Thursday, January 17, 2008

Surgery 53

Happy New Year.

To kick things off for 2008 there are a couple of tweaks to the Surgery shows you'll notice:

First is a direct link to each artist's label in the album list below.

Second is an approximate minute and second marker for when each new song starts in the track listing.

The rest is as it was. Maybe even better.



- Wolfhour (Other Electricities)
Autistic Daughters - Uneasy Flowers (Kranky)
Various - A Number Of Small Things (Morr)
De Portables - Topless Is More (Stilll)
Pluramon - The Monstrous Surplus (Karaoke Kalk)
The Sales Department - Accounts (This Quiet Army)
Antoine Berthiaume & MaryClare Brzytwa - Bebe Donkey (Ambiances Magnetiques)
Apillow - Leaves Winter Alone (This Quiet Army)
Various - Airport Symphony (Room40)
Growing - Lateral (The Social Registry)
Songs Of Green Pheasant - Gyllyng Street (FatCat)

Track Listing

Baja - Return To Anthol (Ghosts In Denial) [00:15]
Autistic Daughers - Liquid And Starch [04:26]
Benni Hemm Hemm - Aldrei (Featuring Jens Lekman) [08:42]
De Portables - Superdedubber [12:28]
Pluramon - Can't Disappear [21:39]
The Sales Department - Delete Your Heart [26:59]
Antoine Berthiaume & MaryClare Brzytwa - Who Is Really [30:17]
Apillow - The Departing Heart [36:00]
Tim Hecker - Blue Ember Breeze [40:10]
Growing - After Glow [46:08]
Song of Green Pheasant - A Sketch For Maenporth [51:59]

Listen to Surgery 53 click here

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Some of the best of 2007

Trying to distill a top ten, top twenty, fifty... whatever... list is a preoccupation that corners folks like me at the end of every year. With Surgery crossing genre boundaries (ephemeral as they are), ranking largely "unlike" albums in a numerical order seems a little narrow-minded. Not to say that I haven't done it in the past....

This year I decided to choose a handful of albums that particularly grabbed my attention in 2007 and quiz the artists involved in their creation. Below are the initial seven respondents... with later additions a possibility, though not a certainty.

White/Lichens - S/T (Holy Mountain)
The melding of Chicago duo White/Light (Matt Clark and Jeremy Lemos) and Robert Lowe who records for Kranky as Lichens... see also his excellent Omns album for that label. Jeremy Lemos took question answering duty.

Zelienople - His/Hers (Type)
A decade-old Chicago trio follow four smaller-run releases with their first for Type Records.

White Rainbow - Prism of Eternal Now (Kranky)
Adam Forkner has been a member/band leader of Yume Bitsu, Surface of Eceyon, World to name a few. White Rainbow is his new solo identity.

Pjusk - Sart (12k)
Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik & Rune Andre Sagevik are a duo from Norway who've grown (separately) through the nineties rave/dance movements in electronic music, now exploring sparser territory.

Valet - Blood is Clean (Kranky)
Honey Owens has worked with Jackie-O Motherfucker, Nudge and World.... Valet is where she goes it alone.

Nicolas Bernier / Jacques Poulin - Denis - Etude #3 pour cordes et poulies (Ekumen)
Working in the fields of dance and electroacoustic composition, this duo are also involved in the Ekumen web-based collective for new digital arts.

Ateleia - Formal Sleep (Table of the Elements)
James Elliott's second full length, and first for Table of the Elements. It is a genre-defying ride.

The interviews were conducted via e-mail, if you're wondering why it sounds like we're all quoting term papers from time to time.

Thanks to these folks for their cooperation and for making interesting music... and now it's 2008... so... more, please!

White/Lichens - S/T

Drone / Ambient music seems to be crossing many stylistic boundaries this last little while (acoustic, electronic, metal). What about it is attractive to you as a musician? As a listener?
I've always thought that noise music was much more interesting than pop/"straight" music, most of the time anyway. It seems like if it's not so harsh now it's "drone"... I don't mind that term at all, but it's been something that we have all been involved in as performers and fans for a long time. there is a long history here of great jazz and experimental improvisers in Chicago, and we have just been doing it a little louder.

