Published August 30, 2012
avant rock , French , interview-as-art
In 1999, Rectangle label manager Quentin Rollet asked several composers to contribute remixes of the label’s past releases since 1996, to be issued in a series of 7-inch singles titled Re/Cycling Rectangle. Remixers included Erik M, Martin Tétreault, Andrew Sharpley and Wendy Gondeln, as well as French electroacoustic music composer Xavier Garcia, born 1959.
The superb opener Chef de Gare manages to blend atmospheric music with incendiary political rants by French film directors Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet, interviewed by Thierry Jousse for a 3xLP issued by Rectangle in 1998. Also included are excerpts from Brigitte Fontaine et Areski’s legendary song “Lettre à Monsieur le Chef de gare de la Tour de Carol”, as well as astringent electric guitar solos, possibly by Noël Akchoté. You can listen to this wonderful track here. The other tracks are closer to turntablism and plunderphonics.
01 Chef De Gare (5:34)
02 Pohskorw (4:16)
03 Nimteuq (2:57)
Total time 12:47
7-inch released by Rectangle, ref. REC# RRXG2, France, 1999
Published December 8, 2011
interview-as-art , sound art
This issue of Audio Arts cassette magazine features a variety of interviews with curators, art dealers or artists recorded in Venice during the 1988 Biennale. While the cassette exclusively collects interviews and conversations – there’s a nuance: compare #2 and #15, for instance–, it clearly shows William Furlong‘s approach to sound and mise-en-scène of speech. Each interview has its specific sound environment, and background noises are purposefully included to complete the picture. Furlong’s habit was to record his interviews outdoor or amid the visitors of an exhibition, and such is the case here (pictured right: WF interviewing Richard Hamilton, Venice Biennale, 1993). Each track also includes various ambience noises like PA announcement, art crowd chatting, sound installations, etc. For Furlong, this strategy allowed him to “gain access to spontaneous opinion, analysis and commentary”, to the extent where “the discussion becomes part of the event.” (from Audio Arts: Discourse and Practice in Contemporary Art, p.80, Academy Editions, UK, 1994).
The Venice Biennale 1988 edition was the 43rd Art Exhibition of its kind. It was subtitled Il Luogo Degli Artisti (or The place of artists), and directed by Neapolitan art critic Giovanni Carandente. At the time, around 30 countries had their own building, or pavilion, inside the Giardini gardens, and 1988 saw the launch of Australia’s pavilion. Less fortunate countries still had access to the themed, group exhibition curated by the Biennale’s director. The awards went to Jasper Johns, Barbara Bloom, Tony Cragg and Enzo Cucchi, as well as the best pavilion prize to Italia.
01 Speaker Annoucement (:57)
02 William Furlong & Michael Acher (6:00)
03 Ray Hugues interview (6:40)
04 Maureen O. Paley interview (6:15)
05 William Furlong & Michael Acher (8:27)
06 Sandy Nairne interview (3:47)
07 Russian Pavillion ( 2:51)
08 Keiju Uematsu interview (2:02)
09 Tony Cragg interview (18:19)
10 Nicholas Logsdail interview (5:24)
11 Richard Cork interview (9:14)
12 Prize Award Ceremony (1:19)
13 Henry Meyric Hughes interview (3:36)
14 Andrew Nairne interview (1:09)
15 Maurizio Nannucci interview (2:27)
16 Visitors and Local Ambience (4:36)
Total time 83:00
Cassette released by Audio Arts, UK, 1988
Published December 3, 2010
The last issue in the Spiral series, #12 epitomizes Willem De Ridder’s interest for alternative ways of life. De Ridder himself interviews Machteld, aka Janaki Vunderink, a young Dutch woman who lived for some time in an ashram monastery in India when she was 14. In the course of the interview, Machteld depicts the striking aspects of ashram life and some of the gurus’ weirdest behavior, as well as the sexual abuse she’s been suffering of during her stay. Like Cora Emens, American sexologist Joseph Kramer is a Taoist Erotic Massage specialist. Annie Sprinkle herself attended Kramer’s Tantric Group Rebirth workshop. The sound document included here is a recording from such a collective workshop. Finally, the inimitable Lee Scratch Perry shares his views on life while posing for a photograph. Thanks to anonymous reader for the rip.
01 Machteld – Interview (72:19)
02 Joseph Kramer – Breath Orgasm Workshop (12:55)
03 Lee Perry – Interview (4:50)
Total time 90:00
Cassette released by Spiral Information Service, Amsterdam, 1990
Published October 22, 2010
Spiral’s penultimate issue pairs two lengthy interviews with nonconformist individuals. George Kerkhoven is Netherlands’ leading barefoot runner and now a personal coach and consultant in psychology and Personal Development [+]. A member of the Modern Primitives movement, Fakir Musafar [+] is a body piercing champion, corset training adept and body modification experimenter – see official website. Thanks to anonymous reader for the rip. Other issues in the Spiral series can be found here.
01 George Kerkhoven Interview (43:42)
02 Fakir Musafar & Carla Interview (45:10)
Total time 88:52
Cassette released by Spiral Information Service, Amsterdam, 1990
Published August 20, 2010
In May 1973, a few days before the Paris premiere of Les Danses Organiques at Théatre Récamier the 28th of that month, an unusual meeting was held at Luc Ferrari‘s home in Montreuil, near Paris. The composer (1929-2005) had been approached by Daniel Caux for an interview about Les Danses… to appear in the July issue of art journal L’Art Vivant. But Ferrari declined the one-to-one interview and, instead, organized a collective meeting between no less than seven people. In addition to Ferrari and Caux, were also invited: the composer’s wife, Brunhild ; Daniel Caux’s wife, Jacqueline ; Rio and Monika, the two young women whose moanings and sighs were recorded by Ferrari and formed the basis of Les Danses… ; and photographer Philippe Gras, who was Daniel Caux’s photograph of choice when interviewing a musician. I assume the photos adorning the article were also taken the day of the interview. In any case, this interview-cum-panel discussion-cum-nude photo session was to be something very special.
