"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

"years that have yet to happen"

The sheer sensuality of Le Berger's textures, which the project's shepherd (sorry) summons despite "primitive means and scarce source material", & their languid, looped unfurling hardly prepare you for an elaborate metaphysical conceit.

But in a new interview, Sam Landry reveals the Tron-invoking concept behind his luxuriant recent Expeditions on the Grayscale & riffs on a host of other topics - tradition, genre, collaboration, other musical outlets & a rare physical release ahead ("something very cinematic, theatrical drone if you will").

Also featuring: Sam's 'generative' aScapist sideline, including a stripped-down edit of 2A - the self-described "aerial feel" of Clouds.

Oh, & a fine mix (Stephan Mathieu + Taylor Deupree - Largo > Terry Riley - Poppy Nogood & The Phantom Band > Le Berger - Gnascor Encore & Core à Corps > Terry Riley - Poppy Nogood & The Phantom Band > Roger Eno & Peter Hammill - Wise Men > Shakti - Mind Ecology > Chihei Hatakeyama - Voices II > Loscil - Nautilus)...

What's the concept behind Expeditions?
Let me start this one with a bit of a disclaimer: all this is done rather unassumingly and candidly, the last thing I would want is for the concepts surrounding an album to supersede the music. I personally think there's much more to imagination than meets the eye, but if you don't like the conceptual mumbo jumbo, ditch it.

It is a fair bet that most readers have seen Tron. (or you know, the new Tron...) Well, the Grayscale is similar to that - a world outside the world answering to its own rules and parameters, yet we have access to it.

It is a meeting or gathering place for creative minds. It is where duality vanishes, not because it is transcended or engulfed in unity, but because polarity ceases to exist. Everything in shades of gray to approximate your location on the gazeous - liquid spectrum. Always a blend of sea and air, no solid land.

It thrives on the very creativity of the minds involved, is nourished by it. The only pre-requisite to enter this arena is to shed your ego, even if just for a short while. You can wander long and wide, none of which will be recorded or traceable. But once you come into contact with the mind of another a coordinate is created and the events that take place can now be shared with the myriads of other worlds. As if the frontier between our world and the Grayscale became thinner upon that meeting.

The last few of those meetings to have been recorded are the following:

Don't go away J (#c2c2c2) - Surfing (oh so succinctly) with a tragic French poet.
Pam Pam some'n wild (#a0a0a0) - Sailing (with such balance) with a post-modern composer and a noiselifer.
Dust it begun (#dbdbdb) - Floating (oh so aimlessly) with the very creator of the Grayscale.
Bern deep'n'bub (#5c5c5c) - Sinking (oh so steadily) with an acclaimed film composer.

The coordinates are indeed in HTML color codes (a few asked...)
The name of the pieces give a (vague) indication as to who took part in the meeting.
And the timing of the pieces is a play upon unity and trinity, as well as the fact that I turn 33 on 11-11-11.

Et, comme on dit, voilà!

Le Berger - Dust it begun (#dbdbdb) [re-up]

Is there usually a concept behind your music?
Depending, for "Sounds of..." or "The Holiday Drones" there was no particular idea linking the pieces together. There can be a general theme (insomnia and charity respectively) and specific pieces can bring about a particular imagery for me which is usually quite self explanatory within the title. Think 0007 [Thanks to Bobby the Navigator] which is about seafaring or After The Bombings which deals with devastation. But I would not refer to those as conceptual works per se.

If we're speaking about other releases, then most definitely.

How do concepts help you make music?
They rarely do!

I don't set out to work around any particular preconceived notions or concepts. It's usually either amidst the work in process or after I have a few things that fit together that a pattern seems to emerge. There is a lot of trials and errors in my work, so sometimes before I choose to keep or discard certain things I can listen to a piece or a group of pieces for days on end. This way I can get into a state of immersion somewhat, and also gain a new perspective on the piece(s) away from the work. It's how I assess if that first enthusiastic impression I had while working with it really translates upon listening. That's usually when the music starts being evocative for me and images start to spark, and then it snowballs!

And then this type of material, compared to others like blues, folk, pop, etc., gravely lacks in narrative and then even compared to other instrumental genres it still has very few (if at all) events occurring in the length of a piece. Some artists chose to embrace this and go the abstract route (bless them). I simply opted a more impressionist way.

