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Man könnte es ja auch eine Geistergeschichte nennen, und die gesammelten psychedelischen Pilze dazurechnet, die in solch einem Dschungel beheimatet sind, würde jeder Film, jede Dokumentation, auf Farbenpracht setzen. Wer nun in Xpujil und um Xpujil umherstreift, und daraus Klänge filtert, hat so viele Chancen zu scheitern. Man denke nur an die neueren Dokumentarserien von Richard Attenborough, etwa „Blue Planet 2“, die ohne Frage beeindruckend sind, aber hinsichtlich des Soundtracks stets auf Nummer sicher gehen, und beispielsweise Hans Zimmer daran zimmern lassen: da setzt die Hollywoodisierung der Wahrnehmung ein, und leicht lässt man sich gängeln von 1:1-Relationen zwischen Bild, Sound & Emotion. Die fremdeste Unterwasserwelt wird so in einen vertrauten Horizont der Ohren übertragen. Wie anders sind  da Nova Materia mit ihrem Trip durch einen von den Überresten der Maya-Kultur geprägten Dschungelabschnitt umgegangen, auf ihrem Ende Juni erscheinenden Album „Xpujil“ – hier wird nicht geraunt, geschwelgt, gewabert, in grellen Farben aufgetragen.

 
 

 
 

Wieder und wieder traut man seinen Ohren nicht, und kann nicht anders – da in Momenten der Ergriffenheit  die Sprache einfach wird, fast schon Halt sucht in einfachsten Wortreflexen – als diese Musik von Caroline Chaspoul und Eduardo Henriquez „unheimlich schön“ zu nennen, unheimlich und schön. Anbei zu hören, was Eduardo und Caroline mir über das Cover erzählten. In voller Länge von 40 Minuten ist diese Arbeit zu hören in der Radionacht Klanghorizonte am 19. Juni. Versuche am besten gar nicht, vorher im Netz irgendwelche Kostproben zu finden, lass dich am besten unvorbereitet auf diese Reise ein! Ich gebe dem Album fünf Sterne.

1 – Am Ende eines Gespräches

 

In my next radio night I will play a long track from Robert Ashley‘s masterpiece „Private Parts“. A special voice tells a story full of apparently marginal things (but nevertheless a meditation on life), accompanied by interesting „background music“. Recommended for your ears, Kurt, also,  because of the way you are working with  language on Showtunes.“

“The  name rings a bell, Michael. Special background music – that was the  case, too, when Bob Dylan read his speech for the Nobel Prize, just being accompanied by a piano.“

“A propos piano. In a review of Showtunes, I put your album alongside some other albums from different genres that, for me, have a similar kind of nakedness, intensity and intimacy. And one of them was a piano solo album by Paul Bley: „Open, to love“.  Go for that, Kurt, it‘s awesome midnight music.

„I will, Michael. I love ECM“.

 

(transcribed from memory, from yesterday‘s Zoom-interview with Kurt Wagner (Lambchop) in Nashville, Tennessee)

 

 

 

 

2 – Einige dieser Sommerabende

 

Der Sommer, der morgen beginnt, und obwohl er schon ein paar Tage offenkundig war, rasch wieder von einer Regenfront und kühlen Winden verprellt wird, hatte genug warme Wiesen parat, um sich darauf zu räkeln, in die neuen Kurzgeschichten von Haruki Murakami abzutauchen,  oder sich vom feinsinnigen Humor der Essays von John Green entführen zu lassen – und obendrein gab es die angenehm kühlen Abende mit verlangsamten Blicken zu den Restlichtern dieser Tage (Laternen, Abendrot, Grillkohle), sowie Alben, die, wie in alten Zeiten, zur Nacht hin, abwechselnd den Plattenteller blockierten: immer wieder „Showtunes“ von Lambchop, „Promises“ von Floating Points, und das Album mit mehr als einem Hauch einer alten Stadt der Mayas. „Every repetition is a form of change“ (Oblique Strategies, oder Heraklit, ganz wie man will).