Robert's music tends towards a quieter, more meditative end of the spectrum while this collaboration yields a more visceral result... was there any difficulty in deciding on the album's temperament? Was there every any concern of balancing volume against detail?

We didn't really decide on anything at all! We were all close friends and decide to record a little together, that's all. What's on the record is almost 100% the three of us improvising in the studio. We hit record, and that's what happened. I think we are all pretty happy with how it turned out!

The artwork features symbols and descriptions of several mythic/spiritual entities... is this iconography a layer of meaning applied to the experience/enjoyment of the music, or are they sources of inspiration for its production?

That artwork is pure Rob Lowe. He is a very creative person, and when he has an idea or concept about something you can really just let him go. I dug it, but as far as meaning you will have to talk to him.

Does the creation/playing of powerful improvised music have any hangover... that is to say does the space you're in seem emptier once the sound subsides? Is there anxiety or elation about tapping into this energy... or is it just rocking?

Ha! for me it's about turning everything off! There is a point of absolute nothingness inside me when it gets really heavy... you can reach points of drowning out every thought in your mind, and you just start to react instead of think.... That's the best part about performing for me... but that usually only happens when it gets really loud!!
White/Lichens - S/T (Holy Mountain)

Some of Jeremy Lemos' favourite things from 2007

Eating the greatest chili rellenos EVER in Guadalajara.

Seeing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs play Lollapalooza.

Going to China and Russia.

Watching Sonic Youth play Daydream Nation like 20 times in a row.

Recording the band Figurines in an amazing studio in the mountains of Sweden.

Winning €1600 playing poker on the Champs - Elysées.

Making a record in Steve Albini's studio with my new favorite band: (

The new Stars of the Lid record.

The new Leslie Keffer LP.

Zelienople - His/Hers

You've had quite a few CD-R/vinyl releases preceding "His/Hers"--- do you feel more pressure making something for these limited "collectors" run releases vs. a new-but-established label like Type? Or are these smaller run releases better for capturing snapshots of the band at certain stages? Is there a "let's try this and see" impulse curtailed by unlimited releases?

Mike: The cd-r releases have allowed us the opportunity to put out music that doesn't have to necessarily fit a proper album format. Ghost Ship on PseudoArcana was a long conceptual drone piece that we recorded during a rehearsal for a show that we specifically created for the evening. Enemy Chorus on Time-Lag was an idea of Matt's about setting up self-imposed limitations, which for these two songs was to record for 15 minutes and then "overdub" a second pass over the first recording, essentially playing along with the first recording. Ink on 267 Lattajjaa was a quick live recording mostly using our newly constructed home-made instruments. So yeah, cd-r releases have given us a chance to get these kind of ephemeral recording projects out into the world.

Matt: Yep. That sounds about right. Mike's right.

How much of your aesthetic do you think of as have been decided upon from the outset versus elements arrived at organically over time? Have there been happy accidents? Unhappy ones?

Mike: Matt usually has a loose song idea that he brings to us without dictating how the end result should be. He gives us some minor clues and then for the most part it strays off into it's own beastly creation. We're not recording in an isolation tank so we're open to incidental sounds and happy accidents. The unhappy ones are the usual irritants like digital distortion and thin sound spectrum results of our louder performances.

Matt: I'd say that the songs are half written, half improv. Recording yourself allows you to spend a lot of time waiting for the more inspired take. But Mike's right, for a louder piece it's tough to get it to sound good without spending way too much time on it.

Bands that don't adhere to basic, easily recognizable songwriting structures are frequently asked to either describe themselves or are defined by influences--- is this fair? Are there influences you'd claim did shape your approach to music? What's been the worst misunderstanding in this area that you've been aware of?