Do you see yourself as working in any kind of tradition?
"I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member."- Groucho Marx

With that said, I don't have the vanity to think "here I am breaking grounds that no one ever threaded". I enjoy being a part of this long line of breeders we call humanity and can't deny being influenced by some of them. It's just this thing where it's hard to have the detachment to know where you belong as a creator in the midst of it all. Time will tell?

I think one of the marvelous liberties we have today is to mingle with so much content coming from different eras and currents, then how it incorporates into the work is often times more or less conscious in my opinion.

How has your music changed since you began?
Essentially, not at all! Guess I just know a little bit more what I'm doing, not sure if it's a curse or a blessing...

Do you consider your music 'drone'? If so, why drone? Is drone something you just recognize when you hear it or does it have specific ingredients?
Let me put it this way: I had no clue I was doing 'drone' music until people told me.

The making of music is the making of music. Labels and genres and nomenclatures and currents and so on are only sticker we apply on top of it to help discern which is which. In that sense, sure it's drone, it's whatever anyone wants to call it if it helps associating it with other creators that do something similar.

Though it's quite fascinating how much plurality and eccentricities can be found in something labeled thus.

Do you use anything besides a laptop to make your music?
I use a desktop actually. ;)

Best thing anyone's said/written about your music? Worst?
"i see my children playing...and i see my children watching their children playing...i feel the span of years that have yet to happen..."- Tom, a fellow dronist (aka Lattice) about 0003 [No thanks to you]

Worst probably was something like "ugh, annoying" or such. Not very exciting I'm afraid. Fingers crossed!

What's your goal with aScapist?
I never perceived the aScapist sideline as something 'to pursue'. Think of it like Eno's generative bits, not that I'm comparing talents here, not by a long shot. It's just something that I do with a similar intent or process, I put a few things together and set a few parameters in place to make them interact and then I let things go and happen in sequence. To put it simply, it's a creative process that is probably more interesting for the person involved in it than anyone else.

I share the end result of those 'experiments in generative music' in the hopes that some people might enjoy them, but since I'm not actually paying attention to the end result or trying to make it pleasant or beautiful, it becomes something that doesn't quite belong to me. Sort of 'happenstance' music that is a collateral damage of trials and essays if you will.

Besides aScapist, do you make any other non-Le Berger music?
I sure do. A lot of acoustic guitar, piano on hiatus for now (lacking a piano!), modular synths, etc. But a lot of these things, to be arranged, recorded and delivered or released properly require means that are not at my disposal at the moment. And some of those things I actually cannot wait to record and put out there, it's sometimes miles away from Le Berger type of material. Make it funky now!

Do you make music with anyone else or always solo? Anyone you'd like to collaborate with? Or remix?
I used to play in different outfits when I was younger, jam bands, jazz funk, prog rock, etc. and I still play with friends on rather seldom occasions but this is not something I'm actively pursuing at the moment. I do have a band-like project on the backburner but until it solidifies I'd rather not jinx it by blathering about it.

There are LOTS of artists out there who are awe inspiring nowadays, and a few I can already imagine collaborating with because we're like-minded and on friendly terms, plus I respect the work they do. But if you're looking for a scoop, nothing in the works at the present time.

No remixes.

Who else do you listen to (for pleasure, for inspiration, for a change)? What are some of this year's crucial releases for you? What are some releases you couldn't/wouldn't be without?
I listen to a lot of elses! (12 000 albums to choose from or so). So I'll just answer the last question, quelques incontournables: Loscil -Submers | Return to Forever - Light as a Feather | Guy Clark - Old #1 | The Herbaliser - Very mercenary | Gentle Giant - Octopus

I very much could go on, if you buy me a beer!

What's next for you after the physical release (& what can you say about that)?
Well, for the Le Berger project I have about 3 hrs worth of stuff on the shelves. Not all ready and done with, but close. So you can expect a somewhat steady flow of releases, both digitally and short runs of physical CD-Rs when I think the material calls for it.

For the next physical release there's actually been a change of plan. All for the better I think, what I initially wanted to get printed a netlabel has shown interest for, so it might find a home somewhere before the end of the year. Fear not, I have a few other tricks up my sleeve... so I chose another EP to print instead.

You can expect something very cinematic, theatrical drone if you will. It came about when I was doing these essays with blues as source material for drones. Something like a honky tonk piano in a decaying cathedral painting four different canvases on a main theme. Definitely not cheer up music, but incredibly evocative.

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