Here is the third installment of my ongoing series ANIEC — Adam Naworal Interviews EC — in which I interview a member of the Electronic Cottage community and they interview me. You can read Leslie Singer's interview of me here.
You grew up in the same northeast region I'm from, relocated to California, and then to New York. What would you say is the major difference between each of these as far as the arts and music scenes go?
I think that the major difference was that San Francisco in the early '80s when I was living there was way more open to artists, musicians and all around free thinkers than the DC area where I grew up. DC was very conservative. The same thing could be said of NYC when I moved here in the mid '90s. Unfortunately, SF and NYC have gotten so expensive for artists and musicians that many have had to move to other cities but that is good for the US. That is one of the reasons why I love the Florida noise scene and everything you all are doing throughout the state. You are getting out of the so-called financial centers and spreading the good word!
No New York is a favorite of mine as well. Do you feel that, like that old saw about The Velvet Underground & Nico, everyone who heard it formed a band?
Yes, I do, though I think that probably more bands were influenced by what the No Wavers did AFTER No New York such as the punk funk of James Chance and Pat Place with the Bush Tetras.
EC is a great continuation of the mail art/tape trade aesthetics of the '80s. What are the advantages of networking in the digital age vs. the old via mail ways?
I agree-- EC is a great continuation of the mail art/tape trade aesthetics of the
'80s. It is truly the next logical step. I'm really enjoying the immediacy and the ease of networking and production in the digital age.
Back in the early '80s I had multiple cassette decks, guitars, microphone, a heavy mixing board and amplifier. I was going for a thick, gooey sound of layers of compressed noise (a band of guitars) with screams and gruesome and absurdist lyrics on top. The space between idea and realization wasn’t that long. I lived in small spaces with the equipment all set up and ready to go.
Now the sound layer is a bit more open—more natural room tone whoosh. No amplified reverb. I do just about everything in real time. It is a sound work and a documentation of a performance. It’s about being in the moment and creating and hearing what happens. It’s more about the process and the relationship between the sounds. Not doing a ton of editing---keeping the piece whole and being open to the results. Today’s technology such as the iPhone, easy to use recording apps, and the Sony ICD PX-470 digital recorder make it easy for me to go with the flow on inspiration.
Right now I’ve swapped out the tactility of the guitar with hand held toys and gadgets (a veritable petting zoo/animal farm of a band who I call Barnyard) that can make interesting and weird noises without amplification. I work out the choreography as the spatial relationship with the microphone in the phone or ICD PX 470 is an interesting element. Like in the past to get compressed effects, I continue to mess around with the volume outputs such as using my little iPod as a playback device cranked up to 11.
Back in the '80s, writing the letters and including little bits of artwork with them was nice—it was part of the expression of the music. Back then one mailed the tapes and letters out and waited for a reply. Sometimes things got lost in the mail. (Which still happens now so one has to be philosophical about it—it is all part of the process…) With email, there is more of an immediate reaction to the work and faster communication that can be really helpful and supportive. I think that this also contributes to the feeling of closeness that I have with a website/e-community like Electronic Cottage that wasn’t there in the same way back in the fanzine days.
What a hell of a box! Cherry Red's third volume in their series of "formative electronica" overviews (the first covered the UK, the second continental Europe) draws in names both well-known (Suicide, Ministry, the Residents, Moev, Chrome) and obscure (Data-Bank-A, Architects Office, XX Committee, Rational Youth). Modern composers like Terry Riley and Philip Glass comfortably share space with Controlled Bleeding, Executive Slacks, and Voice Farm in this 4-CD set in a 48-page hardbound book.
Some of our illustrious EC community also appear! Hal McGee is represented by a snippet from the first ever Dog As Master release, a lo-fi bit of industrial sound collage bliss that's somehow related to yet much less refined than his current assemblages (not that there's anything wrong with being less refined!). Rick Franecki appears both on an F/i track AND an F/i collaboration with the criminally underrated industrial group Boy Dirt Car, both of which show why F/i is a legend of American space rock. Al Margolis contributes a fascinating early If,Bwana track from the gorgeously punny Freudian Slip cassette (look up the album cover for the pun!).
