Manafonistas

on life, music etc beyond mainstream

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2018 24 Sep

Jeff Tweedy mal 2

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2018 24 Aug

Scott Walker goes Pop again

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60s pop star turned darling of the avant garde Scott Walker has joined with Australian pop singer-songwriter Sia to score Vox Lux, the forthcoming second feature by director Brady Corbet, starring Natalie Portman (…), after Walker penned the tense, oppressive score for Corbet’s debut film, ‚The Childhood of a Leader‘. – The Guardian

 

 

 

2018 19 Aug

On Edition Records, Part 3

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Since our view [here on this blog], when it comes to jazz albums, is (most of the time) predominantly focused on albums from our favorite label in Munich, I would, once again, like to draw some attention to the U.K. With a similarly unique visual and artistic style as well as at the same time a broad variety of contemporary (mostly) jazz albums (and the music on the “fringes“ of jazz), Dave Stapleton’s Edition Records have just celebrated their tenth anniversary this spring and have released a string of fascinating albums this summer.

Firstly, the work of tenor and soprano sax player Tim Garland would fit nicely into ECM’s releases (just take a look at the colourful cover image), but being an English musician (he was born in 1966 around London) and his latest project being inspired by the scenic, mountainous Lake District in North West England, he’s no doubt more at home on Edition. Weather Walker (droll title) features a whole orchestra, which Garland not only wrote for but also conducted, with Yuri Goloubev on double bass as well as Jason Rebello and Pablo Held on pianos. Like many Norwegian recordings, this grand, one-hour suite in 12 parts (on a side note, it somewhat reminds me of my favourite Abdullah Ibrahim album African Suite), bears a similarly strong connection to nature to Norwegian jazz composers’ works as well as that one by Ibrahim, and much of it is also based on folk music, specifically an English folk tune called The Snows They Melt The Soonest, “that can still cast a powerful spell“, as Garland puts it. There you have some obvious parallels to quite a lot of contemporary jazz from Norway. So it is not far fetched to adhere that – like some of Jan Garbarek’s works with orchestra – Weather Walker draws a fascinating line from European classical music to intimate chamber jazz. Garland’s approach, though, is a probably lighter and more elegant, while in parts also much more rhythmic one. He likes to use the orchestra in a percussive manner, which I find rather entertaining and would love to hear in a concert situation. Like the old Concerto Grosso, Garland says, Weather Walker sometimes works with an 8-piece within the large 35 piece string orchestra, to reach a lucent, sweeping sound. An album as warm and gentle as it is full of atmosphere – the cover image makes that clear it right away.

Around Edition’s 10th anniversary, Pianist Pablo Held has furthermore released his 10th album in his own name – with his trio again, their first on the British label, after the preceding 2016 album Lineage came out via Bavaria’s now defunct Pirouet Records and was rightly praised with top ratings and recommendations in German media. (The Berlin daily Tagesspiegel called them “Germany’s most democratic and most adventurous piano trio“, among other things.) Strangely enough, last year Pablo Held was part of not one, but at least two extensive features on young and promising German jazz musicians in major German magazines, though the trio has (in its still current form) been existent since 2005, has released 6 or 7 albums, one of which featured John Scofield, with Investigations being Held’s 1oth album overall, plus more than 25 album appearances as a sideman. Anyway, I really like that Held, who lives in Köln (or, Cologne, as the Besatzungsmächte still like to call it) with his family, calls Herbie Hancock his favourite musician. And when he replies with Miles Davis’ Filles De Killimanjaro, Federico Mompou’s Complete Piano Works, and Joni Mitchell’s Song to a Seagull to the question about his three favourite albums, one can get a sense of where his music might be heading towards.

