Stream this mixtape by SHAPE artist Torus, created as part of our collaboration with London’s radio station NTS Live. Torus is an electronic music producer from The Netherlands, and was nominated for participation in SHAPE by TodaysArt festival. You can catch him live on September, the 3rd, at Prague’s art center MeetFactory.
Hailing from The Hague, Joeri Woudstra made his official debut as Torus in 2012 with a self- titled EP on London-based Sonic Router Records. He spent the following two years further refining his sound with another EP, Yard Sale, and a 7”, Feeel, for the London label.
Somewhere between ambient, beats and the dancefloor, Woudstra has managed to strike a unique chord in a short time by defining his own sonic aesthetic and exploring the potentials within. Visually his style – gold chains, marble statues, check board floors and a sincere love for indoor plants and the Times New Roman font – borrows from the unconventional retro fascination that feeds much of the vaporwave (non)movement and twists it for his own needs. It’s this approach that has earned him praise from the international music press, with the likes of XLR8R, Mixmag, Noisey, DJ Mag and even UK broadsheet The Guardian all chiming in to compliment the organic, dreamy machine-made beauty of Woudstra’s music.
Woudstra also performs his music live, and has done so both in his home country and across Europe. Following his work on Sonic Router he has been signed by Rwina Records, the Dutch electronic powerhouse that is home to Eprom, Krampfhaft and Jameszoo. He made his debut on the label in late 2014 with the well received Temples EP. In October of that same year he also took part in the 2014 edition of the Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo, as the sole representative from The Netherlands. He started 2015 off with multiple showcases at SXSW as well as touring around Europe.
On 29 Saturday at 8 pm SONICA festival will be hosting a special one-off event – a concert by SHAPE artist Hildur Guðnadóttir on the Ljubljanica river. The cellist will play on a raft on the river by the Three Bridges in Ljubljana – in the very city center. Visitors will be able to watch the concert from the river banks.
Yet, you do not have to be in Slovenia to enjoy the event – an exclusive live stream will be ensured from the concert, and it will be accessible from the MoTA museum website. The broadcast starts at 9pm (GMT).
Hildur Guðnadóttir (1982) is an Icelandic cello player, composer and singer who has been manifesting herself at the forefront of experimental pop and contemporary music (e.g. with the band múm). In her solo works she draws out a broad spectrum of sounds from her instrument, ranging from intimate simplicity to huge soundscapes. Gudnadóttir began playing cello as a child, entered the Reykjavík Music Academy and then moved on to musical studies/composition and new media at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and Universitat der Kunste in Berlin. Hildur’s albums are all released on Touch. She is a participating artist of the SHAPE platform.
The concert is a part of SONICA Classics series, which presents creators working on diverse crossroads between electronic music and contemporary classical music, and open new musical spaces, attract new audiences and introduce unexpected sounds to both classical and club venues.
See Guðnadóttir live also at the musikprotokoll festival in October.
Christian Wolfarth has been performing solo since 1991. Reduction plays an important role in his music, as does an obsession for detail and an impressive palette of sonic possibilities that the drummer has been developing over the past 20 years of intense solo-playing. In his solo project, he just uses a number of cymbals. He has also performed in ensembles with the following improvisers: John Butcher, Bertrand Denzler, Axel Dörner, John Edwards, Urs Leimgruber, Irène Schweizer, Evan Parker, Paul Lovens and many others. His releases have appeared on labels as diverse as Presto!?, Monotype or Mikroton. He was nominated for SHAPE by the Skanu Mezs festival, where he will play on 10 October.
You trained as a cook, how did you get into music? Do you see any parallels between music and cooking?
Christian Wolfarth: It wasn’t really my wish to become a cook. It was the idea of my father. I had always been interested in becoming a musician or an actor, but I’d never played an instrument. My father would give me some tapes to listen to when I was very young, a lot of rock and jazz. That was a real gift. I learned quite a lot about music that way. I do not see any parallels between music and cooking, but sometimes both of them are connected with creativity. But a lot of percussion players are very good cooks.
Can you talk about the aesthetics of your work (the influence of reductionism and minimalism and electronic music), as well as various contexts that your music can be placed in (from the electronic scene to jazz to improv)?
CW: In the last 35 years, I’ve played and listened to a lot of really different music. For sure, electronic music is – at least for my solo music – an important influence. In general also the field of reductionism was important for me. For the other projects, the whole jazz history and rock music are of relevance. There are too many interesting things around and I am influenced by all of them.