Everyone's favorite girl on fire Leslie Singer provides a charmingly DIY bit of sound collage madness in the form of Girls On Fire's delightfully named "Cat Vomit Punk House". Mental Anguish, Chris Phinney's project, is there as well with a lovely piece from MA's fourth cassette.
As with any compilation, the listener will play a mental game of "If I curated this.....", but the selections are solid throughout and they flow perfectly. Get this to hear our wonderful fellow EC'ers during their early years, and stick around to be enthralled by the rest! Even Ministry's goofy synthpop-era dub track sounds good in this context!
A REQUEST: If anyone has ANY information on Isosceles, please contact me! They seem to have been scrubbed completely from the internet (and history as a result) bar their track on disc four. Their track sounds VERY ahead of its time, reminding me of some of the dub techno I enjoyed in my younger years.
Chris Phinney has eight copies of Third Noise Principle for sale.
You can contact him by email to arrange a purchase.
:: A Very Emotional Post From Adam Naworal
During my existence I have experienced a lot of loss. Family members, friends, personal belongings...... you name it, I've lost it over the years.
About a year ago I lost my one constant in Florida before Aimee Grace Naworal came along: my beloved orange tabby Roger. He passed away due to humane reasons (his cancer got so bad I morally couldn't let it continue) around the same time my folks' boxer Daisy passed away, literally within days of each other. If Aimee wasn't here I would have been a mess.
Through all my losses, one song has provided consistent comfort:
Roy Montgomery's "Jaguar Meets Snake". To me this is the VERY embodiment of loss and acceptance. IE, yes, you lost something, but life goes on because those you lost would want it that way. Give somebody a hug today, fellow Electronic Cottagers. Tell someone you love them. On the hopefully-later-than-sooner occasion that you feel how I do, come back to this song. I promise you, it's transcendent. Roy recorded it after the love of his life died and he dealt with it by taking a trip to Temple IV in Guatemala. I recommend the whole album, but in this strange state of nostalgia I'm in I WILL focus on "Jaguar Meets Snake". Take care, all, and love those close to you. You never know when they'll be gone.
There's not much I can say about Lord Litter that he didn't say better himself here. What follows is the second part of our co-interview. Enjoy, dear reader!
Adam- Having your own radio program, do you find much difference between the classic airwaves radio and the now-common internet radio formats? What would you say are the advantages and downsides of each?
LL- The advantages are sure the variety of the shows. There is almost anything one can think of that has a special radio show. You just need to be clever enough to find it. And don't use GOOGLE - there are always alternatives 1. http://www.duckduckgo.com 2. http://www.startpage.com - use one of those and you'll be astonished how different the world is if you DON'T use Google. Whatever your very special taste may be, there is always a show to give you information and entertainment. The downside is the quality. In the old days radio was mostly well researched and curated. Today it's too often just a accumulation of sound. An hour of not really curated noise or power pop is not what I call a radio show. This is why I think shows like Charles Rice Goff III is producing are so good and important! All very carefully researched and presented!
Adam- In your track for the EC Compilation, you mention how if you don't succeed you'll be just another noise-maker on the internet. Was this a true feeling you have or purely tongue in cheek? Either way, do you find there is a fine line between genuine artistic expression and recording yourself fooling around?
LL- Well I guess it is a bit true feeling and a bit tongue in cheek. Since *everybody* can produce at home there is definitely a mass of non *unique / inspired* stuff on the internet. And I'm not only talking about *experimental* artists. There are so many pop-rock loops around that *everybody* can quickly compile something that sounds WOW and extremely professional but it's nothing but a uninspired tutorial on how to combine files. Since everybody can offer this via Bandcamp and similar websites, the internet explodes with this. Don't get me wrong basically the structure/idea of sites like Bandcamp is sure ok .. but ... all this is meant in *Workshop*.
Adam- You have mentioned your opposition to social media due to its potential for toxicity. Do you feel that more private social communities such as EC and Encyclotronic are the positive future of social media, as I do? What would you suggest other social media platforms implement to reduce the toxic potential?