 

 

3 – In bester Gesellschaft von „Showtunes“

 

Mark Hollis’ solo album, Joe Lovano’s „Trio Tapestry“, Nico‘s „The Marble Index“,  Paul Bley‘s „Open, to Love“, Brian Eno‘s  „Another Day On Earth“, Prefab Sprout‘s „I Trawl The Megahertz“, John Cale‘s „Music For A New Society“, and the last album of Jacques Brel, the one with a pale blue sky and pale white clouds

 

 

4 – Nachspiel

 

Trio Tapestry‘s sense of melody, space and  letting-go  is immaculate. I will always remember their first record, one of the jazz miracles of 2019. For me, it was the best album Joe Lovano ever made, with Manfred Eicher’s perfect sequencing of the tracks. Listen to the vinyl: suspense, sound and silence in perfect union. It is quite natural that this follow-up lives up to the high standard of the first meeting in New York. Now with a deeper touch of Provence pastel and colours at dusk. You can think of every jazz writing cliche of praise, from „filigree“ to „elemental“, and be sure that Lovano, Crispell and Castaldi are breathing new life into it. After the first three pieces of pure baladry (written by soul, not by the book), the appearances of sound take more and more adventurous side steps, from moments of pianistic unrest and upheaval, to an exploration of metal and sound in Castaldi‘s drum figures. A zen-like purity‘s bold pairing with an adventurous spirit. „Garden of Expression“ delivers everything with grace, selflessness and the most nuanced sense of  tempo, time standing still and a flow of undercurrents. If this sounds slightly over the top, let the music take over, dim the lights and follow the tapestries!

 

„Der Name des Ortes wird gern mit dem Namen der Meeresgöttin Ran in Verbindung gebracht (was wahrscheinlich völliger Blödsinn ist; Anm. v. m.e.). Rantum als Ort der Ran. Wahrscheinlicher ist jedoch die Ableitung aus der alten Schreibweise des Ortsnamens Raanteem als Ort am Rande.“ (den  Zufall sollte man ebenfalls nicht ausschliessen – random / rantum; Anm. v. m.e.)  (Wikipedia)



„Diese Kompilation zu machen, war ganz schön schwierig. Klar wollte ich (für „Film Music (1976-2020)“; erg. v. M.E.) einige sehr bekannte Stücke dabei haben, weil es seltsam wäre, etwas von meiner Filmmusik der letzten 44 Jahre vorzustellen, und die grössten Hits wegzulassen (lacht) – einige Leute würden das ziemlich enttäuschend finden. Ich wollte aber auch etwas von den weniger bekannten Arbeiten einbeziehen. Aus mehr als 200 Stücken hatte ich schliesslich eine Wahl zu treffen. Es war nicht leicht, es gab bewusste Beschränkungen, und vor alle  wollte ich ein Werk anfertigen, das man als Album von vorne bis hinten hören kann.  Meine einfache Vermutung ist, dass es immer noch Menschen gibt, die sich ganze Alben anhören willen,  statt einzelne Tracks auf Spotify. Und so entstand eine Art Suite, mit der ich ganz glücklich bin.“ (Brian Eno im Klanghorizonte Interview, Dezember 2020)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Kateryna Zavoloka, Ukranian sound artist, composer, performer, and visual artist, who is now based in Berlin. Living in Kyiv in 2006, Zavoloka founded the label Kvitnu with her partner Dmytro Fedorenko (aka Kotra) and designed and curated the visual appearance of the label’s releases, while also releasing her own music through the label. Cluster Lizard is a duo project with Dmytro Fedorenko.

 

I mainly became really aware of Kvitnu and of your visual design work with the release of the Pan Sonic concert album Oksastus – Live In Ukraine. It was released in 2014, but Mika and Ilpo had already ended the Pan Sonic collaboration a few years prior, so for their fans – like myself – it was a great surprise and event to hear some new music from them (and the album had been recorded at the end of their collaborative years). Can you talk a bit about how you approached that album design? An impressive artwork, it’s just as unusual for Pan Sonic as it is mysterious, opening up a really strong atmospheric world, before one actually listens to the music on the album. It’s a peculiar combination of organic, abstract and artificial elements; the image on the front reminds me of a seed of some sort of grain, but also of an egg from the movie Alien. What’s the story behind it?

 

We invited Pan Sonic to play at the Kvitnu_live event in 2009 in Kyiv, and it was an amazing and very powerful concert. We recorded it properly and asked them if we could release it on Kvitnu, and five years after the concert we made the double LP. The first release was on 20th of February 2014, and it was the last days of the Maidan revolution in Kyiv, Ukraine, during the clashes of protesters with Berkut special forces, police troops, and that day the snipers shot protesters. Those were the most tragic days and a transformational period for Ukraine – and of course for us, and I will remember this day forever. Pan Sonic called the release Oksastus – the Finnish word for process of grafting or cultivating of plants. That is why I decided to use some plants in the design for the artwork, I wanted to make it abstract and organic. I found the slide films of different seeds made by my grandfather Oleg Kozlov, who was a biochemist, scientist and inventor. In the 1960s he made the “scanning microscope” that could make very sharp images of very small objects like insects or seeds. So I used his slides, transformed the images and added textures and special print techniques like UV-lacquering, bronze paint and foil to create a metallic effect. The vinyls me made in white for a contrast, and Dmytro then stamped each LP label with the Pan Sonic logo by hand. Real art work.