You mention that you never use electronics and want to express yourself with acoustic instruments only. Why is this?
CW: I just do not see the necessity to use electronics, there are more unexplored aspects in my acoustic instruments. And I try to go deeper inside the instruments and the music. I don’t like a lot of contemporary electronic music because I think that a lot of people do not take it seriously enough.
Why and how have you chosen the cymbal as your primary musical instrument and what is the most appealing aspect of this musical instrument for you?
CW: I only use cymbals for my solo project and for some small ensembles. In general, my set is a bit bigger, but still very small; just two snare drums and three cymbals. I have enough possibilities to express myself and it’s great for traveling. And ever since I was a child, I’ve loved the sound of church bells. It’s interesting that cymbals and church bells are made of the same material. That’s also a reason why I choose the cymbals.
How do you build up your music and live shows, what is the importance of silence/gradation?
CW: I try to play in a compositional way. For sure, silence and gradation and a lot of dynamics are very important as well as the duration of a piece or a live set.
Can you compare improvising solo vs improvising in a group? What is different for both the players and the listeners?
CW: It’s not that much about improvisation when I play solo. It’s a kind of a (for sure, not fixed), composition. I mean, also in group improvisation, the compositional aspect is always very important to me. I try to remember the used materials of the group members, the functions and the form. I don’t know exactly what is the difference for listeners and players, but I think, the more clarity I can reach in a group improvisation, the more clarity and pleasure it is for the listener.
Can you talk about the musicians you have played with over the course of your career? Have you had improvised encounters with musicians that you have learned a lot from?
CW: I try to learn from every musical situation, but sometimes I try to avoid certain ones. I learned a lot from my teachers. Nowadays I learn the most from the musicians of my working bands because there is a big understanding for each other and a lot of confidence. I am not a big fan of ad hoc ensembles.
Is there anything specific in other forms of improvised music that you feel you have to remove yourself from? Would you agree that a lot in this field of improvised music has to do with considerations like not doing something, holding oneself back from certain activities and gestures?
CW: I just try to play when I have the impression that a musical gesture and contribution makes sense in that moment, otherwise I try to shut up. I hear a lot of not really important notes in some improvised music. But I cannot exclude myself – it’s not that easy to only play the right notes at the right time.
Can you talk about the music scene in Bern that shaped you, as well as your formal education with Billy Brooks, etc?
CW: I moved to Bern for my studies at the Swiss Jazz School in 1981. I wasn’t too sure whether to become a jazz musician. It’s funny, the first bands I had in Bern were rock groups. I found myself in a Rolling Stones cover band and in blues and art-punk bands, for example. At the same time, I also played a lot of jazz in different settings – from a piano trio to a big band. The years at this school were a bit strange to me, I felt a bit on the outside in a way. On the one hand, I tried to be a part of this jazz scene and I was increasingly interested in contemporary and improvised music and in music which I’d never heard before. There was this incredible concert series called “Jazz Now Bern”, which was really fantastic and important to me. It went on from mid to the end of the eighties. They organised a lot of great shows from the AACM in Chicago, the New York downtown scene, the whole scenes from Germany and the GDR, a lot of great English, French, Dutch and Swiss musicians. In 1986, I became a member of the WIM Bern, an association for improvised music. They organized weekly sessions and I was always there. A bit later, I started to work for the association; organising concerts and festivals, printing flyers, etc. Beside of all of this, I studied with Billy Brooks for more than four years. He was incredible, too, quite strict, I had to practice a lot. Around 10 years later, the same thing happened with Pierre Favre. He was also very important and very supportive of me. It was at this time that I worked on my first solo CD. That was around 1995.
You also have your own label called hiddenbell records.
CW: I started to run the label to release my acoustic solo perecussion series of four 7″ vinyl singles in 2009. Then I did a collectors box with these four singles with a booklet with texts by four friends an pictures by myself. The next release was a double CD with this material on the first CD, and a CD with remixes by Günter Müller, Joke Lanz, Hans Joachim Irmler and Rashad Becker. The last CD was “Scheer”, played only with cymbals. My goal is to open the label for percussion music.
What are you working on at the moment?
