London-based musician Matt Bartram is best known as the creative mastermind behind the much-beloved Air Formation, who split almost exactly a year ago in April 2011, to much dismay. However, anyone truly familiar with Matt and his work knew that this was certainly not the end of his musical endeavors. Over the past 13 years, Matt has proven to be one of the most prolific, consistent and respected songwriters of the second wave of shoegazing. Never the sort of musician to remain quiet, always feeling the need to keep moving forward, Matt has also released music under the project name The Static Silence (a collaboration with Rachel Goldstar of Experimental Aircraft, Eau Claire and All in the Golden Afternoon), as well as remixed tracks for Kontakte and Monster Movie (the enduring project from Christian Savill of Slowdive). He’s also released several solo albums, these being more experimental excursions recorded mainly at home. These include 2008’s highly lauded Arundel and it’s follow up, 2009’s Left to Memory, which features some of Matt’s most compelling work to date. Matt’s newest project, You Walk Through Walls, formed with fellow Air Formation alumnus James Harrison (together with Harry Irving) was announced following the early 2011 news about the split of Air Formation, and Bartram fans have waited anxiously for a taste of what’s to come. Y You Walk Through Walls’ debut EP is slated to be released via Club AC30 this summer. Two new tracks from the EP were released this week via Soundcloud (you can find them in the body of the interview) to overwhelming critical acclaim, and excitement continues to build as we all wait to hear the EP in it’s full and final form. Please enjoy the following interview with Matt Bartram, a truly lovely fellow. Cheers. Read more
“Lifenotes is a nice mixture of complex atmospheres and stripped back pieces. It has a long track list (sixteen), but they are all short tracks, easily digested.”
Clem Leek is a composer who has quietly been working away for some time now. He is very often described as neo-classical, which is a pretty loose term for modern music that is based on traditional classical constructs. Although it certainly draws influence from that genre, I would say it is a bit more soundscape oriented. Ambient washes of drones and electronica popping and fizzing while simple melodic motifs are used, often repetitively to add colour and definition to the pieces. Based in Bath, UK, I first came across Clem at a small gig in an underground venue in said town, and was pretty impressed. Not what I was expecting given the venue, it being more suited to a grimey punk band or or something, but the atmospheric and emotive music of his performance was engaging and interesting, if merely for its juxtaposition of content and context.
Since then, Clem has released several works, all steadily developing his style as a composer. This latest offering is another step on his journey. Lifenotes is a nice mixture of complex atmospheres and stripped back pieces. It has a long track list (sixteen), but they are all short tracks, easily digested. Centred on the piano, but also using many other real instruments such as violin and guitar, the album is very much played rather then produced for the main part.
The recording is pretty low tech it has to be said. I once read an article which argued that the recording process was as much a part of the finished product as the performance it captures, and the buzzing and clicking captured during that process is just important to the music as anything else, and should be celebrated as such. Well, you can certainly hear the recording process in all its glory on this album, which could be considered a celebration of the art, or could be seen as unnecessary hiss depending on where you stand on the argument. Either way, it’s a minor gripe, if that’s even what it is.
I managed to ask Clem a few questions about the album:
Gustave Savy / Igloo :: When and how did you first get in to music?
Clem Leek :: I have always had a passion for music for as long as I can remember. My parents exposed me to music at a young age and encouraged me with music lessons. I have been very lucky that I have been able to really explore music at each stage of my life.
Igloo :: What prompted you to start composing?
CL :: Well, as most musicians do, I used to write small melodies and improvise a bit, but it wasn’t until GCSE and the discovery of Sibelius (software not composer) that really got me thinking about the process and structure. Since then I have been exploring lots of genres, areas of notation and instrumentation. It is my favourite part of music, expression through composition is a huge part of my musical life.
Igloo :: What are you listening to at the moment? Not what influences you, but what do you actually get down to?
CL :: Well I am listening to a tonne of stuff at the moment. I’m loving the new Com Truise album, along with Nils Frahm’s new CD and i’ve been getting down to 65daysofstatic as well.
