interviews

Laurent Jeanneau’s Ethnic Discrepancies

Foreword :

Laurent Jeanneau aka Kink Gong is a Frenchman based in Yunnan, southern China, where he specializes in documenting and recording ethnic minority music. He also composes experimental music based around his enumerable field recordings. After contributing with recordings for labels such as Sublime Frequencies and a mind-blowing Ghulja mix for Touch Records, Laurent treats us with a fantastic soundcape journey through the heart of Yunnan.


Laurent Jeanneau – Soundscape Yunnan – Ghulja
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“On this special Yunnan mix, the acoustic recordings are on the foreground, without too much electronics. However, it’s still a mix, so even if you are listening to some pure beautiful women voices, chances are that it’s already been overdubbed and mixed. You might be listening to 3 voices at the same time, in perfect harmony, although in reality, the voices would be coming from three different villages in the Yunnan province, where they were recorded and then mixed at home for your listening pleasure. Most of the recordings come from ZHANG XING RONG – a music teacher in Kunming, the authority on Yunnan ethnic matters, as well as tracks from the KINK GONG ethnic recordings catalogue.”

Laurent Jeanneau 2010

From the moment Laurent Jeanneau’s collage work reached my susceptible ears a couple of years back on the Touch Records podcast series that my attitude to traditional ‘world’ music was to be changed forever. His soundscape approach to so-called ‘world’ music emitted something so unique and captivating that I couldn’t stop myself going back to it for months to come.

Laurent Jeanneau – Touch Radio 44 (from Touch Records Radio) (right click + save as)

By taking the listener to unknown remote regions of our planet and mixing it with contemporary electronic sounds, Laurent’s work as a collage artist becomes highly engaging, presenting an old world, an unknown world, and a place so far away from our cultural references that one has difficulty describing the sounds that they hear. Repeated listens only re-enforced the deep hypnotic vibes that, in my opinion, are unequalled in the so-called genre of ‘globe trotting psychedelia’.

By googling his name, I quickly found out that besides his work as a DJ and occasional contributions to Sublime Frequencies compilations, most of his free time is spent recording Ethnic minorities in South Asia- with remote villages of China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos being the main focus of his work. Once back to his base in Yunnan, South China, Laurent meticulously compiles the recordings into several CD’s to be eventually released by his own label, Kink Gong Records. From recordings of religious ceremonies, gong rituals and compilations of loops coming from Buddha Machines, Laurent Jeanneau’s work represents unique records of the most remote people and tribes of our planet.

A lot can be learned about a culture by the way it sounds. Languages, instruments, melodies, all become indelibly part of our lives, whether we notice it or not, they shape our past, present and future. For this reason, Laurent’s work should be considered as a testament of highly cultural and historical importance. Some of the sounds and instruments recorded are often played by a very small and segregated group of people. Its unique approach and insight into these esoteric sounds is up there with works such Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music or Alan Lomax‘s ethnological studies. In other words, if governments have any interest in keeping records of their own cultures they should be sponsoring individuals like Laurent Jeanneau. Our planet is way too rich to be neglected.

DISCREPANT: How long have you been recording Ethnic Minorities and how did you come to it?

LAURENT JEANNEAU: It s been a long process, I only came to be active in the field in my 30ies and became a professional at it in my 40s, but I’ve taken interest in real world music in early 80s as a teenager, then started to travel to far away places in 1990, then did my first recordings in India in 96/97 mostly in Chennai, former Madras, with the exclusive purpose of remixing it my way, destroying the rigid musical Indian rules. The performers were horrified by the result and it never got anywhere. Then in 99/2000 in Tanzania a double CD of the Hadzas bushmen got released on French label ‘Musiques du Monde’. I eventually moved to Cambodia, and never stopped since, going through a lot of music in Cambodia , Laos, Vietnam and China.

DSCR: Do you see your role as a field recording/documentarian, keeping other people records to posterity, or more of a musician?

LJ: I guess those recordings, now 86 CDs will go through posterity, but let me remind you that the very first and essential impulse is not to pretend to do that work for preserving, but rather for the discovery of an incredible diversity of structures and textures in those unknown music fields that are fast disappearing. That to me has connexions to all kinds of different music created in western contemporary culture, like the first abstract painters of early 20th century had been influenced by African art like pygmies drawings as an example. It’s about giving a different aesthetic codification of music a chance to be heard, and in the first place influence me, for my ongoing process of being fed with new things.