Mike: Having to describe our music makes me uncomfortable. I can never do it, when I try I either sound like a pompous asshole or a self-deprecating mope. As for influences, shit this question probably would've been easier to answer when we first starting to record together but now it's really difficult to figure out if the influence is external (other bands, artists, nature, etc.) or internal (drawing from our previous creative experiences). I'm sure it's all mixed up but I can't really point to anything very specific. What might be influential to me, might not have even been experienced by Matt or Brian. That being said, I can think of a handful of names that might be referenced during a recording session... Neil Young, Brian Eno, Bob Dylan, Slowdive. As for your last question, music reviewers seem to assume we're influenced by the same new shit that everyone else is into at the time. There's been tons of genre labels that have been attached to us "ambient-pop-space-rock-freak-folk-submerged-psychedelia -dronescape-forest-noise-folk-post-rock-post-shoegaze-slowcore-doom." This should the title of our next record.

Matt: We're not old farts, but we are getting older. So like Mike said, it's harder to discern the influences than when we were starting out. I don't think about other people's music as much these days. We've been playing together for over 10 years, so I think that we also influence
each other.

Does playing meditative music live presents challenges? Are the more eruptive elements invoked at this time? What's been the best/worst crowd response you've gotten?

Mike: we mix it up quite a bit live, although our noisy moments are pushed even further the point where ecstatic screaming is invoked!! I can't control myself! I'm never sure what to think of the crowd's response. Lot's of beard-scratching and arm-folding. Occasionaly, people will lie on the floor in front of us... I can relate to that.

Matt: I think that people always respond more to the aggressive stuff during live shows. We did get heckled once, but I think that I was the only one in the band that could hear it. The guy kept asking me to play a Bob Dylan song. It irritated me more than I would've expected.
Zelienople - His/Hers (Type)

Some of Zelienople's favourite things from 2007

Mike: I'm the only one in the band that buys new music and I pass on the highlights (burned copies) and lowlights (regretful purchases or trades) to Matt and Brian. Here's a list of some releases that I listened to quite a bit in '07...

Religious Knives - Remains
Valet - Blood Is Clean
Panda Bear - Person Pitch
PJ Harvey - White Chalk
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - The Phantom Harp
RV Paintings - Trinity Rivers
Jon Mueller - Metals
Loren Mazzacane Connors - The Hymn of the North Star
The Dead C - Future Artists
GHQ - Crystal Healing
Odawas - Raven and the White Night (I vote "Ice" for the song of the year)
Grouper - Cover the Windows and the Walls
Supersilent - 8
Baker/Sandstrom/Williams/Hunt - Extraordinary Popular Delusions

The AM radio through my new Moogerfooger low-pass filter
the above mentioned Odawas
Grouper (especially the 7" on Type)
Geoff Mullen
Some other shit that I can't remember. What're ya gonna do?

White Rainbow - Prism of Eternal Now

After working in bands/duos for so long what about working solo was a pleasant surprise? What do you feel you might have been missing most from collaborating?

Working up to doing things on my own has been about building confidence in myself as a musician. Its hard to have all the weight of the quality of the music rest on my shoulders alone, and I was nervous about it for a long time. I'm still nervous about it. I struggle with the feeling that what I do is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, or that my past mistakes will add up and come to haunt me.... But my constant reply to myself is that it doesn't matter if it matters to the world so much as it matters that I am personally proud of the things I make, and that I keep doing it. It has been a few years now, starting around 2002, since I first started playing shows by myself. I have made so many mistakes on the way. but it's been about 5 years now... that's longer than I was in college... so hopefully i've progressed! And I still love to make music with other people. I do it as often as i can, but now I enjoy being more of a contributer rather than a leader of anything.

In a recent interview you made reference to a spiritual component in creating this type of music. Do you find, as an artist as well as a listener, that music is a better medium to articulate these feelings and philosophical ideas than the spoken/written word?

