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.

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