DSCR: Name a few of your favourite places/people you’ve recorded over the years and why?

LJ: In north east Cambodia and southern Laos I became the specialist of gong ensembles, orchestras of tuned metallic percussions, hardly nothing has been done in terms of recordings, the Unesco can claim to add this musical culture as one of the master pieces of intangible patrimony to their list,but they do nothing at all to preserve it. Most gongs ensembles are a socio-musical interaction, one gong of different size per person, including nipple gongs, flat gongs, a pair of thick flat gong hit with long mallets, a single one hit by one fist, 3 or 5 nipple gong orchestra, 5 nipple gong + 3, 5 or 8 flat gongs, up to 13 gongs, hit different ways (fist, mallets, green wood) different techniques, different tunes, and different occasions totalize a great diversity of gong playing. Otherwise 2 other major musical expressions attract me very much, the various vocal polyphonies, the Hani of Southern Yunnan in China are an outstanding example,  and different mouth organs that I’ve recorded in Northern Vietnam, Northern Laos and Southern China.

DSCR: How difficult it is to locate and approach the different musicians all over the World?

LJ: Every recording has a different story, according to the country’s loose or rigid access, my ability to communicate, the time I spend there, who I’m working with, and lots of other parameters, but usually I know what community I’m targeting, so I get informations from locals mostly and read all kind of semi-anthropological content about it if they exist. Ask me one specific example out the 86 CDs and I’ll tell how I met them.

DSCR: Your work seems to be mostly based in South Asia with some spells in Africa? Have you got projects to record in other continents?

LJ: No, I just wish to continue in the same area, would be nice to extend further south west in Myanmar and more Eastern parts of India and Northern Bangladesh to find about non-Buddhist, non-Muslims and non-Hindus.

DSCR: Finally, are there any places/people you must record before it’s too late?

LJ: Different ideas, one is based on 2 unfruitful meetings with a French anthropologist in Northern Laos- I missed him in June last year and met him in Oudomxai, North Laos last November when he just got Dengue fever, so he could not move from bed. However, we’re supposed to get together again to finally reach villages of the small uncategorized ethnic groups of Phongsaly in North Laos. Basically there are 4 big ethno-linguistic families in South east Asia, in the north  (Southern China, Laos, Myanmar, North Vietnam, North Thailand)  the Tibetan-Burmese, the Tai, Thai Kadai, the Hmong- Mien (Southern China, Laos, North Thailand, North Vietnam) and the Mon ( Cambodia, Laos, Central Vietnam, Myanmar, India), so some guys are still not belonging to any category, not that I care, those classifications are actually meaningless to me, but it’s just the idea that those outsiders from the 4 categories are found in one area where those 4 ethnic categories all live: Phongsaly. That’s pretty unique! And like I’ve mentioned above, I wish to go to the very northern part of Myanmar, where there’s absolutely no information available but it’s a dangerous country home of all kind of ethnic military oppositions and drug mafias, not to forget a terrible military dictature that’s not going to allow me to hang with minorities. At the moment going there would mean to limit myself to Buddhist temples further south…

For more on Laurent’s work and label go to King Gong Records.
For Laurent’s Discrepant transmission click here.
Check the Xinjiang LP on Discrepant’s releases page.
All pictures (except first one) owned by China Life Magazine.

Andy Moor + DJ/rupture

The refreshing and generous Andy Moor sent this transcription of a transversal discussion he had with Jace Clayton, aka DJ/rupture, conversing about possible meanings for the expression “post-colonial culture”, the uncertain substance of rastafarianism or what DJ tools you should use or not…
Music always meets politics.

First step, you should play DJ/rupture famous “Gold Teeth Thief” mix from 2001 (check full infos and tracklist here).Then move to this enlightening interview.

