This is the first post we're sending out after the outbreak of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine - it feels strange to write about music while there's always a crisis within a crisis within a crisis, like a babushka doll holding the whole universe inside.
Our next tape is due tomorrow/Thursday, but atm we have some issues with our new tapedubbing plant, and we sadly can‘t confirm that the tapes will be here until then. With the current state of the world, I guess perhaps uncertainties have become an integral part of planning.
Nevertheless, over the last few weeks I have conducted a very short interview with Lucia H. Chung, a.k.a. en creux, from whom our next tape will be. Working with Lucia was and is a special pleasure and honor for me - I've been a fanboy since I first heard one of her pieces on this massive 3-way split with Typeface and Reloc (her duo with Typeface). Lucia has released on Falt, Hard Return and SM-LL. She dives deep into the (im)possibilities of working with no input mixing desks, but is less interested in celebrating chaotic feedback structures for their own sake, and more interested in finding patterns from which to weave extremely dense drones and hypnotic rhythm structures. Lucia also works as an independent curator, producer and broadcaster at Happened. She is also part of UAN (Unrequested Artist / band name*), an anti-capitalist and anarchist music collective that releases records by artists without mentioning their names.
Listen to three advance tracks from their album "The Liberated Mind" on our Bandcamp page.
Our joint work on the release of "The Liberated Mind" began in the summer of 2021, and since then I have come to know Lucia first and foremost as a very open, witty and intelligent interlocutor. This interview actually reflects just a small glimpse through the shell hole into her universe, which is worth diving into fully.
I'd love to start a bit further away in the past - while writing the press sheet, I realized how carefully played and how sensitive your music is, and how far away that is from the testosterone-drenched, symbolic and violent outbursts of the average noise music. What attracted you to noise in the first place?
Such a great but difficult question! I guess I never think of what I am doing classified as noise...? There are so many things contributing to the shape and sonic quality of the sounds I am producing currently, and I think that mainly from the fact that I am not musically trained and having to rely on my 'listening' to the sounds coming out of the machines to guide me. I always liken this approach to that of a sculptor studying their materials. Recalling back to when I was a fine art student in the university, I struggled immensely with my first year taking up sculpture. I remembered sitting in front of a piece of wood block (literally a portion of a tree trunk) and not knowing what to do apart from studying the texture of the bark, the tree rings, the smell and the tactile sensation of different surfaces... I 'zoomed' in on every single detail that I could access with all the senses provided. I got a terrible mark for the wood carve assignment as my piece was just a smaller block of its original shape! (My tutor could see that I genuinely struggled and gave me a pass...) I think that's pretty much how I approach my sound-making. And that's probably one of the reasons I am drawn to the no-input mixing board as the machines provide you with something rawer and unsophisticated (not like very elegant and eloquent sounds from synthesisers) and you will have to study the sounds in micro detail and shape them from your own observation and understanding. In this case, I guess my role is to draw the parts I can hear out from such raw sounds and hopefully the listener will hear what I am listening to.
Your answer is awesome! Honestly it answers my question as much as it doesn't, but that might depend on the point of view. I guess I am coming from a different angle of the "noise" universe, kind of - I am also an unskilled musician, but I have pretty good ears - I can play conventional songs mostly directly after hearing, and I guess noise attracted me because I wasn't able to understand the structures/frequencies of a song/set, and also, the physical aspect of the music had a huge impact on me - as I appreciate your music very much on that physical level, I was surprised this aspect didn't matter that much to you. But I can totally relate to that delicious ambiguity you describe concerning noise music - individuals are able to hear totally different things throughout the same song/track, and that is beautiful. But knowing you a tiny bit, I know you are quite opinionated (in a good way). Are there parts of your music that are social comment? "The Liberated Mind", to me, reads as much as an explanation as to how you worked on this release as it sounds like the title of an anarchist manifesto.