Igloo :: Your album Lifenotes has pretty melancholy vibe in places, is that intentional, or did it just turn out like that?
CL :: I think a lot of my work, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally is melancholic. The context in which some of the songs were written definitely lead to that.
Igloo :: How was this recorded? At home or in a studio?
CL :: Some of it was recorded at home, some recorded out and about with my little travelling studio. It’s nice to be able to record something In the spur of the moment, little moments like that can really add to a piece. All the mastering was done in a studio though.
Igloo :: Did you have a definite concept for this release, or is it a coincidentally harmonious collection of disparate pieces?
CL :: The album is a collection of pieces written over the last two years, so really in its element it can’t help but be a disparate album. Although I like to think that adds something rather than detracts. Each piece really is a Lifenote and I really wanted them to be seen that way.
Igloo :: What’s your live set up? Is this stuff in your live repertoire and is playing live something you spend a lot of time working on? Translating recorded material to a performance context can be a technical conjuring trick.
CL :: Preparing live material is always a challenge. Most of the pieces from Lifenotes I will perform live. Some, just being piano pieces, remain like that for live performances. I like to adapt other pieces so that they are recognisable yet I re-imagine them for a live situation. My setup always changes. Sometimes I love to keep it simple and just use piano and other times I’ll have laptop, piano, guitar, violin and other instruments. It depends on the piece as to how long I spend on preparation, I always like to keep an element of improvisation in my sets, meaning I can work with timbre and structure. Using Ableton live allows me to be flexible live, it is a great platform to work from.
Lifenotes is the latest album from the multi-talented composer Clem Leek. It is available now on Drifting Falling.
Modesty and reticence may be admirable traits in a person. But in music, they are mostly a sure-fire recipe for mediocrity. Well aware of this equation, London-based fourpiece Kontakte have made grand gestures and big ambitions the foundation of their oeuvre. Following in the footsteps of an already anything but shy debut, Soundtracks to Lost Road Movies, their second full-length We Move Through Negative Spaces marks another progression for the band: Yet more epic in its architecture, even more varied in its stylistic outreach, more daring in its arrangements, more ecstatic in its moments of blissful euphoria and more forlorn in its instances of sweet melancholia, it maximises the quartet’s sound and scope in every possible way: Pieces like proudly triumphant opener „Astralagus“ as well as a two-part, fifteen-minute closing suite composed of „Every Passing Hour“ and „The Ocean Between You and Me“, are inspired as much by the dynamics and emotional catharsis of rock as by forces of nature: Howling walls of stormy distortion, the burning brightness of shimmering harmonics and cooling waves of consoling harmonies combine into a work that is sure to leave no one cold – and many feverishly aroused. At the same time, the album marks a gradual shift in Kontakte’s stylistic outreach. While Soundtracks to Lost Road Movies was still indebted to the aesthetics of Krautrock, the title to standout-piece „Motorik“ openly referencing the genre’s emphasis on hypnotic grooves and slow-simmering rhythmical propulsion, for example, We Move Through Negative Spaces offers the highly personal blend of a Post Rock band driven by stuttering elecronic beats and the finely nuanced sensibilities of a neoclassical ensemble – with befriended violinist Brigid McCafferty adding timbral richness on select instances. The general impression of the album is therefore one of a work of change, and it is further reinforced by the inclusion of two pieces written by former member Paul Burton, thereby linking past, present and future of the band in an intriguing fashion. That is a challenging proposition for sure – but Kontakte would undoubtedly not have it any other way.
Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi. We’re good thanks. We are spread across the globe right now – three of the band are based in London and one in Toronto, Canada.
What’s on your schedule right now?
The past few months have seen us getting things together for the release of our second album ‘We Move Through Negative Spaces’ (Drifting Falling Records). It’s been a labour of love for the past two years and has been worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears on our part! We are really proud of the record, and the good feedback it is starting to receive (hopefully) shows that people can hear the passion and care we put into the writing, recording and production.
How would you describe and rate the music scene of the country you are currently living in?