DJ/rupture – Gold Teeth Thief Part A (right click + save as)

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DJ/rupture – Gold Teeth Thief Part B (right click + save as)

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Jace in the subway, Brooklyn

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Perennial Records Interview By Dean Spunt

This is an interview with Hayes who runs Perennial Records from Olympia Washington. They put out great records from the scene up there. I wanted to see how it was run, how the collective consciousness in OLY was going, and just catch up with a friend. Enjoy.

Perennial MP3s selected by Jub of the french punk printed zine Freak Out!

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Alec of Aagoo records talks with Jesse of Swill Children

When I feel like giving up on life, I think of a handful of people and Jesse Hlebo of Swill Children is one of them. Jesse takes the hard road, never cuts corners, and sees things through to the end every time. This and his massive talent as an artist and designer keep me collecting all his releases. Swill Children is an independent record label/book publishing company from Brooklyn NY that has released music by Lucky Dragons, Guardian Alien, W-H-I-T-E, Nü Sensae and Okie Dokie among others. They’ve also published books by Grant Willing, Bryan Kruger, Ryan Foerster and Taraka Larson. All the books and Vinyl are printed in house  on a Risograph (high-speed digital printing system).

1. Some music released on Swill Children:

Lucky Dragons – Existers (Matthew David remix) (right click/save as)

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Nü Sensae – New Lies (right click/save as)

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Guardian Alien – EP track1 (right click/save as)

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Okie Dokie – UV DUST (right click/save as)

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W-H-I-T-E – Fountain (Lucky Dragons-remix) (right click/save as)

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White Fold – End of Now (right click/save as)

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2. Pdf version of the first book published by Swill Children: Jesse Hlebo & Hannah Racecar – I Tried To Take A Picture Of The Moon Because It Was So Big or The Math Drinkers (right click/save as)

Jesse Hlebo and Hannah Racecar collaborated on a zine in which they took pictures and wrote poems once a day for six days, leaving up to chance the content that was to be produced. The result is a brief glimpse at lives full of frustration and loneliness.

3. Go spend some valuable time on Swill Children’s website.

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The swill children projects suggest a narrative but there not linked together are they? How far ahead do you plan?Do you have an arc in mind for Swill Children?

There is an arc for Swill Children but it’s more spontaneous than engineered for a particular future. I never know what will happen next month or next year. I try and respond to what came before and keep moving forward.
Each release references sorrow or jubilance in a manner that converses with the last. I sort of viewed this last batch of releases as a unit, though they are very distinct from one another. I haven’t done that before.

Can you tell me a bit about your relationship with NYC?

I’ve never been to a place that was as inclusive as NYC. The time in which it took me to get involved with the music scene was not only quicker than any other place I’d lived, but was far more passionate and heartfelt.
It’s the first place I’ve lived for more than a year since I was 17 but has yet to become dull in any way. Not that things are ‘comfortable’, things just fit.
I don’t know if I could live anywhere else.

Who is Jesse Hlebo?

I spend a large part of my day trying to figure out this question. I’m not sure if I’ll ever know.

On your website you have the Sopa Petition pop up. What’s the deal?

SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act) is an act that the USA government has been attempting to pass that would, in short, introduce a very highly controlled haze over the internet that doesn’t currently exist on such a massive scale. It is an outright attempt at censorship and authoritarian control. I’m really glad the internet has continued to be as ‘wild-west’ as it has for so long and think it should stay free for as long as possible.

What images do you come back to again and again?

Maurice Ronet looking into a mirror before committing suicide in The Fire Within, directed by Louis Malle. The fire and crickets scene from Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. Gordan Matta-Clark’s documentation of Splitting: Four Corners. The elephant-trampling scene in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. Tauba Auerbach‘s Static photographs of television static. The first time I saw Richard Tuttle‘s work at MoCA in Los Angeles. Fireworks exploding in a panorama around me while laying on my roof in Brooklyn. Childhood best friend rolling over a brick and cutting open leg, blood seeping through his pants and dripping on ground while running. Skateboarding in Union Station in Los Angeles while drunk, falling on my face, bleeding everywhere, and peeing in a urinal while blood dripped into the water. And running on gravel between trains in Klamath Falls at 4am while being chased by a railroad officer.

What projects are coming up?

