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SLW: Go wild on 'Fifteen point nine grams'

img  Tobias

There always seem to be two years between recording a performance and the actual album for SLW. Why does it take relatively long for you to release something?
It happens quite often in the area of music that we work in, that labels are one-person-initiatives with a very humble structure. With a non- profit intention, but only the wish of sharing the kind of music this particular person likes. When this person has a full time job and just little savings to be able to release the music, very often it gets delayed because of lack of time or money to publish it straight away. This happened to me with several releases. I'm in any case very thankful for the labels that invest time and money putting out this music. I have to say, though, that in this specific case the reason for the delay is that the organizers of the NPAI Festival, that very kindly recorded the concert, sent us files that had a technical defect. We asked them to send us the files again, and it took them some time to answer. Happily we got them in the end. The rest was due to the time we needed to mix the music, design the cover and the time that the label needed to organize the release.

„Fifteen point nine grams“ is said to feature an „even greater dynamic tension“ than its predecessor – a particular quality of the moment or a result of the group communicating more closely through your various performances?
The musicians that play in SLW are recognized because of having produced music with a certain approach. To put it simply, they have become known for quiet music, static, non narrative and for approaching the sound experience more as an observer than with the intention of self-expression. Music with a redefinition of the role of the instruments, and the use of microscopic material that seemed to have been hidden from our ears.

What I find more interesting in this approach is not only that is quiet music. But mainly the way the combination of sounds is organized in the discourse. This approach has produced a lot of material in the context of stillness. And I wondered what could happen if we stil organize the sounds in this particular way but within the context of music that is loud, or at least more “in your face”. When you perform at a certain volume, the tendency can be to play in the way of music that has been explored years before, in styles that have an established language ( Free Jazz, Noise). When you are in the context of loudness you have to wonder if there is no other way to play instruments that have a huge history, behaving in certain ways in that context.

For several musicians, in the late 90´s, the option was to radically avoid that context. After this experience, however, I find it interesting to re-explore the context of loudness. Also, to play at high volume puts you immediately in the position of behaving in a spectacular way. Finding yourself obliged to try to shock the audience. I wonder if we can play loud music observing sound as we do when we play quiet sounds. This is very difficult to do. And it is just as difficult to also find the musicians to be able to explore this possibility.

How, do you feel, have you been able to capture this idea on „Fifteen point nine grams“ compared to your first release?
On the first CD we did, released by Formed Records, we used acousmatic diffusion in the live performance, and the audience was sitting down in the center of the space. The stereo mix lost a bit of the power that we experienced that evening. But we all felt that the tension was present on the record. And that we had managed to build the music in the way that we had decided to work on stage. One hour of well-constructed music, permanently present, that never falls down, music as one idea. Not ideas that you build, have a climax, fall dow before you begin working on another possible idea, using fades in and out. In my opinion, achieving what we did that evening it is much more difficult than one might think. It is not easy to understand neither, but we completely achieved it as I see it.

I find that the first album is especially enjoyable in an intimate listening situation. While this new one shares the power of a specific evening where we went much further in terms of dynamic tension. It is much wilder and spontaneous. We did not talk one word before we played - while the first one was the result of a short residency where we had talked , decided to do some things and not to do others.

You said 'Fifteen point nine grams' reflects your performance at the NPAI Festival. What do you still remember about the performance of the night the album was recorded?
I remember every second of it. To play, work, travel and hang out with Toshimaru Nakamura , Rhodri Davies and Burkhard Beins is a deep pleasure each time. And this concert was for me one of the most enjoyable I ever played. It's all in how things worked between us, how the musicians and my instruments surprised me. That unique experience of roaming much further from what you know how to do, but things are working by themselves. The audience, including the other musicians that played in the festival, and the organizers were lovely as well. Very supportive.

You've played with a variety of musicians over the years. What makes SLW special to you?
With all the people that I play with, we work with a specific idea. There is a frame within which we decide to work, or at least I do it knowing what these musicians do, and try to work with that idea in mind. Sometimes this idea comes working with a musician that I like to play with. Sometimes I find out something interesting playing alone, and I try to find the person with whom this idea can be shared working together. What I try to do is not to repeat myself, to avoid playing in the same way with different musicians, and to check the results. But to work in something, with an specific partner or alone. In this sense every project I do has its own interests and personality. To give also a general idea I can say that in the greatest part of them I work in a context of quietness and austerity.

SLW is the group of people with whom I would dare to check any possible direction that interests us. Or we just naturally go out on stage to play. I think that whatever direction we go is going to be fascinating to me. Even playing in the context of loudness, that is an area of work where I find that so much has been done. Our next work will be probably very different. I think that we all trust that nobody is going to take the easiest way, nor necessarily the most difficult. But the one we all like.

Homepage: Lucio Capece
Homepage: Burkhard Beins
Homepage: Rhodri Davies
Homepage: Organized Music from Thessaloniki Records

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