Which is, well, somewhat misleading… And I am not sure how I feel about that. Would I prefer Held’s albums were more extravagant, like many by the daring Hancock? I am still somewhat undecided if I prefer Investigations over its predecessor, Lineage, but this new album does show an even more matured group, whose members appear highly at ease with each other – and a more intuitive selection of tracks that hardly ever follow a beaten path. This music is rhythmically and melodically complex while the performances remain impressively immediate and playful. And speaking of ECM, it is noteworthy, I think, that there is a quote by, of all people, Ralph Towner in the album’s booklet, saying: “The beautiful music of the Pablo Held Trio strikes me as an important example of the evolution of the piano trio in jazz. They embody the poetry and depth of this tradition, while extending the harmonic and rhythmic possibilities of the tradition. The music of this trio brings me joy knowing that this great art form continues to grow and flourish.” If it wasn’t for the rather silly, pastel coloured cover image, I think I’d be a huge fan of this album. [Side note: The pianist administers a website called Pablo Held Investigates, where he uploads conversations with other musicians, like John Scofield and Chris Potter.]

 
 
 


 
 
 

Another trio, which couldn’t be more different from the Pablo Held Trio’s modern approach, has also just released a new album on Edition, their third one, and first one with a new guitarist, and has captivated and surprised me a lot more right away. To be honest, I don’t remember having heard any of the Leeds based Roller Trio’s music before I put New Devices into my CD player, even though their debut album had been a Mercury Prize nominee in 2012… well, the Mercury Prize is obviously as big in Germany as it is on the British Islands. New Devices is definitely contemporary jazz, well, is it jazz?… never mind… taking shreds of the past and the present and merging it into a wholly unique kind of music. Some people will hear rock music in there, others heard hip hop, while electronica is surely a strong influence (all members are credited with programming and synths besides their respective principal instruments – saxophones, guitar, electric bass and drums). Also, it is possible to describe them as Terry Riley jamming with Tortoise, while a strong urban feel dominates most of the album (reportedly they included sounds sampled from the Leeds night life, seamlessly, I must say). This is a wild album, highly energetic – with some slower tracks as well – very organic tracks as a result of collective improvisation, definitely on of my favourite jazz-etc records of the year, and easily the best Edition release of 2018 (so far).

I also wanted to write about Tonadas by Julian Argüelles, but for some reason I can’t find the CD anywhere (always a bit annoying with those thin promo copies… they easily get lost), so I’ll have to do a follow-up. I can’t remember much about this album, as I have only listened to it before I went to Norway for the whole summer… Right now I am listening to Bloomer, the debut album by saxophone player Tom Barford, Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize winner, about whom Evan Parker is quoted saying, “We are witnessing the birth of a new star in the jazz firmament.” I don’t know about that (yet), but the album plays vibrant and dynamic, with sax, piano, drums, bass and an impressive Billy Marrows on guitar. I haven’t heard the new Dinosaur album Wonder Trail (yet), mainly because I only received it as a download, and I never manage to work through all those downloads in my tons of folders I download throughout the year. But I am looking forward to listening to this album some day, as the quartet’s first CD, Together, As One, a couple of years ago, was truly intense and still deserves a strong recommendation. And, yes, the new Phronesis [another forward-thinking piano trio on Edition] album is terrific, as were several of their predecessors.

Finally, I’d like to draw some attention to the untitled album by the electrifying trio Enemy, which my fellow Nordische Music writer Stefan strongly recommended, saying:

 

Enemy is about continuing the history of the piano trio. For this [Petter Eldh] has teamed up with British pianist Kit Downes (who recently succeeded with a completely different kind of church organ project on ECM) and his fellow countryman James Maddren on drums, and they brilliantly prove that this story is far from over. Unlike Gogo Penguin, who seek (and find) renewal in this discipline by retreating into patterns and structures, Enemy succeeds more out of tradition. Because the riffs, which often underlie the pieces, could just as well originate in bebop. They are, however, staged astonishingly (poly-)rhythmically complex, tempos are constantly stretched and compressed, and one hears radical groove switching. […] Everything they present happens on the edge of what is technically possible, and yet they move (apparently) playfully and “tightly“ around all the cliffs. Luckily, all this is possible without being highbrow or elitist in any way; rather, the three garnish their playing with a good dose of humour […]