I don't know if music is fundamentally or universally better at articulating philosophical or spiritual ideas..all I know is that the act of creating music has always been my way of looking inward and in some way might be close to some sort of "active meditation". There is something to be said about letting the world of words go, clearing the mind and body and whatever else there might be and getting wrapped up in a world of sound. For me it is cleansing, and I guess I have been exploring that concept further, trying different ways to create a world of sound for others to get lost in as well. This "getting lost" maybe is spiritual in nature? Either by turning off the inner-chatter, or literally losing a sense of self or ego. I hesitate to define it too much for fear of it losing its openness to different interpretations or usages. But to come to some sort of interaction with some sort of inexplicable sublime... or total psychedelic sonic/visual immersion. Those sorts of experiences are so hard to describe in words. As an artist i'm not trying to drive a specific point home, so its hard to say if my point would be better spoken or shown or made with sound. I don't make music in order to articulate anything in particular. I just make sounds and I figure out what they are making me feel and think in that moment and continue to react to that. Maybe nothing is articulated. I don't know. The best stuff comes when I somehow get out of the way and things just flow through me somehow. Same with listening, when I can let go of my thoughts and just be with the music.

The album's artwork is saturated with pop/new age slogans for healing and restorative powers of the album... how much tongue-in-cheek is this satire vs. a more serious criticism of quick-fix "soul cleansings"? Are you/were you ever worried the artwork would undercut the album's sincerity?

The back cover is a tribute to Dr. Bronner's magic soap, and I guess I never worry too much about the whole issue of irony vs sincerity. I guess i'm kind of over that whole issue. To me humor and sincerity are both a big part of my life, so why not my art? I don't think its too much in this day and age for people to handle that. I kinda feel like the 'seriousness' of music, and spirituality can hinder it sometimes. I make really trippy music in this really fucked up world. I am constantly confronted with the fact that the things I do most 'normal' people would find really really weird. I enjoy Dr. Bronner's soap bottles probably the same way most people do: it is amazingly deep and profound stuff, but also completely crazy and ridiculous. there's always something deep that you can take with you as a sincere thought about life and how to live it, next to something that comes straight out of left field and is totally crazy. If we can live with that reality, and we can all enjoy his soaps and their labels, I don't see why it has to be any different with my music. As a person who makes borderline new age music, I am attracted to that dialog.

Am i for real? Totally. Yes. 110%. Do i think music can heal people? Yes yes yes yes yes. It has saved me a million times in my life. But can we also laugh at how hokey the world of healing and self-help and new age can be? and if not, why? Yes i admit it I am self-aware, that to me is sincerity. i think of it as much more sincere than pretending to be totally serious with more pictures of clouds.

I enjoy thinking about both sides of the equation. Maybe some people find it too "post-modern"ish or something. But if the neo-modern times we live in, with its fascination with minimalism and utopianism (and on the other side of the fence, world leaders going back into some fascist vibes), is to not fall into the same problems as similar motivations in the 20th century, we have to be able to see beyond our 'sincere' convictions to some new way of being in the world. Or something. I don't know. I guess that's why I did that artwork like that.

From a technical standpoint... there is a greater diversity of instruments than usual... does that still feed into a focused aesthetic, or is it a struggle to not open up the soundworld even more?
I feel like i have trouble with creating any one focused aesthetic with my music. you can take things so many places. So, yes it is a struggle to not open the sound world up to everything a computer and a guitar and a bunch of pedals and all the other odds and ends lying around can create. When I'm recording music or playing live, I really can't be worrying about that stuff or everything will just go cold. I can only hope that the fact that I am making it makes it singular to me. I throw out a LOT of music that I make, too. I'm just not the type of person that
thinks of the aesthetic first, make the t-shirt designs before the music, comes up with a style and then executes within that structure.

Is there a piece or pieces of gear that you think of as logical starting points for the "Adam Forkner sound"?