 

 

Can you talk about the relationship between your visual work as a designer or graphic artist and your work as a musician/composer? Having the mission and the chance to come up with designs for other artists’ musical worlds must be a bit of a challenge sometimes, I guess.

 

I always asked musicians if they wanted anything particular, and most of the time they answered that they trusted me. While I made artworks, I always listened to their music, kind of sinesthesia. Sometimes musicians would give me some image or photo and I would transform it, and we would add some special effects, like hot foil pressing or the glitter, metallic paint, embossing or silk-print. I’d the say musicians have been happy with my designs for them, as we always would listen carefully. But we never compromised our visions of Kvitnu.

 

You grew up in in Kyiv when Ukraine was still a Soviet Republic – so you experienced the changes from the 80s through the challenging years after 1991. Where did your path as a visual artist and musician start?

 

Yes, it was during the Soviet Union, and I hated it. I was a kid when the union collapsed and Ukrainians were very happy to have independence in 1991. It’s true that those were challenging years for us, but it was wonderful; finally, we we allowed to travel abroad, have private property or make business, listen to music in the end! From my childhood I was interested in visual art and music, my father and mother were painters and designers and I went to millions of different art workshops for kids and sang in a children’s choir. Somehow from my childhood I already knew that I would design artworks for other musicians.

 

Then at some point in time you moved to Vienna and later to Berlin, so in a way you are now in between here and there — also artistically?

 

Dmytro and I moved to Vienna because we wanted to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. A year after graduation we moved to Berlin. It was the most transformational period for me. I think it is very important for any person to have such an experience, and especially for any artist. Living in other countries shifts your perception of everything, removes clichés and patterns in your head, causes tectonic transformations in your consciousness; you start to question your reality more and more, and therefore make more right choices for yourself. This is so important for creativity when you have a more clear vision, of what you want, and what you would not accept anymore. This period made me more balanced and happier after all these stormy times, and this first year in Berlin was actually shiny fruitful in my art.

 

Usually it’s rather the other way round: People from stable Western countries like Germany say how transformational it has been for them to live in much more unstable and messy places for a while. In what way have Vienna or Berlin had such a transformative impetus for you?

 

Maybe it was not very clear: I meant that moving to any other country from your own home country and living there would shift the perception and would offer you different perspectives. We moved to Vienna in 2014 to study and we lived there for five years; and in the middle of 2019 we moved to Berlin – actually, not so long before all the lockdowns. I think when you live in your homeland you have some vision of some sort of spherical happiness in a vacuum about another countries, which is not true for sure. For us, living in Austria was not stable and not comfortable at all, as for immigrants with a non-EU passport it has been extremely tough.

Transformational experiences don’t come from the country itself, but rather from extreme situations, more like a shock therapy that wakes you up, like if you plunge yourself into boiling water and then have to pull yourself out of it. My album Promeni from 2018 is about that.

 

So what kind of things – in art – do you not want to accept anymore?

 

In general, I don’t want to accept compromises with myself, I would rather think and meditate a thousand times and ask myself intuitively: does that resonate with me? Does that what I really need? And after that make better and calm decisions.

 

You had already several years of experience, working as an artist, working with music, sound, visuals, as well as, through the label, with lots of different musicians and artist. What caused both of you to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna?

 

I wanted to learn more about video and motion graphics, Dmytro had math and economy educations and wanted to study at an art academy, that’s why we applied. Well, it was my second art education, as I also used to study at Kyiv State Institute of Decorative and Applied Art and Design before, where it was more academical and technical, whereas in Vienna it was more conceptual and ideological. For artists, it is important to be free thinkers, and free from any ideology templates installed in the head by educational institutes, and I am very glad that I don’t need to study anymore.

 

Earlier you worked with vocals on some releases – you even made a whole collaboration album with AGF, who is a well-versed vocal artist, and I also like your remix of Колискова Для Ворога (Lullaby For The Enemy) by Стасік (Stasik).

 

Стасік is a young Ukrainian singer, songwriter, and a veteran of the Russian-Ukrainian war. She doesn’t have many songs yet, but all of them are like the sharpest knife into the heart, very strong. When Lullaby for the enemy came out, I was so strongly impressed that I immediately wrote to her and suggested making a remix. Then we decided with my partner Dmytro to release these two remixes on Kvitnu as an exclusive EP.

 

On my new album Ornament I also worked with my voice, but it was kind of hidden, and I didn’t want to draw attention to it, but rather work with the voice like an expressive sound source, untraceable in the sonic fabric.

