After performing in various rocks bands, and being a producer for a number of musical project, Argentine musician Damián Anache has put out his debut album. An experimental collection of four instumental pieces. Tomatrax caught up with Damián to talk about his work.
Where did you get the idea for the “landscape” concept of your album?
“Landscape” is a key concept explored mainly by visual arts but also by musicians in very different ways through history. In fact, in sound art the “soundscape” concept emerged some time ago, as a sonorous version of “visual” landscape. In my particular case I reached the concept as a point of convergence of several ideas, linked to the way that I approached to generative art and some other things but mainly with the idea that a landscape can be a daily place, where one can be immersed in it and at the same time it can be contemplated as an attractive for someone outside it. Landscapes offers that duality, as this piece can works as an object of deep contemplation and at the same time it can surround the listener as an accompaniment while he/she is drinking a tea, reading a book or doing something else.
Where did the title Capturas del Único Camino come from?
“Capturas” means “Snapshots” or “Captures” in English. In the title it is related to the generative origin of the piece. Maybe I first should explain that for this piece I created a software (a Pure Data patch) that generates this music continuously since the moment I press “start” till I press “stop”. So, for the album version of this music, I let the software run and made some recordings of the audio output. Then I selected the best recordings. It is a process similar to the photographer’s work who takes photos or “captures” of a boundless landscape, cropping the whole space to a specific region. The difference is that in my case, what I crop is the time, instead of the space.
On the other hand, “del Único Camino” ( from the only/unique way/road ) is inspired on Alan Watts‘ writings. His words has been a reference during the composition of this piece, thus also like D.T. Suzuki’s and Thich Nhat Hanh’s.
The music on the album was generated by an algorithm you developed. How did you work out the algorithm to use?
The algorithm was developed in Pure Data. It was conceived as an digital performer for an open score music. The score of the piece involves some instrumental actions with random choices so I thought that an algorithm was a perfect way for making the piece. For reach that, I first needed to make a lot of recordings of the sounds I wanted the computer plays. So I sampled the acoustic instruments, my voice, some sounds created by digital synthesis techniques and water field recordings. Then I loaded all the samples to the algorithm with the score’s instructions, and finally the computer made the random decisions and itself played the piece alone.
You’ve played in various rock bands, how did that compare to your current work?
The final work has nothing in common (at least at surface). At the same time this kind of pieces have completely different intentions/objectives (as I see it). Most of rock songs that I have written were with the intention to entertain the listener, now the goals I want to achieve are: making the listener think, relaxes him/herself, or simply accompany him/her; and the way I found to achieve it is far away from rock and roll. But, behind that, there are a lot of particular actions during the creation process that are the same in a rock song as in the music I’m creating now. I can say that nowadays I benefit a lot from the experiences of that times.
You also designed and built their own version of a Lithophone, how did this idea come about?
That was a very enriching experience. By those days I was participating in one of the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes‘ investigation projects. Its director was Oscar Edelstein and asked us (Axel Lastra, my coequipier at that time, and I) to find some rocks, record their sound and program a sampler. This was intended to be used in a piece of music we were working on. The main goal was to evoke “primitive sounds”. So when we collected the first set of rocks for sampling, we all stayed fascinated with their sonorities and decided to built an instrument from it. We know that the “lithopone” already exists as an instrument, tempered in traditional tuning for using in tonal music context. As we were playing non tradicional music, and our main intention was to reach “primitive sounds” we created an experimental version of a lithophone, without adjust the rocks to a defined tuning, keeping their original raw timbre and irregular shapes. Sadly we didn’t documented correctly that creation process but there’s a short clip on youtube where everyone can watch and listen a short sample of me playing it with the Ensamble Nacional del Sur:
What made you want to change your musical approach from rock to experimental?
There’s no any special reason, it is just that my curiosity led me to a different place. My early desires for making music, took me to playing the music I was listening at that time (classic and simple punk rock). When I was satisfied I started studying a little deep in what I was interesting in, and then one thing leads to an other. There are a lot of things that exceeds the rock and roll’s frontiers and I am not interesting in limiting my curiosities to a special aesthetic.
Is there any musical style you’ve wanted to explore but haven’t yet?
As I tried to say in the previous question, I don’t have any interest on a particular musical style. My motivations come from questions I make myself, and then the aesthetic of each piece is just a consequence. For example, in “Capturas del Unico Camino” I was motivated to explore some visual algorithms in order to achieve a whole integral piece (wich is in fact a transmedia work) with music, of course, but also including pictures and videos (there’s an audiovisual version of the piece). So that was a consequence of what I wanted to explore, not a target. The style of the music I create operates in the same way for me. Maybe some day I’ll end playing jazz, I don’t know!
What is the music scene in Buenos Aires like?
It is highly diverse. You can go to a folk concert or to a extreme experimental performance in the same night just walking a few steps. You have international prestigious venues as Teatro Colon and uncountable small bars where you can experience first class musical performances of any style any time you want.
You’ve also been working on a PhD in Social and Human Sciences, how has that been going?
Yes, it’s a great experience. I have been researching and studying a lot and still need to do a lot more for finishing it. Probably, besides making music those are the activities I most enjoy, and definitely the ones I spent more time in the last years. My PhD thesis focuses on electronic music, so this years are very productive for my own growth as an artist. I’m pretty sure after this thesis my production will reach a higher level very difficult to achieve by other means.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Yes, of course. Generally I listening it a lot right before finishing it, and then past a few months or years, I come back to it to listening again, several times, with other kind of attention and from a very different perspective.
What other music do you listen to?
Nowadays I’m listening to music that haS very little in common, on one hand there are Hip Hop artists from the last decade (like Kendrick Lamar) and on the other some classic Jazz Albums (mostly between 50s and 60s). Besides I have always been listening to “alternative” rock bands since I was teenager in the 90s, and I still listening to them frequently. And of course, what I mostly enjoy are the musicians who influenced me in making the music I’m creating these days, I mean John Cage, Morton Feldman, Erik Satie, Brian Eno and Harold Budd.
What do you have planned next?
My next step is making an important change in the creation process. My PhD research approaches to the performance in electronic music, so I’m twisting from algorithmic computer music to live computer music. I’m planning a set of short pieces that will take me a lot time to complete but there’s no any hurry. My brand new album still can get a lot of more public exhibition, so I have time before releasing new music.
Before finishing this interview, I want to thanks Nicolás Madoery (Concepto Cero director), Nicolás Varchausky (Inkilino Records director) and Pablo Di Liscia ( “Síntesis espacial de sonido en la música electroacústica”, UNQ research project director) for making possible the release of “Capturas del Único Camino”.
Check out Damián Anache website to find out more!