We had an interesting chat with Thomas Weber, one of the heads and souls behind Kammerflimmer Kollektief, about the history of their excellent sound, as well as their brand new album “Desarroi“, which was recently released on Staubgold. Enjoy!
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Thomas…! First of all, how are you?
Thomas Weber: I’m fine. Day is done, I’m drinking a Negroni and the dogs are ready for a walk! Hope life is good to you, too!
Chain D.L.K.: It’s really a great honor to speak with the mind behind one of the best ensemble of music makers of our time…and I’m pretty sure that all those listeners who follow Kammerflimmer know my opinion is not so exaggerated! Well, let’s be polite…could you speak a bit about your musical background…?
Thomas Weber: I really do have no musical background; that means I do listen to all kinds of music the whole day; from dawn ‘til dusk. Today I’m listening to the great new Bob Dylan record, made with the fabulous Donnie Herron on pedal steel guitar, “What Comes After The Blues” from the late great Jason Molina (or rather The Magnolia Electric Co) and an “Oliv” by the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, beautiful music with Maggie Nicols & Derek Bailey..
At the moment (it is snowing outside!) I am listening to a “Veedon Fleece”, Van Morrsions 1974 “stream of consciousness“’s masterpiece. There is a spooky and wonderful connection between “Linden Arden Stole The Highlights”, that ends with the lines “He said ‘Sometime it may get lonely’, now he’s living with a gun“ and the following song “Who Was The Masked Man”, that opens with “Oh, ain’t it lonely, when you’re living with a gun.“ The Ipod Shuffle wasn’t invented for that kind of music. He had a gun! Boom!
Another record I listen to a lot is: John Cale – Sabotage; one of Cale’s greatest achievements. Really far out! The band (feat. Deerfrance and no-wave-bass-crack George Scott) is in top form. Exquisite mayhem!
Chain D.L.K.: …and how was Kammerflimmer born?
Thomas Weber: It all began in a bright storage room of the Upper-Rhenish poet’s museum in Karlsruhe in the mid-nineties: With old-school equipment and an overdose of FMP & Wu-Tang, the first sketches of what would later be released under the nom-de-guerre “Kammerflimmer Kollektief” were conceived. I felt like a group of one. The resource, as well as the raw material, was my record collection; the result appeared in 1999 under the title Mäander on the Weilheim-based payola-label. A simulation of jazz with pop appeal (melodies!).
At first, a live realization seemed unthinkable. As it happened, the people necessary for such an undertaking gravitated towards the Kollektief in a very short time and without having been summoned.
The tracks of the first album were the point of departure for our joint excursion; the result was a concert tour and a huge and wild chaos, which in turn was documented at the Uphon Studio in Weilheim and released on a CD.
I cannot remember at all how the letter monster (that is Kammerflimmer Kollektief) crossed my mind!
Must be a bad dream! Haha!
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve noticed you often used female figures in cover artwork and there are also many references to womanhood, aren’t there? If so, does it refer to a sort of fascination for the female mind or aesthetics?
Thomas Weber: Maybe that’s the influence of Cosey Fanni Tutti or even Kim Fowley (RIP). “In the ruined palace of the countess and at her pond, in the grove of her cats and in her tousled parks there were more important things than the coming war. The good life.“
I cannot explain that at all. The artistic works of Heike Aumüller (have a look here: www.heikeaumueller.com) time and again refuse to play off beauty against outlandishness. They seem to be apparitions in analysis-resistant scenes from everyday life, or presentations of artifacts from alien habitats and hidden cultural contexts, that are captured by chance with a camera.
Chain D.L.K.: One of the most impressive aspect of your ensemble is the fact that you manage to enhance your sound even when you persuade listeners that, in the previous album, you already reached or barely touched upon perfection, at least…what’s perfection in music in your own words?
Thomas Weber: Thanks for the roses. Ah! I feel like an accident! I don’t know if I could reach for the sky and call one of our albums perfect. I think they are more like snapshots of some specific time and place. We are not reaching for perfection. We need the imperfect in order not to fall into the barbarism of perfection. Lots of great imperfect records (therefore somehow perfect for me!) saved my life!
Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever noticed mistakes when you re-listen to your previous releases?