LL- Definitely! Sites like EC go directly to the core of the interest, so you really gain if you take part as artist that fits to the core. Again, the basic idea of so-called *social media* is sure okay. The big problem is that it is a tool to make nothing but profit. All the toxicity is based on this. If the *social media* sites were curated as a worldwide pro_life forum (as Zuckerberg once tooted), all the poison would be eliminated .. but it isn't .. it's a tool to make as much profit as possible and you make much more profit with the ugly / negative side of things, so .. the official *social media* scene will NEVER eliminate the toxic potential because this is how they make their profit. How to reduce the toxic potential? Very simple - set up rules that *define* a pro_life platform, this would exclude hate etc mongers.
Adam- Please tell me one or two of your favorites in the following categories: audio artists, visual artists, cinematic artists. What draws you to their works? Do you find they inspire your own work?
LL- The easy part of the answer is cinematic artists because here I am more or less just a fan. If you want me to mention two names it would be Luis Buñuel and Jess Franco .. odd both movie directors from Spain. One who extremely careful creates and one who just spits it all out. Some of their movies I can watch again and again.
Come to think about it - I was involved in movie making. I created the soundtracks for *art house* short movies. Here is one example: Chapter 14' the dream of the disembodied birds' -"Soundtrack composed by Lord Litter on excerpts from over 60 acoustic film sequences https://vimeo.com/18294834 - I even won a prize for this. But you better not ask me about cinema .. I could start talking .. and never stop again.
LL- Visual artists didn't inspire me that much and I don't want shove cliche names around. But well - I'm more into the classics like Jan Vermeer and Caspar David Friedrich. Sure I'm also inspired by Dada and inventors like Dali ... but that's more *in general*.
Music is also very difficult to answer. I guess we're all influenced by names that were around when we grew up. Big names? Well - Frank Zappa (structure) and The Kinks (lyrics) really *taught* me many things. But that became more and more irrelevant as I was diving into the underground since the 1980s. I stopped buying new records and people I know personally became more important. Basically from the *names* section one musician became very *close* to me with the years because he went the other way. *All* musicians go from innovative, challenging, wild to lame and radio-friendly. There is one who went from Boy Pop to Avant garde - Scott Walker.
Well - how did they all inspire my own work? I guess they all showed me something that I thought was interesting / inspiring / fascinating / talking to me - so I thought lets go there too and check out what I can find. One thing I have to admit - what I really found was that there already was someone before me .. I still don't know what that really means to me.
Adam- Outside of experimental media, do you have any interest in more mainstream art forms etc.? What draws you to them?
LL- There is one mainstream art form that really fascinates me and that's *endless/ongoing* TV series' story telling. Some kind of art form that did not exist before. I sure prefer the more *surreal* topics like X-Files, LOST etc. Of course in times of as much profit as possible moneymakers like Netflix have already started to destroy this art form.
Adam- Lastly, please tell us something we should check out that might be previously unknown to us. Thank you for taking the time for this interview!
LL- What I realised as I was growing older; I learned immensely by looking on *the other side*. A example I like to tell again and again. There were decades in my life where I never would've listened to Bert Kaempfert, the German master of easy listening. I guess it started about 10 years ago when they re-released all his LPs on CD and something drove me to - in the end - buy them all. I started watching documentaries and read books dealing with him. I learned so much about music, production, creating etc etc .. probably more than I ever learned before. One example: whenever he didn't hear one of the musicians not well in the general sound of his orchestra, he did not say "play louder", he said "play quieter" ... to all the other musicians - which taught me so many aspects of creation and about a way to live! Yep that would be probably my hint - check out the other side - wherever you are - check out the other side .. for 30 years I more or less only explored the *underground*. Only recently I started to take a closer look at *the other side* to be really smashed by what I found after eliminating my cliches.
cheerz .. bye and thanks!! LL
by Adam J. Naworal, Professor Of Swamp Studies
Read, look and listen to Hal McGee's report on Apartment Music #30 show
by clicking on the pic above
Aimee and I arrived at Hal's a bit after noon for the festivities. We were greeted by him and Dylan Houser, and then by the other participants as they made it there. Much fun was had, many jokes and stories and good discussions were made, and then it was showtime!
