sábado, 6 de junho de 2015

The Art of Noise with Band of Susans - An Interview with Robert Poss

New York, 1986, Robert Poss e Susan Stenger formaram um dos patrimônios da era art noise chamado Band of Susans, inspirados na orquestra dissonante de Glenn Branca, no conceitual John Cage, no art punk de Wire e Gang of Four e ao lado de gente como Sonic Youth, Big Black, Swans, o Band of Susans ousou eu texturas não usuais e sempre contendo 3 guitarras em sua composição como banda, formando um wall of sound pesado, metalizado, gélido e denso;

Desde o primeiro álbum Hope Against Hope até o derradeiro Here Comes Sucess a banda passou por inémeras troca de guitarristas, tendo inclusive na formação do seminal Love Agenda nada mais nada menos do que Page Hamilton mentor do Helmet, mas sempre a base criativa da banda centrava-se nas figuras de Poss e Stenger que determinaram o rumo inicialmente mais corrosivo do primeiro álbum, seguido pelos geniais clássicos da avant guarde noise Love Agenda e The World and the Flesh, dando sequencia na virtuose caótica do droneado Veil e fechando a saga com o completo e forte Here Comes the Sucess. É complicadíssimo definir o ponto alto ou o fraco da discografia então para não ficar na indecisão decidi escolher a sequência Love Agenda e The World and the Flesh que compõem exatamente a fase avart guard noise da banda mais focados para as dissonâncias e carregados e wall of noise, não que os demais não tenham estas características, mas aqui elas jorram por todos os poros, as canções são sequenciais e tribalmente entrelaçadas pelas guitarras que são os termômetros nestas obras primas do noise.

Não há hits por aqui, talvez algumas músicas candidatas a mais acessíveis somente, é o caso da abertura de Love Agenda com a muralha de guitarras chamada The Pursuit of Happiness, It´s Locket Away é épica e o álbum vai nessa linha caoticamente guitarreira outro ponto mais pop se isso pode ser colocado é Hard Light situando na linha do tempo uma sonoridade altamente 90´s da America, um deleite para os amantes de bandas como Loop, Spacemen 3, MBV e shoegazers mais noise, mas o presente final do Love Agenda é a cover version de Child of the Moon, classicão dos Stones em roupagem art noise drone, uma finesse literalmente, só relembrando em umas 3 guitarras da banca, uma delas é a de Page Hamilton.

Já no segundo e aclamado The World and The Flesh o clima fica mais sombrio e até certo ponto mais acessível, dois destaques instantâneos Now is Now e Ice Age, a primeira é talvez a mais emblemática das canções do Band of Susans, toda concepção e temática dos caras esta brevemente condensada aqui, todos os conceitos de Glenn Branca, John Cage, SY, Art Punk noise, Now is Now é o resumo do que esta clássica e tipicamente underground banda representa, mas the World and The Flesh tem mais muito mais, Pilow Twist com as guitarras em velocidades beirando um cataclisma, Estranged Labor sombriamente com um noise gelidamente metalizado aniquila qualquer possibilidade de popsongs, Guitar Trio é a apoteose em guitarras, mais de 13 minutos instrumentais onde o instrumento, guitarra, que é o porque da banda ter sido formada e é o fio condutor de toda a obra dos caras fazer sentido, tem seu momento elevado a potencia maxima neste esporro sonoro do instrumento em forma de musica pop.

Conhecer a obra do Band of Susans é um exercício crucial para entender o porque o som deles é atual e moderno, uma banda absurdamente fascinante e a frente de seu tempo.

E o TBTCI em um momento maior em sua saga teve a honra de poder conversar com o mestre Robert Poss.

Respeito máximo.

***** Interview with Robert Poss (Band of Susans) ******

Q.Band Of Susans is considered by many a classic art noise band of the 80/90s. How do you deal with the new generation of bands influenced by the Band Of Susans´ music?
We sometimes run into musicians who tell us that seeing Band Of Susans – in Nebraska or Minnesota or Atlanta – made them want to form bands. That is possibly the highest praise coming from other musicians. It is interesting to see how decades later many bands and musicians have come to embrace the sort of ecstatic minimalism that was our creed, and come to respect the composers and musicians who inspired and/or influenced us – Phill Niblock, Rhys Chatham, etc. Even Sonic Youth, who originally thought (for some unknown reason) that we were too “uptown” (not downtown punk rock enough?) eventually came to embrace some of Susan’s long time mentors like Christian Wolff, John Cage, David Tudor…. We were certainly ahead of our time in that respect. It was great playing shows with Dinosaur Jr., The Mekons, Throwing Muses, Wire, Rapeman, Eleventh Dream Day, Butthole Surfers, etc. We were part of the blossoming of new noisy guitar bands in the late 80’s and early ‘90s. We were all part of a scene that influenced many future bands.

