AUTOreverse #14, summer 2011
of VUZH MUSIC,
Ian C Stewart
SO……DID YOU MISS AUTOreverse?
Yes. It was an important document of cassette culture.
I am embarrassed looking back on my own contributions, my review writing was generally pretty poor, and I was often unnecessarily harsh in my judgements (sorry all you hometapers), but excluding most of my writing it was a great ‘zine.
TRICKY QUESTION FIRST: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR LATEST ALBUM THAT NO ONE ELSE KNOWS.
Actually, I have two new albums out. One is called “Owning Extinctions” it is a dense ambient-noise collection created as a response to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and all the hubris and astonishing statements and shifting of responsibilities and public relations bullshit that followed… this is a subject that fills me with pure, blinding rage, as well as despair and something that is felt at my core because I can accept my own part of the responsibility in the catastrophe even if the corporations, Congresspersons and probably the majority of the population will never do so. I still drive my car, I still own and buy plastics, I don’t buy enough locally, maybe I don’t have much of a choice, but this is the way it is, I own part of the disaster. We all own it. The benefits of living in this prosperous technological society are great, but ignoring the externalities is shameful. All I can do is compose a piece of music in protest, while acknowledging the bitter irony of making electronic music with electrical power provided by those same heartless cocksuckers. I might just as well have banged a couple of sticks together, but a big noise is what I was after.
At any rate, the album “Owning Extinctions” is something honestly felt, composed very seriously, and I am deeply proud of it. I hope it is as cathartic for those who listen as it is for me.
So that one is a free release on my netlabel Vuzh Music, and I also have a brand new release on the Modisti Netlabel called “Formerly Sine Drones“, which is a bit more restrained and stark than the music I normally do. It’s sine waves modified by a constrained method of multiple equalization and filtration events.
I fear I haven’t answered your question.
One thing most people don’t know about the new album… Hm…
Well, one of the sounds you can hear in the piece titled “We Will Make You Whole” is a mysterious phone message left on my friend Kristina Spurgin’s answering machine. She was unable to tell for certain what the person who left the message was saying, and did not recognize the voice, and the mumbling, whispered drawl scared her. It is an emotionally loaded sound.
WHERE/HOW/WHEN DID YOU RECORD YOUR LATEST THING, IF THAT’S WHAT WE’RE
The making of “Formerly Sine Drones” is actually relatively well documented now, with text at the Modisti Netlabel website, and an informative article just published by Disquiet.
“Owning Extinctions” began to be assembled directly after finishing my work on “Fragment 3 Reworks” which was an adaptation of music by Vidna Obmana and PBK. I was becoming very interested in more aggressive sounds and denser arrangements, pushing further away from calming ambient music and into challenging abstract sound territory. This was my frame of mind when the oil spill happened, and one thing led to another.
IF THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT, THEN WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
Class warfare, cultural poisoning, wanton, irresponsible greed repackaged as “freedom” by marketing assholes.
IS THIS WORK INDICATIVE OF YOUR OTHER RELEASES?
Yes and no. How you do anything is how you do everything. There is a wide diversity in styles & approaches to the work I’ve done over the years.
WHO ARE YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES?
I have been influenced creatively by everything I’ve listened to since I was a kid. I am a voracious listener. I listen to loads of music, as much new stuff as possible all the time. I listen to my surroundings everywhere I go… there are interesting sounds everywhere. I try not to listen to what people say, if I can help it, but I do listen to the way they say it, I love voices and inflections and accents. All sound influences me. Listening is maybe something like a religion.
It is probably true that the concept of musical influences is really an important one, especially when you’re beginning to conceive of yourself as a creator of music, but if this continues to be a question that you can answer easily as time goes on, then I think something is really wrong.
WHAT MUSIC SOFTWARE DO YOU USE?
The thing I use the most is an audio editor called Amadeus, which is inexpensive shareware. The multitracker I use is Cubase. I only use that program because it came free with a USB interface that I bought, but it does what I need it to do. I’m not so fond of its midi sequencer.
I think it’s possible to make interesting sounds with almost any kind of equipment.
WHAT’S YOUR HOME STUDIO SETUP LIKE?
I have a lot of hardware from my hometaper days that I’m beginning to experiment with for live improvisation… mixer, amplifiers, effects, microphones… various sound makers & things I’ve built myself. All of my composed music is done on the computer.
HOW DO YOU COMPOSE?
Normally, I take a raw sound source and explore several different ways to isolate interesting aspects of it primarily through editing, filtration, equalization & pitch shifting. It is a free, experimental and exploratory process, very many small decisions are made until I arrive at something that suits what I’m looking for. Many sounds that I arrive at like this are grouped together, and finally compiled in a multitracker and mixed. It’s actually a very slow and laborious process, because I do have a fixed idea of “what sounds good” – even though each individual composition, and each element that it is built from is a foray into the unknown.
It probably gives the wrong impression to say I’m a “sample-based” composer, but it’s closer to the truth than other things I could say. For me the fun begins ~after~ the original sound has been made, then it becomes material that can be formed, shaped and joined with other interesting forms and shapes. If there’s any element of performance in my music, the act of performing a sound serves to produce raw material for shaping and placing in a context. This method suggests why I prefer to call myself a composer instead of a musician. The word “musician” implies “instrumentalist” and “performer”, and I do not consider the instruments I use to be a defining aspect of me or my work.
