Erstwhile

Talk about anything David Sylvian related.

Erstwhile

Postby baht habit on Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:31 pm

Hopefully, we can keep the focus on the interesting musicians of Erstwhile. We're fortunate enough to now have the active participation of Jon Abbey and I figure that a few of us are quite intrigued with the EAI artists and their art. So let's get some discussion going....
Mr Abbey, do these artists all 'sign a contract' with your company before recording or distribution takes place or is it much less formal than that? I've noticed that some of the musicians are also releasing works on other labels so I assume any such contracts are not exclusive.
Also, have you heard the recent collaboration between Polwechsel & John Tilbury titled "Field" and if so, what are your thoughts on it?
Thank you.
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby jon abbey on Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:08 pm

baht habit wrote:Mr Abbey, do these artists all 'sign a contract' with your company before recording or distribution takes place or is it much less formal than that? I've noticed that some of the musicians are also releasing works on other labels so I assume any such contracts are not exclusive.


yeah, no exclusive contracts although most of the musicians I work with tend to do their primary work for my label. Christian Fennesz does have a contract with Touch but Mike Harding has kindly allowed me to release four of his recordings over the years anyway, as I tend to focus on his more experimental collaborations and Touch is mostly interested in his solo work.

Also, have you heard the recent collaboration between Polwechsel & John Tilbury titled "Field" and if so, what are your thoughts on it?


not yet, I'm just back from a couple of weeks in Tokyo and will be picking it up soon. the personnel is quite promising (and I think at least five of the six took part in different Manafon recordings), but I heard bad reports about their concerts from that time in Berlin (the recordings I think are three years old, John Butcher has since left the band), so we'll see.
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby inkinthewell on Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:36 pm

I have been listening again to various samples on erstwhilerecords.com (I will soon be a buyer, I promise!).
Can you give us an idea on the birth of an Erstwhile record? I mean, we're talking about electro-acoustic improvisations, yet the musicians, the music and sounds they're producing, always seem to be quite concordant, every note that's played is in the right place (the extract of Framing 3 from Wrapped Islands by Polwechsel/Fennesz that I'm listening to right now is a good example), on one track even a sample from the radio looks like it has always been intended to be where it is. Can it be that things work out so well "by chance"? Or is there, however slight, a pre-paration (in the etymological sense), a guide-line that has been established beforehand on which the musicians can then perform variations?
Thanks.
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby jon abbey on Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:30 pm

inkinthewell wrote:Can you give us an idea on the birth of an Erstwhile record? I mean, we're talking about electro-acoustic improvisations, yet the musicians, the music and sounds they're producing, always seem to be quite concordant, every note that's played is in the right place (the extract of Framing 3 from Wrapped Islands by Polwechsel/Fennesz that I'm listening to right now is a good example), on one track even a sample from the radio looks like it has always been intended to be where it is. Can it be that things work out so well "by chance"? Or is there, however slight, a pre-paration (in the etymological sense), a guide-line that has been established beforehand on which the musicians can then perform variations?
Thanks.


well, each record is different, but you have to keep in mind that these guys (and gals) are the best in the world at making instantaneous decisions and solving problems. I wasn't at the recording sessions for Wrapped Islands, but what I asked for was an improvised record (all of the other Polwechsel records are composed), and for roughly equal input from all five musicians (the other Polwechsel records are Dafeldecker/Moser led, and everyone else is basically a sideman), and that's what it is, I believe.

so occasionally there's composition involved beforehand, sometimes there's postproduction, but the bulk of the releases are true improv, in which nothing is discussed beforehand and no boundaries are set. arranging improvised pieces into a record (as opposed to just releasing a full session in the order it was recorded) is an important part of what I do, and helps to make the records work as the best documents of those combos that they can possibly be (or at least that's the goal).

the more specific the questions are, the easier it is for me to address them, although I'm certainly happy to take a shot at the general ones too.
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby jon abbey on Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:40 pm

also, the ones that might be interesting gateways for Sylvian fans are the two ErstPop releases, as well as ErstLive 003, all of which deal in a mixture of electroacoustic improv and song forms.
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby untitled on Sun Jun 28, 2009 5:34 am

I bought ErstPop 001 - The Magic I.D. last week. It's a really lovely album with great vocals. I agree it would make a great introduction if anyone is looking for somewhere to start. But then, it's all good stuff, so dive in anywhere :)
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby jon abbey on Tue Jun 30, 2009 11:06 am

well, that wasn't very many questions. :D
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby Simonp on Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:18 pm

Hi Jon

Not a question about Ertswhile I'm afraid but I'm just curious as to your own thoughts about sylvian's solo output and the more experimental direction he is taking. Do you have a favourite recording of his from his past works?

Cheers

Simon
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby Silver Moon on Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:20 pm

Welcome, Jon Abbey!

Thank you so much for your contribution to this forum. I will probably remember a few questions to ask, soon!

-Kera-
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby jon abbey on Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:37 pm

Simonp wrote:Not a question about Ertswhile I'm afraid but I'm just curious as to your own thoughts about sylvian's solo output and the more experimental direction he is taking. Do you have a favourite recording of his from his past works?


heh, well, to be honest, I haven't heard too much of it. Japan is not my cup of tea, some of the solo stuff I've tried the same, but I did like Blemish.

obviously I expect Manafon to be my favorite of his thus far, as it looks like it will contain contributions from virtually all of my favorite current musicians.
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby jon abbey on Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:42 pm

Silver Moon wrote:Welcome, Jon Abbey!

Thank you so much for your contribution to this forum. I will probably remember a few questions to ask, soon!