CW: Actually I’m working on my new solo LP, which I hope to release at the end of the year on hiddenbell records. I’m also still working with the guitarist Christian Buck in a duo. We play compositions that are written for us. And for sure, there is also the project WintschWeberWolfarth. We have been playing for around 15 years together. And as of this year, I’ve been also playing with Jason Kahn in a duo. He just uses the voice and I use cymbals. A very light duo…;-)
ICAS-Radio is a longstanding radio project co-produced with Austrian public radio’s ORF Ö1 station, its Zeitton Extended programme specifically. The aim of the show was to charter the development of the ICAS Network and its European offshoot – ECAS (European Cities of Advanced Sound) – Networking Tomorrow’s Art for an Unknown Future, which concluded this year.
Over the course of 5 years, ICAS Radio presenters, musikprotokoll‘s Susanna Niedermayr and CTM Festival‘s Oliver Baurhenn, visited 12 different cities all over the world, from Montevideo to Tromso in Norway.
These two ICAS-Radio concluding shows were recorded in Dresden during the ICAS Festival that took place there between 27 April and 3 May 2015. SHAPE features, as does its participating project ACUO from the Czech Republic, which has remixed Lumisokea (who also appeared at the aformentioned festival). Oliver Baurhenn also introduces CTM Siberia, which is set to take place this September in Russia.
Oknai is a Slovenian electronic artist based in Berlin. In 2011 rx:tx released his first EP Ain’t a Dream featuring raw, lo-fi drums, though its rough edges tend to get smoothed out by the wealth of detail and sampled fragments all tucked somewhere between glitch-hop, hip-hop and IDM. High Tide is the follow up to Oknai’s debut. The album was produced on the coast of Costa Rica. He was nominated for SHAPE by MoTA/SONICA.
So you live in Berlin now?
Oknai: Yes, I’ve been living here for two years already. I came here for various reasons, including music, and I had a job offer. I create concepts. It’s product design, user experience.
Does this also somehow influence your music?
O: Sure. It’s different though. It’s really structured, the work is a routine, and it changes you. But I rather not talk about it, because I’ve just come back from work.
And how do you make music?
O: Inspiration is everything that drives me. It’s different kinds of inspiration, sometimes if you’re bored, it’s already an inspiration. You start messing around and the cool stuff comes out. You are relaxed and not under pressure that you have to do something.
You recorded your latest album High Tide while being at the Pacific coast, can you talk about it?
O: Me and my girlfriend decided to go to Costa Rica and spend the winter there. We couldn’t help ourselves to also be creative there. I was making musical sketches on my computer and headphones. It was a pretty productive time with a lot of inspiration.
How long did you stay there?
O: For the whole winter. I put together a lot of material and then I did a selection after I came back home. I didn’t have that much time, and it was right amount to be self-critical to do it in the right way.
Were you inspired by local music there?
O: In the village where we stayed, they had two parties there – one was kind of a dancehall-ish Caribbean style reggae, another was more Mariachi Mexico-influenced. The whole experience brought out some flavours that can be sensed in my music on that album.
You also mentioned self-criticism in creation. What is its importance, when does it get too much or not enough?
O: It depends on the person, but to me it’s something like ‘don’t be so hard on yourself’. Basically, when you have an idea you just have to make it happen and when this idea is in the shape that you imagine it, I think it’s enough.
You come from Slovenia. Were you also musically active before moving to Berlin?
O: We were hanging out with my friend and experimenting a lot with controllers, Monome, based on Arduino was one of them, for example. That was the controller which was hyped back then, the scene around Monome was quite big. It’s a tabula rasa, you can do whatever you want with it.
Do you still have the tracks that you made back then?
O: Yes, they are amazing. I still listen to them quite frequently.
Would you want to go back to that experimentation stage again?
O: I haven’t thought about it. I will do whatever comes and whatever suits me best. I have this machine APC 40, Akai, which I basically translated into midi so I can use it as a Monome.
Ljulbjana is a culturally active city.
O: I moved to Ljubljana when I started studying. Before that I lived in a really musically inspiring and vivid city called Velenje where a lot of Slovenian musicians come from – from rap, metal to rock.
What are you working on right now?
O: Music-wise I’m working on some sketches for a short feature movie. It will be an interesting project. I wish for more projects of this kind.
You also had a track on a Slovenian compilation recently.
O: Stiropor organise events and put out compilations by different Slovenian artists. It’s great to be part of this project and see how many people love to get involved in these kinds of projects and how much they are willing to work on it and also that these are guys from my generation. My track is called “El Cielo”, it means the “sky”, there is a spoken word prayer on the track.
Did you choose it because of the sound, or the meaning?