 

 

On the last few albums your music on the one hand seems to have become more reduced, compositionally – but on the other hand, sound-wise, also more high-energy“. I often find a curious combination of smooth, or mellow elements in your music – while it is still very energetic, these more recent releases, too. Did living in Berlin have an influence on the new album?

 

I don’t think it’s influenced by Berlin, because the music came from the period of the album Syngonia, which was written around 2016. Just before that, I spent several years looking for the sound I needed. I even wanted to stop composing music, I was not satisfied and thought that I was tired. I think it’s a natural evolution, and it’s natural for an artist to have such peaks of negativity and positivity, and it’s really great to find a middle way and balance in creativity.

 

Right before Syngonia I was going through a difficult period. Syngonia and Promeni were the last two volumes of the series of “Purification by Four Elements: Air, Water, Earth, Fire” and I felt relieved when I finished them. Ornament was written in 2019–2020 and is a stand-alone album with a different concept, where ornament is the coding element for the unique algorithm that modulates an intention, path, state, and a space.

 

Since you commented on your art or process becoming clearer: The artwork of Ornament is probably your most reduced and minimalist cover – at the same time it also seems to be inspired by some sort of extreme contrast, it’s almost aggressive.

 

The artwork of Ornament is more minimalist because I wanted to make it like a colourful contrast of extreme states of consciousness, where balance is the key. As it is contrasting sonically.

 

The album is very contrasting in atmospheres and in sound, it is like travel.

 

And Prophecy, the 2018 Cluster Lizard album, was the last one you recorded in Vienna? What’s the main idea behind it? I notice the tracks are quite long (as are the track titles, which are quotes from poetry). What kind of prophecy does the album title refer to?

 

Prophecy is like a message of revelation. The tracks are as long as their poetic titles, we wanted to create narrative atmospheres, sonic trip.

 

So Kvitnu has been running since 2006 with around 70 releases. So what caused you to start another label, Prostir, in 2018? 

 

Yes, we started Kvitnu in 2006 in Kyiv and made it for 14 years, until 2020. At first, it was only for Ukrainian experimental electronic music, but soon we received so many demos from around the world, so Kvitnu became international. We helped many musicians to release their music, it was truly an honour for us to discover wonderful artists and to help them from the heart. We have decided to close Kvitnu, because it was an art project, like an art movie with a good ending. We already heard several melancholic stories about other labels, and it was extremely important for us to make a positive finale at the highest peak of development. We became friends with our artists, we have a very grateful audience, and the release of Kotra & Zavoloka Silence became the final endless silent loop with the question written on the EP label: What do you hear, how much you hear nothing?“


Prostir me and Dmytro started in 2018 for only our own music and arts with the second release by Cluster Lizard, Prophecy. So it was natural that I wanted to release my solo album Ornament there. We consider Prostir not only as a music label but also as an art space (“prostir” / “простір” means “space” in Ukrainian) for any other art forms and other dimensions we might imagine.

 

Which direction would you like to see your music moving towards?

 

Our plan is to release the new Cluster Lizard album, which will sound different from our previous albums. We already composed several tracks. Dmytro has played on his guitar and bass with various effect processors and pedals, so the new album will sound more bright and fresh. And after we finish the album, I want to compose for my solo work – I have some thoughts already.

 

How is your view on the situation among your friends in Ukraine today? Would you consider moving back sometime, or do you think the political situation is too dire — and you prefer to stay in Berlin?

 

We moved to Berlin for music. Now, of course, it’s a bit quiet everywhere, but I hope it will change soon. Somehow now I play more often in Ukraine than before and love to travel there. And I am very glad that so many very good events and professional promoters have appeared in recent years; it’s wonderful! As any Ukrainian has a cherry-blossom garden in their heart, whenever I will be bored here, I will move back.

 

 

Finally, which music has been the most evocative and inspiring for you in 2020?

 

For me, 2020 has been precious as the most productive and intense year in my own music and I believe for other artists too. I liked the new albums of my friends – Kotra’s Namir and Ujif_Notfound’s Neumatonic. Amazing new album by Liturgy, Origin of the Alimonies, Simon Posford‘s Flux & Contemplation – Portrait of an Artist in Isolation, and Extrawelt’s Little We Know and many others. Of older music, I opened for myself this year Japanese collective Geinoh Yamashirogumi and the last album by Jack White, Boarding House Reach, and Muslimgauze’s Salaam Alekum, Bastard are great.

I think we are currently in a time of beautiful transitions and transformations in music.

The conversation between Kateryna Zavoloka and IJ.Biermann, was conducted in Berlin, in December 2020.