Dylan Houser — A slightly creepy electro-acoustic soundscape. The repeating vocal sample reciting "Things evolve in swamps" was a perfect opener for the sets. Dylan's four-stringed guitar with added alligator clips ("things evolve in swamps", alligator clips...... I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE!) provided some nifty dark ambient-esque touches. I really enjoy this new direction Dylan is pursuing and encourage him to develop this even further. As it stands this is great stuff!
Hal Harmon (as Vasectomy Party) — Huh! After hearing mostly harsh works from Double H Bluto Electronics, he surprised us greatly with a very atmospheric set! The use of a Language Master card reader was particularly inspired! I was enthralled and captivated by the mix of card-driven sounds and other electronics. Again, I would love to hear more of this from Double H (perhaps I just haven't found other material like this?)
Lumen K -- The always entertaining Lumen K delivered with what I can only describe as minimal electronics meets Beefheartian vocals. A fun and surprisingly bluesy experience! Lumen really knows how to engage his audience and does so with aplomb. I'd love to see him do this kinda thing as a series of videos or such. He's THAT entertaining.
Shatter Wax (as Fiver's Stereo) -- EXCELLENT multimedia experience! Jay played a video of him encountering manatees whilst tubing/ snorkeling while improvising on a snorkel and a Micromoog synthesizer. Truly immersive audio-visual goodness that I am glad to have witnessed. Lumen helped out by holding a political poster of Jay Peele's design.
Tomokie's Cup -- This is me and Aimee Grace Naworal, so I ain't gonna review ourselves XD You tell me how we did, dear reader; fair?
Jeremiah Paddock (as Shapes With No Names) -- A great electronic experience! Jeremiah's work is always enthralling in a downtempo way, and this was no exception. For what it's worth, this was my first time meeting him and his wife in person (Emily Mann) and both were super friendly and gracious; they even gave us three mini-comics they made! Great to meet my fellow EC writers in person ?
Penny Grune-Fae -- Florida's queen of ambient noise does it again! I cannot praise the talent of Penny enough. Whether she's making visual or audio art, she always succeeds. This set was no exception. One of our friends compared her work to gamelan in a rainforest; I think that's the best and most flattering description possible. Much love to our noise sistah!
Hal McGee -- Last but not least, the man of the hour, the genius behind EC and Apartment Music and HalTapes, Hal McGee himself! Contributing a very low-key but effective improvisation on Korg Minilogue, Hal ended an amazing even on a high note. Like I expected anything less. He's Hal mofo McGee donchaknow!
Afterwards, much discussion and such was had (and Stanley made it clear he disapproved of us smelling like our cats) before Aimee and I once again shuffled (or is it schnuffled?) back to Jacksonville, feeling like our time in Gainesville was most certainly well-spent. This weekend (10/20 to be precise), we're performing at Apartment Music 31. Expect another abstract-ish report from yours truly!
As Ditlev described in his interview with me, we had writer's block at the same time. I suggested we interview each other to get back into the swing of things and he happily agreed!
Being a Danish citizen, Ditlev is fascinated both by the culture of his country AND experimentation worldwide. He brings a lot of eclecticism into what he does; everything from strange audio art to melancholy singer-songwriter stuff (or maybe it isn't and i just think it is due to the language barrier) to hilarious jokey songs (all released on his own label, Stilletid), as well as his writings and films. Even with this range, everything he creates is 100% original and one of a kind. A kind and agreeable sort, he enjoys meeting people from all corners of the world and getting their unique takes on life, art, and everything in between.
Adam: Growing up, did you ever expect to become so involved with art? What first sparked your creativity? What was the first music you got into and what is your favorite music now?