-Kera-


sure, thanks for having me. I think that there will probably be plenty of questions after the record is finally released, but it's a large area of music (in its own way), so if people want to start delving a bit now in preparation, I'm happy to add any guidance.

it's probably too long a list for newbies, but if anyone is interested, I put together a EAI primer last year, posted here:

http://erstwhilerecords.blogspot.com/20 ... rimer.html
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby Simonp on Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:50 pm

jon abbey wrote:
Simonp wrote:Not a question about Ertswhile I'm afraid but I'm just curious as to your own thoughts about sylvian's solo output and the more experimental direction he is taking. Do you have a favourite recording of his from his past works?


heh, well, to be honest, I haven't heard too much of it. Japan is not my cup of tea, some of the solo stuff I've tried the same, but I did like Blemish.

obviously I expect Manafon to be my favorite of his thus far, as it looks like it will contain contributions from virtually all of my favorite current musicians.


Japan are not my cup of tea either John. I came to Sylvian via his solo stuff and have been a fan since Gone To Earth. Are you familiar with the work he did with Holger Czukay "Plight & Premonition"?

What do you say to those who consider the likes of Keith Rowe, Derek Bailey et all as talentless noise makers? Can you ever change someones opinion on experimental music?
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby jon abbey on Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:07 pm

Simonp wrote:Are you familiar with the work he did with Holger Czukay "Plight & Premonition"?


no, I should check that out sometime. I'm a huge Can fan, but they lose me around 1975, and I haven't heard anything I've liked from Czukay since.

What do you say to those who consider the likes of Keith Rowe, Derek Bailey et all as talentless noise makers?


well, I don't come into contact with people like that very often, but I guess if someone said that to me, I'd try to explain it via whatever music they did like, if it seemed like they had any interest.

Can you ever change someones opinion on experimental music?


I don't think you can really change someone's opinion on anything. people can change their own opinions sometimes, but that involves approaching things with an open mind and with a good deal of time to devote (EAI isn't about 3 minute singles), and not everyone wants to be challenged by the music they listen to, which is totally understandable.

I will say that there seems to be a pretty high addiction rate for EAI listeners once they do get hooked, as pretty much everything else seems to pale in comparison at that point (like seeing the world in three dimensions instead of two, or four instead of three).
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby baht habit on Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:22 pm

jon abbey wrote:well, that wasn't very many questions. :D


Well, I am glad that you seem so willing to indulge us. I didn't want to dominate the thread, but there are plenty of inquiries which I will surely be bugging you with in the future.
I am finding that above all the other impressive musicians, I have been focusing much more on two artists : pianist John Tilbury and percussionist Martin Brandlmayr. I am enjoying any product which includes their contributions. I really enjoy Tilbury's usage of clusters and the particular chords he chooses to use. I am not a pianist so I lack knowledge of specific technical terms regarding that instrument, but even though I am a lowly drummer/percussionist, I do know some theory. Yet I am impressed by how these experimental players so brazenly discard music theory. So far, The Hands Of Caravaggio (with Mimeo) and Duos For Doris (with Rowe) are probably my favorite from the Erstwhile catalog. Do you know if Rowe and Tilbury have any plans to work together again in the future? Is Rowe still working with those musicians in Mimeo?
I am also extremely impressed with the recent Fennesz/Dafeldecker/Brandlmayr collaboration 'till the old world's blown up and a new one is created'. I know it isn't a product on your label, but I still recommend it highly to anyone who is interested in this style.

Quoted from above:
Also, have you heard the recent collaboration between Polwechsel & John Tilbury titled "Field" and if so, what are your thoughts on it?
Quoted from above:
not yet, I'm just back from a couple of weeks in Tokyo and will be picking it up soon. the personnel is quite promising (and I think at least five of the six took part in different Manafon recordings), but I heard bad reports about their concerts from that time in Berlin (the recordings I think are three years old, John Butcher has since left the band), so we'll see.

I'll be highly interested in learning your views on the release when you hear it. I also wanted to note that of the participants on "Field", only Moser, Dafeldecker, Butcher and Tilbury will appear on Sylvian's Manafon. Evidently, Brandlmayr was not a member of Polwechsel when they collaborated with Sylvian - unfortunately, Brandlmayr and Sylvian have only worked together on the one track 'Sleepwalkers' with Sachiko Matsubara and Toshimaru Nakamura - as spectacular as that one is, I was hoping for more from them. Alas, I have been informed that no percussionists or drummers of any sort would be on Manafon.
Anyhow, I am rambling again. Thanks for your responses.
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Re: Erstwhile

Postby jon abbey on Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:30 pm

baht habit wrote:I am finding that above all the other impressive musicians, I have been focusing much more on two artists : pianist John Tilbury and percussionist Martin Brandlmayr.


both are fantastic musicians, agreed. have you heard any of Tilbury's Morton Feldman work? that's his primary creative outlet, and I'd say he's the premier Feldman interpreter, at least to my ears. there are two versions of Triadic Memories and one of For Bunita Marcus that have been released on CD (none of which is too easy to find, but I'm sure all of which are relatively easy to DL), all of which are as beautiful as any music I've ever heard.

also, for Brandlmayr, have you heard his work in Radian (try the two on Thrill Jockey) or the duo CD he did for Erstwhile with Martin Siewert, Too Beautiful To Burn? I like those a lot more than the trio with Fennesz and Dafeldecker, FWIW.

Do you know if Rowe and Tilbury have any plans to work together again in the future?


they don't, no.

Is Rowe still working with those musicians in Mimeo?


yes, their most recent CD release is called Sight on the Cathnor label, a tribute to Cy Twombly. it's OOP from the label, but I have some in stock still.
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