2020 28 Aug

Ein nie wahrgenommener Satz

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Als ich den Text fertigstellte zur Wiederveröffentlichung von „Wrong Way Up“ (s. „From the archives“), las ich auch quer über andere Texte zum Album, und staunte nicht schlecht, als ich über eine Songzeile stolperte, die ich nie bewusst wahrgenommen hatte, obwohl ich das Album unzählige Male gehört habe und dachte, mittlerweile in jeden seiner Winkel gekrochen zu sein. „If It all fades away, let it all fade dancing away.“ Das ist so eine Zeile, die sich mir unter normalen Umständen so tief eingeprägt hätte, wie der eine oder andere Vers von Cohen oder Lennon/McCartney. Aber ist es nicht genau das, was wir an Alben lieben, die uns durchs Leben begleiten: sie überraschen uns nach wie vor, und ihre Tiefenwirkung lässt einfach nicht nach.

Discourses is Jon Balke‘s third solo piano album. With the second one, the wonderfully seductive Warp, sound processing & sound design enter the field – a subtile undermining of the piano‘s purity. The Norwegian composer (b. 1955)  is a member of the „ECM family“ since the early years, with his first appearance on Arild Andersen‘s album Clouds In My Head (1974). Let‘s skip his broad range of works as a leader since the days of Nonsentration (1991) and come to the here and now. When I first heard the new album, I immediately sensed that it was not Jon‘s idea to simply add more colours to the sensual palette of Warp. I felt urgency, anger, ruptures. There is something faithful though, a sense of mystery wrapped around melodic figures. Discourses is a very special record.

 
 
 

 
 

Do you agree when I say, Discourses is the „dark sister“ of Warp? It is a very dense work.

 

I sincerely don´t want to direct how people hear this album, and I am happy to hear totally different and opposite interpretations of the music. But, yes, it is connected to Warp and also to Book of Velocitites (2007) in the sense that it explores the same situation, which is the solo artist and the surroundings (Book of V playing to an empty room, Warp playing to a world that starts to respond). And then I have tried to make Discourses a more focused album than the previous two, in the sense that it explores a smaller field of dynamics and tonal concepts. More focus on micro-details. So a detour into a smaller space, in a way.

 

Of course in these days new albums are often linked with Covid 19. Thus, nearly automatically, when looking at the cover, I imagined some early social distancing exercise. When listening to the album I had the impression of a kind of fight going on between uncompromised self-expression and a threatening counter-force of some kind. Am I wrong?

 

No, you are right, absolutely. I am concerned with society and political developments, and do not make music in a vacuum. And, since this music had language and rhetoric as direct inspiration, the music is a reaction to the deterioration of language in political discourse. In a way the Covid crisis highlights this even more, with the desperate press conferences we see too often by leaders who have made catastrophical choices all the way into this disaster. I took the cover photo on a morning square in Malmo, Sweden, and made a series of the same theme that I the crossfaded with each other into a slow-mo movie, because the light was good and the people moving isolated in their own world.

 

The new album is somehow inspired by language, but words themselves are absent.

 

I am attracted to the music of language in rhetoric, and dayly speech: how we use tonality and flexible, non-metric rhythm to express as precisely as possible what we want to say. We pause, we rush, we punctuate, we climb in pitch. Also how we make a statement, debates it, argue for it, return to it, conclude. The solo speech is a good school for solo piano playing.


Discourses will be released tomorrow. How do all these strange sounds care for additional suspense without interrupting the flow of listening? What has been the role of producer Manfred Eicher in the final mix? How come this „smaller space“ is opening up again and again? You can hear other parts of my interview with Jon Balke during the radio night of „Klanghorizonte“ on June 20, and as part of the „Jazz Facts“ on July 5 (Deutschlandfunk).

 

Music can be a remedy in these times of danger and darkness, in its own peculiar ways. It can offer calm, consolation, and open new gates of perception. Readers of this interview with composer and drummer Sebastian Rochford may know well some albums of artists who did record in vast spaces, from the likes of Paul Horn, or Jan Garbarek moving into the monastery of St. Gerold.  Thinking of albums that have been made outside the comfort zones of modern recording studios, clubs and concert halls, Pauline Oliveros‘ classic „Deep Listening“ may also come to mind, a quite thrilling exploration of natural reverb in a meditative state of mind. „Rose Golden Doorways“ by „Pulled By Magnets“ is somehow a wilder affair, and if anyone would ever write a book about wonderful albums, recorded in caves, churches, pyramids, and other  power spots, the writer should make sure this album will be part of the journey.