Paperweight -a primarily online-based organization dedicated to furthering a dialogue on independent publishing- is about to launch on Thursday the 12th of July. We’re participating in Brooklyn Shelf Life, a year long project with a total of 48 publications. New releases in the coming months from _ Quarterly, Andrew Laumann + Jesse Hlebo, Peter Sutherland.  We’re participating in Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair at the end of September as well as the Sculpture Center block party at the beginning of September.

An Interview With Jason Meagher, NATCH : A Series Of Collaborative Recordings From Black Dirt Studio

Basically, Jason Meagher of Black Dirt Studio is doing it right.  A fellow fighter against the evils of pale pop music.  He’s a sympathetic audio engineer by all accounts and it seems to me his time with No Neck Blues Band provides a unique window into the world of free-form improvisation.  

Meagher’s track record is admirable.  He’s made records for the Black Twig Pickers, Blues Control, Charalambides, Eleven Twenty-Nine, Expo 70, GHQ, Steve Gunn / John Truscinski, D. Charles Speer & the Helix, Stellar OM Source.  

He’s playing with Pat Murano as K-Salvatore (their first gig in a decade or so) as part of the Spy Music Festival at Death By Audio on Friday, July 6th.  

I got in touch with Jason to ask him questions about the fairly new and ongoing NATCH series.

Jason makes each NATCH session conducted at his studio available for free download on NATCH website. You can also stream and get them on Free Music Archive. Or even more simply, at the bottom of this post.

 

Play these while reading the interview :

Aaron Moore & Carter Thornton – Josef Ituk

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Dave Nuss, Rahdunes, Stellar Om Source & Aswara – Consolamentum

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Pat Murano & Tom Carter – Prophets And Martyrs Are My Witness

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Zachary Cale, Mighty Moon & Ethan Schmid – Trees Don’t Sleep

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Dave Shuford, Margot Bianca & Pigeons – Dickel’s Dream

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Black Twig Pickers & Steve Gunn – Sally In The Garden Sifting Sand

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What prompted the move upstate?

City living was something I’d done my whole life. My wife and I talked a lot over the years about moving up north and there were some circumstances that came about that allowed us to do that, so we did.

So the move wasn’t to start the studio. How did Black Dirt come about?

I’d been recording for years on a 4 track, but never with any real investment in it as a process. In the years leading up to the move I was involved in recording The Suntanama up at the Hint House on a Korg digital machine and I totally got the bug, bad. There would be weeknight sessions where everyone would split and I’d stay until the early morning hours, killing a bottle of rum, dicking around on the machine with little to no idea what I was doing, trying to make things sound good. There were mic sims on the machine that were named 57, 421, 87, etc and I had no idea what those numbers meant! Didn’t know the difference between an insert effect and a master effect… Of course, the great thing about recording is you can approach it from a very caveman perspective. What is this thing, what does it do if I put it here, move it here, turn this knob, etc. Eventually you get a feel for making things sound ok. And once you’re there, it is an easy jump to “I think I’ll start recording other people.” Which lead to Black Dirt. The timing was perfect. The bug had evolved to a full blown disease and there was nothing else I wanted to do than record music.

Black Dirt is situated in a rural area only 60 miles away from New York City.  Are you saying the shift in geography wasn’t intended to influence these potential recordings?

Well, it would be nice to say something like being in a rural area in a basement creates a vibe somewhere between Big Pink and Nellcôte, but I don’t think that is the case. From my perspective there’s not much of a difference between recording here and recording in a city, except there are less adult distractions in spitting distance. Most sessions start in the daylight and end deep into the nighttime darkness, there are few to no windows, not much fresh air in the lungs, etc. That’s kind of the same everywhere. I have heard from artists that being isolated is a great thing; that it is nice to get away from their lives, the routine, and focus on the music. For city dwellers I would imagine that seeing so many stars at night, or wild animals in the daytime, can be a nice feeling on a break, rather than a bodega or a delivery truck. That said, I have had people book time here based on the seasons – the strangling heat of August, the long nights of February, etc. Artists have utilized field recordings here as well – insects and frogs in summer, air pressure drops in late winter, rain, birds, etc.