O: Both, actually. The track has a fast rhythm and was inspired by the spring that was coming. I’d been to Lanzarote and this track is influenced by that trip.
I guess travelling inspires you.
O: Definitely. I’d like to travel more. The city is tiring and nature and activities in nature give me energy and inspire me to do things.
Last week, Berlin’s CTM festival organized a night of experimental rhythmic music at the Berghain Kantine: it was a showcase of the increasingly popular London cassette and vinyl label Where To Now?. SHAPE artist Ketev, whose recording Singular Stare has been released by WTN?, was also performing at the event alongside Moon Wheel, FDG, Jesse Osborne-Lanthier and label heads Matt Hendon and James Hines, who DJ’d.
All photos by: Stefanie Kulisch
Norwegian producer Mørk unveils his new single Tour de Senja accompanied by a scenic video shot in his homeland, the island of Senja in northern Norway. Benjamin Mørk has a penchant for melodies and sun-kissed atmospheres, as he amply manifests on the aformentioned single. The fictional “bicycle-tour” (in a yellow Lamborghini) takes you around the amazing environs of the island, a dreamy Knight Rideresque ride over hilltops and abandoned motels. “It’s a kind of a Miami Vice meets early James Bond-theme,” he says. “And the tune is in Nu-Disco-style, with obvious references to Kraftwerk both in the video and the title.”
“Mørk” apparently means “dark” in Norwegian, and this couldn’t be further from the truth in this case. Check it out.
SHAPE artist Ulrich Troyer, Vienna’s veteran of experimental dub music, has just unleashed his new recording “Deadlock Versions”, bringing his signature sound that melds hypnotic sonic streams with reductionism.
The 12″ is released by his own 4bit Productions, and features contributions from drummer Didi Kern, who’s known for his work with Mats Gustafsson and Philipp Quehenberger, classic dub player Vin Gordon, a trombone player from Kingston who’s played with The Skatalites and The Aggrovators among others, as well as producer Kassian Troyer who’s done a remix of the title track.
As the title suggests, the recording is a collection of versions of a piece – either remixed or complemented with contributions from instrumentalists. Spencer Grady of Record Collector magazine writes the following: “Digi-dubs jettisoned from the cargo ports of Atlantis, flotsam for atom surfers vacuuming in the wake of Babylonian escapees, channel-hopping via the studio banks of a Viennese whirl. Four distinctive variations carp out the 12”, each accompanying revisionist claims to snug turn-of-the- century fits for the stables of Stefan Betke and Burnt Friedman: we’re talking strict white-boy precision pulse, anthems for Sunday daydreams fed on a sweepstake of blunt narcotics. Tough call, but my inner George E. Lewis has me hanging on Vin Gordon’s trombone-enhanced mix.”
Ideal Corpus is a French duo formed by Ciel and Fructify. Stemming from the net generation, their musical universe is a hybrid of tropical-future-bass-ghetto-jersey-footwork-EDM-happy-hardcore-pop evolving at the speed of the internet as well as according to their desires. Their purpose is to represent the post-internet musical scene by approaching the questions of hyper-cultures. Their philosophical stance is one of radical enthusiasm as a way of surpassing oneself and transforming dreams into raves. Ideal Corpus are playing at Prague’s MeetFactory on 3rd September alongside DJ Nigga Fox, Torus and Pavel Karafiát and at RIAM Festival in Marseille on October 24.
Are you at home now in Marseille?
Fructify: Yes. We are now on our balcony.
Ciel: I come from Paris, but now we live in the middle of Marseille.
F: I’m born and raised a bit in Germany and then I grew up in France.
C: We moved here 7 years ago because of the sea and the lifestyle, we met in Paris.
At the dance school?
C: Yes. I was into African dance, dancehall, tap dance, house and, of course, hip hop too.
F: I was into hip hop and house.
C: When we met we were talking about philosophy and our vision of the world, and that’s how we thought we should really make something together.
What was this philosophy and view of the world?
F: Lots of things. We were talking about music and the openness in music, and the way how we could explore new genres and styles and mix them.
C: We formed the group to make new ideas we needed to hear but hadn’t. Always go forward.
So for you it’s important to innovate?
C: In any case, it’s important for us to concretise what we have in our minds – regardless of whether it’s IRL or URL. Future, present or past are the same for us. It’s just about what we have to do at the moment.
How does the dichotomy of URL vs IRL influence your music?