Ditlev: I knew pretty early on i wanted to create things. At first it was simple comics and short stories. In elementary school i wrote a comicstrip about a cat, that was called Mis. Translates to kitty. The other children in the class didn't understand why i did it, because it involved words on a page. Seemed like homework to them. The first music i heard and liked was probably some of my dad’s records. He liked Patsy Cline, Roger Miller, those kinds of people. But what made me want to start a band was the first Black Sabbath record, Even if i didn't actually play with any other people until much later. Then i discovered that if i played acoustic guitar i could do it all alone and not need to have a rehearsal room and all that.
Adam: We've had a lot of discussions about the culture (and pop culture) of our respective countries. What is it you enjoy most about Danish culture? What do you like the least about it? Does a lot of the culture go into your works?
Ditlev: I like that we have a society where a garbageman might live next door to a millionaire, and neither one of them will feel out of place. Its called Jantelov i guess. Jantelov means that no one is any more special than anyone else. I like that, but unfortunately what i don’t like is that a lot of people (mainly the really young) are getting a bit self absorbed because of the selfie-culture. But i think that’s a global problem, not just a local one. These are narcissistic times.
Adam: I've seen you describe yourself as an outsider. What makes you consider yourself as such? Would you agree we're all outsiders in a way on EC, brought together by a sense of camaraderie and be appreciated for who we are by like-minded folks?
Ditlev: I think we all are somehow. It’s great that EC came into existence, since its a treasure chest of parallel culture from around the world. There used to be a website in danish like this, but more centered around punk rock than experimental music. The problem was that no one really looked at it because it was so localized that people just learned about gigs and records elsewhere.
Adam: Have you traveled much outside of Denmark? Is there anywhere you haven't been that's on your bucket list? If so, for what reasons?
Ditlev: Ive been to Belgium and England, and some of the surrounding countries like Sweden and Germany, but i guess i’m not much of a tourist. I like to go to a small island called Langeland once in a while. Its very inspiring there. The light falls in such a beautiful way because there’s water on all sides.
Adam: How much contact did you have with musicians and artists from outside Denmark before Electronic Cottage? I find it fascinating that Hal is giving us a forum to meet on a more personal and artistic level via this great community.
Ditlev: I sent alot of mail before EC too, and sent my music to radioshows like Swami Loopynanda’s Deprogramming Center and Little Fyodor’s Under the Floorboards, but only talked to a few people online. I have definitely made a lot more acquaintances since EC started
Adam: In closing, would you like to link to anything of yours or suggest something for the community that they might not be familiar with?
Ditlev: I guess it would be this album i made with the Danish/Azerbaijani artist Nargiz Andersen. Instead of her illustrating the music, i scored her drawings. Was a fun project for sure!
To hear Ditlev's work, start with his track from the Electronic Cottage Compilation 004!
After that, go check out more of his great works on
The Relation Between Hiking And Musical Ideas: A Very Opinionated Post
By Adam Naworal
Before Aimee and I got married, we already loved nature and hiking and exploring areas both well-trod and off-the-trails. Once we got married, that never stopped. If anything we have more nature adventures than ever. During these experiences, both of us have absorbed the sounds of nature mingling with the human presence that's never very far from said areas. It's an endless and fascinating source of ideas to both of us. How can we replicate that insect noise? Where can we go for unique field recordings? If we set the recorder on this rock in the water, will it catch what we're doing with our gear on the shore about five feet away? I encourage everyone on here to go outside in nature and listen to the sounds around you. It may inspire you, it may just make you find peace, or it might even disturb you. Regardless, go hike. Bring a recording device if you can. Be inspired. That waterfall or spillway you find may lead to endless inspiration with your music.
Tomokie's Cup recommends the following locations in Florida. Suggestions are most welcome!
-Devil's Millhopper State Park, Gainesville
-O'Leno Springs State Park, High Springs
-Washington Oaks State Park and Gardens, Palm Coast
-Gamble Rogers State Park, Flagler Beach
-Tomoka State Park, Ormond Beach (source of the name for Tomokie's Cup)
-Silver Springs State Park, Silver Springs
-Mandarin Park, Jacksonville
-Walter Jones Historical Park, Jacksonville (we can be found here on the first Saturday of every month, volunteering at the Mandarin Museum)
-Castaway Island Preserve, Jacksonville
Fifty years ago (as of June 12th),
English free improvisation forefathers AMM recorded
A monumental and intimidating slab of noise, it wasn't even released until 1981; it's THAT monstrous and weird. It was daunting then, at 88+ minutes spread over two LPs. Now available as an expanded 2 CD set with all the recordings from the session, it's even MORE intimidating at 109+ minutes! So, what does this monster of a recording sound like?