Circa right now... you'd need some fuzz, some lo-pass filter (wah wah-ish), octave pedal... many different delay pedals, looping devices, phaser, pitch shift... voice, guitar, hand drums... and when recording don't forget the flange! But tons of people use all the same tools. In the end I can't think about that stuff too much when I'm making things or I would get twisted up in confusion and lack of confidence.
White Rainbow - Prism of Eternal Now (Kranky)

Some of White Rainbow / Adam Forkner's favourite things from 2007

Adrian Orange, as a person and a musician. Just watching him grow and explore and being able to be a part of it. Playing weird improvised shows with him around portland has been one of the greatest pleasures for me this year.

Flange and Chorus: big comeback in 07.

Adrian and Tom Blood's new Supertape label (

Rob Walmart in general (,

Seeing Deerhunter live.

The Bottled Smoke Festival thrown by Foxy Digitalis.

The Echo Curio Gallery in L. A. Good bands, good times, good vibes.

My special lady friend Honey's new Valet record (comes out in feb 08).

Getting to finally play a show in Big Sur

Playing on/'coaching' the Marriage Records sponsored futsal (indoor soccer) team THE LIGHTNINGS

Sun Circle
(Zach Wallace and Greg Davis and one other dude) live show.

The new book about Father Yod and the Source family The Source

Youtube: Chocolate Rain, Speak (the Hungarian rapper) "Sometimes people make a
war," Leprechaun in Mobile Alabama (and Remix)

Pjusk - Sart

Most electronic duos tend to produce louder, more club-oriented music--- how does the dynamic work with such minimalist themes? Is it a lot of detail-oriented work or does it have more to do with brainstorming ideas at the start?

I guess the collaboration works almost differently for every track we embark on. On a whole, I guess you could say that we try to achieve a goal of our music communicating some kind of notion that really conncets with the listener. That means we could start building a track around some samples or textures we really like - then arranging a song structure and adding details. But it is all about trying to establish emotional content. Our music is really not rational at all - we are not into understanding, but sensing / feeling - conveying human emotions on many levels. That's one of the main reasons why we choose to use organic sound material - instant recognition and the sound of the known and familiar -the combination with electronic sounds gives us a huge palette of musical colours.

Some of the best experimental music for the last few years has originated in Norway particularly and in the Scandinavian region (+ Iceland) in general. Do you see any reasons for this?

It is really difficult getting any distance from yourself and your own work, but I can't help thinking about scale and closeness to nature. Bergen, where I'm from, is located in the middle of seven mountains and I have to walk for only 10 minutes to start climbing one of them. My flat is overlooking the sea and thus I am constantly reminded of the forces of nature and how they interact with our existence. Probably sounds like a cliché, but I when I come to think of it, that influence propbaly shapes our music as well. Perhaps this is "arctic" music? And remember Norway is a small country indeed with a population of 4.7 million - that means a lot of unhabited space. A lot of nature.

You work both with and without beats--- is there a moment where you think, "this needs some propulsion," or is the beat the starting point in particular compositions. Is there the danger of beats dictating or defining the content of a track?

We don't feel that confident with "regular" beats, to be perfectly honest. I think beats can be quite fun working with - but they tend to make the track more "common" or genre-defining that we often wish for. Some reviewers have mentioned our dub inspired beats - and that is pure coincidence really. I think one reviewer actually nailed it when he referred to Plastikman's "Consumed" - that album was clearly an inspiration for some of our tracks - but then again .. we have been mentioned in relation to a lot of artists we've never even heard of .. But our real approach to beats is variation and a bit help, of course .. a decent perc/rhythm layer is really a great backbone .. pushing the track forward .
Pjusk - Sart (12k)

Some of Pjusk's favourite things from 2007

I (Jostein) have been listening to the new albums from:

}Porn Sword Tobacco
}Stars of the lid
}Last Days Sea

And we try to check out the releases from Taylor (Deupree) (12k) - and so far my favourite is Taylor's Landing.

Valet - Blood is Clean

From Jackie-O Motherfucker to Nudge to World to the Valet project you seem to have steadily gathered stylistic and aesthetic layers--- what do you feel you've brought forward from each group into this album?