2018 16 Aug

60

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my favorite Madonna song from very different times

 

 

Top 10 song selection (chronological order):
 

  • Material Girl
  • Vogue
  • Justify my Love
  • Human Nature
  • Swim
  • Ray of Light
  • Bedtime Story  [co-written by Björk]
  • Impressive Instant  [Madonna & Mirwais frankly copy Daftpunk]
  • Don’t tell me  [co-written by Joe Henry]
  • Hung up  [Madonna & Stuart Price grab ABBA]

 

2018 28 Jun

American Utopia

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American Utopia is not the fantastic album I had hoped it would be (even though Eno had some influence on it, and even though I find it mostly entertaining and enjoyable), but as I was way too young to go to rock concerts when the Talking Heads existed as a band, I decided to see David Byrne’s current, and highly praised, world tour stopping in Berlin, less than ten minutes from where I live.

It is impressive to see how contemporary these songs, which were written and recorded 35 to 40 years ago (I Zimbra, The Great CurveBorn under Punches, Slippery People etc.), sound more contemporary today than songs by many bands of the last 20/25 years – even though they are being performed very true to their original Talking Heads versions – though with very different, and mostly much younger [younger than me], musicians, like guitarist Angie Snow and bassist Bobby Wooten and lots of percussionists.

The new songs sound better in their live versions than they do on the album, in particular Doing the Right Thing, which they turned into a heavy rock number with metal-like guitar sections, and also the weird opening song I Dance Like This with its funny noisy sections. Still, most of the more recent Byrne songs come across a lot more conventional than the old Talking Heads hits, which the audience greeted and danced to enthusiastically. They must have appeared experimental and out-of-this-world in 1979/1980, but they still sound more modern than rather nice pop tunes like Every Day is a MiracleBullet and Like Humans Do. Even Blind from Talking Heads‘ final album (1988) sounded more energized (and energizing).

Excellent show with a minimal stage design and 12 musicians moving across the whole stage for the duration of the performance. If one wasn’t able to experience the Talking Heads live (apart from the remastered Stop Making Sense re-release in movie theaters some years ago), these performances of Remain In Light and Fear of Music songs must be as close as one can get in the 21st century. Looking forward to the live recording.

2018 5 Mai

Some album recommendations

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For quite a while I have wanted to take the opportunity to recommend a few current albums that are not (yet or otherwise) mentioned here. There are already numerous albums on this list, which is why I’m now shortening my recommendations in a telegram-like style.

Although I have been a big fan of the English duo Autechre since the mid-1990s and appreciate and strongly recommend almost all their albums, I can only be amazed at their latest album. This is not necessarily because the opus is eight hours long (the previous album elseq 1-5 was almost five hours long, the preceding exai a 2-CD album of over two hours, and the two preceding ones – Quaristice and Oversteps – were each followed by a one to two hour-long „EP“). Autechre have released so many CDs since the early nineties (and their numerous so-called „EPs“ were in most cases album-length releases, plus their first live album consisted of nine tracks each lasting around an hour) that it is almost astonishing how varied and complex, how imaginative and surprising and at what high level each new release still is – even though Autechre still keep their own unmistakable style and never have guests or producers on board on their regular albums. NTS Sessions 1-4 is an 8-hour-opus; as of now it is only available as download, but the 8-CD-version can be pre-ordered at the Autechre Bleep store and will be produced according to the numbers of the pre-orders.

Mark Smith writes in his epic Resident Advisor review (and he actually only states „Autechre“ as their „style“ or „genre“):

 

The majority of artists in Autechre’s cohort either dropped off in quality or entered the extended victory lap period of their careers. […] ‚NTS Sessions 1-4′ […] their best record in many years. […] The range Autechre get out their patches is staggering. You can feel their own sense of discovery as they’re pushing and pulling parameters. They navigate treacherous skies but they always breach the cloud line, providing clarity, a sense of scale and structure. Even though they’re challenging themselves, there’s no doubt as to who’s created the rules.

