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Gate: A considered approach to a Republic of Sadness

img  Tobias Fischer

Ten years of silence for Gate is a long time. Was there simply nothing left to say for a while after you'd finished the „rock“ trilogy?
Well after the "Rock" trilogy I went and released three other Gate titles, The Lavender Head, a double LP, first edition of 40 copies were disc lathe cut by me then it was released by Kenui Ulin on Hells Half Halo in the USA. Kenui also released My Dear Sweet Reluctant Sweetheart, a double CD. I then released a third Gate/Lavender Head title on Precious Metal called The Lavender Head v.3. These recordings were all completed between 1996-2000. I have lots of other things to keep me busy, recording and playing in the Dead C. I also had a full time job until last year. Helping raise two kids and get the trash out.

Was there an incisive moment when you knew you wanted to start recording a fresh Gate album again?
Yes, it was late December 2008-early January 2009. I had some weeks available to record at leisure, so I did - not with the intention of making a new record but just to experiment with some ideas I was thinking about. These recordings were a lot of fun and I managed to put together about 12 tracks that I could work with.

What kind of factors concretely influenced „A Republic of Sadness“?

Wanting to make something different from the things that I had made before, looking for innovation within my practice but leaving a sense of continuity for me between this present material and my archive.

Were the pieces on the album collected over a long time or rather composed in a burst?
Everything was recorded over three weeks, I then spent about 15 months listening to it, fine tuning things, making versions, allowing some people to listen to it, so I could work out what I had. The process of editing was extended but useful, there was a desire to release it in early 2009 but I was very unsure about it, and so made the decision to spend time listening and mixing the recordings without pressure to finish. It was a risky approach because the whole thing could have been abandoned at various times for various reasons, but the result is something that underwent a surprisingly extended and considered approach to its final realisation.

What exactly does the album title refer to?
Typically, there is a conceptual angle to the title of the work. The songs are narratives, they required an embracing title to distinguish them, to allow for an introduction to each piece. A Republic of Sadness seems like a particularly melancholic way of describing the world.

How much time was spent working out these narratives?

The narrative developed as the tracks were recorded. The idea for a cohesive approach to the recordings also developed during this period, so the result is a series of recordings that have an interesting relationship with each other.

Bruce Russell in another interview emphasised the importance of a Dead C record sounding like three people performing in the same room together – so how did you approach this aspect for your solo albums?
A Republic of Sadness is made in a similar way. Everything is making a noise and I am trying to build tracks while listening for those happy accidents that may be repeated. There is a lot less going on in the room in a Gate recording, The Dead C are three people and all of the gear, Gate it is a smaller set up but more permanent as I have to live around it.

What does a Gate album allow you to do compared to your work with Dead C?

The same attitude is present for the playing and recording, but when it comes down to it as Gate there is just me, I have to make choices, that can be nerve wracking. Gate projects tend to be wide-ranging in terms of a stylistic focus, but this is with the benefit of hindsight.

"A Sad Republic" is certainly atmospheric, yet, as the press release stresses, „never ever ambient“. Do you have an inbuilt aversion against music that wants to be nothing more than wallpaper?

I love ambient music, I leave the same soundtrack on in the studio for hours, as a background noise. I carry handheld players around with me to make soundtracks for my everyday life. I can appreciate and enjoy ambient music as a wallpaper, I think I have made some LPs that touch on that. The Lavender Head series of recordings for example. They explored areas of dance and ambient musics.

You've spoken out about your love for Vinyl before. How important was it that „A Sad Republic“ is only available as an LP to you?

Vinyl is important for those who care about this format, it is also available as a download, so i think we have the format bases covered. A compact disc seems excessive. Vinyl is possibly excessive, but then it is also a beautiful object and signifier of many things besides just being an example of phonography.

Your first release under the Gate-moniker was called "Fear of Music“. That's a hard to fathom term with relation to "A Republic of Sadness“, which sounds perfectly self-assured. What were you referring to with the title at the time and what does it still mean to you today?

Fear of Music is taken from the Talking Heads LP of the same name. I liked it so much I borrowed it. It was a good title for a first release, but then we are talking about a cassette in an edition of 50. I still like it as a title, it explains a certain position that I had and still hold with regard to music.

"A Republic of Sadness" certainly carries some recognisable Gate-traits. At the same time, it feels like a new start. Do you see it more like a continuation or a fresh beginning yourself?
Part of my ongoing relationship to sound and how we use and develop complex and not complex ways of creating sound for enjoyment. It is a continuation of my fascination with recorded sound.

Homepage: Michael Morley / Gate
Homepage: BaDaBing Records

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