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Coso: A Modular Approach to Performance

img  Tobias Fischer

You've made it one of your missions to continually change your line-up. What does Coso, despite all of these transformations, stand for?
Today, Coso bases its work on the composition of extremely short, structured pieces for guitar, bass and drums. These brief compositions are rehearsed over and over just as they are written (a process quite unusual within the local experimental music scene); we find that this practice of reiteration gives more meaning to those arbitrarily selected sounds and makes them work more tightly, as songs. In live shows, these stable structures are adapted to the diverse sound and space characteristics of the specific places where we perform.


Is the idea of rotating memberships perhaps also part of realising that the traditional band format is up for review?
It seems to be broadly accepted that a band that plays songs, when performing live, should sound as close as possible to its records. Sometimes performing like this becomes simply boring to the listener (and the musician). On the other hand, it's pretty common for experimental acts to base their live work mainly around improvisation.
We stand somewhere in the middle of those two worlds, working with strictly composed pieces, but changing some aspects of them for each show (for instance, using found objects instead of our standard instrumentation, or creating instruments specifically for each performance). We don’t think that traditional formats don’t work anymore, but we just find this to be a much more interesting approach right now.

A lot of your pieces explore a certain Post-Punk and Proto-Industrial aesthetic, as it seems a rare example of a style which still merits exploration. What strikes you about this music as being of meaning to you personally?
We find interesting that in Post-Punk, Proto-Industrial, and more specifically No Wave, there’s an attempt to use instruments as sound sources, trying to avoid referentialized sounds. There’s a clear link between this and the proceedings of Musique Concrete. In this way, as musicians, we don’t see Post-Punk as a closed genre in itself, but as a starting point from where we can get to other places.


Many of your performances are tailored to the space where you're performing. What, however, makes for interesting venues or sites with regards to your approach?

Regarding live performance, our main interest is to constantly shift venues and avoid getting stuck in one particular scene: we can perform in experimental music gigs, punk joints, pubs or unconventional spaces. In a sense, any place can be interesting, since we take whatever specific features they may have as starting points for each of our interventions.


You've described the intriguing way in which you used a former factory. Are there, however, also instances where you adapt to the space more spontaneously?

Yes, it depends on each performance. As you said, for that factory performance we worked for days setting everything up, but since then we’ve learned to adapt more quickly to different spaces; we enjoy going to a gig not knowing what objects we will find that can be used in the music. Also, now we have a bunch of homemade instruments that can be used together in different combinations; in this sense we’ve reached a more modular approach to site-specific performance.


Your work mainly expresses itself in multimedial performances. How do you see the relationship between sound and image in your work, how inseparably connected are they?
Images and music are not inseparably connected to us, since we seek different ways of making them work together. Once we created a whole DVD based on a VHS display aesthetic, with each video track corresponding to a song; these images worked under the same logic of fragmentation and repetition that rules the compositions, as a layer of visual information tightly connected to the sounds. On the next show we placed several circuit-bent monochrome TVs around the stage, which showed flashes and oscillations during the whole time we played, evolving at their own rhythm. In the middle of the show Javier destroyed a microphoned TV set during a song (at tempo).
On yet another occasion, we used a laptop to trigger samples of video and sound; in this case the computer worked as another musical instrument, sometimes replacing the guitar.


How did the connection with Vincent Moon come about?

We heard he was coming to Buenos Aires, so we wrote him an email. He was instantly attracted to our work, so we got together and shot a live session at a giant abandoned building.


In which way do you feel Moon's work and yours make for a good fit?

Vincent is interested in having bands perform in unusual places, and we’ve been trying to play in strange venues since our first shows. Also, since he's always attending various projects at the same time, he wants to get the job done quickly and efficiently, which relates to our way of composing, fast and to the point, and to our interest in performing extremely short live sets.
In this way, there was some kind of natural compatibility between our ways of working.


How is work on the DVD progressing?

We are currently preparing 2 DVDs: the live session we shot with Vincent this year, and a show we did in 2009 at a factory. Both will be released through Pakapi (www.myspace.com/pakapirecs), a new independent videolabel from Muñiz, a small town in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Homepage: Coso at MySpace

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