zoviet*france | A lateral interview from post-industrialists

From certain artists, you must discard all expectations from the normative constructs of performance. Such is the case with industrial and ambient pioneers zoviet*france:Ahead of their performance at Berghain this Thursday those expectations have been further disposed of in a manner not like Luis Buñuel’s straight razor to the eye in Un Chien Andalou.

Founded in 1980 in Newcastle Upon Tyne,  zoviet*france: as an musical project has always been evolving, with its current incarnation featuring cofounders Ben Ponton and Mark Warren continuing their explorations in ambient, drone, and noise. ambient, drones and noise, utilizing their intimate and radical relationship to low-cost technologies with tape decks, self-made instruments, primitive loop and sample devices, and other unique approaches  that underscore zoviet*france’s “unique vocabulary of sonic hypnosis.”

The interview questions are below, followed by the lateral answers—and ff you think the numbers above each response are completely esoteric, you would be wrong…

Questions:

Were your influences in founding zoviet*france:?

Do you derive your methods of making music from the principles set out by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète?

Would you consider yourselves artists that work with sound, performing installations or exhibitions, rather than being a band, despite having some similar methods to Industrial Musicians like Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle?

Despite having 2 constant member/founders, would I be correct in likening zoviet*france: to more of an artist collective?

There are many great side projects, or related works to zoviet*france: (Horizon 222 for example) Do you follow the projects of past members, such as Rapoon, Dead Voices on Air?

I’ve heard you packaged one record with Nuclear waste and other materials? Can you tell us about this?

Are your performances still unrepeatable improvisations locked into that current moment of time?

How do you go about expressing the band visually, via packaging or live performance?

Can you tell us about your performance with the damaged vinyl at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art 2 years ago?

How has your presentation evolved over time? Are you still able to find new techniques to record, compose and express music?

What are the most unusal sound sources (Instruments, found, built, or…?) you have used over the years?

What can we expect from your performance at Berghain?
Can we expect a new release in the near future?

Response:

55º
We live in a house, a big house with many rooms. There are no corridors connecting the rooms, they open straight into each other. There are no stairwells, just stairs that lead directly up or down from the room above to the room below.

Each room is painted a different colour, some are painted several colours but never more than three.

Each  of the rooms has a unique acoustic quality. This comes partly from their shape – some have no parallel walls, some have two parallel walls, some have no straight walls, some have high ceilings, some don’t – and partly from the contents – some have carpets, some have bare wooden floors, some have stone floors, some are so full that it’s difficult to move around, some are empty.

When you step out of the front door, you walk on grass. There are small trees and it is possible to see as far as the highest hill, on the horizon. We like to sit on the grass with the front door left open and listen to the sound coming from inside the house. Then we like to sit inside the house and listen to the sound coming in from outside.

 
The earliest known sound recordings were made with soot fixed to paper and the first recording was of a woman singing about the moon. Her name has escaped history but the man who made the recording hasn’t. Until that moment, sound could only be preserved as a memory, imperfect or forgotten or rediscovered or imitated. The soot on the paper isn’t the sound of the nameless woman singing about the moon, it’s a likeness that couldn’t be replayed.
 
In the north, the far north, there is an island on which there is a pyramid next to which there is a sound that we have never heard. We will try to capture it, maybe using soot fixed to paper and play it in a place where no-one will hear it.
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