 

Without question one of this year’s top 10 albums.

 

Far less spectacular, but most likely also among my album favourites at the end of this year, is Meshell Ndegeocello, an extremely versatile and fascinating songwriter, singer, bassist and producer (Anthony Joseph, Jason Moran and others) from the U.S., who will celebrate her 50th birthday this August. 25 years ago a certain Madonna released Meshell’s first CD Plantation Lullabies on her then newly founded label Maverick, and since then I have fallen in love with almost every Ndegeocello album. Ventriloquism is a personal collection of songs the singer interprets as if it were her own. Which is obviously because she has a very personal relationship with each one of them.

In the frequently very recommendable songwriter podcast Sodajerker, Meshell Ndegeocello talks very openly about her work process and also mentions her many role models and inspirations, some of whom she has already honoured by interpreting songs in her very personal way, such as her gorgeous Nina Simone tribute album Pour Une Âme Souveraine with guests like Valerie June or Sinead O’Connor, among others, and a flamboyant version of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne. Taking into consideration that I can easily recommend every single Meshell album with all my heart, Ventriloquism (with a terribly uninspired cover image, though), reflecting personal episodes and recent experiences, may be an album rather for the advanced listener, an unusually quiet one at that, but the intensive, masterful 7-minute rendition of Prince’s (another one of the singer’s idols) Sometimes it snows in April, which condenses the song to its essence and emotional core, is worth the purchase of the album alone.

At this moment I am listening to Eurythmics’ 1983 album Touch — admittedly I have never been a big Dave Stewart fan, but Annie Lennox has been one of my favorite pop artist since the days of my childhood. So it is worth mentioning that all but one of Eurythmics’ studio albums are now, long overdue, being re-released on vinyl, and PopMatters’ Adam Mason has written this extensive recommendation of their body of work. No two albums of theirs sound alike, but arguably best of them, and my personal favorite for 30 years — though most people prefer Touch —  is 1987’s Savage. Both these albums are halfway between avant-garde and pop. Mason concludes,

 

we are here to witness again the powerful counterblow of ‚Savage‘, now becoming the firm fan favorite of the Eurythmics catalog, while building up a reputation as the duo’s ‚Revolver‘, or maybe ‚Low‘, with an experimental sound dominated by Stewart’s adopted digital synthesizer of choice, a synclavier, facilitating Lennox’s excursions into concept-album territory, where the distinctive two sides of the record tell the unsettling story of a woman’s descent into heartbreak, cynicism, emotional devastation and masochism.

 

 

Jon Hopkins, whom some of you will know as Eno’s collaborator on the wonderful Small Craft on a Milk Sea album, finally has a new album out, five years after his deserved breakthrough with the excellent techno-ambient-electronic album Immunity, which ended up on many best-of-the-year lists in 2013. I loved Immunity, and I instantly loved Singularity on first listen. „As striking as Immunity was, Singularity feels more developed, and it’s ultimately a tough call as to which album is more exciting,“ writes Paul Simpson. And Paul Carr summarizes, „Jon Hopkins‘ Singularity evokes the euphoria and vivid awareness of a psychedelic experience.“

The man behind the pseudonym Amen Dunes is Damon McMahon, and his fourth album Freedom is strongly reminiscent of the songwriting and style of Robert Forster, though with a different, slightly softer and more versatile sound. „Everything feels silvery and romantic, like a hallucination of the classic-rock songbook,“ writes Sam Sodomsky.

Meg Remy reaches a new level of complexity with her latest album under her U.S. Girls alias, In A Poem Unlimited, an idiosyncratic sound palette of noise pop, funk with saxophones, trumpets, synths and multilayered percussion; she crafts catchy songs between old-fashioned pop and contemporary art. „[…] her glorious, danceable new album is a righteous collection of razor-sharp songs, full of spit and fury, a high-water mark for political pop music,“ says Jonah Bromwich.