I wanted to model the experience artists would have at Black Dirt on some of my own as a musician. One was to include a sense of hospitality that I learned from staying at Byron Coley‘s places in Western Mass over the years as a young man on tour. We built an apartment for the artists to stay in while they’re here and on long sessions (and even sometimes on weekend sessions, time permitting) we’ll cook a meal for the band, take a nice break, drink some wine, get away from the pressure for a few hours. The other was the laid back, not on the clock, homespun feeling I experienced recording at Paul Oldham’s Rove Studio in his farmhouse in KY and Jerry Yester’s place in AK. All of those places had a profound effect on me and so by virtue of transference, perhaps Black Dirt can have a similar effect on others, and perhaps wouldn’t have been possible in a city setting.

So, tell me what is NATCH all about.

NATCH is about recording people without focusing on the fact that people are being recorded. It is like an anti recording session. Get some talented people together, hang out, play some music. Music comes naturally. Without the concept of success or failure lurking in the corner of the room, if you give anyone an instrument, they’re going to make some noise on it. These sessions hopefully kinda get back to that feeling, even if the people coming here are really good players.

How did the series come about? How has it evolved after the initial release?

It got to the point here that when I wasn’t working, I wasn’t recording and I never started recording with the express idea that it would be a j-o-b type job. In the early days of the studio, Dave Nuss (NNCK, Sabbath Assembly, etc) would book these one off sessions where he’d get people together up here and just make music. He did one with the Family Underground that became the Christian Family Underground LP on Woodsist. Another with Jakob Olausson. One that became the band Amolvacy. The last one he did was with Rahdunes, Stellar Om Source and Aswara and nothing ever came of it. I had fond memories of the music they recorded and one night I decided to just start a mix and see what came of it. I was reminded of those sessions and how much fun they were. I was aware of the Daytrotter series and had recently been hipped to the Shaking Through series in Philly and it all just clicked. Why not set up some sessions that could be done fast, free and fun?

The first couple of sessions I booked were with people who had been to the studio before. Along with the artists, I had no idea what was going to happen at first. One thing that has changed is that I’ve begun inviting up artists who have never been here before, which has been amazing. Also, the sessions have begun to take on an internal rhythm – whether that is because there is a document of what has already happened, a watermark, and therefore a bit of an expectation on the artist’s part as to what they want to accomplish in the short time here, or if the walls are just vibrating a certain way when that energy of the first couple of hours of each session unfolds.

Collaboration is obviously a very important element to the series, could you elaborate as to why?

The main reason was to try and keep the sessions away from feeling like a demo process. If NATCH was a series of one artist or group coming up to do their thing, there’s a good chance it could become a testing ground for their next release. Or simply a promotional tool. With recording technology the way it is, what would distinguish a NATCH session from a recording done at home to a laptop or digital 2 track? By putting people together who have never played with each other before, the hope is to keep it in the moment, maybe find some middle ground between the artists that they might not go to on their own. There’s been a nice side effect of the series, in that some of the artists have continued to work with each other after their session.

What do you look for when pairing artists?

First and foremost, people who I hope will get along, socially and musically. I’m still waiting for the uncomfortable “clunker” session, but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet. Also, the artists should share some kind of intangible thing musically, an aesthetic, a particular nuance to the way they approach sound, where they are in their personal arc in their relationship to sound. And I’m thinking about the pairings like a sonic jigsaw puzzle – what instrumentation might work in a traditional way, or non-traditional way. Lately I’ve been inviting larger numbers of people to a single session with an ear towards a kind of one off band experience rather than a pairing of two single artists. We’ll see how those sessions turn out.

What kind of hang ups do you see when a band comes in to record with a record deal already in place?

Well, there’s an obvious focus on getting it right, for better or worse. You know, someone is paying for the time and the artists want to maximize it and make it perfect. “Are we nailing it?” “Does it sound as good as the demo / rehearsal / live show?” etc. That is all important, but there is a lot of amazing music to be found in the cracks between those questions as well as in happy accidents. Most contemporary budgets don’t allow for much experimentation in the studio. I’m not talking about writing, but trying a different approach from the one that has been hammered out in rehearsals. Another common situation is the “Come and get me when it’s my turn” scenario. During a session, it is impossible for everyone to be committed to focusing on every sound the entire time, but a lot of doors are closed when half the band thinks that they’re done with their contributions and partially check out for the remainder of a session.

