On the one side the Belgian sound artist Yannick Franck, a dynamic producer whose music, focusing on the treatment of voices, radio signals and field recordings, has often been described as a trance-inducing, member of the electroacoustic-noise improvisation project Y.E.R.M.O. and former collaborator of Pietro Ripalbelli/K11, Alan Trench, Esther Venrooy and Phil Maggi among other. On the other side, Raleigh-based guitar player and electroacoustic musician Craig Hilton, with a passion for guzheng (Chinese zither) and interactive sets between live electronics and live acoustic. They combined their respective sonic arts on “Flowers For L.P.”, an album inspired by French poet Jacques Rigaut, one of the most mysterious poets in French literature, whose disregard towards life and refusal to take anything seriously aroused an irresistible attraction to suicide, that he committed in 1929 by shooting a bullet in his carefully dot marked forehead. The ironic smile of the poet together with his surreal and dark journeys live again on this collaborative release, which comes out on Idiosyncratics label. We had a chat about it with the authors.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Yannick. Hi Craig. First of all, how are you?
Craig Hilton: Doing quite well Vito thanks.
Yannick Franck: I spent the night making music in my studio and finally fell asleep on my “way too small to sleep on” couch, so the back hurts a bit but pretty much everything else is fine.
Chain D.L.K.: Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Craig Hilton: I am Craig Hilton a guitarist/composer living in the United States.
Yannick Franck: My name is Yannick Franck, I’m a Belgian musician and music-sound art-noise promoter.
Chain D.L.K.: Your artistic and musical roads already intersected in the past. What are the main affinities and divergences of your artistic and compositional “vision”?
Craig Hilton: Well, our ” vision ” started many years ago with a collaboration entitled “A-Matra “. It was the first time I was able to get an idea of where his auditory mind was going when he sent the initial field recordings to me. I had so many ideas from just the raw materials. A lot of times it may take a while to get the process started… At least with someone else’s sounds. But, in these situations we were both coming from a very progressive belief in contributing to the catalog of great musicians in the electro-acoustic field and modern music in general.
Yannick Franck: I don’t think Craig and I have fundamental differences as musicians. Maybe our backgrounds are different, I come from visual arts, and the practice of layering paint on canvasses naturally became a practice of layering sounds in the air, captivated by the possibility of dealing with something invisible I then became a musician. I believe Craig has always been a musician per se.
Chain D.L.K.: Your last release “Flowers for L.P.” has been inspired by French poet Jacques Rigaut: how did you dig into his stuff? Is there anything of Rigaut’s aesthetics and life that has been misunderstood and that you tried to convey in your release?
Craig Hilton: I was quite familiar with Rigaut from years ago when I was also reading quite a bit about Jacques Vaché. These were both people overshadowed by Tzara, Breton etc. Out of that group, Rigaut always stood out as quite possibly the most “pure” of the Dada group, with a sort of dark recklessness towards his personal existence. This obviously opened up many avenues for his mind without moral or well-worn restrictions. The work we produced definitely has quite a similar structure. His influence is felt for sure…
Yannick Franck: Absolutely. I believe “Flowers For L.P.” is like a flow of sounds, moving with pretty much no boundaries at all, in a way the album is an anti composition, as Rigaut’s novels were anti novels, both works result of the same nonchalant attitude, and paradoxically display a very dark vibe. In the meanwhile both still have some weird kind of narrative quality.
Chain D.L.K.: Are there any of Rigaut’s lines you mused on for a long time?
Yannick Franck: My favorite was always “Try, if you can , to arrest a man who travels with suicide in his buttonhole”. I don’t think I’ve ever read this as an excuse for suicide as much as the freedom he would allow himself. Not much you can do after that statement… which explains the choice of Rigaut for the direction of this piece.
Craig Hilton: Mine figures on the back side of the jacket: “Le jour se lève, ça vous apprendra”, I won’t risk a translation of this one, sorry. But there are so many fabulous lines in Rigaut’s albeit small body of work, such as: “Don’t forget that I cannot see myself, that my role is limited to being the one who looks in the mirror”.
Chain D.L.K.:Let’s speak about technical aspects of your long-lasting suite. Behind the somehow otherworldly coils, there’s a plodding making on spatial aspect of your sound… how did you recorded it?
Craig Hilton: The work was meticulous as far as I was concerned…
Yannick Franck: The recording was a very hard and painful process, whereas the outline went like a charm. The music seemed to take a pleasant, well articulated shape all by itself.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you performed it on live stage yet?
Craig Hilton: We have not…
Yannick Franck: …and I don’t think we’ll ever do it… “Flowers For L.P.” is impossible to reproduce.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you used any electro-acoustic devices?
Craig Hilton: Plenty…
Yannick Franck: Pretty much every electro-acoustic device on the market played a (even minor) role in the composition process.
Chain D.L.K.: Even if “Flowers for L.P.” sounds like a continuum, would you divide it into different parts?
Craig Hilton: I would not , Yannick might. It is continuous in my mind.
Yannick Franck: Same here, continuous. The album has to be listened as a whole.
Chain D.L.K.: Many authors spoke or speculated on suicide. I could mention Novalis, Cioran, Hume and many more. What are the elements of differentiation in Rigaut besides his own suicide?
Craig Hilton: I don’t think Rigaut really put it any higher on a pedestal than it needed to be. He speaks about it a lot, but to me… I feel it was just another part of his place.
Yannick Franck: I believe suicide was Rigaut’s way of life. It is not due to a desperate, romantic reaction to a failure. Rigaut just never belonged to the world, I think he didn’t have much esteem for society or any kind of human business. He didn’t really feel “involved” in life, and at some point he decided not to take part in it at all anymore.
Chain D.L.K.: “Flowers for L.P.” sounds diaphanous and foggy at the same time. Were you thinking about Rigaut’s assertion about that transparency which was opposite to clarity, that nakedness which doesn’t let you see anything?
Craig Hilton: Hmmm, I don’t think so. It can be quite dangerous to really put too much emphasis on the written word and the piece we came up with. We just knew Rigaut was there at the inception…
Yannick Franck: There is indeed no particular “concept” in this “concept album”! “Flowers For L.P.” is simply a soundtrack for Rigaut’s double, Lord Patchogue. We didn’t attempt to make any point in particular if not giving what we felt right to give in this context.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you think there will be a sequel to “Flowers for L.P.”?
Craig Hilton: I’m sure there will be more collaborations between the two of us, but I doubt we would want to continue with Rigaut.
Yannick Franck: Yes. It wouldn’t feel right to do it again.
Chain D.L.K.: Any other works in progress?
Craig Hilton: Plenty at this point, most are not strictly electroacoustic… mainly writing a new album with Loincloth and Gauchiste, a project that will allow me to perform some of my soundtrack works and hopefully a solo guitar album this fall.
Yannick Franck: Plenty as well! A new project called Orphan Swords, a collaboration with Pietro Riparbelli, and many releases on my label Idiosyncratics.net, including a new album by Charlemagne Palestine, a new opus that he recorded for us with a choir of puppets, I’m really, really thrilled!!
visit Yannick Franck on the web at: www.yannickfranck.com