I think the main thing that was culled from those experiences is the idea of freeform playing. A sort of running with what's happening at the moment. JOMF, Nudge and World all have strong roots in the jam being the important element. The songs that form out of the jams become these accidental happenings that sort of express what happened through voice.

There is a ceremonial element in some of the tracks that harkens back to the improvisational aspect of Jackie-O--- do you find it difficult to delve into that in a solo situation? Is there more of a push towards a "classic" singer/songwriter type of work when you record alone?

Not really. In fact, it's almost easier to get raw when it's just you and a bunch of gear. The possibilities are endless in a recording situation. Especially with a computer as your recording machine. My headphones are broken so i have to wear this tight wool hat that ties to hold them to my ears when i'm recording. It feels kinda like being in a space ship all locked in. It feels kinda like making 4-track music. You jam out on one track then you jam over that on another. Next thing you know, you have your own one-person jam band. I'm not a perfectionist so intense editing or over dubbing starts to get really boring. It's like whitewashing the original moment of idea-conception. Maybe due to the impetuous nature of blasting it out, the music might stay fresh and improvisational. Although occasionally i sit down and work out a song on accoustic guitar. That's a totally different vibe altogether.

In the title of the album and in some of the lyrics themes of purity and spiritual corruption are addressed--- do you feel these spiritual elements naturally inform or inhabit your art? Does the process of making art/music encourage philosophical ideas for your, or do your ideas encourage you to make art?

They definitely encourage eachother in the big picture. But from the day to day inspiration, it's usually philosophical ideas first then the music taking shape reflecting and reinturpeting the idea. For each record or each groupings of songs, I seem to have an idea that streams along some sort of metaphysical story. When i was making Blood is Clean, I was listening to a lot of Haitian drumming and Jon Hassell. also (Led) Zep II, ragas, Mahavisnu Orchestra and Velvet Underground. I was also reading tons of books on non-dualism and paying attention to daily symbols that would fall into my life. Becoming the witness to my life and to every moment became the songs. Who knows what it all means. I surely wouldn't try to pretend that I know or that I was responsible for it. It's just what was happening at that time. I hope that doesn't sound weird or dismissive. It's hard to explain the feeling without sounding like some sort of hippy witch, cosmic freak out lady.

How much of what we hear on the album is the result of ideas/single takes that are built up gradually, and how much is the result of a more "cut and paste" approach to song construction?

It's kinda like throw the clay then make a pot. Usually the songs are done after a couple tracks and a couple edits. Even the songs come out fast or they don't come at all. Whenever there is a struggle or a need to go back and work on something more, I stop. the songs that seem to need a lot of re-working or have too many questionable things going on don't usually make it off the hard drive.

Why Valet and not Honey Owens on the album cover?

When i first started Valet it was supposed to be my free project where i could do whatever i wanted. Then I met my friend Jason Frank who is an awesome video/experimental music dude. We came together and made Valet as a communication between visual and audio performance. There was midi and there was a limited edition dvd. The name came out of an absinthe evening. Valet was supposed to take the doer out of the picture. We were supposed to be the channelers. I guess it's kinda a weird name if you weren't there for the trip. I keep wanting to change the name because Jason isn't in it anymore for now but for some reason it stays.
Valet - Blood is Clean (Kranky)

Some of Valet / Honey Owens favourite things from 2007:

ummm let's see...

1. Hanging out at the Oak St. with Rob Walmart.
2. Boris song "Rainbow" (killer lead)
3. Tom Blood's latest book The Sky Position
5. Rad Summer (vibe store that i opened with my friends Charlotte, Jacob and Tom from JOMF)
6. Adam Forkner's killer leads
7. Playing in Adrian's band (Adrian Orange and her Lilys)
8. Astral Social Club (vol 1-6)
9. Atlas Sound
10. Listening to Ali Farka Toure and Love Joys Lovers Rock.

Nicolas Bernier / Jacques Poulin-Denis - Etude #3 pour cordes et poulies

The worlds of electroacoustic composition and dance are not ones that most people would expect to overlap.... what circumstances bring them together here? Why do you think they fit?