Thomas Weber: Lots of. Fehler is king! Usually I hear all the mistakes at the final mastering session @ Dubplates & Mastering. Haha! But I try not to listen to the old stuff. There is so much to listen out there; I don’t have the time to listen to my own music over and over.
Jim Dickinson has another saying that goes something like this: The best songs don’t get recorded, the best recordings don’t get released, and the best releases don’t get played. It’s the antithesis to corporate music mentality
Chain D.L.K.: Some reviewers often label your releases as esoteric…do you agree with them?
Thomas Weber: Esoteric? Nope! Clandestine? Maybe! Our music has lots of subterranean connections and is hopefully able to depict various emotions in a coherent language, sometimes very dark emotions, for instance: repulsion, grief, depression or feeling nothingness, etc., but also happiness, ecstasy, etc.
Some things we know, some things we don’t! The comprehensible things are holy. Only tonight you can feel eternity. As Frederic Rzewski proclaimed in 1968: “We are all musicians.’ We are all creators.’ Music is a creative process in which we can all share, and the closer we can come to each other in this process, abandoning esoteric categories and professional elitism, the closer we can all come to the ancient idea of music as a universal language.”
Chain D.L.K.: Other reviewers wrote that “Teufelskamin” was a sort of first step towards pop music…which kind of words would you expect from the former and the latter type of reviewers?
Thomas Weber: Appreciate that, if reviewers call our music pop music.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you introduce the creation process of “Desarroi” to our viewers, using your own words?
Thomas Weber: We know what we are doing and we are able to analyze that and talk about it. But sometimes is it not that complicated. We play, and we have nothing to fear! Fear is death!
“Desarroi” is under the influence of all kinds of Psychedelic things, if the term “Psychedelic” is a free thinking, hybrid + intuitive meander between improv’ and loop-based forms on the one hand, and a dissolving song form, on the other hand. Mind-altering between precision and freedom, but without escapism!
Chain D.L.K.:You included a cover version of “Zurück zum Beton” by S.Y.P.H….why was that?
Thomas Weber: S.Y.P.H. is – besides stuff like Palais Schaumburg, DAF, Knusperkeks, Cocoon & the 39 Clocks – to me one of the formative German bands of the 80s. Their second (PST!) & third (sftd.) LPs are great early visions of Post Rock or late revenants of the CAN-style hypno-boogie. Holger Czukay produced them and you’ll hear field recordings and abstract sounds galore! Mesmerizing!
My man Bernd Schoch, film maker & seer, had originally the idea to cover „Zurück zum Beton“. In a yet unreleased, psychedelic movie about the Black Forest, the song has a small, but nice appearance.
Everything else happened like a lucid day dream at one of our Black Forest retreats. Wood, books, trees, rye, whiskey & music, north of the Kaiserstuhl, not east of the river Rhine. Have a look at the video:
Chain D.L.K.: It seems that you focused more on electroacoustic influences in this record… did you include modified or prepared instruments in your line-up?
Thomas Weber: Yep, we used a lot of different microphones to record the instruments, some for the close-miked stuff and some for ambience and room sound in order to get all the sound from the instruments, not only the classical pristine tone, but also the creaking, squeaking, grinding & breathing. Furthermore, we worked a lot with prepared instruments and extended techniques.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the reason why many people like Kammerflimmer Kollektief, in your opinion?
Thomas Weber: Fortunately, I don’t have the slightest idea!
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the right place of music in human existence, in your opinion? Do you have any “mystical” representation of music?
Thomas Weber: A man’s moral conscience is the curse he has to accept from the gods, in order to gain the right to dream from them. On the other side: Music is the absolute art of time. Music does not want to be nowhere and never, but here & now.
Chain D.L.K.: I hope you are going to bring “Desarroi” on live stage…any anticipation?
Thomas Weber: There are already some shows planned in Germany (Berlin, Hamburg, Freiburg), Belgium, Japan, and Poland. And finally, it looks like even our Italy premiere is going to happen.
Chain D.L.K.: Besides music, what’s the element that manages to cement the Kollektief?
Thomas Weber: Madness! Dark & stormy! Possibly (half-) naked women! Just kiddin’! Anyway: We are rooted, but we flow! Thanks for your attention!
Visit Kammerflimmer Kollektief online at: www.kammerflimmer.com