Well, the band is based in London, which is a fantastically diverse city for music. There are other great cities in the world where you can find brilliant music scenes full of enthusiastic listeners, but London seems to be a melting pot for almost any kind of sound or movement in music. It’s fascinating that whatever you listen to, whether it is Jazz, Classical, Doom Metal or Skiffle (!) – you are going to find a club or night dedicated to that somewhere in London. As a musician that can be exciting, but at the same time frustrating – simply as there are so many artists vying for the attention of listeners, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
Not really, no. There are obvious comparisons that people and reviewers make with our music (dare we say p**t-r**k) – but I guess it’s only natural for people to try and group things together sometimes for ease of reference. To be honest it’s not something that we really pay too much attention to though – we’d rather just be judged on our own merits (as any band/artist would). In terms of tradition though – there is definitely a lineage of interesting music going back through the years that we’d like to think we’re building on in some way. I don’t think there are many ideas left which haven’t been explored in some form already, so anything we do now is obviously influenced by people before us. I guess starting with early electronic music (hence the band name), right through to MBV, Spacemen 3, and more recent (and perhaps more obvious) influences like Godspeed You Black Emperor.
Are there any movements in music any more in 2011?
Don’t know – you tell us!? Our individual tastes are pretty diverse and I don’t think we really latch onto scenes or movements as such. Just seeking out good music is enough for us, regardless of when it was made, or by whom. Sometimes the best way to discover ‘new’ music is by reading about artists you like and admire, and finding out what has influenced them. It can sometimes be a bit overwhelming when you dig deeper and deeper and realise just how much great music that there is already out there (let alone things that are coming out this year) that you haven’t discovered or listened to yet.
In terms of composition, what do you consider your main challenges?
First and foremost the main challenge is to keep it interesting for ourselves. We do this because we love it. If it ever gets to the point where it is no longer interesting or enjoyable then we’d have to find something else to keep us busy. The best way of achieving this is to always keep pushing on and trying new things – different sounds, different arrangements, even swapping instruments – just to keep challenging yourselves in some way.
We aim to write music that is both delicate and powerful at the same time – and the key element that is needed to convey these (sometimes conflicting) ideas, is a good use of dynamics. It needs to move, build, and be fluid within its own space … and surprise the listener. It’s sometimes a challenge to achieve these different things within a track, and find the right balance between the various elements, but we’d like to think that more times than not we get close to what we’re trying to achieve.
How would you describe your method of composing?
In a word … iterative! Due to the part-electronic, part-live instrumentation nature of the band there usually needs to be some sort of pre-preparation necessary in terms of electronic elements when we write. Songs can start around just a simple beat, or a synth line, which we’ll play together over – finding what works, what doesn’t, and how the track can be structured. Then it’s a case of re-programming the electronic elements to suit and playing through again with live instruments, again noting what works and what doesn’t etc. And repeat ad infinitum …! It’s sometimes hard to know when to stop (this recent set of songs took almost two years to pin down), but it’s the way that works for us right now.
Software like Ableton Live is bringing us closer to the point of being able to improvise whilst writing in terms of beats and electronics as well, but at the moment we don’t have enough pairs of hands in the band to make full use of that … Though it is something that we’d like to explore in the future. With one of us now based overseas we’re also starting to explore ways of collaborating on new material remotely, and exchanging ideas online. It may change the way things work a bit, but we’re hopeful that we can all still contribute to new tracks and keep making good music together.
In which way, would you say, is your cultural background reflected in your work?
Short answer … I don’t know. Your background and upbringing is always going to influence what you do in all aspects of your life, but as for how it affects our music I’m not sure to be honest. I think one trait that we share as a group is an underlying sense of optimism … whatever bad things happen, and however bleak things may seem sometimes, I think we share the ability to see some light at the end of the tunnel – and I think that comes across in our music (though I’m not sure that was the question you were asking!).