Do I come across as opinionated?! Ha! I would never think of myself as opinionated, especially in most social situations when I would be normally not saying much and happily being a shadow lurking in the background. I guess it once again exemplified how much perception and interpretation could differ so much from person to person, and that is pretty much the term 'noise' stands for me. It's not one specific thing but more of something fluid and defined by circumstances. As for the physicality of my work, do you mean the volume or something else? I think I am still learning and exploring that aspect in any case. I had a hilarious comment from a dear artist friend, who also performed at the LUFF festival last year, asking me 'don't you like volume anymore?' after hearing my performance at a London gallery and comparing it with what I did at LUFF. I love this comment so much as it reflects some sort of expectations and assumptions. For me, there are a lot of things to consider in the mix of a live performance situation, sound system, position, volume, space, etc etc... I like to experiment with expectations when it's possible to do so, and I reckon I have definitely had some good results and also bad ones in equal measure. I think that is one of the fundamentals I have learnt from NIMB. There are really no written rules apart from 'from output to its own input'. Everything goes from this point onwards. And that's what it is for 'The Liberated Mind'..... Or is it? This could be me telling you a well-packaged promotional story to shape my reputation as an experimental artist and all that...The less manicured and mundane version is that I borrow the titles for both the album and tracks from an asymmetrical living card game called Android:Netrunner that we used to play a lot. The world of Netrunner is hugely inspired by William Gibson's Neuromancer and the Sprawl trilogy. The Netrunner community is known for being highly self-organised and its all-wellcome attitude. The game has become out-of-print when the company decides to cancel the game in 2018. The community has since taken over and continued developing and designing new cards, organising tournaments, etc... If there are any social comments carried via my borrowing the names from the cards, it would be the social and political landscapes within the Netrunner world, and the idea of community self-organised, decentralised way of doing things. But, it is also open to interpretation. I guess whatever the listener gets from the track titles and the music reflect their current interests and state-of-mind.
You are also part of UAN besides your own music - can you, very briefly, explain what UAN is about? And you've been doing this for about two (?) years now - how does it affect your own work?
UAN is an acronym derived from required fields found in platforms which covertly nudge us into standard ways of working and is the name given for a new direction for the label that is non-credited. This direction challenges the ego, artist-label relationships and enables a horizontal collective creative process with an aim to deliver objectively good records. I am not sure what sort of effect of UAN has on my own music just yet. I guess the observable effects will be that UAN exposes something meta about how I 'think' about my own music. An UAN anecdote to demonstrate: One of the UAN releases is between me and another artist. Whenever I hear the track, I think it definitely bears something very recognisable as 'my' sound. The other artist promotes the release on social media in an ambiguous way that most people 'understand' that is their release, whereas it's really two people's work plus the mastering process brings the two sounds together to be stylistically coherent as one release. A good friend messaged me to praise the release without knowing I am also one of the contributors (there are often multiple artists involved in an UAN release). I think this instance raises a fascinating question of how we actually 'hear' music when there are 'labels' (artists, labels, genres, etc...) attached to it, and that in turn, makes me think about the possible creative limitations I may have imposed upon myself when it comes to making something under the banner of 'en cruex' or 'Lucia H Chung'. Isn't this crazy?! There is just so much to explore and experiment with once you take away the elements of ego and self-interest.
I'm always surprised how awesome it is when I am alone on stage and something unforeseen happens - I play in a few duos or bands, and in that context any form of improvisation comes totally easy to me, but when I'm alone with my overly complex (and therefore glitch-prone) setup, I'm super shaky every time something unforeseen happens. But maybe that's why I look for these situations.
Yeah, improving with other people feels easier for me too as I am actually happy to sit there and do nothing if I feel that's the best response at that moment in time. I can totally relate to what you say about solo being completely different and nerve-wrecking. I used to be like that too so I would have everything planned out down to the minutest details and the job on the day is to perform a perfect (or as close as possible) delivery of that plan. NIMB slowly changes my approach and the plans get rougher and rougher, leaving more room for onsite possibilities (or issues). I like where I am with it at the moment but of course there's always room for improvement. I absolutely love this aspect of creative practice. It's really about this inner conversation and live performance situation provides a unique opportunity to be an observer of your own self.
By the way - check out maybe the sweetest review anyone has ever written about an OM release on the famous WASISTDAS blog:
And if you still haven’t got your copy of Night Foundation’s “Souvenir” tape, better be quick, as there are only a few left around here. As always, just write a mail if you know you want more than one tape - it’s always cheaper to do that outside of the realms of bandcamp and paypal and…gosh…what do we all think about bandcamp being sold to Epic? I don’t know. Crisis within a crisis within a crisis.
Also, our pal Joachim just released a great compilation in support of the International Red Cross which you definitely should buy:
End transmission #15.