 
 

 
 

FEELING THE SPACE, FILLING THE SPACE

 

Michael:  If you are still living in London, what would be a great place for this interview if we would do it face to face. You have a favourite cafe there, or another place with a good vibe?

 

Sebastian: Would probably be the Colombian indoor market in Tottenham, I love that place and has great food and coffee, sadly it’s been sold off to make apartments so don’t know how long it’s going to be there.

 

Michael: My favourite Polar Bear album, „Same As You“,  was inspired, in parts, by your visit at the Mojave Desert. Now, with the new trio in mind, what did you trigger to move into another vast space, The „Old Church“  in Stoke Newington?

 

Sebastian: This album was inspired by energy and creation, what it is that makes us and how our perception of that changes our lives. The  church was for how I could further represent that sonically,  I wanted us to have a place we could fill our sound into in an active way, where Pete could let his saxophone soar and somewhere that would answer back to the sound we were making.

 

Michael: The bigger the reverb, the less you have to play, or was it a challenge to approach the zone of falling apart, soundwise, meaning „conventionally“ soundwise?

 

Sebastian: I wanted to use the church in different ways, sometimes to feel the space and sometimes to fill that space with more volume and density, using the reverb almost as a sheet noise when needed.

 

Michael: If everybody in the band uses electronics to,  at least from one perspective, alter the sound of the instruments, was the intention, to minimalize the expections associated with „nomal“ saxophone or electric bass sounds? Was the adding of electronics a device to further move into the unknown?

 

Sebastian: When we started rehearsing I asked Neil and Pete to have effects all the time and then we go from there, I wanted them to feel that extreme as a seed to grow from.

 

Michael: Did you record at nighttime? Apart from probably being in the zone while playing, how did the atmosphere of the church affect your mood? Was it more dark and brooding, or more on the peace of mind side of things? I‘m asking cause you can easily associate this music with archaic rituals, miles beyond the history of the place. 

 

Sebastian: There’s a certain silence and acoustic in a church that for me, definitely has an influence on your mood, every sound is very much amplified, quieter sounds have such impact, so making lots of noise in there almost felt confrontational to what is perceived as the „right“ thing to do, this is in part of what the album is about, feeling energy as a whole and there being a balance in different elements. There was a passage I read in the Upanishads that said about human beings being a collection of armies that sometimes collide and sometimes work in harmony, this really made a connection with me and was an inspiration. Because of all the stained glass windows, the atmosphere changed during the day into night and I loved it’s presence and influence.

 
 
THE RIGHT TIME FOR A CHURCH BELL TO RING

 

Michael:  Now there are, apart from drone elements, no playful allusions to Classical Indian music. The connection seems to come alive in a different way.

 

Sebastian: My Indian roots are always a part of my creativity as they are a part of who I am, but I did go back to India before making this album to connect again and see family. While I was there I didn’t listen to any recorded music, instead just listening to all the sounds around me, I felt I needed a sonic cleanse. As I write from singing inside me, I wanted to expand my internal sound and this was part of my process. I also studied singing while I was there though none of the Pulled by Magnets music uses any of the raags I learnt there. The Indian influence on this album was more my experience of going back there, my connection and the relationship I have with myself every day around it. My family there are all Catholic and I was brought up Catholic but I’m also descended from Hindus and in recent years was the first time I allowed myself to explore these religious traditions for myself, which I found great inspiration in and allowed me to think differently about who I am on a day to day basis, which in turn helped me to write and play this music.

 

Michael: Did you go into the church with some compositional sketches, and in the mood to see what happens when sound moves its special ways , or was it a  more improvisational approach?

 

Sebastian: We went into the recording with written pieces and arrangements that contain passages of improvisation, the harmony in this music is very particular too, sometimes using 9 and 10 note scales that for me are integral to the sound of the music but as always I want to the musicians to take the music in their way when the ground has been set. I gave myself time before writing the music to daydream about form and sound in different ways.

 
 

 
 

Michael: The last piece of the album is building up to a climax, the sax, the noisy grid, but, in the end, a warm enveloping sound…

 

Sebastian: That’s me playing the church organ at the end and then the church bell which never chimed during a piece the whole time we were there, but went off ten minutes after we finished recording and I asked Sonny to record it. It felt like a natural way to rest the album.

 

Michael: Has there been a book that inspired the new album. Some discoveries you made by reading that opened you up for some of the „reasearch fields“ of this music?

 

Sebastian: I was reading alot The Upanishads, The Isvara Gita and The Mirror of Simple Souls which is essentially a book about Divine Love written by a French Bedhouin named Marguerite Porete who was burned at the Stake for refusing to keep her writings private, I discovered it through a great Dutch band called Turia. All these books greatly inspired me and enabled me to write this music as they gave me different ways to perceive the world and energies around us.