How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
Both are equally important. The best records are those that are made up of interesting sounds and textures – where you can find a new layer, or something you hadn’t noticed before, every time you go back to it. For me personally, the first time I heard Loveless was the first time I realised that a track could be more than just verse, chorus, melody etc – it was the nature of the sound itself that was just as important (if not more so).
It may not be that obvious from our music, but a couple of us have become obsessed recently with Tim Hecker’s work. His records are so interesting from a sound design perspective – things are so heavily processed that often it’s not discernible what the original sound sources were. Yet even amongst all that dissonance and the abrasive textures, there is still something very human-sounding – and captivating – about what he does. He sets the bar pretty high in terms of creating interesting sound in its own right, coupled with great compositional skills.
How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
For us, the two are interlinked. Improvisation is a key part of the song-writing process – just sitting and making music together, and reacting to what others are playing is the best way of putting together new material. As mentioned above though – the nature of the band means that we can’t write in a 100% improvisational way … there has to be an element of pre-preparation when we’re writing new music – even if it’s only a drum beat, or a synth line, to play against and improvise around.
What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?
This might be quite a literal answer … but to us ‘new music’ is just something you haven’t personally heard before. As we said above, some of the most exciting musical discoveries aren’t necessarily newly released, they’re just new to you at the time.
I think at one point electronic music in general might have sounded ‘new’ to people because of the emergence of new technology but that’s long gone now. Anyone can create these sounds these days, so the challenge is in coming up with new ways of using technology, and/or combining it with other sounds, to create something that avoids sounding tired.
Do you personally enjoy multimedia as an enrichment or do you feel that it is leading away from the essence of what you want to achieve?
Multimedia in terms of visuals? To us there is a definite link between music and visual images, but sometimes we’re in two minds about how we should use that as a band. We originally started using visuals as a backdrop for live performance to try and draw the audience attention away from us as performers – so that they would be focused on something else, and therefore maybe appreciate the music in a different way. We hoped that by leading their eyes away from us playing the individual parts it would somehow allow them to listen to the music as a single body of sound, and hear it the way we imagined it in our heads. But then at the same time I think it is important not to dictate to a listener what they should be imagining when they hear our music – we’d rather individuals made their own minds up about what the songs mean to them.
I guess artwork sort of falls into this category as well – packaging is an important element of any release. MP3’s are very convenient, but the download-only culture of music consumption is not something that really makes sense to us, as it removes that sense of physical connection a listener has with the people who created the music. I think that’s part of the reason we put so much effort into producing a limited edition version of this album – with a DVD, individual photos, and various other bits and pieces – things which can’t necessarily be replicated in digital form.
The films that friends put together for three of the album tracks, and which are on the limited edition DVD, are an example of how multimedia elements can be used to enhance what we’re doing. We’re honoured that these people were willing to spend so much time putting together the films, and they have definitely added something of their own to each of the tracks. This was in effect a ‘one-way’ collaboration though – the tracks were essentially complete and the film makers put together their interpretation of them. In the future we’d love to try working in conjunction with a director to create an original sound track for film work. That would be really interesting.
So … sorry, that’s a very long-winded answer! But in answer to your original question – no we don’t think multimedia elements detract from what we’re trying to achieve. Used wisely they can really enhance what you are doing – but (as with the music itself) they need the right level of care and attention to detail.
What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
The key thing that a good show needs is a connection with the audience. It doesn’t matter whether you are playing to 10 people or 500 – if you can sense that they are into what you are doing then it gives you more energy, and pushes you on to perform better. Our live set up is quite reliant on technology, so our approach is to do everything we can to turn up early and get a good sound check! Things tend to go wrong when we’re expected to just plug in and start playing.
We see live performances as being a separate experience to listening to our music on record – there is a more physical connection with the listener at a live show (often simply through volume), as opposed to sitting at home with your headphones on. It is easier to get across the subtleties sometimes on record, but it is very difficult (if not impossible) to reproduce the physical nature of a live show during recording. Neither experience is better than the other – just different.
How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences without sacrificing their soul?