For us, electroacoustic music is as relevant to dance as instrumental music, if not more. Music is music. Electroacoustic music can offer a lot of space, where instrumental music can be more independant and stand alone. This quality, the aptness for ambience, is appealing for choreographers who are looking to encompass their visual work with a supportive soundscape. The fundamental link that unites music and dance is movement. Music is movement. Dance and Electroacoustic music are the composition of gestures that exist in time and space and become meaningful when being shown and heard. Thus, the wonderful union.

Unlike many electroacoustic works these pieces have definite melodic and harmonic elements that move things along besides the acousmatic sound elements... is this more indicative of how the music is being used as an accompaniment to movement, or is it a primary aesthetic choice in itself?

The use of tonic sounds (notes) is definitely intentional, almost even a STATEMENT. Electroacoustic music went through a period of total rupture with music from the past, but we don't believe in this detachment. Our music is the result of many influences including instrumental melody and harmony. The other reason why you will find tonic sounds in our music is that we use a lot of musical instruments as source material in our music. Electroacoustic music is about timbre and sonority, but for us the most beautiful timbres are often those of instruments that were made to be musical. All other found sounds, only widen timbral possibilities and add a level of allusion.

Outside of the academic world it usually is associated with the general public often has difficulty grasping the concepts at play in electroacoustic music... do you believe there is a strength/purity in this distance from "pop culture" or is it too self-enclosed?

This is a BIG question that points to many things. We don't really identify with genres, but believe they are important. Even if it's not obvious in the music, these labels have a heavy influence on music. The Academics do research that always influence at a certain point in time pop music, just like pop music has always influenced "academic music". We only have to think of the loop now dominant in pop music, but discovered in a radio research studio. Personally we are very influenced by pop music. It's difficult not to be!

Do we believe in distance from pop culture? We believe in the quality of arts and research. That which aspires to bring music-creation further than pop music does. We believe in the purity of elctroacoustic music, close to being the only type of music solely based on LISTENING and not on performance. You have to be a REAL music fan to listen to this type of music because the concept of performance is kept irrelevant. We don't believe in the confinement of Electroacoustic music. If we want to understand the world that surrounds us, we have to be able to dialogue with others who constitute it. Academicians would gain by attending more pop music concerts, and that pop culture (also secluded in its own world, even if the mass is larger) should experience more research-based art. Wouldn't that be wonderful!?!?

The Ekumen collective supports creativity across different art forms, primarily in digital media... do you think it's possible for creative groups to flourish exclusively online or is an extension into the real world also necessary? What are difficulties you've faced when exposing your works to a greater audience?

It's possible for a collective to flourish solely through the internet... but how awfully boring! The reason behind Ekumen is to show that we are not just artists trapped in front of their machines. We also collaborate amongst ourselves, amongst humans.

Again, for a better world, human communication, physical communication is essential. Our work only begins to make sense when exposed in the REAL life, meeting REAL people, and not when we meander through the web.
Nicolas Bernier / Jacques Poulin-Denis - Etude #3 pour cordes et poulies (Ekumen)

Some of Nicolas Bernier & Jacques Poulin-Denis' favourite things from 2007:

- Absolute no.1 : The 3rd String Quartet of Henryk Gorecki recorded by Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch label)

- Absolute no.2: the DVD on Foley Room by Amon Tobin. He worked the same way electroacoustic composers have been working for 50 years. The thing is that on this DVD, he's making field recording look really cool! ...Something that electroacoustic composers have always wanted to do. Let a mass of people know that electroacoustic music is cool! (except Pierre Henry in the 70's I think but I wasn't born yet!).

- Absolute no.3 : Grand Corps Malade. A french slam poet.

- DJ Socalled : man this guy is groovin'!

- The Me, Mom & Morgantaler reunion : we want more!

- Louis Dufort : Matériaux composés

- Dillinger Escape Plan : the song "Sick On Sunday" on their latest album is just crazy!!

