascades at the entrance. It sounded good and the thoughts of falling water and its power felt good in my head. So “The Cascades” were born. In 1988 was no internet of course and this made it impossible to search for double-names of bands or s.e.. A few months later somebody told me that this name was already in use by an oldie-band (now I am an oldie-band too, hehe) but I didn’t care about it, I still was very punk.


Chain D.L.K.: So, it seems as though 2017 has been a busy year for you and the band. First there was the release of your ‘Third Decade’ solo album in April, then The Cascades 2 CD compilation in November. What has prompted this surge of creativity, now?

M. W. Wild: At the end of 2015 I had been very close to death and I decided in the hospital that if I ever would be able again to sing and make music, to produce a new album. So I built my solo album between April and November 2016. After I got so many fantastic reviews about my album, I took the phone and called Morientes, asking him about releasing a BEST Of album. And we did it, just with the difference that we made “Diamonds and Rust”.

I always was creative, that’s me, but now I have the chance to live it, because I am settled and know what I want to do, – producing music. And when I look in the ideas folder in our cloud, I know that the other guys in the band feel the same.


Chain D.L.K.: After such a long hiatus, it appears as though you and the band are getting back together again. So why did you leave in 2006? What prompted the reunion?

M. W. Wild: I lost the fun, had no money and was an alcohol destroying machine during this time. I was very disappointed about how things happened and handled by people around the band (not the band itself). The conclusion was to stop my work with The Cascades from one day to another. It was a heavy decision because I hurt many people and lost all my friends during this time, but without the stopping I would not write now, I would have died.

The reunion itself always was in my head. I always felt as “Cade” during these years. I think ”The Third Decade” is very responsible for our Reunion, because the band could see that my voice is still working and for me it was my way back to life. Together we discovered the fun again in making music.


Chain D.L.K.: The Cascades were formed in 1988. Some of your early music is on the experimental side and for a time it sounded like you were still trying to find your identity. What was the vision you had for the band then, and what is the vision you have for the band now?

M. W. Wild: In the early days we had the vision of being rock stars, having girls, drinks and money. We got girls, we got beer, but no money. Now we have money, are married and don’t drink any alcohol. The vision is the still the same: Let us make some fucking cool music.


Chain D.L.K.: Will there be a new Cascades album next year? Will the music lean more towards classic gothic guitar-powered rock, or will there be much other elements incorporated (electro, neoclassical, world, etc.) ?

M. W. Wild: Yes indeed, in 2018 there will be a new Album with new songs. There will be an EP in February with five new songs, another EP in June with five new songs and finally a complete new physical CD in October with more new songs. As we always did, we don’t plan a particular style or something. We always did music out of our inner selves, so what will be will be. Everybody in the band has a bit different style and influences. We put them together and decide the “taste” of the song together. But we always trust in rock’n’roll and in the power of real played drums and guitars.


Chain D.L.K.: I presume you will be playing live and perhaps touring to promote your recent releases. If so where? Any plans to come to the U.S.?

M. W. Wild: If you can make it possible, yes please! It is difficult to plan a tour through the US, nobody knows us, the costs would be immense. Maybe we are lucky and Esther will be famous in Canada. – Then we will support her shows and come over.


Chain D.L.K.: Most of your songs are in English, although there are some in your native German. Was this a conscious decision to reach a wider than regional audience, or do you just prefer songwriting with English lyrics? (Following up that) Your new song, “Wenn Der Regen Kommt” is in German. Do you think you’ll be writing more in your native language?

M. W. Wild: For me it is much easier to sing in English, even though my English is not the best and I am always mixing up British with American (sorry). The reason for this is that English sounds better and I can describe a situation in English in three words – in German I need three sentences. It depends on the song – the feeling it gives to me – a song with a cold, depressing feeling like ”Wenn Der Regen Kommt” sounds sometimes better in German than in English.

I never thought about to reach a wider regional audience, Germany would be big enough to get famous. But times of dreaming are gone. I see it very realistic: The Cascades and even my solo thing is our form of art, with nearly no intention to mainstream. If it would, ok, but no need.