F: We started to be influenced by URL in 2012. We discovered that the internet had a lot of energy in music and aesthetics and we were on the same wavelength so we started to really live URL.
C: In real life, in Marseille, for example, we couldn’t see it, we couldn’t feel it, but our real home was on the internet and that’s how we became connected at the time. Later on, we thought we should really translate all that energy and inspiration into real life. We were connected with a lot of people all around the world and we always thought we should do something together. We organised one big exhibition in Marseille, which was called La Fongâterie, with a lot of internet artists. That’s how we started to share internet culture with Marseille.
How would you define internet music?
C: It’s an energy. It’s like a flow. You can’t stop it.
F: Maybe let’s just say that there are some big movements that started the internet music movement like witch house, seapunk or vaporwave, PC music, meme music. And then the thousands of subgenres.
How would you describe that energy?
C: It’s about subgenres, doing music with computers. This concerns memes and viral stuff, things that have a common memory. It starts from a lot of actual facts, Youtube, Facebook, the news.
What about post-internet art?
C: Well, at this moment, I like clean aesthetics, for example, a pink background with one thing only – let’s say a pineapple, that’s not seapunk, because seapunk is about a lot of objects, details and chromatic energy. Today, it seems to me that less is more in post-internet aesthetics. The 3D, 2D, HD aesthetics have a lot of influence.
But you consider yourself internet artists, not post-internet ones.
C: In 2014, the word “post-internet” was much more present, now we prefer just to keep the word internet to speak about our art/social environment.
F: For example, we’ve seen some exhibitions in Paris with post-internet artists who are not very much related to the internet ‘movement’. So now this kind of post-internet art is institutionalised. Internet art still is here, and it’s not so institutional and still goes forward and doesn’t really call itself “post-internet”.
C: Also, lots of artists like to reappropriate the codes of marketing. To illustrate, you can see an artist take an energy drink, like Red Bull, and call his or hers album “Red Bull”. In our case, we like to take the Nike logo and replace “Nike” with “Ideal”.
F: Lots of artists appropriate brands and big companies before these brands and companies appropriate them.
Like McDonald’s licensing Sophie’s “Lemonade”.
Everyone was confused with this and how it was meant.
C: In the beginning, everyone thought it was a joke until we realised we just entered a new era. It’s not new that artists reappropriate codes from the society, and it is funny when they do it. But when Sophie does it, he really sets up what we all thought was second degree. Somehow, I do approve doing real collaborations and not just as a joke, but ethically speaking, it raises other questions.
F: Also, witch house, before seapunk, was really serious and dark with that underground feeling, same as genres like techno, trance etc. There were not so many movements in the underground electronic music scene which were actually ‘happy’. Today, PC music took happiness to the next level, and moreover, worked with big companies providing mainstream products/content.
How do you look at it? With irony?
F: Life is fun, right?
C: As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s positive, I enjoy it. Life is not always happy. Sometimes, to accept something about yourself takes time, you have to work on it, see the thing differently and that’s not easy. It’s not easy to be happy in circumstances like Charlie Hebdo here in France, but you have to work on being happy and making other people happy.
F: We want to be constructive. We are not thinking anymore like punk used to with ‘There’s no future’.
C: We also give workshops to kids in India, France, Morocco. We want to instil self-esteem and happiness in them. We use a lot of techniques like music, dance, theatre, writing…
Does this also influence you in the artwork?
F: Ciel comes from a background which is rooted in philosophy and self-development, I come more from art-school background. So, it is something that is present in our art.
When you make music, are you conscious of all of this?
C: Yes, our new song is called “Make Your Dreams Come True”. The idea that inspired us is that it is up to you to create magic in your life.
In one interview you said that your dream is to play an underwater show. Has it already happened, or do you have some other dreams?
F: Actually, we really want to do it. Joel Cahen and Michel Redolfi, who live right next to us in Nice and with whom we would like to do something, already have done underwater concerts. We would also like to tour the world and go to countries where some of the music that we love comes from like kuduro from Angola or baile funk from Brazil.
C: And we have a lot of internet friends whom we want to meet in real life.
When it comes to music, you have just released a new track, what else do you have in the pipeline?
F: In October, our new album will be ready. We will also tour East Europe from September on.
C: We’ll have a new video which is set in a church in Marseille. It’s like a flash mob, a hardcore rave. The idea is that the priests have superpowers and give energy to people and everybody goes into a trance.