Mouse On Mars, another unique duo, this time from Germany, has also recently released a fascinating new album, which – while retaining the duo’s peculiarities – once again sounds completely new and different from any of their 14 preceding albums. They changed their M.O. and recorded Dimensional People abroad with dozens of (star) guests, including Justin „Bon Iver“ Vernon, rapper Spank Rock and the National bros. Bryce and Aaron Dessner. In the band’s 25th year the album may sound less radical than some predecessors, Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma may enter their „mature“ phase, but they are by no means less inspired and dazzling. The epic, 13-minute opening piece in three parts already surprises with its confrontation of Steve Reich’s stylistic devices and Bon Iver vocals. Mouse On Mars remain their unique universe. Benjamin Moldenhauer:

 

None of this should really fit together. But the perceptible naturalness with which techno, hip-hop, dub, krautrock, indie pop, drum robots, violins, ambient, dissonances and all kinds of indefinable things are brought together here is very delightful. […] Perhaps Mouse on Mars are the most thorough dialecticians of the electronic avant-garde. Two opposing attitudes determine what happens: that of the child euphoric about his own world discovery, who wants to touch everything and tests its suitability for his own, purely intuitively controlled mind. And that of the control-mad tinkerer, who still has to define the smallest sound shred and can do so. ‚Dimensional People‘ draws its tension from this entanglement of exuberant joy of discovery and demiurgical virtuosity.

 

Germany’s currently best rock band is arguably Die Nerven (The Nerves). Even Thurston Moore recommended them. Their new album Fake may not be as urgent and punchy as the preceding Out, but it is still great. Andreas Borcholte: „The fundamental [..] disorientation of society is the theme of Fake. It is, that much is already certain, one of the most haunting German albums of the year.“

 

… to be continued …

 
 

 
 

2018 1 Mrz

Sakamoto in Berlin

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Da Ryuichi Sakamoto in diesem Jahr Mitglied der internationalen Berlinale-Jury war, präsentierte das Festival in der „Special“-Reihe den Konzertfilm Ryuichi Sakamoto: async Live at the Park Avenue Armory (Trailer). Kein unbedingt sehenswerter Dokumentarfilm, vielleicht am ehesten für Fans; es wird schlicht zum ersten Mal das Album async dargeboten, in kompletter Länge und ziemlich nah am Original. Zwar geht aus dem Film kaum hervor, was de facto live in concert gespielt wurde und was „vom Band“ kam, doch der intime Konzert-Doku-Film ließ mich das Album mit neuen Ohren hören, da man den Meister beim präzisen Gestalten einiger Klänge erlebt und daher besser verstehen kann, was er für die CD tatsächlich gestaltet und ausgearbeitet hat, und so regte der Film (mit dem sehr guten Saal-Sound) auch ein bewussteres Wiederhören der CD zu Hause an. Hier ein kurzer Ausschnitt aus dem „Publikumsgespräch“ nach der Vorführung im Haus der Berliner Festspiele letzte Woche; Sakamoto fasst zusammen, worum es ihm bei async ging.

 

Sakamoto’s solo album have always leaned more toward the avant-garde sonics of John Cage or Terry Riley than his more conventionally melodic, accessible film scores. At one point in this performance, he leans into the guts of his piano and plucks pizzicato notes from the interior strings with what looks like a chopstick. Later, he abandons conventional instruments altogether and generates sound from a cluster of modernist sculptures, bowing a curved set of chiming metal rods before teasing out ghostly squeals by scraping microphones across a sheet of glass. These experimental digressions may sound almost comically pretentious on paper, but the effects they create are often sublime. […] There are few concessions to nonfans in Live at the Park Avenue Armory, but neutral newcomers to Sakamoto’s brand of high-art music may find themselves captivated by its exquisite beauty and understated emotional force.