I also do a large amount of artist funded projects, where the goal is to shop around the recording after it is done. That brings along a more intense dose of maximizing in a different way as well as the specter of “Will anyone be interested in producing this?” hanging out over the artist’s head the whole time.

What is your most prized piece of equipment at this point?

The default snarky engineer answer to this question is always, “My ears!” The piece of gear I love the most right now is actually something I have on semi-permanent loan from Jimy Seitang, an Alembic Superfilter. It has really changed the way I balance across the frequency spectrum over the last couple of years.

Is there a pinnacle collaboration for NATCH?  Any artist, any band (past or present), who would you choose?

How about Allen Toussaint and Leon Russell? Or Michael Hagerty and the Kinks? D Charles Speer & the Helix and Kaleidoscope? AMM and the Dead C? Fahey and Jack Rose… I would’ve retired after that one!

What’s in store for the future of Black Dirt?  Any specifics on tap?

Well my advice to anyone considering starting their own studio is, don’t do it! At least not alone. The biggest drawback of being isolated is the lack of community around the studio. It would be great to host listening parties, summer cookouts, NATCH style jams, etc, here, but it is just not feasible without a local scene. I’d love to be able to move out of the basement in the near future to have some more flexibility with mic placement and live off the floor recording, natural reverb and ambiance, as well as having some more space to incorporate a machine room to get some of the noisier gear out of the control room and bring in a 24 track tape machine. There seems to be a scene percolating on both sides of the river between Beacon & Hudson including Rosendale, Kingston, etc, so maybe a move a little northeast might be in the future. Any readers out there looking for a similar setup and a partner, get in touch!

There are some exciting NATCH sessions coming up including Dave Nuss and Michael Evans, Michael Chapman with Steve Gunn, Jimy Seitang, Nathan Bowles & Marc Orleans (tentatively calling themselves The Woodpiles), Ben Chasny & Hiss Golden Messenger, maybe something with Betsy Nichols, Dan Melchior, Jon Lam, and the Helix rhythm section – Ted Robinson & Steve McGuirl. I’ve been talking to some other folks as well, tho’ nothing is written in stone, they are equally exciting!

You now deserve to download :

Dave Nuss, Rahdunes, Stellar Om Source & Aswara – NATCH 0

Black Twig Pickers & Steve Gunn – NATCH 1

Dave Shuford, Margot Bianca & Pigeons – NATCH 2

Aaron Moore & Carter Thornton – NATCH 3

Pat Murano & Tom Carter – NATCH 4

Zachary Cale, Mighty Moon & Ethan Schmid – NATCH 5

Adam of Northern Spy, responsible for this stimulating interview, also gave us his label’s plans for 2012 :

“. In August, the first Diamond Terrifier (Sam Hillmer of Zs) full-length drops.

. In September, we’re dropping a box set.  It’s four discs of material compiling the complete sextet works by the band Zs.

. Also, we’re putting out a new record by Dan Melchior called ‘The Backward Path’ which features overdubs by C. Spencer Yeh, Ela Orleans, Sam Hillmer, and Haley Fohr (Circuit Des Yeux)

. October, we’ve got a recording by John Butcher made at the new Issue Project Room space (110 Livingston).  It’s a solo performance in the empty room.  

. And we’ve got the epic follow up to Infinite Ease / Good God.  The record is called COL and it completes the Colin L. Orchestra trilogy.  This is Colin Langenus’ band. Colin was in USA is a Monster.  Now, he’s got the Colin L. Orchestra, CSC Funk Band, and Alien Whale.

In November, we’re putting out a collaboration between the duo of Loren Connors & Suzanne Langille with the painter MP Landis.  This will be the first record by this duo in about 2 decades.  The record was made in one day, live in the studio, with no overdubs.  We projected paintings by MP Landis.  Suzanne and Loren were seeing them for the first time.  They played to the paintings.  This will be out on CD later in the year.  Two tracks from the session are getting pressed on a limited 7″ which will be available this week with original art by MP Landis.”

Learn more here.

Conversation with Pollen Trio

hellosQuare label head Shoeb Ahmad asks some questions to Evan Dorrian, member of Pollen Trio (drums, electronics)

 

 

When and how was pollen trio formed?