 
 
SYMBOLS, MAGNETS, AND FOOD

 

Michael: Opening the inner sleeve, you see an extension of the cover, a rather enigmatic drawing playing with symbols. Can you offer some information for those who might think they’ve found a treasure map?

 

Sebastian: From all the reading I was doing, I noticed there was an element of my intuitive understanding of these texts, so for the album I created symbolic and written text forms of the music that I hope people can feel and interpret using their intuition while listening to the music, every track has it’s own symbol that is personal to what it’s meaning is for me.

 

Michael: Why calling the trio „Pulled By Magnets“? There surely is a great alchemy between the three players, Pete Wareham  again playing essentials, never entering the light talkative mood, and Neil Charles at the electric bass and electronics adding something wild, too?

 

Sebastian: I was describing the music to someone and they mentioned the feeling of being pulled by magnets, it stayed with me so I asked if I could use it which they said were happy for me to.

 

Michael: Have there been albums recently you have experienced as really immersive experiences?

 

Sebastian: For that experience I love the bands Solar Temple, Hexeth and Entheogen who I discovered after writing the music for Pulled by Magnets.

 

Michael: Did you do another ECM recording waiting for release?

 

Sebastian: No not as yet but I hope maybe in the future, Manfred Eicher is another great inspiration to me.

 

Michael: What are your plans for today or the day you have finshed to answer these questions? I do have some favourite rituals there, like traveling to the north by underground and strolling through Hampsread Heath. I always get into a very special mood there.

 

Sebastian: I started today with my own ritual and also watching two magpies gather twigs and mud for a nest.

 

Michael: What comes to your mind when you think of  the late Jon Christensen on drums?

 

Sebastian: I saw Jon Christensen playing with Jakob Bro a few years ago, I loved watching him play, was at the same time like a master and curious child.

 

Michael: What has been recently, or way back, a TV series that put a spell on you in a good way, on Netflix or wherever, or did the „new  revolution“ on TV did not cross your ways….

 

Sebastian: I love watching Netflix, so many good series, documentaries and food shows! I love watching programmes about food also because it is so connected to culture, history and community so you learn about all these things, one of my favourite ones is Ugly Delicious.

Menschen reagieren auf das Kolossal-Fremde reflexhaft mit Angst. Man hat wenig Ressourcen, dem Unbegreiflichen in ersten Augenblicken couragiert entgegenzutreten. Denken Sie an die Riesenspinnen von „Tarantula“, an Urthemen von Science Fiction und Mystery, an Todesnähe, aber auch, in politischen Dimensionen, an die primitiven Ängste vor „Überfremdung“, die Rechtspopulisten verbreiten. Bei letzteren reicht ein gutes Quantum Antifaschismus, Empathie und Toleranz, um sich zu widersetzen, und ein tieferes Verstehen des Fremden zu ermöglichen. Eine Musik, die eine Zukunft träumt, wie die analogen Synthesizer von Motus, und dabei jeden anheimelnden Retro-Charme vermissen lässt, kann schon leicht eine Ur-Angst hervorlocken: der Blick in eine ferne Zeit, der nicht mit allerlei Vertrautheiten garniert ist, hält allerdings auch eine grosse Bandbreite von Empfindungen parat, Erschrecken, Schauern, Verwunderung, Staunen. Man ist aufgefordert, erst einmal etwas auszuhalten, wenn man über eine solche Schwelle tritt. Und wenn man nicht gleich die Flucht ergreift, kann etwas Neues beim Hören entstehen, etwas, wovon man bei den ersten Tönen von Thomas Köners neuem Album nicht zu träumen wagte.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Erste Frage: Diese Musik wirkt sicher für viele Hörer erst einmal unvertraut, ja, unheimlich. Wie stellst du dir die mögliche Verwandlung vor, die bei einem Hörer einsetzen kann, dass man das, was anfangs leicht fremdartig, verstörend wirkt, auf einmal (ein Kippen der Wahrnehmung) als faszinierend, spannend erleben kann?

 

Thomas Köner: Es gibt ja in der deutschen Sprache  den schönen Begriff der Zukunftsmusik. Was ich mit Motus geschaffen habe, ist Zukunftsmusik, also Musik, die aus der Zukunft kommt, oder vielmehr, Musik, die so klingt, als käme sie aus der Zukunft. Das vibriert und wärmt uns, und ist auf eine Art fremd, bis wir Freundschaft schliessen, es ist ja Musik aus unserer eigenen Zukunft, nichts projiziertes, verdinglichtes, sondern aus einer Zukunft, die selbst eine Zukunft hat, ein endloses Öffnen, Sich-Öffnen, das so WEIT wird, das alle Erwartungen an Musik, Melodie, Formen und patterns immer weiter, immer ferner zurückbleiben, und schon in Vergessenheit geraten sind. Wir geraten also in Bewegung. Motus heisst ja Bewegung, Umwandlung, Fortschritt, Tumult, ein Wort aus der lateinischen Sprache.

