Sunday, 23 January 2011

Some notes from the Lustmord seminar at Audiorama, January 14

Brian Williams, a.k.a Lustmord, resists being pigeonholed, but it's probably safe to say that Lustmord was instrumental in creating the dark ambient genre in the early 1980's. During this period, he was also involved with the industrial acts SPK, Throbbing Gristle and Nurse with Wound. Among Lustmord's most successful records are Heresy (1990), The Place Where the Black Stars Hang (1994), and Stalker (together with Robert Rich, 1995). In 1993, he started working as a sound designer and sometimes composer for motion pictures, e.g. The Crow, From Dusk till Dawn and Underworld. A born Welsh, he now resides in Los Angeles, where he has collaborated with metal bands Tool and Melvins.

Williams began the seminar by playing Lustmord’s very first track, and told us a bit about his childhood and attending art school in the U.K. He continued by playing some examples of his work in movie sound design, which mainly entails providing composers with sound libraries, where the same basic sounds are available in many variants. Ordinary sounds are usually transformed to feel bigger and have more impact. Sounds and music are added during post-production, when the team is short of time and money, so composers and sound designers have to work under heavy time pressure.

Lustmord was started because Williams didn’t hear the music he wanted to hear, but now he never listens to dark ambient, dislikes being imitated, and doesn’t want to collaborate with people doing the same thing as himself. He prefers Kraftwerk and music with a slow groove, like dub and early hip hop.

Williams considers a Lustmord album a single work, not a collection of tracks. Rather than being “dark” or “ambient”, he wants to express a sense of awe and a cosmic world view, where man is insignificant (Williams is an atheist). The records are always based on a specific idea, but he categorically denied seeing pictures in his head when composing: “I work only in sound”. The sound should be big and dynamic, and he uses none or very little compression.

When asked why he so seldom plays live, he answered that it hadn’t been very practical earlier, and that he hadn’t thought that it would be very interesting for an audience, but he changed his mind after seeing Kraftwerk using laptops on stage and after his own performance for Church of Satan in 2006.

Although Williams didn’t seem very eager to speak about his work, and hadn’t prepared his presentation thoroughly, he willingly answered the audience’s questions. He was humble about his accomplishments, and described himself as a ”non-musician”, due to his lack of formal training. He stressed that equipment doesn’t matter, but ideas do, and considers himself to have a punk attitude – “You can do it!” – from the early years spent with Throbbing Gristle, when “punk actually meant something for a year or so”. He stated that punk isn’t a style, but an approach, a way to do something. Perhaps that is the reason why Williams doesn’t want to be associated with a certain genre.

Denna text finns också på svenska hos Nutida Musik.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

New books in EMS' library

  • Daniels, Dieter ; Naumann, Sandra & Thoben, Jan: See this sound : audiovisuology : compendium : an interdisciplinary survey of audiovisual culture
  • Falkenberg Hansen, Kjetil: The acoustics and performance of DJ scratching : analysis and modelling
  • Flisbäck, Marita: Konstnärernas inkomster ur ett jämställdhetsperspektiv : ekonomi, arbete och familjeliv
  • Foy, George Michelsen: Zero decibels : the quest for absolute silence
  • Gilfillan, Daniel: Pieces of sound : German experimental radio
  • Groth, Sanne Krogh: To musikkulturer - én institution : forskningsstrategier og text-ljudkompositioner ved det svenske elektronmusikstudie EMS i 1960'erne og 1970'erne
  • Keizer, Garret: The unwanted sound of everything we want : a book about noise
  • Bussy, Pascal: Kraftwerk : man, machine and music
  • Herzogenrath, Wuld & Ingmar Lähnemann: Christina Kubisch : Stromzeichnungen : arbeiten = electrical drawings : works 1974-2008
  • Kubisch, Christina: Wellenfang
  • Meyer, Petra Maria (ed.): Acoustic turn
  • Motte-Haber, Helga de la ; Osterwold, Matthias & Weckwerth, Georg: Sonambiente 2006 Berlin : klang kunst sound art
  • Niebur, Louis: Special sound : the creation and legacy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
  • Nudds, Matthew & O’Callaghan, Casey (ed.): Sounds and perception : new philosophical essays
  • O’Callaghan, Casey: Sounds : a philosophical theory
  • Peters, Gary: The philosophy of improvisation
  • Prochnik, George: In pursuit of silence : listening for meaning in a world of noise
  • Ramb, Stefanie: Zwischen radioteater und ljudkonst : ist das Hörspiel in Schweden auf unabhängigen Wegen in eine experimentelle Zukunft?
  • Seiffarth, Carsten & Steffens, Markus (ed.): Singuhr - hoergalerie in parochial : sound art in Berlin : 1996-2006
  • Seiffarth, Carsten; Schneider, Detlev & Broeckmann, Andreas (ed.): Tesla Berlin : medien>kunst<labor 
  • Whittington, William: Sound design and science fiction

Friday, 7 January 2011

PhD for Paulina Sundin

Congratulations to Swedish composer Paulina Sundin, who has recently finished her doctoral dissertation, Re-inventing harmony in electroacoustic music : a commentary on my recent music! Here is the abstract:
Re-inventing Harmony in Electroacoustic Music reflects on research regarding structuring pitch-based material in my music written between 1999 and 2010. The selected works illustrates the process leading up to my research based on psychoacoustic consonance and dissonance and my strategies to create a new kind of harmony – a harmony based on concrete sounds with inharmonic spectra.

The discussion will refer to pieces by composers who have worked with harmony based on the analysis of sound spectra; instrumental and mixed works by spectralist composers such as Grisey, Murail and Saariaho and electroacoustic works by Harvey and others.

I will address the importance of research in the psychoacoustic field, in particular, research by William A. Sethares regarding inharmonic spectra and scales and how it has affected my works.
(One can download the dissertation via the link above, although it's painfully slow, at least right now, and sometimes the download is aborted.)