That’s a really difficult question. We would love our music (and that of other non-mainstream bands/artists we admire) to get more recognition from the wider public, but I worry that if this did happen then it may start to change the music being made somehow. It’s hard to articulate why. We definitely don’t subscribe to that ‘indie’ ethic where anyone who tastes success automatically loses their credibility, but as a listener I think part of the appeal of non- mainstream music is that sense of discovery when you find something new that you love. It somehow makes it more special knowing that you are part of something that most people don’t understand and are missing out on. I don’t think that’s a particularly good answer to your question (!), but it’s more of a gut feeling than anything.
As for how it could happen … I guess you need to rely on artists who have achieved some level of success (whilst retaining their credibility) to try and open their audiences eyes/ears to other new things. For example, The Cure taking 65daysofstatic out on a stadium tour with them, or Mogwai taking smaller bands they admire out as support acts all over the world. I suppose ‘exploiting’ other forms of more mainstream media would be another way into the public eye. It may be generalising slightly, but a lot of this type of music lends itself to soundtrack work – whether it is for films, videogames, or even maybe theatre. Audiences can get subliminally exposed to music in this way that they perhaps wouldn’t seek out ordinarily. For most bands though opportunities like this would be few and far between.
You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
All sorts … I think to reflect the diverse range of things that the four of us are into we would need a stage each to keep us all happy! Stuart would curate the ‘earplugs mandatory’ stage – headlined by Swans, with Sunn O))), Earth, Jesu, Nisennenmondai and Belong. Ben would curate the ‘laptops and guitars’ stage – Tim Hecker and Ben Frost collaboration to headline, with Fennesz, The Sight Below, Marcus Fischer, Jasper TX. Ian would curate the ‘strings and keys’ stage – headlined by Ludivico Einaudi, with Olafur Arnalds, Eluvium, Nils Frahm and Amiina. Gary would curate the ‘anything goes stage’ – headlined by Radiohead with Tool, Alan Jackson and Volcano Choir. There would also need to be a film tent showing the first series of Twin Peaks on repeat 24 hours a day throughout the whole festival! David Lynch is a genius.
Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
In a word, no – at least not yet anyway. Perhaps that just means though that we haven’t peaked yet (!) and we’re still refining our songwriting skills and musicianship. It’s important to have grand ambitions for your music, and to aim high as you can – and I think we’ll continue to better ourselves in the future and hopefully keep making music that means something to people. At this point in time though we’re happy with where we are, and we’re proud of this most recent album. We put so much into it that we’re just excited for it to finally be out there, and hoping that people can identify with it.
Soundtracks to Lost Road Movies (Drifting Falling) 2008
We Move Through Negative Spaces (Drifting Falling) 2011
Here’s a really good interview with Kontakte from At The Sinema discussing the new album, ‘We Move Through Negative Space’.
KONTAKTE’s second studio album ‘We Move Through Negative Space’ hits the airwaves this April 11th and we here at ATS were lucky enough to get a sneaky peak. We loved it so much, we begged them for an interview and they happily obliged. The band have withdrawn from live performances for a while to concentrate on new material and worked incredibly hard to make the song writing, instrumentation and production better than their debut album and trust us, all that effort paid off. But I’ll let them do the rest of the talking:
ATS: On your myspace page, you describe your sound as ‘Hypnotic, textural, cinematic noise’, how did you find this sound?
K: Well, if we have arrived at that sound then we’re heading in the right direction. Its very difficult to analyse and describe your own music. These words were elements we wanted our music to include.
ATS: Are there artists out there who influence you?
K: There’s a myriad of artists who influence us certainly, but hopefully we are not influenced too directly or obviously with the sound we produce. The whole band listens to a range of similar ‘guitar bands’, perhaps anything from Mono to The Album Leaf, but individually each member definitely listens to different types of music that all gel together in the melting pot that is Kontakte. From Ludivico Einaudi, Eluvium, Torche, Nils Frahm, Bon Iver to Sunn O))) – its all in there.
ATS: Your second album ‘We Move Through Negative Spaces’ will be released in April – what can we expect?