- Luc Ferrari : Didascalie. My favorite composer of all time. The Sub Rosa edition includes a documentary DVD on his work which is cool.

- Timber Timbre : Medecinal

- Sandro Perri : Tiny Mirrors

Ateleia - Formal Sleep

On your Antiopic release Swimming Against the Moments there was a political undertone made evident in the song titles--- do you feel like politics play a part in making music/art either in general or specifically in your work?

Big questions. I think in the process of creating anything there is a germ of the political. Creative thinking is by definition revolutionary. Why does anyone take the time to make something that serves no material gain? To me this is magnified in respect to art music - popular music is such a disposable commodity, although I do like to listen to a lot of it. But the act of spending time crafting sound that sits in opposition to trends in commercialism is an act of, however quiet, political resistance. That said, I'm not one for super-overt political allusions. It makes me uncomfortable. Its enough for me personally to hint and leave it up to someone to fill in the blanks. That thinking informs more than song titles or packaging, it informs the way my music sounds.

How do you think ideology can be communicated through primarily instrumental themes?

There is a great history in instrumental music, from jazz to musique concrete, using certain themes or sounds to make obvious references. I'm thinking of snare drum gunfire in a political jazz tune, or the use of sirens or helicopter noise or whatever in electronic music. I'd never go that route, I prefer to smudge a lot, to blur notions, abstracting the sound as much as I can. Its somehow more radical to me.

This release is surrounded by salt water, in the titles and in some of the music's flow--- what is the water an allusion to? Do you hear it as part of the music or as a more abstract connective device?

Its just imagery that I like really, not much more. The ocean and tides and salt come up a lot. They've informed all my records in some way. I like the notion of water as a substance that moves, changes shape, evaporates, doesn't stay fixed... and salt water has that added advantage of decay, of the brine of the salt. I'm a fan of the beach. The rusted down metal street signs near the water in ocean towns are something I think of a lot. That slow decay is interesting.

Do the collaborators on the album contribute elements you task them with primarily, or do they arrive to provide a catalyst for ideas in process?

It works both ways. Sometimes I'll have a track in progress and ask someone to contribute a part on a specific instrument or toward a specific end. Other times friends and collaborators will give me material to transform and it will become the basis for a track.

Do you find there is a shared musical language amongst these experimental artists?

There might be a shared language, I don't know. I'm more inclined to notice the differences in approach of people I work with. If there is a shared language among experimental artists I know I think its not to fall in to having too much of a shared language.

You touch upon several "specialties" of exploratory music--- drone, minimal electronics, ambient noise--- yet none seem to define your overall style--- is this by design, restlessness? Are you more of a detail-oriented artist or is the big picture the main thing?

I'd like to think the details are the big picture. But yeah, what you call "restlessness" is very intentional. I'd never think to myself "this is going to be a Drone Record, or this time around I'm going to do Minimal Electronics." Genre focus is backwards, its a bad way to limit yourself, a lazy way to think about things. I hope my records are hard to categorize. I'm drawn toward art that strives for the mutant, the hybrid of things. That goes back to the idea of blurring or smudging, to make the lines of reference less straight. That is something I definitely go for when I think about genre. Its something I hope I can make more obvious in future work.
Ateleia - Formal Sleep (Table of the Elements)

Some of Ateleia's favourite things from 2007:

Steinbruchel: Basis (Room40)
Ricardo Villalobos: Fabric 36 (Fabric)
Gang Gang Dance: Retina Riddim (The Social Registry)
Jesu: Conqueror (Hydra Head)
David Daniell's "Crossing the Susquehanna River Bridge" from The Great Koonaklaster Speaks: A John Fahey Celebration (Table of the Elements)
Oren Ambarchi: In The Pendulum's Embrace (Touch)
Loefah: Mud/Rufage (DMZ)
Jon Mueller: Metals (Table of the Elements)
Shackleton/Appleblim: Soundboy Punishments (Skull Disco)