Stephen Dalton, THR

 

Eigentlich ist async Live at the Park Avenue Armory ja nur die Coda zum Film Coda, dem persönlichen, im letzten Jahr in Venedig uraufgeführten  Dokumentarfilm über Sakamoto auf dem Weg durch seine Krebserkrankung, hin zum schließlich entstehenden Album. Der Trailer sieht toll aus, und was ich bislang über den Film weiß, macht mich sehr neugierig darauf, ihn zu sehen. Hier sprechen Ryuichi Sakamoto und Regisseur Stephen Nomura Schible im Rahmen des Filmfestivals in Venedig über den Film.

After Michael told me, already last summer, about Björn Meyer’s then forthcoming solo album on ECM, I wanted to take the chance to look into the Swede’s previous work. Of course I already had the ECM releases of Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin, which he was part of, and having followed Anouar Brahem’s complete body of work on the label, I was also aware of his participation in Brahem’s band (which I have seen in concert here in Berlin a few years ago).

But then I became aware of the recording with Samuel Rohrer and Klaus Gesing, and that made me very curious, as all three of them have been on a string of very good or even excellent ECM albums, so hearing about their trio album Amiira felt a bit like finding out about a lost ECM recording. So I wrote to the label, arjunamusic, only to find out that it is Samuel Rohrer’s imprint — and the Swiss drummer is also living here in Berlin. Besides his participation in Colin Vallon’s trio (on their ECM debut as well as their equally recommendable pre-ECM album Ailleurs on the Hat Hut label), he played on Susanne Abbuehl’s April, in Wolfert Brederode’s quartet on Currents and Post Scriptum, and I bought the self-titled debut album by another trio of Samuel’s called Ambiq a few years ago. He was very welcoming and sent me a few of his label’s more recent releases, and since I came to like them a lot, I wanted to talk to him about his work a bit.

 
 


 
 

So, Samuel, the only arjunamusic release I had before you sent me a few others was the first Ambiq album (and I also bought the cool remixes by Villalobos and Tobias.), which comes with a really unusual combination of sounds and instruments. You played a mix of electronic and conventional percussive instruments, Claudio Puntin can be heard on clarinet and and electronics, and Max Loderbauer only played a Buchla 200e modular synthesizer.

I think it is a really fascinating album, as it is terribly hard to categorize, among other things. The music is somewhere between improvised techno and noisy jazz music. Groove [German magazine for electronic music] called it „metaphysical jazz“ in the vein of Don Cherry or Elvin Jones. They also wrote the music „translates our times’ menacing urban signs into sound“ and the „gloomy and mosaic-like“ album wants to „move the soul“.

Would you agree with these descriptions? Where does Ambiq’s music originate from?

 

Oh thank you. And I don’t remember if I have ever read all this … It’s always interesting to see how this music is put into words, which was created with so little intention, except with the wish to let it happen.

Since all the tracks are totally free improvised, like all the concerts we play, we don’t lose a lot of words about our music or what we are going to play. There never were many. (Only now we start to think about leading the music in a specific direction for the next album.) This means the music really brings the immediate feelings, tastes, actions and reactions of the three of us together. It must be a very personal music of three individuals then. We all have quite different backgrounds, but we all look for the same thing in music, which is to combine sounds, textures, melodies and rhythms in a way we could not have thought of in the first place. We trust in each others musicality and taste, also to keep a strong idea even if we don’t find any consensus. Very often that is where the music happens. It’s not only about agreeing all the time to create something harmonic. If you stick to an idea and stay open at the same time, great things can happen.

I personally always look for the balance between textures, melodies, rhythms, silence… To create something rich, I think, it always contains all the ingredients. Only the weighting moves from one element to another, so they constantly balance each other out. In the end, everything – all the rhythms, melodies or harmonies – are all frequencies and we just decide how to form the sound and its silence. And if it really happens, we don’t even decide about this anymore.

 

Last February, when I worked, as every year, in the „Panorama“ section of the Berlin Film Festival, we presented Romuald Karmakar’s great film Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht (If I think of Germany at Night), in which Ricardo Villalobos is one of the five protagonists. In the film we get to see a short section of a concert with a quartet, which I found enormously fascinating, and it took me quite a while to find out that this was actually Ambiq + Villalobos. Any plans to record or release an album with this band?