DO YOU RECALL WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO START MAKING YOUR OWN MUSIC?
Well, it just seemed impossibly fun! And it is, for the most part. I loved listening to music, and it just followed from that that of course I had to make it. Like everyone, I had delusions that everyone was going to love what I did, immediately declare me brilliant and that I was going to get famous and rich from it, but that faded over time when the reality sunk in. Now I release everything for free, which is liberating and leaves me more time and energy to have fun making music!
WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO COLLABORATE WITH?
While I think collaboration is an important activity, I find myself less and less enthused about doing it, and I think this is because it actually takes a lot of time and effort for me to complete a satisfactory musical project. Most of the musician friends I have work about ten times faster than I do. I find myself having to apologize for how long it takes! I still love to do it, when my imagination is hooked by something the other artist does. I am working on mixing & finishing up a collaboration with Tarkatak from Germany… a follow up from a collab we did together more than a decade ago in the cassette days.
WHAT BANDS ARE YOU EXCITED BY?
There is so much good stuff happening in the netlabel underground right now, I am very excited by all of the activity and the high quality of the work being offered for free to anyone who is willing to seek it out. I hesitate to namedrop bands because if I don’t forget anyone it’ll be a long list! If you’ll check out the compilation I put out this year for my 20th anniversary of making music, “The More Unknown C. Reider“, you’ll find there a great list of some of the artists I personally think are especially exciting, with links to each artist at the webpage.
OVER THE YEARS I’VE NOTICED THAT YOUR WORK HAS A CERTAIN … (INSERT
PROVOCATIVE-SOUNDING WORD HERE)…. HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THAT?
Um, accretion? When it comes to my creative life, I do things that excite me, so I am always moving on to something a little different and out of my comfort zone. This is the basis of experimental music for me, not settling – continuing on a journey. There are certain methods and preferences that add up to “my sound” no matter where I am on this journey or what source material I use. I have an idea that all art is a self-portrait… there are unique ways each person expresses oneself that says something otherwise inexpressible about the essence of a person. Any listener of my music has an insight into some intimate traits of my personality that is far more authentic than what someone could learn about me by engaging in a conversation. I’m pretty guarded in person, frankly. In my music, it’s all laid bare and exposed.
And now for a music video.
C. Reider and Vidna Obmana
“Silver Berry Scaly Hair (Edit)”
video by Thomas Park
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR MUSIC HEADING?
Into 2012. Honestly, I don’t know, I am not presently in one of my creative phases, when I do actual work with sounds & composition, so instead I am working on preparation (mixing / mastering / editing) of releases by myself and several other artists for release this year on the Vuzh Music label. I’m intending to release one free-to-download release per month throughout 2011. As for my own music, and its future… I could talk about music that is already complete, but not yet released… but where it’s going next is something I can’t answer. I find that unknowing potential quite exciting actually.
WHAT SERVICES DO YOU USE FOR PEOPLE TO DOWNLOAD YER STUFF, AND DO YOU
LIKE IT? SHOULD I USE IT?
I love SoundCloud. I use it as a sort of musical sketchpad more than a promotional tool. I frequently will work up some little idea quickly and just put it there for the heck of it. A lot of the stuff I publish there would never be heard otherwise.
I also love the feedback you can get (and give) there, because validation is important.
WHERE DO YOU FIND THE ENERGY TO KEEP CREATING AFTER ALL THIS TIME?
Like I said before, it’s terribly fun exploring new ways of putting sounds together, and thinking about what the sounds evoke. It stimulates my mind in a necessary way.
WHERE CAN PEEPS FIND YOUR MUSIC ONLINE TO PURCHASE OR WHATEVER?
The hub for everything C. Reider is http://www.vuzhmusic.com
95% of what is there is totally free and released on an open non-commercial Creative Commons license. It’s not just my stuff there, there’s also a lot of great music by other people that I believe in.
Well, the FULL discography is unwieldy, since it covers twenty years. If you want to see it, I have it online here: http://www.vuzhmusic.com/artists/reider.html
So here’s a selected discography of what I’ve done in my most recent, very prolific phase of composition (since the time the Drone Forest collective dissolved):
# C. Reider – Fine Failures (Vuzh Music 2008)
# C. Reider & Friends – Long Defeat Variations 2008
# C. Reider – Inconstant (Treetrunk Records) 2008
# C. Reider – the Electret Quintet, part I 2008
# C. Reider – Linguism (Treetrunk Records) 2008
# C. Reider – the Electret Quintet, part II 2009
# C. Reider & Desohll – Falling Into Disrepair (Earth Mantra) 2010
# C. Reider – The Electret Quintet, part III 2009
# PBK & C. Reider – Discorporate (Impulsy Stetoskopu) 2009 CDr Ltd. to 120
# C. Reider – Steam Inspector (Just Not Normal) 2009
# C. Reider – The Electret Quintet, part IV 2009
# C. Reider – The Electret Quintet, part V 2009
# C. Reider – Fragment Three Re-Works 2010
# C. Reider – Owning Extinctions 2011
# C. Reider – Formerly Sine Drones (Modisti Netlabel) 2011
WHAT DID I FORGET TO ASK?
I’m sure it’ll occur to the both of us right after you publish this.
Thank you, C.!