Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I've done a new interview with Judith Howard about the new release Racket and other music-related topics - to keep it manageable, I'm going to post it every few days in small segments.

Judith Howard: Firstly, before getting on to the new material, last time around we didn't get a chance to talk about Asceticists 2006. A year later, how do you now feel about its impact?

WB: Very positively. I mean, when these things come out it's very difficult to tell, especially when you start messing about with new sounds - you need time to reflect upon whether they really work, and when you've just recorded the songs you seldom have that luxury of being able to sit on it to find out. In many ways, although many of the ingredients on A2006 were already present on other albums, now we feel ready to charge through some of the new doors it's opened in terms of sounds and words.

JH: So, in what way the sounds for example?

WB: Well, there are much more clearly now acoustic elements to the music - which kind of contradicts the description (even in our own FAQ!) of being an electronic band but, as I've often stated, we've never been dogmatic about means to ends; or too concerned about alarming the old-schoolers. The one rule that was applied to A2006 which was in keeping with the conceptual approach, and it's something that has in fact always been adhered to, is that there is no gesture towards convention, towards pre-established ways of doing things. I felt that if, for instance, percussion - or even melody of a sort - was going to be used, it would have to be done in a way that presupposed that percussion (or melody) hadn't yet somehow even been invented.

JH: Is this what you've mentioned before in connection with your notion of 'asceticism'?

Yes, very much so. Also when I've referred to minimalist art. For me, the emotional charge comes from the denial, from not doing something that could quite easily be done. It's a very powerful concept that has the potential to overwhelm the senses through sublimation. A simple mainstream example might be in the film In The Mood For Love where there isn't even a kiss between the leading protagonists yet the electricity and intensity is palpable throughout. And of course there are many potential applications for this which are predicated on there being something to deny in the first place, and naturally that's the really difficult part.

JH: How do you stop it from being merely frustrating or tantalising?

WB: Because at the same time you're also delivering and heavily gratifying in other ways, and that's all happening on an unconscious level. Now, we're just talking about sound here, because when you add the words, and the filter of the artwork, and also the context of the work itself (in terms of people's already established associations with what you do), it can be really fucking mind-blowing when you get it right. It has the potential to break right through and take you out the other side.

(to be continued)

1 comment:

spartacus mills said...

Please sir, can we have some more?