 

There is some material ready to be released, which was recorded live, as well as an unedited studio session waiting to be reopened. Right now it just doesn’t feel like it’s the time for it. Let’s see what comes next. If we play more in the future, we might even record more material … Sometimes things need time …

 
 


 
 

I do like the description of Ambiq’s music in Groove, because it could actually describe very different kinds of music as well.

Considering how you just described your work process, though, it’s kind of funny to see what it evokes in our minds, in us listeners. I have of course read what you wrote about the general idea of your label, arjunamusic, and that is strongly related to what you just said:

 

It is based on the wish to achieve as much artistic independence as possible, which comes out of the essential realization that happiness is not coming in the first place from outer success, rather the urge and to have the freedom to create, is the essential basis to make anything happen and to unfold a strong personal statement. This led to and still is the motivation to create a platform for unique and personal music, which includes a stylistically broad artistic performance.

 

That is actually very appealing to me as a filmmaker, as well as to me as a lover of arts and music. So let me get to your most recent solo album, Range of Regularity, which is a veritable solo recording: You played a variety of mostly percussive instruments (including a prepared piano, which I think counts as percussive, too), in connection with a few synths. Listening to your earlier album Noreia (from 2012, with Claudio Puntin, Peter Herbert and Skúli Sverrison) moved me a lot when I listened to it driving though dry and slightly surreal desert landscapes in the USA last September. But Range of Regularity I did not really make friends with yet. I do appreciate its „minimal“ approach and the reduced spectrum of sounds, sure. But since you wrote about the uncompromising approach to creating, could you maybe give me a few hints on the process you went through in making this album, which might help me get a better understanding of your thought process? In what regard was Range of Regularity an album you felt you had to make?

 

The most important for me is to move on and find constantly new inspiration. To be free while I play music, but also in the sense of possibilities. Freedom in the sense of crossing borders and confronting yourself with new situations – and not so much on the outside, but, in terms of music, more through the sounds you hear and how you can create or combine them. While working more in the electronic music scene I met a lot of interesting producers. At the same time I started to work with some of them, and my sonic world and understanding was constantly growing (or let’s say this just opened new doors to many new possibilities).

More and more I started to combine electronic and acoustic sounds in a live situation, and I recorded myself in my studio.

It felt like the most natural step for me to make that move and produce a first album by myself. With my sonic world, with my roots as a jazz musician, but within the context of electronic music and with using its rules and frames. I knew it had to be a mix of different worlds. With knowing that of course the jazz scene would not really understand this, it felt like breaking out of something, finding new challenges and setting new ways and sails for me in the future as a producer and sound designer. In the beginning it felt maybe like two separate worlds, but slowly they start to merge into each other and are becoming one – like the label idea, with its acoustic and electronic releases. Basically, I try to follow my intuition, and my curiosity keeps me going forward and finding new ways to express myself.

 

I’d be curious to hear other people’s opinions on the album. The one track I probably like best is the final one, Uncertain Grace. I find it very moving. I did, however, not find the album covered in a lot of music magazines, though indeed it could fit into a variety of genres, from electronic to experimental, even jazz and also into comprehensive magazines like Musikexpress.

 

The difficulty is to find a promo agency who covers the whole range, from acoustic, jazz oriented releases, feuilletons and art magazines to electronic and club music. There were quite a few reviews, interviews and radio broadcasts, but mostly in the electronic music field. In the end, what counts most for me is the reaction of musicians and producers I honor for their work.

 
 


 
 

How do you deal with people’s reactions in general, when it comes to an album like Range of Regularity, which you produce on your very own? Do you ask people for advice during the process? And can you easily deal with your music being out there, and you, in a way, don’t get as much back from it, as opposed to, for instance, in a project like the collaborations with Ambiq, Villalobos or the latest album, Brightbird?