Well, it's FAR more intense than AMMMusic 1966, the groundbreaking album that preceded it.
The quintet of Lou Gare, Christopher Hobbs, Eddie Prévost, Cornelius Cardew, and Keith Rowe used fairly traditional instruments for this. Cello, piano, percussion, electric guitar, saxophone, violin, and....... electronics? That latter element means both pedals and preparations as well as shortwave radios, used both for random snatches of sound and for the static between stations. Listening to The Crypt, though........ who knows WHAT is making which sound? This is a mass of intense and enthralling noise made by masters of their art. It's industrial music before Industrial records. It's the UK equivalent to European/Canadian/US weirdos like The Sperm, Nihilist Spasm Band, and Intersystems. It's several years of musical insurrection both predicted and perfected, as jarringly out of time fifty years later as it must have been when it was recorded. Nothing else is like this, and you'll be hard pressed to find something this eerily prescient. It's not for everyone, but anyone here at Electronic Cottage owes it to themselves to check it out. It's essential.
Aimee and I arrived at Hal's around 12:30. The complex, that is. Our GPS didn't want to cooperate at first so we spent a bit of time figuring out which place was his. Once we saw Hal's smiling face waving to us, we knew we were at the right place.
Mark McGee performed first. Minimalist singing bowls, bells, and other such instruments were used to great effect. I felt like I was floating out of my body. I'd love to hear more of this in person again (something I want to be taken for granted with all of the following abstract recollections).
Hal McGee was next. Something like acoustic noisecore. A bunch of short songs consisting of acoustic guitar abuse, some abstract vocalizations (with the occasional words, if I remember correctly), and each was a few seconds long. I enjoy this sorta thing, and it was fun to see Hal doing pseudo(?)-noisecore.
Lumen K performed as Gear Lust. Abstract electronic noise accompanied by a hilarious rant about being an instrument/gear junkie. The sort of performance art noise I enjoy for its sheer joyous absurdity. I could listen to/watch this over and over and over.
Todd Novosad unleashed his Novasak alias for this. Abstract/surreal electronics of a distinctly cosmic variety. The ghosts of Schnitzler, Cluster, Seesselberg, and all the other cosmic synth greats were heavily presiding here, and it was most welcome. A treat for the ears.
Tomokie's Cup was next. As this is Aimee and I, I won't review our performance, but we felt we did okay and everyone seemed to like it.
Jonas van den Bossche followed with some interesting guitar and shortwave impressionism. Similar to Keith Rowe while being completely non-derivative. Interesting double-bass technique used on pedals as well! A performer I can learn a lot from.
Dylan Houser did guitar impressionism/abstraction/surrealism as well, but uniquely his axe is an acoustic-electric! Great use of loops in an almost-but-not-quite Frippertronic way. Having known Dylan a while, I'd love to hear more of this sort of thing from him.
Emmy Lou was next. Her set was something I've never seen before. Wind-up music box dolls and a fidget spinner used on a contact mic'd street sign. Occasional use of treated haunting vocals. Excellent real-time dark ambient. It was scary yet soothing at the same time. A very interesting idea that has a lot of potential.
Hal Harmon ended Apartment Music 29 with some "Bluto Electronics" (as Dylan calls it with nothing but good intent). INTENSE electronic noise, using what appears to be a VERY tricked-out CrackleSynth-type instrument. This was some of the most intense AND interesting live noise I've ever heard! An excellent and brutal way to end a great day with great people!
Following the show, Aimee and I watched episode one of Twin Peaks: The Return with Hal and Mark. Our heads sufficiently and delightfully swirling, we departed back to Jacksonville and our home, glad that we were a part of this magical event.
check out Dylan Houser's AM29 report here
and Hal McGee's report here