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Interview with Radian

img  Tobias

After meeting again after four years, you decided „to leave any routine behind us, to restructure the working process, to rethink the concept of this band and its music“. Why is change as a principle so important for Radian?
Martin: I don´t think that change is important as a principle to us. We actually always worked in a very strict and hermetic field. Change is important when parts of the self-defined cosmos we chose are beginning to limit our creative process. And that's what happened somehow. And we believe that we have to be aware of that and to react accordingly. I also think that our music is more about continuity then change. This band works in a bubble. We have a very clear and determined way of how to „think sounds“ and how to combine and structure them, within our band´s context. I would say that you can hear that. We just fill it with new content.
Take „Git Cut Noise“, the opener of the album, as an example.... I have the impression it´s a typical Radian piece. It´s just filled with content that we didn't work with until now: Loud and wild Guitars and brutal Drums. So it's entirely the other spectrum of the dynamic scale. We have always been used to working with microscopic sounds on a dynamic level. This time we turned the amps up. But the construction of the sounds and their relationship among each other is very typical.

So, if you still stuck to some constants, what was the outcome of your „rethinking the concept of the band“?
Stefan: From the beginning on, there was a stringent concept or a self-defined sound-cosmos. We have been working within these borders, because the reduction helped us to focus on what was important to us in our music - structures and interactions between acoustic and electronic sounds, to name just two examples. However, after a certain time, it became clear, that we have already discussed the main topics for us. By using the same parameters we would have only produced "alternative versions" of already existing tracks. It was becoming clear that we needed to open our system of working to find something unexpected and thrilling for us. I guess this desire always kept the band so vivid for the individual members.

Was this move towards a less „polished“ sound perhaps not so much a conscious decision but rather something that „happened“ in the process of writing the material?

Stefan: Maybe all three of us had a little different thoughts about the music in the beginning. From my point of view, I can say that the outcome was not predictable this time. Personally, I had something different in mind, but almost each track we did was leading to this raw sounds. Obviously there was a certain unconscious need to do that. For sure, when it came to finishing the album, we made a selection of tracks, which underlined this approach. This is something you can control, but not so much the experimental phase - if we are talking about experiments in a stricter sense.

How do you introduce the possibility of failure into the studio context, where there is a lot of time to work things out?

Martin: I would say it´s more about instrumental playing with the risk of failing. With this, I am thinking about playing an instrument in an improvisational mode with a high risk: We wanted to capture the energy of "high risk" recordings. I know from improvisation that the moments when you completely surrender to the musical present while playing without being afraid of failing, can be very powerful. The studioprocess and editing process, on the other hand, was a different thing. Here it was all about control and precision.

How did the sessions to „Chimeric“ compare to your previous albums?

Stefan: They were complicated with regards to almost every aspect. Like technical details, time, personal aspects and the fact that we've been working together since 1996. Having turned the sentence "never repeat yourself" into our paradigm, you certainly arrive at a point where you start copying yourself a bit. This is where it becomes boring. And it was clear to us from the beginning that this moment is going to occur some day. The real challenge was to overcome it.
Martin: Everybody was contributing musical ideas. Either we all worked together in the rehearsalroom or one worked on something himself. For example, Stefan recorded a lot of guitarstuff at his place. Overall we actually never really jammed or played together in this production. It was much more a procedure of layering musical structures on top of each other.

As you pointed out yourselves, electronics do not play a very obvious role on „Chimeric“. Is the focus on your immediate interaction perhaps the result of your self-enforced stage absence?

Martin: That´s an interesting point. The immediate interactions are for sure a result of our experiences before we stopped to tour. We always had a very strict life-program. Every second was determined. The band always connected to the computer through a clicktrack that is running in my headphone. In a way we were the extension of the computer, playing like machines. And we are aware that this always has been part of the chemistry of our lifesets. Problems appeared when we started to play a lot, too much maybe for a system like that. It started to become too much of a routine. So a lot of drive to integrate uncontrolled actions and improvisational elements into our music comes from there.

As I gathered from the press release, the album very much developed in the editing process. How did you arrive at group-decisions at this stage?

Martin: The editing process is quite a complex thing to describe. On „Chimeric“, we collected all sounds on my computer, sounds played by all members of the band on all possible instruments. These recordings work as source material on one hand, as samples that I place and arrange on the computer. Or it could be very clearly determined material on the other hand, material in the sense of overdubs by any member of the band that already is determined for a certain spot and a certain function in the arrangement. I did the editing work, either in the rehearsalspace with the help of John and Stefan or I did it at home and proposed something for the next rehearsal. Another important step is to play material through some synth patches and re-record it. Stefan restructured, recolorized it on one of his modular systems and we recorded it again into the arrangement. Afterwards, we left it like that or I restructured it again. So we took care about every small sound and tried to make it work in a bigger context. Anyway, as a matter of principle in the end every decision has to be approved by all members of the band, which can be an annoying process from time to time. A small amount of music makes it through this filtering process. But in the end we all are happy with the result.

What, to you, are constants in your work?
Stefan: Probably, one constant is a certain precision and the careful selection of elements. Avoiding ornamentation. The will to develop. To push our boundaries. And we are still the same three nerds.

By Tobias Fischer

Picture by Pascal Petignat.

Radian (Rhiz Records) 1998
TG11 (Mego, Rhiz Records)    2000
Rec.Extern (Album) (Thrill Jockey) 2002
Juxtaposition (Thrill Jockey)     2004
Chimeric (Thrill Jockey) 2009


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