 

Not only as a musician but also as a label I continue to research on how to balance out a space between the acoustic music scene – where I come from – and the electronic world. This certainly needs time and is definitely a very interesting place to be. As a solo artist I never had a lot of exposure – so far: Making this step plus defining my work in new territories is a challenge and inspiring at the same time.

With the label I have also built a circle of people around me with whom I work for the productions. Of course I am curious about their opinions and I always welcome other people’s ideas. But very often, in the end it’s a question of taste, which is built on quality. Particularly when you try to find your own voice, you can’t create a result that is for everybody. I view all the projects more as one big working field, and it is important to finish one idea to go on and start with new ones. And it is about finding the balance between working on my own and sharing ideas and collaborate with others. Both ways seem to work for me.

 
Is the remixes series a way of getting in contact with others with your soloistic work?

 

The remixes are basically a way to promote an album during a longer timeframe. I try to bring it a step further with finding producers who are interested in remixing music which is out of their usual territory and not so obvious to remix in the first place. To overlap improvised music with more club oriented work is slowly becoming a characteristic of the label.

 

Finally, about Brightbird – another really moving album, with pianist João Paulo Esteves da Silva, who brings a beautiful, slight fado and folk influence into the flow of the music, and double bass player Mário Franco; the album to me has a fascinatingly simple but also „dancing“ atmosphere. It was recorded at La Buissone, which is one of Manfred Eicher’s preferred studios, located in the French Provence, so I assume it is very inspiring. The cover design is by The Designers Republic, an unusual choice, since they’re primarily known for their influential Warp Records designs. The album is able to speak for itself, so I don’t really have a question about it. But it would be great if this music would be appreciated more widely.

 

I agree, also an album like Brightbird should get much more attention. To put a new label out there is one thing, but to establish it to give the music a wider audience is a big task. Unfortunately it is a fact that mostly the same (major) labels get the attention. It requires more research from listeners, magazines and reviewers to give smaller labels a spot. That’s why I like to think in bigger shapes and in longterm projects. In our fast and superficial time it’s very healthy to work on things that are built on constant growth and for the act of creating. If there is no solid ground, outer success appears as very short-lived thing. And solid things need time.

 

Where is your work and your label going to next? What can we look forward to from arjunamusic in 2018?

 

Max Loderbauer is about to finish two remixes of Brightbird tracks; they will be released sometime later this year. A trio recording with Jan Bang, Eivind Aarset and myself is in the making. Also new projects with Nils Petter Molvær and for example the young trumpet player Hilde Marie Holsen, are on the way, as well as preparations for some productions of working bands like AMBIQ and amiira. Together with a friend, who does most of the mastering of the productions, we are planning to release a series of analog-recorded, hand-made individually crafted vinyls, which might include some old releases as well as new projects. More details about this will follow soon.

 
Thank you very much for this extensive conversation. I am highly curious to hear these new collaborations. I met Hilde a while ago in Oslo, her work is very unorthodox and fascinating; and I noticed she posted a photo of your recording session online not long ago.

Here are two more links: A video for a track of his recent solo work (Body of Ignorance) and a 2017 podcast mixing live and unreleased material with releases of Samuel Rohrer’s various projects, here on XLR8R.

Yance Ford in "Strong Island"

  1. Strong Island
  2. Blade Runner 2049
  3. Detroit
  4. Wind River
  5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  6. Manchester by the Sea 
  7. Die Lebenden reparieren (Réparer Les Vivants)
  8. Dunkirk
  9. Baby Driver
  10. I am not your Negro
  11. Moonlight
  12. Loveless (Nelyubov)
  13. Beuys
  14. Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht
  15. The Salesman
  16. 120 BPM

 

missed + still on my list: Lady Macbeth / Mother! / Die beste aller Welten / Elle In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts

 

(NB: As some films are often released later in Germany than in their country of origin, a few of these films may count as 2016 releases to residents of the U.S. or Iran. Also, many films in the run for Academy Awards 2017 have of course not been released in Germany yet. So I can only include films that have been screened in cinemas in Germany this year – or at festivals in Cannes and Berlin.)


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