Pollen Trio had its beginnings in late 2007 when we were working under the name Austin Benjamin Trio. Austin, Chris and I were all at the Australian National University School of Music studying Jazz music and Austin put together the trio to play some of his compositions. From there we found ourselves playing together almost every day and hanging out, sharing music and ideas and trying to see where we could take the music. After releasing the album Amalagama we also played a lot live and began to take the compositions much further away from their original forms, improvising more freely and collectively and exploring ideas taken from the different sorts of music we were listening to, which in my case wasn’t Jazz at all. Slowly it became clear that we played more like a band with equal input rather than a trio playing one person’s compositions, and in fact I think it was Austin who suggested we should think of a name that was more suitable to what we had begun to do. Eventually we settled on Pollen Trio.

When named the austin benjamin trio, the music was definitely informed by a studied jazz songwriting approach. As a label, I recommended that the three of you allow your music to be reworked by other artists, leading to the release Unraveled, rewoven. Did this break with songwriting allow you guys to look beyond the songwriting square for the trio going forward or had this been something brewing at the back of your minds for some time?

The context of being at an institution mainly concerned with teaching a certain type of Jazz and technical facility was an important factor in what we did initially, although you’d have to ask Austin about that in terms of composition. But the desire to break this down somehow, and find a way to make and approach music that was more in touch with what we would want to contribute and call our own, was there from the beginning. What Austin did by having the guts to write a bunch of tunes, put together a trio and record an album at such an early stage was really important to just getting something going, and from there we would spend just as much time talking/thinking about how we could make things more interesting to us, as we did playing. In that sense I think Unraveled, Rewoven helped to spur this on and it was great to have a sense that the label could see what we were about. To have other artists that we and the label like reframe our work definitely helped us to think about our approach differently.

Have the trio tried to be fluid creatively between the lineup changes or has it been seen as an opportunity to explore a different side of sound, which perhaps had not been touched on before?

When we brought Miroslav Bukovsky on board we had actually been on a long break. I had been living in London and Chris had been travelling and was then living in Cyprus. Introducing Miroslav was a chance for us to explore the different sorts of sounds he is able to bring as well as a difference in improvisational style. Having said that, we still spent plenty of time working towards crafting a language that worked as a part of the Pollen Trio approach. Miroslav is a very open and interesting person so it was a fluid process working in the new things he brought with the “sound” we had already established.  

Has improvisation always been an important part in the creative process for the trio or is it something that bears more importance in certain situations and takes a back seat at other times?

I would say that for the most part we are an improvising band but it various from one situation to another and also depends on how we feel at a given time. In my case I find it very difficult to enjoy playing the same thing from one gig to the next but I also see the need for us to have some sort of framework, whether this is compositions or just vague ideas, to help maintain some clarity. Improvising and just playing together does lead us to ideas and helps to sort through some of things we like and don’t like, but it can also become a trap. We often feel the need to dictate some terms as a way of coming up with things that we might not if we just play off the cuff.

Has there been a psycho-geographical effect on the music created by the trio with its base between canberra and the outskirts of the blue mountains?

This is certainly a possibility, I often feel that Pollen Trio does have a certain psycho-geographical element in relation to Australia in general, perhaps similar to the way a band like The Necks do. It might be something to do with playing in a way that relishes in being a small part in something much bigger. I would say I’m not totally sure on this though…

The trio as a live entity does differentiate from the recorded output. Is this a particular aim for the three of you or is the plan always to try and capture the sound of the live performance before taking part in the editing process?

We don’t plan to sound like our recorded stuff when we play live. In fact I think we are usually always just concerned with what’s going on at the time, what we have been working on or thinking about or listening to. In general I think every live opportunity we are looking to push things forward. This is the same for when we have recorded, to date we have essentially tried to capture as much live material as possible so that it has a certain energy, and then afterwards edit things down and even add and manipulate things to create what we want. After that when we begin playing live again that process of editing allowed for by the recording often helps us to get into new territory that we couldn’t hear or see beforehand.  

What does the future hold for pollen trio – plans, ambitions, developments?