Q. What´s your favourite Band Of Susans album? Why?
This is one of those “Which child do you like the most?” questions: always difficult to answer. I think my two favorite BOS records are LOVE AGENDA – for the pure heavy, massive guitar power assault and the growing collaboration between me and Susan Stenger and VEIL, which has some of the best songwriting and production.

Q: Who are your main influences?
I grew up with The Rolling Stones, The New York Dolls, and before that, many blues artists like Albert King, Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters; and then The Clash, the earliest U2 record, Public Image, the Sex Pistols, X-Ray Spex, Television, Gang Of Four. There was also a thread of “serious” music running through my history – Phill Niblock, Alvin Lucier…. But ultimately there came a point when I threw most of the influences away and decided to make exactly the sort of music that I wanted to hear.

Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
Five? That’s quite difficult. Today it would be, in no particular order:

Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet
Tom Verlaine: Dreamtime
The Clash: The Clash
The New York Dolls: The New York Dolls
The Kinks: Kinks Kronikles

These records (ancient history, it seems) have all stayed with me, and I still enjoy them after decades.

Q. How do you feel playing live?
When things are going well, and the amps and monitors are working and there is a good crowd – like at The Roskilde Festival in Denmark we played in 1989, right after My Bloody Valentine – there are few things more exciting, inspiring, energizing and exciting than playing live. I love high volume guitar feedback work. I miss it….

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs?
Band Of Susans had an unusual process. The songs were much more “composed” than most rock bands. I often wrote all the instrumental parts – drums, bass, three guitar parts - and Susan and I would work on the lyrics and vocal melodies together. In this way we were much more similar to the way Rhys Chatham or Glenn Branca ran their bands: the players realized a singular artistic vision. The arrangements were orchestral in the way the guitar parts were written and performed. So, we were not as collaborative as many bands, and we did not develop songs through group jamming or improvisation. We recorded our records in recording studios, on 24-track tape machines in the pre-digital era. This meant that there have to be a certain economy – one could not endlessly add tracks or edit things the way people now do in Pro Tools or Logic. We generally would record basic bass, drums and guitar tracks together, and then overdub the ostensibly simple but extremely specific guitar parts over those, and then add the vocals and fairy dust.

Q. Which new bands do you recommended?
I’m terrible at keeping up with new bands. It is embarrassing. I tend to endorse bands and projects that my friends are doing. The post Pansonic projects of Ilpo Väisänen and Mika Vainio are always interesting. Shilpa Ray is doing some cool stuff. Susan Stenger is doing some remarkable installation and soundtrack work in the U.K. But my mind is blank at the moment about cool new guitar bands that must be out there. Apologies. (Like I said, truly embarrassing….). I’m starting to listen to more classical music and music from Asia these days. I’m sure that after I send this off, I’ll think of half a dozen bands that I should have mentioned.

Q: What´s the plan for the future....
I am continuing to do short term collaborations with other musicians. I play (off and on) in a band called Slack Bow, that has ex-members of the Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca groups like Evans Wohlforth and Bill Brovold – people I’ve known since the 1980s - and two painter-musicians Jennifer Coates and Steve Dibenedetto. It’s the first and only band I’ve ever played in that had ukulele on some songs. I sometimes do live sound for my friends Alan Vega and Marty Rev in the band Suicide. That’s great fun and a challenge. I’m continuing my long collaboration with the superb choreographer Alexandra Beller. I do the music for her dance company. We have a great series of performances of her piece milkdreams coming up this month at La Mama here in New York. I will be joined by Kato Hideki on this project. Both of us are playing electric bass, often bowed. I still work with Susan Stenger whenever I can. I was recently part of a two day multimedia performance event in Paris with Susan, Einstürzende Neubauten’s F.M. Einheit and the great Irish/Breton actress/performer Olwen Fouéré. I’ve written a few articles about electric guitar for the Leonardo Music Journal over the years. I am hoping this year to record a follow up to my various solo CDs – Distortion Is Truth, Cross Casco Bay and Settings. And I make my living doing location sound for television, since my music has never been commercial enough to support me.

Q: Any parting words?
I’m a bit out of practice doing interviews. There was a time when Susan and I were regularly talking to Melody Maker, NME, and a zillion fanzines. But that was a long, long time ago. These days I rely on internet links like everyone else.

Some Links, many of which are guitar-centric in nature:
http://www.fraciledefrance.com/point-of-no-point-2/?lang=en http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johnny-nevin/alexandra-beller-robert-poss_b_1401375.html http://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/23/arts/review-music-dissonance-sounds-like-new-york.html
https://vimeo.com/30379807 (Alexandra Beller Dances at the ICA, Boston)