 
 

Zweite Frage: Wie kommst du darauf, diese Musik überhaupt in dem Kontext von dancefloor, oder imaginärem dancefloor anzusiedeln. Ist ja schon weit weg von deiner Musik mit Porter Ricks. Das ist schon ambitioniert, con einer Art Tanzmusik zu träumen, die keinen Takt, keinen Rhythmus im engeren Sinne kennt.

 


Thomas Köner: Motus ist (für mich) mehr als nur Musik, die mit analogen Synthesizern gemacht wird, es geht um eine Haltung, eine Art, sich auf den Klang und die Emotion, die er auslöst, zu beziehen. Ein Lebensstil, bei dem Bewegung, Bewegen und Bewegt-Werden in Eins gehen. Es geht um Vibration und Resonanz, es geht um die Haut, um Berührung, um Oberflächen und das gasförmige Medium dazwischen. Ich träume von einem Raum, einem öffentlichen Raum, in dem Motus als Tanzmusik verstanden werden könnte. In welcher Welt, oder besser gesagt, in welcher Gesellschaft wäre das möglich? Und wann würde das möglich sein? Ist das futuristisch? Wird es so eine Zukunft geben? Ich möchte gerne darauf hinarbeiten, Situationen schaffen, durch die sich das Verständnis von Musik erweitern kann, Bedingungen schaffen, in denen einfach glückliche Momente unabhängig werden von einfacher Musik, in der Harmonie aufleuchten kann, auch jenseits von Kadenzen aus tonika – dominante – subdominante. Motus ist Teil dieser Erforschung: Tanz, frei von Takt und Groove, frei von Rhythmus zu finden. Es pulsiert. Der Downbeat verbindet sich mit dem Unten, ein Unten wie in Steinen, im Mineralischen. Der Upbeat verbindet sich mit einem Oben, ein Oben wie in Gräsern, Blumen, Bäumen und Sternen. Und Downbeat und Upbeat zu vereinen – das ist das, was ich unter Tanz verstehe. Die Tänzer verbinden beides zusammen, verbinden Upbeat und Downbeat, Himmel und Erde. Ihre Bewegungen sind rein, es ist die pure Bewegung, der Kuss von Geist und Materie.

 


Dritte Frage: Gab es beim Entwickeln dieser Musik für dich wiederum Bücher, wie früher, bei Alben wie Teimo oder Permafrost, die Lektüre von oft tragisch verlaufenden Expeditionen in arktische Räume? 

 
 

Thomas Köner: Der kreative Prozess geschieht natürlich immer in Begleitung, das ist ja so eine Grundannahme, Grundvoraussetzung, das zur Inspiration immer Zwei gehören, das Inspirierende und der / die Inspirierte, und das trifft auch hier mit Motus zu. Aber, und das ist ein grosses Aber – ich war ständig darauf aus, dass die Stelle der begleitenden Inspiration leer war und leer blieb. Also das heisst, wenn diese Stelle an einem Tag, in einem Moment nicht leer war, dann habe ich gar nicht erst angefangen mit dem Musikmachen oder direkt damit aufgehört. Inspiration ist ja notwendigerweise etwas, das aus der Vergangenheit kommt, und dann würde man es in der Gegenwart reflektieren, mit dem kreativen Akt darauf reagieren. Das war eine interessante Erfahrung, wie rückwärtsgewandt wir sind, alle Emotion, vom Vortag, vom Vorjahr, das stört ja wenn ich mir Musik vorstelle, wie sie aus der Zukunft kommt. Du wirst mir widersprechen und sagen, Angst vor der Zukunft, bedrohlich, das kommt doch aus der Zukunft und ist vorstellbar, begleitet uns, inspiriert uns. Aber das ist falsch. Alles, was wir erkennen und benennen kommt aus der Vergangenheit. Die Zukunft, die wir benennen können, ist nicht die wahre Zukunft. Deshalb klingt Motus ja so fremd, es ist unbeschreiblich, es ist nicht so wie man es erwarten würde oder könnte. Vielleicht mag das Hörer irritieren, aber ist das nicht schön? Insofern, deine Frage nach den Inspirationsquellen: das sind die Leerstellen.

 


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