In his introduction to the printed interview, Caux notes a listening session was held before the discussion, since only the Ferraris had the chance to hear the tape before the premiere (short sound clip here). While she generally approves the idea of Danses Organiques, Brunhild suggests the concept is a mix of Ferrari’s sensuality and voyeurism. The two women, who are alternatively presented as lesbians or bisexuals during the course of the interview, say they met for the first time during the recording session. They are pleased with the result (“frais et lumineux”). They only note the montage emphasizes the more exciting moments from a man’s perspective (“N’est-ce pas un peu le choix du mâle qui trouve ces lesbiennes si charmantes ?”). Ferrari suggests Danses Organiques is about imitation: the two women mimicking love, his own music following love’s progress and his wry comments mocking art critics. Ferrari rebelled against the idea of art criticism, favoring observation and description, what he was himself trying to do with his Musique Anecdotique concept.
The unusual meeting, the exquisite eroticism of the photos and the wonderful layout all contribute to make this event a touchstone in the field of the Interview-as-Art, of which Andy Wahrol or Willem de Ridder were also prominent figures. The 3-pages article appeared in the July 1973 issue of L’Art Vivant. Below is a link to download hi-res scans of the interview.
Published April 28, 2010
interview-as-art , spoken word
At some point in 20th century, the Interview was turned into an art form by avantgarde artists, though an exact reference is hard to pinpoint – Andy Warhol’s films from the 1960s and Art & Language being obvious candidates. Later in the 1970s, William Furlong’s Audio Arts Cassettes [+] actually refined the technique, raising the interview to the status of ‘organic sculpture’. Anyway, when Willem De Ridder and Andrew Mc Kenzie (The Hafler Trio) launched the monthly Spiral cassette series in 1989 in Amsterdam, they had in mind a mix of interviews and archival sound documents which could form an audio-zine, ‘the world’s first monthly audio information service’, according to Cora Emens. Spiral had 12 issues between May 1989 and April 1990, including interviews with Bryon Gysin, Richard Lerman, G.I. Gurdjieff, Andy Warhol, Otto Mühl, Lee Perry, and topics like phone sex, singing parrot, hippie culture, etc. The name Spiral was possibly inspired by Vangelis’ 1977 Spiral, which De Ridder used extensively in his monumental 1978 Grote Oto Derby mix. Spiral cassette #1 includes historical documents like a Tristan Tzara song, a documentary on Nazi chief Rudolf Hess, or Mishima’s death poem delivered one hour before the ritual Seppuku, complete with audience interjections and street noises. Other entries deal with Macrobiotics, pirate radio or Scientology, very much the universe De Ridder was immersed into at the time. Thanks to anonymous reader for the rip.
01 Tristan Tzara La Chanson de Dada (1:47)
02 George Oshawa Macrobiotics Lecture, August 1965 (4:33)
03 Rudolf Hess Excerpt from TV Program (6:47)
04 Tuppy Owens Interview from Dutch Pirate Radio (13:40)
05 Charles Wirstrom Interview (12:11)
06 Yukio Mishima Archive document (5:02)
07 Charles Wirstrom Interview – ctd (37:27)
08 Spiral Information Service Gimmick (:50)
09 Spiral Information Service Editorial (2:01)
10 L. Ron Hubbard Song (2:14)
Total time 83:00
Cassette released by Spiral Information Service, Amsterdam, 1989
Published February 10, 2010
avant rock , interview-as-art
In conjunction with Ubuweb
In addition to the Audio Arts regular cassette series, William Furlong published several records, starting with 1984’s Orchard Gallery LP and The Difference/Head Low 7” single, 1987. The ‘Accent for a Start’ 1987 LP is a little different from other Audio Arts cassettes of mostly contemporary artists’ interviews and performances, like the selection I posted earlier. Here, Furlong and Michael Archer use street interviews with Newcastle upon Tyne passersby to create short Dada-ist sound collages from chopped up voices, drum machine and various loops (from library records, I assume), not unlike some Nurse With Wound’s sound collages. ‘Accent for a Start’ is rather ironical, contemptuous even, but is just hilarious if you happen not to live in Newcastle, on the great divide between North and South Britain, where the accent is strong. The ‘NE’ tag on the cover indeed refers to the far away North East. Prejudices of a Londonite, maybe, but great fun. The track Song for Edwina is also a peerless New Wave anthem.
William Furlong’s Audio Arts project was featured in the Linz Lentos Kunstmuseum exhibition See This Sound (Promises in Sound and Vision), August 28, 2009 to January 10, 2010, Austria. I updated my Wikipedia article with the information from Heidi Grundmann’s essay featured in the catalogue. Visit the official website for See This Sound here.
01 Accent for a Start (4:02)
02 Canny (3:55)
03 In Relation to What? (3:18)
04 Uniform (3:08)
05 Warm (3:12)
06 Song for Edwina (3:36)
07 It’s About Time (3:07)
08 Canny Place (3:04)
09 Everything You Could Possibly Want (3:01)
10 Friday/Saturday Night (3:13)
11 Buckets of Sand (3:05)
12 Mint (3:17)
Total time 39:30
LP released by Projects UK and Newcastle Media Workshops, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 1987
Listen on Ubuweb