I first got to know Asian Women On The Telephone thanks to Toni Cutrone, boss of NO=FI Recordings label (Rome) and involved with projects such as Hiroshima Rocks Around and Trouble VS Glue, owner of the best venue in Rome, Dal Verme, who’s got across AWOTT while touring Russia. Then, last may, I had the chance to see their performance at S.K.I.F., amazing festival that takes place each year in St. Petersburg, Russia. Among all the bands that played at the festival (Swans, The Ex, Killl from Norway, amazing as well…) AWOTT performance was impressive, my heartbeat and jaw kept on trying to follow their rare beats for all their set, my eyes were going from player to player, hypnotized both from their fairy scary masks as well for the rituality of the sounds produced by each instruments.
Something between a ritual and a play taken from a old greek tragedy, they filled the room with their own attitude and atmospheres, going slowly and then even slower, drones and beats, a belly dancer with a huge hairy belly, the long hall as a perfect echoing machine for all the people who gathered there. Their outfits weren’t impossible to define, as you couldn’t loose time in nameing things, because you had to focus on what was going on. Here i find myself in need to find better words to describe them… Maybe this live at WMFU will help :
Besides the clip above, this guy’s words could be the kind of help I was looking for. David MacFadyen of Far From Moscow, talking about them, wrote “… A comparison might be possible between AWOTT and Edinburgh’s Fire Engines, who played in a similarly hopeless vein, punctuating scratchy guitar work with the occasional yelp or funky drum break. All of which makes the Moscow collective very important. Music scenes without this kind of lo-fi, shambolic corrective are simply not healthy.”
And what I found to be the press sheet from their label (RAIG from Moscow) gave me some more clues to go back thinking of that show: “Their trademark sound – almost exclusively instrumental – is a form of stripped-down, maximally lo-fi grunge full of background hiss. Frequently played at a very slow tempo, the swamp-like growl of these tracks sometimes slides into pure feedback or industrial drone, since individual notes are so drawn out. This is a very confrontational style, revelling in its sulky contrariness, yet at times – especially when the tempo increases sufficiently to banish thoughts of large animals – a hedonistic amateurism comes to the fore. Their artistic approach draws inspiration from the early Soviet-era Russian Futurism and Dadaism, and echoes a view of society as rigid, absurd, and schematic. They produce the strangest kind of music, with their own idiosyncratic, sarcastic vision. No overdubbing, no analog mixing or mastering… This is lo-fi music for a low-grade world. In fact, AWOTT have never stressed their musical content, regarding music just as an accompaniment to freaky costume-and-masked performances they set. Being banned periodically from Moscow club-venues due to rumored connection to “a mystical ritualistic sect”
I then sent them over few questions, to which they replied in, let’s say, 1 hour? And they introduced their answers with a simple phrase: “Her are some answers from our most radical non-english speaking players!”
This is what i call self irony, a good mix of silliness and apocalyptic thoughts !
Raw and unedited interview :
“ME – I love your name. Where does it come from?
THEM – It comes from north american west coast. there was a band of gypsys called sun city girrrrls they have top ten hit 1983 “asian women on the telephone”.
Have you always played with those incredible outfits of yours? Is each show different?
Of intercourse we have same problems before each show we spend alot of time and euros for makin our outfights.
How could you manage to bring’em to the US (AWOTT did a three weeks US tour last october)? Anyway, how was your first big tour over seas?
We are maked. Made in plane over atlantis ocean. Found lot of black hats there, black suits and yarmulkes, than mixed and crushed and sculpured maskSS. It was overawesome too magnificent too loud too fuck. We met leathered moldovanians at seatle needle with sunflowers seeds in theyr hands.
Was your experience in Us any different than the ones in Russia and Europe?
Americanas are pretty little awesomes, but we missed that times when we could breakfast and buy nice ass for a two bucks. Shortness is a sister for deepness, as Anton Palitch Chekhoff sad.
People here will have the chance to check your music and videos. Of course they will miss something of your live performance, that’s why people has not only to buy records, but they have also to go to see live shows. But my question for you is: While playing, do you ever think that something is missing?
We need a human meet just a little piece. Behind the bunker we want create a world for five. Sometimes its ends with tears.
Are you planning a European tour for the upcoming months?
For russian men its very difficult to plannin anything, we prefer to say – je t`aime.
Would you name for me some russian bands to keep an eye on?
On their bandcamp profile you will find all their albums in free download, released under Creative commons BY-NC licence :
Take your time, but do please check this another radio performance for KDVS :
Ok, next time I will write about a band hailing from Turin, Italy, with the longest name ever: HOW MUCH WOOD WOULD A WOODCHUCK CHUCK IF A WOODCHUCK COULD CHUCK WOOD. And then about an american pianist, Thollem McDonas, that i just saw performing in Venice : amazing ! Write down these two names, and please check their tunes.