K: What can you expect? A much stronger and concise record in comparison to the first. We are a much tighter unit now and the positivity of that certainly comes through in the music. We were very proud to have the first album released, at the time it was a massive boost to find a label that loved what we did and wanted to work with us – but once we started working on the second album properly it wasn’t long before it took its own path and we realized we were writing something that was going to take everything we had previously done up to another level.
ATS: A lot of artists struggle with ‘second album syndrome’. Did you find it hard to move away from your debut album and find something fresh?
K: In many respects this second album was an easier experience than writing the first. We started writing as soon as Album 1 was released, we had a few things half written and were just excited to be getting back into the studio. There was no ‘second album syndrome’ for us at all. As it is we’re already discussing Album 3! Though i think that’s quite normal for musicians and artists in general to always be looking forward and considering what you’re going to do next.
ATS: From the tracks I’ve listened to, there seems to naturalistic feel to the songs, is this something that influences you when writing a song?
K: A naturalistic feeling? That’s a good thing to hear when you consider all of our beats and rhythms are electronic. We certainly look for a warmth of tone when we produce our music. We want it to sound quite earthy. We are to some extent inspired by our surroundings, whether that would be the city or travels to other countries, staring at the sea or walking through a forest.
ATS: You played at the Feedback Fever Festival in Hamburg and have tour dates in Hamburg and Munich this year- we’re seeing a pattern- are you well received in Germany? Do you see a difference in audiences compared to gigs in England?
Feedback Fever in Hamburg have been very good to us. Their festival last year was our first show out of the UK and an amazing experience. We were very well received. There is definitely an enthusiasm out there that is incredibly difficult to capture at home, especially in London. I’m not sure exactly why that is other than they love their music and are simply happy to show it. They don’t expect to be impressed, they’re just up for a good time. We are heading back this spring for more dates and are hitting some more cities, it should be a good party.
ATS: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
K: Collaborating with a renowned producer would be great for us. The first and second albums were both self-produced so it would be interesting to hear what someone else would do with us and our music. Having other musicians whom we admire mixing our stuff would also be interesting. That’s what was great about the first album, having the entire record remixed by friends and other musicians we felt a kinship with. In every remix they brought out elements and created something different to what we had first produced. I’d love to hear what our album would sound like if Olafur Arnalds or even Brian Eno was behind the desk! That would be special.
ATS: If you could wipe any genre of music (or any musician) off the face of the earth who would it be?
K: Good question. Funk Rock is a bit of an oddity. Not sure we should signal any one musician individually though. I tend not to register music I don’t like, I find what I consider bad music quite easy to ignore.
ATS: And finally (and I’m very sorry about this, we decided this would be our generic ‘ask everyone question’ but didn’t really think it through) what underwear are you wearing?
K: I’ve just got out the shower so…. i’m not wearing any. You?
ATS: Funnily enough, as I’m writing this up, I’ve just got out of the shower too.
Interview with Francesco Galano, the mastermind behind When the Clouds:
Francesco Galano. Ovvero, quando le nuvole del post-rock italiano attendono una nuova stagione di rifrazioni dream-troniche. Ecco le sue confessioni “open-minded”…
Come nasce il progetto When The Clouds e qual è l’origine del moniker?
Sin dall’adolescenza, quando ho iniziato a suonare nelle prime band, mi sono sempre riservato una dimensione più intima in cui comporre musica esclusivamente “mia”; non so bene il motivo di ciò ma era una naturale risposta ad una mia esigenza espressiva.
When The Clouds in tal senso rappresenta una tappa più concreta di questo viaggio iniziato molto tempo fa…
Riguardo il moniker, When The Clouds è un progetto strumentale e dunque alle poche parole che trovano luogo in esso do una grande importanza. Credo che la musica e le parole abbiano una modalità comunicativa totalmente differente se non opposta. La parola a volte è un limite e tende alla staticità a differenza della musica che nel suo essere “astratta” è passibile di infinite reazioni emotive che bypassano la razionalità.