Chain D.L.K.: In what ways do you think the gothic music scene has changed since 1988, in Germany, and elsewhere?

M. W. Wild: I really don´t know what the gothic music scene really is because there are so many influences and styles in there. About the people I can hardly say something. I live now in a small village in the west of Germany, and here there is no scene. In 1988 we wore black leather pants, black western boots, and black leather jackets (we still do). Now I see many “cleaned up catalog goths”, sometimes remembering me in Carnival in Cologne. I always try to answer this question with the sentence that we make Goth Rock Music, but the main word is still Rock. I think I am too old-school to judge about the goth scene. For most of them I could be their father. We do our thing, our style; don’t care about any hips and charts.


Chain D.L.K.: I can easily pick out a dozen influences in your music, but who would you say your greatest influences/inspirations are (including any that aren’t necessarily music artists)?

M. W. Wild: Jim Morrison, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Nick Cave, AC /DC, Iron Maiden, Berlin, Australia, and my short but very intensive meeting with death.


Chain D.L.K.: Although you began in 1988, you didn’t put out your first album until 2001. Why did it take so long?

M. W. Wild: We were born in Straubing. Straubing is small town in the south/east of Germany. We did our thing in our small universe. That means we played a lot of shows in Bavaria. We had a great standing there, – selling our self-made demos, even earned some money back in 1998 when we had the idea to rock the world. So we tried to get a record deal and worked very intensely for this. Me and Morientes traveled from one record company to another with our demo in the bag. And finally, after a long trip through Germany with many frustrating moments we got one, – but the first album took its time until 2001 because the record company in Berlin had some trouble with the release or something else.


Chain D.L.K.: Esther Widmann’s backup vocals add a nice dimension to your new songs. Will The Cascades continue to use more female backing vocals to the music in the future?

M. W. Wild: Esther’s voice is phenomenal and we would like to keep her in our songs. But it is a little bit difficult, because she lives in Canada and she has her own career as a musician. If you listen to the songs on the “Rust” CD you will hear her too (recordings from 1998 – she was about 15 years old).


Chain D.L.K.: One of the best tracks off of ‘Diamonds & Rust’ (originally from your first album ‘Nine66’) is “Handful of Fear.” Tell us the story behind that song.

M. W. Wild: Ok, if you think so. “Handful Of Fear” describes my decision to leave Straubing, my wife and my son. In 1999 I decided to live, work and love in Berlin. This time was not easy and there was a lot of fear and tears. Everything was new for me. This big town, and all my friends were over 600 km far away. The fear of future, the trouble with myself, my new love, my old love… that’s the reason for Handful of Fear.


Chain D.L.K.: What is the one thing you would like to tell Americans at this point in time?

M. W. Wild: Maybe the same as many people do – fight against nazi assholes and please vote a president and not a comic figure! It is already dark all over Europe, and be careful, the candles are nearly down in America!


Chain D.L.K.: Thank you so much for your time and we all look forward to hearing more from The Cascades in the near future!

visit the artist on the web at:

Nov 132017


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


Chain D.L.K.: Hi, James! How are you?

Xordox: I am fine, thanks for asking.


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

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


courtesy of Tina Schula

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Neospection - cover artwork

Xordox ‘Neospection’ cover artwork

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


visit JG Thirlwell on the web at:

Nov 132017



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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Unearth - cover artwork

Unearth – cover artwork

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

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


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

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


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

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


Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

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


visit Tony Buck on the web at:

Oct 182017



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


Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Marc! How are you?

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Despairer - cover artwork

Despairer – cover artwork

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

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


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

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


Deface - cover artwork

Deface – cover artwork

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


As If We Were Never Here - cover artwork

As If We Were Never Here – cover artwork

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

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


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

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


visit Marc Kate on the web at:

Sep 292017



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


Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Paul! How are you?

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Paul Dolden - courtesy of David Strong

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Paul Dolden - courtesy of David Strong

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Paul Dolden: The previous answer covers my main concerns.


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

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

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


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

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


Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

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


check Paul Dolden biography on the web here: