Cutting + Precise: Diamond Version

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Carsten Nicolai (l) and Olaf Bender (r) are Diamond Version

Diamond Version is a collaborative project between two of the most groundbreaking, experimental creators in modern sound shifting, founders of Raster-Noton, Byetone (Olaf Bender) and Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai).

SPARKS WILL FLY: Diamond Version tries to capture this energy and combines it with conceptual ideas: every day we are exposed to the Daily Short Message Information Culture (DSMC), the aesthetic of this information system became a strong topic and a Blueprint of the visual identity of the Diamond Version project.

Here’s their Jenny Holzer-style mission statement:  Diamond Version (statement)

Mute is about to launch five (5) forthcoming EPs in 2012 which start a release rotation with Technology At The Speed Of Life / Empowering Change on July 23.  The latest trailer/teaser sounds great:

Diamond Version (trailer)

These two are not strangers to performing together live or on recording (under various monikers). In 2013 these EPs will culminate into a full longplayer. Nicolai said of the collaboration: “With Diamond Version we will follow this rough rhythmic direction, we are not DJs and we’re less interested in delivering a functional music to a social situation…” to which Bender informs: “It’s a bit harsh, and a bit more noisy [than our solo projects]”. Expect an impactful, sensory a/v experience.

Profile: MAURIZIO BIANCHI


Only One Collage, Creativity

(Originally published on December 29, 2011)

MAURIZIO BIANCHI, the enigmatic Milanese sound composer (considered by many as the father of the noise movement) is back to business after a very short yearlong hiatus. His work, which grew out of the “cassette culture” of the late 70′s and 80′s embodies masterful principles that evoke the sixth sense while dispensing demons of sorts. With over 100 recordings to his name under numerous imprints, now in his latter 50′s, Bianchi is the sort of composer to be reckoned with only now gaining a mysterious second wind with output growing exponentially in the last few years.

TJ Norris :: Greetings sir. I appreciate having this opportunity to connect with you.

Maurizio Bianchi :: Actually I’m at a crossroads in my past, present and future production, and I strive to celebrate the decline of the current system doomed from the ancient biblical prophecies to a disastrous end, but there is a chance to save.

TJN :: As a young man in Italy how were you first exposed to music, what were some of your early familial influences?

MB :: Initially I was exposed to the so called pop music until the early part of the 70′s when I started to listen to more cerebral/experimental sounds. My musical influences are the early Tangerine Dream, Kluster and the musique concréte. And the psychological influences are rooted in the stupidity of mankind who thinks to govern themselves without the help of the Supreme Spiritual Being, and the results we see all around us.

TJN :: Some of that becomes evident in the finer points of how you use tone and velocity in your work. How have these early experiences fed into your current strategies if at all…are there residual ideas you constantly rework as source material?

MB :: The question is a little complicated but the answer is very simple: there are many fragments but only one collage, my creativity.

TJN :: Your work has been released under both your full name and initials M.B. For what reason? And can you say something about the use of aliases?

MB :: At the beginning I used the alias of Sacher-Pelz, after that I started to use the acronym M. B. to give a mysterious identification of myself, and then I used my full name to be aware of my whole constructive instinct.

TJN :: Most people keep sacred their beliefs. Can you speak about how religion has in your creative practice? I often hear muted voices (speaking in tongues?) strewn throughout…

MB :: In the current secularized society, my faith is the foundation of my life, and the music is only a reflex of my inwardness, and the result is a plain satisfaction. Concerning the voices, they are not real voices, but treated sounds that seem like voices but in fact they’re synthetic.

TJN :: Since the late 70′s you have released an impressive discography of over one hundred recordings with nine new releases in 2011 alone on labels such as Lona Records, Mirror Tapes and your very own label Menstrual Recordings. Are most of these works re-releases or are you constantly in the studio?

MB :: Most of them are re-treatments of my previous sounds because I like to express my music in different ways in order to have a wide variety of solutions.

In this egotistical world, the collaborations are a sort of exchange of communication and dialogue, a philanthropic enrichment and a spiritual edification.

TJN :: Speaking of new releases, one that captured my attention readily is Hibernum on EE Tapes. A work of sheer curiosity and depth the sounds you are making seem to grow from a vortex of cinema noir. It’s as if you took reel-to-reels and at points scraped them through shallow gravel, yet there is something ambient and peaceful embedded. Made up of three distinct segments (with interesting dates) it made me curious about its titles. Can you say more about this work?

MB :: This work is in fact a compendium of my 3 past decades of activity, and it’s projected into the future with an eye on the present.

TJN :: You have had many collaborators over the years including Telepherique, Cría Cuervos, Maor Appelbaum, Nimh and Aube. Can you please talk about your collaboration?

MB :: In this egotistical world, the collaborations are a sort of exchange of communication and dialogue, a philanthropic enrichment and a spiritual edification.

TJN :: What do you speculate as trends in the field of improvisation, something that may offers anything new in the theater of sound these days? What seems innovative or strikes a chord with you?

MB :: There are new possibilities, but not opened to new directions because of the lack of creativity. The innovative is not always a progress, but often a regression because the author is embedded by the machinery devices.

TJN :: As far as labels are concerned Silentes Minimal Editions of Treviso (formerly Amplexus) has released more of your work than others.

MB :: The owner of the label, Stefano Gentile is a very professional guy and he was very positively impressed by every work I proposed to him because in common we have the same emotional feeling towards the experimental genuineness.

TJN :: Some would describe your work in terms of dark ambient, gothic electronica – what do you think of such labels and descriptors? How might you describe your expectations of an overall signature sound?

MB :: Posterity will judge, because his contemporaries are too limited.

TJN :: Do you have a significant other?

MB :: I’m happily married for more than 27 years and my home life is focused in edification of the family and in spreading the word of God to all kind of people, without prejudices.

TJN :: Stories have circulated that there have been times where you have just stopped composing for periods of time. Is that true and if so is it simply to recharge? All artists need respite, but like a painter knowing when to put the brush down and say the work is done, how do you play into this sense of pause?

MB :: I stopped to reflect on my spiritual attitude and focus on adoration. After a while I went back to express my inner growth.

TJN :: Have you presented your work live?

MB :: I’ve never performed live because my sound is based on the cerebral and physical, to prevent further superficialization of the masses.

TJN :: Your work has most definitely influenced younger composers. I can hear crossover in recordings by Troum, Michael Northam, Alessandro Tedeschi (Netherworld), Aidan Baker and others. Your freeform style has opened doors for these and others. Do you think it is important to pass on your principles of practice to new generations somehow – either through teaching or scripting didactic conceptual theory?

MB :: I am sure that the seed sown is producing excellent fruit through these young artists, and am happy to have traced a groove that will not be extinguished easily. It’s much better than a sterile academic address to the futility creativity almost grazes.

For more information about Maurizio Bianchi, visit his website here. [Releases page]

Profile: VLADISLAV DELAY


Away from the Unnecessary

(Originally published in September 2011)


Over the years Sasu Ripatti, better known as Vladislav Delay
(among other aliases and monikers) has out-shined many other names that have since faded from the electronica/techno scene in general. He has recorded for some of the most respected seminal labels in the genre (Chain Reaction, Mille Plateaux, Staubgold and Leaf) and is about to announce a new relationship with Raster-Noton. Collaborations have included those with the Moritz Von Oswald Trio, Craig Armstrong and his partner Antye Greie (AGF). One thing that has his work standing the test of time is an endless sense of definition-proof direction, not at all scattered, masterful in a worldly sense of musicality and overall breadth of style. TJ Norris had the chance to catch up with him on the cusp of releasing a few new exciting projects.

TJ Norris / Igloo Magazine :: Many greetings as it’s been a while since we connected and I am sure you have been real busy. Where are you?

Vladislav Delay :: I’m back home, on the island of Hailuoto, Northern Finland near the Arctic Circle. I’m just back from Berlin, we had a release party for the new Luomo album at the club Watergate.

TJN :: What is going on these days?

Delay :: What’s going on these days? Difficult to say. Struggling between being a no-compromise artist and avoiding too much travels and publicity but trying to pay my bills. Trying to focus and dedicate time on new music at least as much as ever while hardly making a living with it anymore. But I think I’m fortunate enough, I still can do this after quite many years. It’s a hard call these days. Luckily I’m so far away from all the music business and scene nonsense and all that, it definitely helps to keep my own focus and mind. Also dedicating time for my daughter who’s growing older every day and not wanting to miss any of it.

Questioning the world more than ever I guess. Spending quite a bit of time reading and thinking about life, culture, social things, politics. Horrified by lots of stuff. Being in the middle of nowhere, wilderness, a paradise basically, and at the same time having satellite TV and watching the news all over the world feels so absurd — sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s actually true.

Above all, trying to stay focused on music with lots of ideas and plans.

TJN :: Very much appreciated in these, agreed, times of uncertainty. Speaking of the focus being on your music – after seeing the video for “Latoma [Echocord]” I’m curious about what is was like working with the great Czech claymation filmmaker Jan Švankmajer and how that came about?

Delay :: Actually I have no idea. My great assistant in Berlin managed it. I wasn’t involved at all in it, I just saw it one day. It was the second or third time when I have seen a really properly done video for my track just appearing. It’s quite amazing. I have a feeling a few people have been making videos because they were inspired by the music but I’m not 100% sure if Latoma came about like that. It’s possible that the label had something to do with that but if so I wasn’t kept in the loop, quite odd.

TJN :: It’s certainly unexpected, but a fit fusion of sound and image.

You have so many various monikers to record under (Sistol, Luomo, etc). Do you have a certain ethic or sound to come across that serves each of these particular projects? Have their been any projects you have disbanded and why?

Delay :: Usually it’s just a vision to do something, and usually there’s already an existing moniker or project where it fits. Or like in Luomo’s case it’s just so that I need to do that kind of music every now and then, there’s a very strong vision about what Luomo is musically and I just push that further and try to get closer to the core of it.

It’s all about just trying to stay challenged, to find interesting stuff to do. And juggle between a wide range of music to not get stuck on something or keep repeating myself, within reason of course. I hardly even have single tracks unfinished or released. I don’t try stuff out for the sake of it, even though I feel like I would like to do that sometime again. But the last 10 years has been about having a vision and going for that and making sure I finish as satisfied and close to that vision as possible. Not that the end result is the same as the earlier vision or idea, often times actually not, but the inner feeling of it and standing behind it usually is there.

Then again, I never listen to my stuff once it’s finished unless I play that material in concerts, I just leave it behind and go further. Almost all the monikers and projects have certain fundamentals and the concept to exercise but then again I try to find something new every time within this context.

TJN :: Since you mentioned your live concert performance I recall seeing you perform once, I remember the elaborate set-up and that I found you to be a dramatic live performer. Will you tour soon to support any new works, and what do you think of performing live in general?

Delay :: Back to location. I try to travel less and less, out of my own interest and also to spend more time with my family and in the studio. So no touring, though still I travel a fair amount with all these active projects.

I think it’s essential to perform live to stay in touch with the outside world, especially for someone like me who’s very private and not that social. It is also the true test for me to see how I feel about my productions when I play in front of 10 or 1000 people. When you make the music by yourself for yourself you can easily become just stuck and not see the forest from the trees. Especially in the field of electronic music with all the tools around making music becomes easily doing just stuff for no reason, like a dog who just licks its balls only because it can. To get out and play in public makes you see those trees very fast again.

I like to travel and see different places and people. But having to do that for a living, and do it constantly is terrible at the same time. I have tried to change since moving up north. It’s just too heavy to travel all the time, I fly most often the whole day with 6 flights just for one show and back.

TJN :: Your honesty is fresh, and much appreciated – if more artists were feeling instead of repeating we might be a better overall voice for change and understanding. I’m hearing that when one travels you would imagine that you should sensitively take in the place, the people. Working to play a one-off show can often overshadow the purpose of the actual organic experience overall.

What have you been listening these days, material that is on repeat?

Delay :: I’m pretty frustrated with music these days to be honest. I follow a lot, I even subscribed to damn Spotify so I can keep up with all the releases as they just aren’t worth buying physically anymore. Both musically and technically speaking I think we are living very sad times. But I feel like I’m the only one thinking like that so I’m not sure how much I should open my soul.

The last 10 years has been about having a vision and going for that and making sure I finish as satisfied and close to that vision as possible. Not that the end result is the same as the earlier vision or idea, often times actually not, but the inner feeling of it and standing behind it usually is there.

 

While the film industry, for example, is all about hi-def and blu-ray and whatnot, the maximum experience and highest possible realization and end result, the music field is going crazy for the shittiest possible quality of music. Low-res mp3s, tiny earpods, millions of tracks and not knowing who made what. As long as it’s loud and there’s a ton of it it’s seemingly fine. It’s amazing. While actually the music making technology allows for better quality than ever before.

It doesn’t end with the end users either. It begins already in the studios, or more and more in laptops. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Kanye West’s last album (which I think is musically quite brilliant and the best album in a long time) or some guy raping his laptop with illegal software, it way too often sounds terrible to me in regards to mixing and loudness. It just kills the ears and you can’t listen to it for more than but a few little moments.

So I find myself listening to old stuff when it’s about actually listening to music for enjoyment. Jazz, Jamaican stuff.

I also listen lots of hip-hop for entertainment but it’s very much on the surface only. And it drives me crazy that those guys who definitely could afford to do it properly just don’t give a fuck, it just sounds unforgivably bad and done without much care. And nobody seems to care about that beside a few mastering engineers whining about it in specialist forums. The new generation of producers in all kinds of electronic music and often in mainstream music like hip-hop are in principle capable of doing things unimaginable in the past and are extremely creative at times, but at the same time for me it sounds and feels they lack foundation in music and technology to actually back up that search for new things. or it’s not worth caring about anymore, which would be much more terrible situation. The new generation of people who buy and listen to that stuff are growing up with such shitty sounding music it’s unbelievable. Maybe it’s good that they listen it via low-res systems, at least you don’t hear how bad it actually sounds.

TJN :: LOL, very true, go on….

Delay :: I can’t listen in the studio, to most of the stuff released today. Why all the gear? Why spend time writing the music and then doing the fuck all in the end in regards to sound? Then again, bottom line: good music should sound good on even the shittiest of systems. So, go figure. I’m not smiling though.

TJN :: There are still some of us audiophiles out here who do find respite in quality – and not listening to everything through the cheapest of built-in computer speakers! Hearing the music itself is paramount. Now, can you say something about how your techno/dance records influence your other moreso restrained/minimal efforts and vice-versa if at all?

 


Vladislav Delay

Delay :: I keep them quite separated anyway, I don’t feel much influence from my semi-club productions when doing what might be more considered experimental, and the other way around as well.

TJN :: It’s exciting to hear your teaming up with the team of Raster-Noton for their 15th anniversary of the label to release Vantaa. It’s release has been announced to be out in November. Have you joined their regular roster and how would you describe the alignment of this new record with their output? Of course this also brings to mind visuals as well, will the release include anything special in terms of its physical release?

Delay :: We agreed to try a long-term collaboration, they wanted even exclusivity for VD stuff which is fine for me. I have known these guys for a long time and like them a lot. The album was done before I even approached them or even thought of them.

I played the same album to several labels actually. So there’s no RN influence whatsoever, and I don’t think there will be in the future either. I’m quite very far away from a specific RN sound if there is one. I think it’s good and they are also happy to expand their sound offerings.

Only thing where the RN aesthetics come to play is the artwork, which is always done by them and they were very insistent on that, which is also fine by me. I don’t plan to have any specific visuals tied in to VD sets when playing live but my partner Antye will, for example, do visuals for me when we embark to tour in Japan soon. But other times I’ll be playing without visuals, or possibly also with other visual artists, like Lillevan.

TJN :: After my first listen it’s got something of a worn, tribal/percussive feel on one hand and then again reminds me of a lullaby as well. There is a hazy sensibility, strings, some dispatched drone…is this a welcome nod to the days of Chain Reaction but something of a document or soundtrack for our times?

Delay :: This is quite accurate I guess. I wanted to go back to those feelings and structures I was working on in the early days but of course not to repeat them. I felt quite free to go explore the electronic side of things with this album since I had started the Quartet and could try out the acoustics, drums, improvisation and all that with the group.

Vladislav Delay Quartet line-up: Delay (drums and percussions), Mika Vainio (electronics), Lucio Capece (bass clarinet and soprano sax) and Derek Shirley (double bass)

A document or soundtrack of our times, not intentionally, at least. But of course it is inspired and also it maybe reflects back on the times and movements I witness around me. Overall I think it’s possibly the best album I have done as Vladislav Delay.

TJN :: You have something else coming right up, the first new Luomo record since 2008’s Convivial is just about out and your first on Moodmusic. What are we in for?

Delay :: It’s a continuity of what Luomo was for me since the beginning. I felt quite more open regarding what gear to use and how. I have always restricted myself in the Luomo productions in the way I use synths and drum machines et al, and this time I really kind of almost pushed myself to use things I’d not normally use. Or forced myself to be less restrictive. So, I guess it sounds maybe a bit more open and maybe also a touch more old school house as lots of gear I worked with were used in the past as well.

I have some quite serious problems with the dance/club scene though and I actually never have felt much any connection to it. And definitely less connected to it nowadays than maybe ever before. It’s just so lacking imagination and creativity IMO. It’s hard to relate to it as it’s so homogenous and based on the DJ-as-a-business culture – no risks.

I was just at Watergate to play the record release party. The sound technician was very concerned during the sound check that my bass drum sounds were different from track to track.

That probably says enough. It’s just unbelievable! If you have the same fucking kick drum for 12 hours everybody will be happy and not disturbed by any changes… it’s ugly, man.

TJN :: Bloody hell.

Delay :: So it’s a conflict in a way that I chose that medium out of necessity to do my kind of pop music alone without typical mainstream needs or sacrifices. It’s about pop music for me, not serving faceless club music – but I wouldn’t want to make pop music in a band sorta way, staged way, never. So it’s the best option, but it’s hardly a great medium after all and a massive sacrifice as well. So mainly it’s a private thing to do, making that music by myself as I really do enjoy making it. And the rest is hazardous to say the least. I try to see the good side to it. And it also makes me happy to see some people really enjoying it. Like the group of 8 people who traveled from Ireland just for the show in Berlin and who seemingly enjoyed it.

TJN :: I’ve enjoyed your more lofty projects like The Dolls and Explode (both 2005) on your own label, Huume. There was a significant amount of output on the imprint between 2004-08, are you still continuing to release material? And since both of those projects included AGF, what is it like working creatively with your wife and how do your aesthetics differ and merge?

Delay :: I stopped the label when I moved away from Berlin, more than 3 years ago. It was always just the output for my own stuff, and I kept at it while the music business was still somewhat healthy and I could just release music and sell few copies without unnecessary demands and compromises. When it started seriously changing, the mood went sour and I just closed the shop.

Since then I have been ping-ponging between labels for various projects. We also did another Agf/Delay for BPitch Control, though that second album was quite different from Explode.

It’s all about just trying to stay challenged, to find interesting stuff to do. And juggle between a wide range of music to not get stuck on something or keep repeating myself, within reason of course. I hardly even have single tracks unfinished or released. I don’t try stuff out for the sake of it, even though I feel like I would like to do that sometime again.

Working with your partner is always a massive challenge of course but we have kept cool about it I think, and grown a lot since we started. We almost broke up in the beginning but since then it’s been going quite all right, even though I think we both agree we have been quite careful when working together. We agree on some things but quite heavily disagree on others, and we both are very hardheaded when it comes to the creative process. We are just starting something new which I’m quite curious how that will run. Time will tell.

TJN :: Something to watch and wait for I’m sure. Speaking of working with artists – anyone out there who you would really like to collaborate with?

Delay :: Not really. Living here on the island I have become a hermit and a self- sufficient one. I don’t think collaborations hardly ever reach the true potential but very much the opposite. Part of me would love to produce all kinds of pop acts from Brandy to Justin Timberlake and also various hip-hop guys but it’s just not possible if I wanted to do what I thought was the coolest thing around. My interest in not creating mega sellers but interesting music. That’s obviously not most of pop or mainstream music.

TJN :: How does the place affect the music, are you partly isolated, or is it freeing to be just floating out there? Are you an island castaway?

Delay :: For me it was exactly the thing I needed to do and I’m so happy I went through all the terror of moving my family and studio to another country, and also risking to try out this island without any previous experiences there or security of any kind.

But I knew I had to get away from Berlin, both for private life reasons and also how being there just violated my creativity as well. I can fully understand how the city is great for many producers but we are all individuals. I never went there for the music as the current worldwide exodus seems to be happening. And while living there I realized it’s just not good for my music, too much unnecessary traffic and disturbance of all kinds.

So I had to look for something that works for me, not as easy as it sounds. The same thing, relates very much to the music making as well. It’s way easier to just join some hype or movement or just do what your neighbor is and I understand the capitalistic idea behind it, it’s about making a living and paying your bills (or some people really enjoy the popularity). But in the more deeper sense of creativity and art and all that, I saw quite many people turn to electronic music from totally different fields, be it an advertising agency person or promoter or whatever… shoe salesman. Some of them for sure are happier, and maybe closer to what they should have been doing all along – then again many are not. When they chose music it’s about Ableton Live, which I think is the worst thing to happen in music making, ever. That just brings this superficial feel to it. I don’t judge people’s choices or opinions, it’s just the results and the effects they have. For myself, I worked quite hard for several years, trying to find a place where I’d feel good to begin with and I knew then the work would feel good as well. In this island life being very far away from a lot of unnecessary stuff is just absolutely amazing. I can concentrate on what I do when I do it.

www.vladislavdelay.com | Facebook | LastFM | Soundcloud

Photo credits: Ari Pekka Auvinen & Emanuele Sason.

INFINÉ MUSIC – Emotive structures in music

Originally published 5/29/2011

 

InFiné Music is a still somewhat young Berlin/Paris-based label (only five years old) dedicated to a certain wave of what some may consider rather cinematic electronica. With a roster that boasts such artists as Apparat, Francesco Tristano, Murcof and The Hacker their motto,”easy music for the hard to please” rings true. Created by Agoria, Alexandre Cazac and Yannick Matray in 2006 I took some time to speak with them behind the scenes…

 

TJ Norris/for Igloo Magazine: Hello Julien, how is all going out there today?

Julien/InFiné Music: Hi TJ, It’s all going good. We were all in a rush last week. We are working hard on our release schedule for end of the year.

TJN: Busy beats. The label has a sort of custom-made feel somehow?

Julien:Most of the music, we have been releasing till now is very introspective indeed. Our first album was a solo piano of Francesco Tristano and we are about to release an album of Flamenco, in between Ethno House, Detroit Techno, hybrid jazz, rave. We have no stylistic trademark… but we are trying to create a musical consistency through this general feeling permeated in almost all our releases. We just love nicely structured and emotional music. Music with which one can travel, dream, think… One may find some answers to your existential questions in listening to InFiné music (big smiley here please) but we also hope one will be willing sometime to dance as well.

TJN: When I spun the latest by Murcof, Idiosynkrasia from Francesco Tristano and also the 12″ from Rone I felt a certain curatorial sensation, like a cinematic pastiche. Can you speak to these overtones at all?

Julien: Yes and actually, not so surprisingly La Sangre Iluminada is a soundtrack. But obviously this feeling has to do with the personalities of the two A&R’s of the label. Agoria and Alexandre Cazac have in common a strong liking for “cinematic” soundscapes and are really caring about the sequencing of our records. Most InFiné releases are flowing like movie scores and have an obvious narrative frame. There are little stories… we wanted to tell to the rest of the world.

TJN: After seeing Murcof live several times (most recently in Seattle for the Decibel Festival last year) I’ve always heard that sense of pause and breath, a subtle dramatic flair that conjures stories. He’s worked with several labels in years past. How did your release of La Sangre Iluminada come about?

Julien: Fernando is one of the godfathers of the Label. Alexandre knew him quite well already and introduced him to Francesco Tristano, a while ago when he was working on his debut album, “Not For Piano”. Fernando took part in its post-production and they both started to tour together. Fernando came to us with his soundtrack, which had been released previously on Intolerancia records, a Mexican Label. We all thought it was amazing material, which was truly fitted to InFiné. We wanted to make it a very nice LP version and here is it … we are happy people like it.

We just love nicely structured and emotional music. Music with which one can travel, dream, think… One may find some answers to your existential questions in listening to InFiné music (big smiley here please) but we also hope one will be willing sometime to dance as well.

TJN: Your roster is quite diverse, does that come from the fact that your offices are split between two countries? You also work with artists who create installations. How do you develop an aesthetic for the label?

Julien: Our official Headquarters is in Lyon in France, where Agoria lives. Most of the team is in Paris and I am living in Berlin. I think, what we get from this geographical triptych is a certain distance taken from local “buzz” and “fame”. Agoria is really committed to the development of Lyon’s musical scene but from the start, the idea was to develop an International roster. We are a slow-burning label, I think… we are not trying to release the hottest tracks on earth or a spread a sound related to a localized emerging scene, the sound of now. We like a lot of different styles and all our artists have a personal way of doing music but they are also our voice in their own countries. The “buzz” usually goes directly global, we are rather trying to build upon various local scenery.

TJN: Many of your artists play the club circuit, is that where you locate those you are working with, in the wake of night?

Julien: Sebastien Agoria is playing all over the world every weekend. He meets a lot of people on the road, talks about the label to other fellow international deejays. That helps a lot… but that’s not especially where we are looking at new artists. We aimed at promoting fresh faces, producing original music, but what’s the most important with us is the personal relationship we have with the artists, if we have faith in them in the long term. It’s not a question of networking or having a great time one night with someone. All our artists have long term contracts with us, they have the time to evolve their music and this decision is bound to way more complex parameters. Some consensual decisions between all of us.

TJN: What makes the best producer?

Julien: Personality, authenticity, kindness and surely a bit of boldness.

TJN: Since 2006, how do you define the change/shift in electronic music in general? Any significant reasons for these potential changes?

Julien: From a label perspective, everybody told us, it was completely a foolish idea to create a label in 2006. But five years after, we have already seen some young electronic labels acquiring some international recognition overnight and sometimes also slowly fading and disappearing as quickly. In electronic music, producing, promoting and selling music is cheap, the networks are easily reachable, and labels are sometimes just management companies aimed at promoting one main artist. The role of a label in electronic music is really called into question. But putting a record in store and in the media is one thing, creating a proper long-term identity is another. That’s why we are really happy when someone mentioning a InFiné feel or a trademark, that’s why, we are also happy when our artists are blossoming release after release.

TJN: What’s coming up?

Julien: Murcof’s soundtrack and Rone’s new EP So So So have just been released. We are releasing the LP version of Arandel’s In D with remixes, alternative and unreleased versions, one of the most surprising records of our catalog. End of August comes Barlande, an album of flamenco of Perdo Soler & Gaspar Claus produced by Bryce Dessner (The National, Clogs). I do not think I need to say anything more about this project. And two albums of Composerr and Cubenx are in the pipeline for the autumn/early winter.

For more information, visit InFiné Music.

A NEW PLATEAUX: Interview with Marcus Gabler

 

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Originally published 4/28/2010

 

TJ Norris :: Greetings from the Northwest USA! So, I hear there may be a resurgence for the label Mille Plateaux, yes? How would you describe your role?

Marcus Gabler :: I do everything. A&R is the most important of course, but I also do Business Development, Art Director, promotion coordination, sourcing, IT project manager, database design, copy-writing, artist nursing, name it, I’m on it! Of course I got some helpers scouting promo contacts in various countries, plus my in house staff for occasional tasks.

TJN :: The label produced a fairly good-sized catalogue dating back to the early 1990′s starting with a compilation called Modulation & Transformation – correct? Can you say something about the evolution of the sounds captured by the label over its first decade or so?

MG :: Well, the evolution certainly followed the technical developments on one side. On the other, there was a development from rather raw, technoid, even breakbeat sounds to more intellectual, artful, minimal, well “serious” works.

TJN :: Did you coin the phrase “clicks + cuts”? How do you describe that phrase, I mean does it refer to what was also described as ‘glitch’?

MG :: Yes, C&C vs. Glitch practically have the same meaning, at least in the way they are commonly used. An English journalist first mentioned the term, but I forgot who it was. (Anyone? ===> email me!)

TJN :: I think many are interested in the rich drama and mystery in the roots of ambient music and its subsequent branches. Can these listeners still turn to Mille Plateaux to offer this type intimate listening experience?

MG :: Sure! In fact, I even decided to dedicate a new Mille Plateaux label to Ambient and Drone releases. I am talking of rather abstract Ambient that sometimes hardly can be called “Music.” Just like with Ritornell for abstract sound art, I want to separate the extremer sub-genres from the main label. This should help fans to find what they are looking for.

TJN :: The label has offered the world some of the very first opportunities to hear sound composers who create abstraction and other works, which might be defined as less than pop, and at times for seasoned ears. Complex compositions that often require a bit more from our current culture of ADD-interpolated social networking. Is there a basic theory that can be laid out that makes people stop and listen?

MG :: Nice question – hard to answer in a few words, though. While the process of forming musical taste is rather complex, it certainly has general rules. Listeners basically experience 3 values in music:

  • 1. Intuitive Values :: These are hardwired by our evolution. There’s a given set of (at least theoretically physically measurable) criteria about which Harmonies, Melodies, Rhythms, Tempos, Sounds (i.e. Frequency mixtures) and other audible characteristics our brains tent to like or dislike. Sounds we dislike were usually related to danger: Very loud or sudden sounds (like rock breaking off above our heads), disharmonic noisy sounds (e.g. an explosion, or rattlesnake), very high or low frequency sounds (like a mosquito or a buffalo stampede) or certain vocal sounds like roars or screams typically came along with a threat to life. Those of our ancestors who didn’t really mind such noises extinguished themselves – and their unborn offspring – from existence, leaving the ones with more sensitive ears to bequeath their genes to today’s humans. Sounds we like are the opposite: Birds (or people) singing, the sound of a small creek, crickets etc. Music, always being man made, might just be the opposite of dangerous noise: It is organized and harmonic, so we probably mostly worship music because it signals the lack of danger. Additionally, we usually have a thing for beats, which remind us of heartbeats.
  • 2. Acquired Values :: We connect emotions with what we perceive: Visions, smells etc, but also sounds. This might dramatically shift the intuitive values. If we get a positive experience or feedback from others at a techno rave or metal concert, this will form what is known as taste. This process might even already start while we are yet unborn. A part of this learning process maybe even doesn’t necessarily need a (very) positive connection to what we hear: We often simply tent to like what is given (and at least not negative). That’s why we often like what our social circles (family, friends) like. Here, being socially connected i.e. having a feeling of commonality with others or receiving attention from others, is the positive stimulation. But our taste might on the other hand also be influenced by feeding our need to feel special and different from others. Listening to mainstream Top 40 music might not give you a very positive feeling if for whatever reason you value individuality – which again puts you in touch with other social circles. So the result is actually your individual homeostasis between commonality and individuality. If it weren’t for 2, we’d probably all be listening to the same gentle flute sounds or Mozart compositions.
  • 3. Conscious Values:: I personally believe that ultimately there is no conscious reason to like or dislike music. You might prefer music because it (or its artists) shares ideas or concepts with you. But the reasons you value this are probably again traceable to emotional values as in 2.So much for the basic theory. Anyway, this was probably not what you were asking for.

    So, generally, what makes people stop is a pretty face and a nice set of T&A, at least since we have MTV. What makes people listen is usually a blend of what is familiar on one side and new on the other. Of course, Mille Plateaux was appreciated for the latter. Providing state of the art sound was a main asset of Mille Plateaux. But this couldn’t go on forever. Glitch is easily 10 years old already and if there was a granular synthesis equivalent to the Clicks & Cuts compilations (“Grains & Gains”?) it hardly raised a lot of eyebrows.

    TJN :: You have had the opportunity to work with some of the most acclaimed international composers like Terre Thaemlitz, Vladislav Delay, Wolfgang Voigt, Richard D. James, Carsten Nicolai and Andreas Tilliander – all who have gone on to develop amazing work, multimedia presentations and other new media. Can you talk about whom you are working with now and how they may influence the future of electronic music?

    MG :: Well, there will hardly be any artists you have heard of before. The coming releases recruit from a new generation of younger artists. The names are under non-disclosure until the release.

    I will leave it up to the world to judge about if and how Mille Plateaux may influence electronic music in the future. What I’d love to see is that my approach towards more musical qualities (i.e. composition, arrangement) is appreciated. My dream would be to release a Clicks & Cuts Remix album with danceable but still experimental tracks, 2 worlds that so far hardly got together the way I’d like to hear them. But probably, with Mille Plateaux, the label name itself is recognized more than certain individual artists. It’s like Clicks & Cuts was an album by the virtual artist “Mille Plateaux”. When you look at older MP releases, you may notice the MP logo on the front covers. MP always was treated a little like an artist name, especially for Clicks & Cuts: It was rather a MP compilation than a Various Artists compilation.

    TJN :: There is this formal shift in the label’s compilations. Some are defined by beats, others by smooth atonal fluctuations, and others by cursive electronics that are punctuated by machines. How might you describe your discoveries for Clicks & Cuts 5 and when is it officially available?

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    MG :: The new Clicks & Cuts 5 – Paradigm Shift will be a 360 degree view on the glitch genre. The tracks range from 50-second sound sculptures via very listenable IDM/Dub-ish pieces via “classic” glitch pieces to pretty radical experimental tracks and finally close-to-ambient works.

    I am very proud to have found highly recognizable, timeless tracks that all are of strong character and distinction. Clicks & Cuts 5 answers the question if experimental electronica music can be catchy without being “trivial” with a YES! Trust me, there isn’t a single track you won’t find circling your head after listening, asking yourself “where did I hear that…?”. Of course, it is not the sound revolution that the first 2 volumes suggested. The new Clicks & Cuts is probably richer in composition, arrangement and production than all previous compilations combined. Clicks & Cuts 5 will kick off the MP relaunch in early May 2010.

    TJN :: Can you talk about the acquisition of the label by your company, Total Recall? And what ever became of the original founder, Achim Szepanski?

    MG :: (from MP story.doc): “In late 2007, Rai Streubel suggested to me that MP might be available for sale. He used to be the sales manager at Force Inc / MP and was working as a freelance sales guy for my online music store TOTAL RECALL. Rai apparently saw great potential in the label, even though it was defunct for quite a while. So I agreed, mostly because I wanted to diversify from my record store business – who’s going to buy CDs five years from now anyway?”

    The plan was to have MP founder Achim Szepanski as the A&R and Rai as the distribution guy. Well, to make a long story short, the cooperation didn’t work out. I wasn’t very happy about the MP acquisition at that point. I had no A&R, no sales guy, and no clue about that kind of music and no back-catalogue rights or anything but the name. So, in June 2008 I became the A&R of whatever might become of MP, just like a virgin becomes a mother.

    Achim is now focusing on his writing; he released 2 books this year. When I last met him, he told me he was out of the music business and didn’t even turn on his stereo for months. I tried to get some feedback about our forthcoming releases from him, but apparently he wasn’t interested.

    TJN :: People break free and move on to other paths. I’m always interested in how inventive people take something that has been tried and true, and transform it. Some mold what they have into something that shifts, slightly different, by keeping the essence of the original somehow. Others like to chip away at the surface until there’s nothing left, creating something out of the virtual dust or dregs left behind. How do you approach this task with Mille Plateaux?

    MG :: I don’t. My artists do. My job is picking out the diamonds from the dirt and to channel and combine them into the right labels and compilations. Only occasionally, I give artists a few hints about what they might be able to improve in a track that I see potential in.

    TJN :: What motivates you and can you talk about your musical roots and interests?

    MG :: I never would have expected how much MP could mean to me one day! While 2 years ago I often hated the boring demos I had to listen to, by now it is my favourite task to listen to demos and whenever I discover another nice “one in a hundred” track, it makes me happy and I cant help checking which compilation it might fit on. It seems I truly found my dream job here!

Top Lists for 2008

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Top 10 ::

  • Angel :: Hedonism (Editions Mego)
  • Byetone :: Death of a Typographer (Raster-Noton)
  • Machinefabriek + Stephen Vitiello :: Box Music (12K)
  • Kamran Sadeghi :: Through Thickness (Dragon’s Eye)
  • Ethan Rose :: Oaks (Holocene Music)
  • DJ Olive :: Triage (Room40)
  • Omit :: Interceptor (Helen Scarsdale Agency)
  • Lawrence English :: Studies for Stradbroke (Winds Measure)
  • Nadja/Netherworld :: Magma to Ice (Fario)
  • Jos Smolders :: Gaussian Transient (Megaphone) (Nonvisualobjects)


    Honorable Mentions
    ::

  • Black Sun Productions :: The Milky Smell of Phantom Sperm (s/r)
  • Monolake :: Hongkong Remastered (Imbalance Computer Music)
  • Fennesz :: Black Sea(Touch)

Top Lists for 2007

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Top 10 ::

  • Throbbing Gristle :: Part Two: The Endless Not (Artecnico)
  • Flint Glass + Telepherique :: Information Gigabyte (Angle.Rec)
  • William Basinski :: El Camino Real (2062/Musex International)
  • Beequeen :: Seltenturm: Beesides 1989-2000 (Plinkity Plonk/Korm Plastics)
  • V/A :: Extract (nonvisualobjects)
  • Fovea Hex :: Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent (Die Stadt)
  • KK Null :: Fertile (Touch)
  • Frank Bretschneider :: Rhythm (Raster-Noton)
  • Christina Kubisch :: Five Electrical Works (Important)
  • Black Sun Productions :: Chemism(Old Europa Cafe)Honorable Mentions ::
  • Manning/Novak :: Pairings (Dragon’s Eye)
  • Troum :: AIWS (Transgredient)
  • Murmer :: We Share A Shadow (The Helen Scarsdale Agency)