When The Clouds non dice nulla di definitivo. E’ un’immagine incompiuta, una frase sospesa ed ognuno può leggervi una continuazione e darvi poi un senso.
Quali sono le influenze musicali che più pesano sul progetto When The Clouds?
Credo che ascoltando la mia musica sia immediato cogliere l’influenza nordeuropea. A leggere le recensioni, l’associazione con la “scena islandese” sembra immediata. Se band come gli ormai popolarissimi Sigur Ros abbiano contribuito non poco a plasmare la mia estetica musicale devo dire che questa negli anni si è nutrita ed arricchita di generi molto differenti tra loro. Alcuni dei quali forse sembra difficile rintracciare nei miei brani.
Ad esempio ti cito un certo tipo di metal estremo, guarda caso nordeuropeo, che mi ha accompagnato per tutta l’adolescenza. Ricordo che ciò che mi rapiva non era la violenza o la brutalità del sound ma l’estrema passionalità e drammaticità che trasudava da quella musica. Sono sicuro che per chi è “ignorante” del genere sia difficile immaginare di provare brividi nell’ascoltare chitarre superdistorte, voci urlanti e batterie iperveloci, ma garantisco che allora mi davano quello che può dare l’ascolto di “Al chiaro di luna” di Beethoven…
Questo per dire che in realtà, sin da allora, mi rendo conto di aver sempre cercato nella musica questa passionalità, un certo tipo di atmosfere che fanno vibrare le mie corde più sensibili. E devo dire che tutto ciò l’ho trovato poi nei glitch e nei synth dell’elettronica, come in un arpeggio di chitarra acustica e nel calore della voce di un cantautore folk, nell’esplosione di un brano post-rock come nelle melodie e nelle scale di un pianista jazz.
Dopo tutto questo, la composizione poi è il momento in cui ti trovi a riempire il silenzio con quella musica che ti si è creata dentro e che senti il bisogno di restituire al mondo.
Nel tuo EP d’esordio l’interazione tra sonorità elettroniche ed acustiche è giocata su un sottile equilibrio di equivalenze più che di contrasti, con un risultato a dir poco miracoloso: il rigore minimalista con il quale hai tenuto a bada il minutaggio dei singoli brani deriva da una precisa scelta stilistica o è dettato eclusivamente dall’ispirazione?
Nella composizione dei brani non mi sono imposto nulla. Prima di giungere alla composizione delle 6 tracce che compongono l’ EP ho passato moltissimo tempo a sperimentare e ricercare un suono che mi appagasse totalmente e che mi permettesse di dare forma ai brani. Per fare un paragone, per me il suono è la tavolozza del pittore: la scelta dei colori, dei “toni” è essenziale per la creazione poi dell’immagine.
La durata dei brani poi non è frutto di una scelta. E’ come una storia: c’è un’inizio ed una fine. Il fatto poi che le ogni traccia non superi i 5/6 minuti credo che in fondo sia un bene perchè forse poi stancherebbero, me per primo.
Cosa pensi dell’attuale scena musicale italiana?
In realtà non sono molto interessato alla scena italiana, perchè ritengo che non esista una vera e propria scena italiana.
Purtroppo credo che qui non nasca mai nulla di realmente nuovo e di un tale spessore da dare luogo ad un nuovo filone musicale, che magari possa imporsi anche oltre i confini: in tal caso si potrebbe parlare di una scena italiana.
In Italia si suona la musica della quale ci nutriamo e che prevalentemente arriva da fuori. Tranne poche eccezioni è sempre stato così.
D’altronde però, credo che oggi, parlando di arte in genere, il concetto di confine e quindi di identità stia mutando per non dire scomparendo. Ci relazioniamo ed interfacciamo con realtà fisicamente lontanissime da noi, lo scambio e la condivisione di idee ed opere è globale ed immediato e tutto questo porta alla dissoluzione di quei limiti che spesso sono il presupposto per la definizione di una identità. Riguardo a questo mutamento io non ho un atteggiamento negativo ma neppure positivo. Credo che ciò che avviene abbia ragion d’essere per il semplice fatto che avviene.