At the moment our plans are basically to tour our new album Roll Slow and continue to play as much as possible and continue to develop. We are definitely ambitious to see where and how far we can take the music and also keen for people to hear it. So we will just keep working and do our best.

John Dieterich of Deerhoof interviews Raven Chacon

In 2010, shortly after moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico, I ran into Peter Mezensky, organizer of the Albuquerque Experimental Music Festival. He was in the process of organizing the next festival, which was then less than two months away, and he asked if I would be interested in performing. I responded that I didn’t really want to play solo and wondered if he had a suggestion of someone I should play with, and he immediately leaned back, pointed to the person sitting next to him, and said, “you should play with Raven Chacon.” We played together for the first time at the festival, and we have continued to work together over the last couple of years, often in collaboration with pianist Thollem McDonas.

 Raven’s work is very difficult to pin down (editor’s note: from chamber music to speed metal and folk or experimental noise), and I won’t even try to list all of the projects he’s involved in. If there is a thread that flows through much of his work, for me it must be patience, and by patience I don’t mean passive waiting. Raven’s patience is disorienting in its intensity, especially to someone who is as high-strung as I tend to be. The spaces in his work tend to bear the same weight as the sounds do, and I’ve found that his music has made me think very differently about my own relationship to the sounds that I make. In a way, I feel like he is both more detached from and more committed to the sounds he makes, and I find it very inspiring. Many thanks to Raven for taking the time out and humoring me, and thanks also to Olivié for asking me to be involved in Amour and Discipline.
As I finish transcribing this interview, Raven is in Arizona on the Navajo reservation installing 4 sound sculptures which are powered by wind and sun (see photo). For more information on Raven’s myriad projects, go to the end of the interview for links, discography, etc. The recording of our first meeting is now out as part of Deathbombarc’s Digital Series Club.

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PERVERT EGO, PINK COLOR, COCK AND KRAUTROCK MIXTAPE: Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu Interviews Fabrizio Palumbo of Larsen

 

Fabrizio Palumbo is — there is no other way to say it but — a true and pure artist in the most constructive and devoted means of understanding what that word can mean. When you meet him, just with conversation, he transports you to a place of a more fervent and a deeper creativity than you imagined that you had in you. When you play with him, using the simplest of musical gestures, he takes away the inhibition to try something new while not being afraid to be yourself.

There are a handful of people who changed my life, totally, the way i think, the way i see the world and how i hear music. His prodigious music career is incredibly worth opening yourself to, going from a dark grinding to free hearted and touching. He has also booked some of the most incredible art music of all time: Current 93, Six Organs of Admittance, Swans, Genesis P-orridge and Baby D, filing the world with art that few others would dare to stand behind.

From Torino Italy, pull back the curtain and open your mouth!

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Never Mind The Bollocks – Ela Orleans interviews Dan melchior

a drawing by Mr Melchior

Being self centered and quite shy when it comes to the dialog with other artists I admire, my way is to passively wait until circumstances build the opportunity to meet. I don’t do anything, but wait and feed on dreams and good luck. I met a ton of fantastic artists who just came to me through the power of my admiration I suppose or desperate need of reassurance that what I do is OK. Making a coherent signal of interest is a huge step for me as I can’t help feeling that my musical heroes, (including those I met in person), are too cool for school.

For the last few months I have been working on a new release consisting of remixes of my previously released work done by artists I admire.. I had a good reason to reach out here. With no much surprise I heard bunch of “NOs”, which (for whatever reason) were a big blow to my ego. During that time I became very interested in the case of Dan Melchior’s wife – Letha Rodman Melchior. I followed her struggle with cancer chronicled on her blog and described in many posts made by a few of my fellow artist friends on Facebook. Coincidentally Dan sent me a brief message over FB simply expressing his admiration for my record “Lost”. We started a brief dialog over Facebook, which soon was followed by the plan of artistic collaboration. I had a chance to chat with Letha, who is now one of my most inspiring female heroes. I forgot all the “cool police” nonsense and started my “privileged era” of having an opportunity to exchange artistic ideas, collaborate and also complain about the state of the musical journalism and principals. Talking to Dan helped me to get out of my own little world of insecurities for a moment and possibly find myself helpful…

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