La foto di copertina del tuo EP d’esordio è davvero suggestiva: che relazione c’è con il titolo, altrettanto affascinante, del mini album? Sono l’espressione in “codice” di qualche momento o di qualche situazione della tua vita privata?
La foto di copertina è di Pierre Debroux, un giovane e bravissimo artista belga con il quale sono venuto in contatto tramite MySpace un paio di anni fa. Ci siamo innamorati a vicenda del nostro lavoro e al momento di decidere l’artwork ho immediatamente pensato ad una sua foto.
Credo che l’immagine rispecchi a pieno il titolo dell’album che come il moniker suggerisce un’immagine sospesa. “The Longed-For Season” è la stagione che attendiamo, ed è l’attesa quella che io leggo nella polaroid di Pierre: un fiore, forse appassito che attende la primavera per rinascere. Tutto ciò ovviamente porta in sè significati ben più profondi.
I tuoi brani hanno delle movenze che ritengo particolarmente adatte in un possibile film immaginario: quali sono i tuoi registi preferiti e con quali ti piacerebbe collaborare?
L’idea di prestare la mia musica ad un film o anche di comporre una colonna sonora mi ha sempre affascinato.
Paradossalmente però sono molto attratto dai film in cui la musica è totalmente assente come ad esempio i film del movimento Dogma 95. Mi piace molto infatti Lars Von Trier. Trovo che ci sia una tensione maggiore. Certi silenzi sono molto più incisivi di qualsiasi tema.
Ci sono però molti compositori che con la loro musica hanno contribuito in modo essenziale alla realizzazione delle opere cinematografiche. Uno di questi per me è Philip Glass. “Koyaanisqatsi” è ciò che ritengo l’esempio più significativo di sinergia tra immagini e musica.
Per quanto riguarda me, non ho in realtà un’idea precisa o una preferenza in particolare tra registi con cui mi piacerebbe collaborare. Più che altro posso dirti che mi piacerebbe molto comporre musica per un certo tipo di documentari. Spesso l’occhio e la sensibilità di un regista di talento riescono a tirare fuori dall’osservazione della realtà quel contenuto emotivo che, in quanto reale, è notevolmente più incisivo di qualsiasi sceneggiatura.
Nell’imminente futuro cosa dobbiamo aspettarci da When The Clouds?
Innanzitutto un liveset. Purtroppo finora non ho ancora portato il mio progetto su un palco ma è qualcosa a cui sto lavorando. Nel CD io ho suonato ogni strumento ma ovviamente dal vivo ci sarà una band.
Non vedo l’ora di potermi confrontare con questa dimensione anche per uscire da quella dimensione di solitudine che se da un lato mi permette di concentrarmi totalmente sulla composizione a volte diventa un pò alienante.
E poi la composizione delle nuove tracce. Che per ora si stanno limitando a lunghe sessioni di improvvisazione sul piano, alla ricerca di un qualcosa che, ora come ora, non sono ancora in grado di dire bene cos’è…
Every November, just as we’ve done since 2005, we pay tribute to ten labels that have stood out from the crowd and brought us multiple hours of listening pleasure throughout the year. This installment’s selections are a typically wide-ranging group, with the labels collectively representing an encompassing stylistic range. Many are based in the US, while others call Singapore, Berlin, London, and Nottingham home.
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Gareth Dickson’s Collected Recordings caught our ear in a major way upon its release earlier this year, so much so that it’s remained pretty much a listening fixture ever since. The disc deftly merges Dickson’s varied musical interests—ambient electronic treatments (by way of Eno and Aphex Twin) and classic acousic folk (of the Nick Drake kind)—into an oft-beautiful set of entrancing songs and instrumentals. Having worked with Vashti Bunyan and Max Richter, Dickson’s got many a story to tell, and we were lucky to be apprised of a generous number of them during a recent interview with the Glasgow-based musician. Based on his comments regarding his most recent musical output, it should be fascinating to monitor the paths his future music follows.
Read the full interview