Can you imagine a painting collaboration between Gerhard Richter and Jean Michel Basquiat? What would happen if the vibrant, urban Jazz infused poetry of the latter, were to dissolve in the layered, contemplative, linear abstractions of the squeegee paintings of the former?
izzjazz, the self tiled debut of this Berlin based duo, is a compositional triptych which explores the possibilities of creating living “sound and word paintings.” It’s an exercise in crafting sonic art objects as meditations, out of scraps of dreams, visions, hallucinations assembled over electronica flotsam. It’s a sound design driven, hyperlink studded liquid amalgam of audio that reveals new layers of meaning with each successive listening.
Below, the creators of the project, Leonard de Leonard and Lukasz Polowczyk aka RQM give us a track by track rundown of the release…
Leonard de Leonard: We started to work on this song in the begin of 2014 and, finally, after some years of trying to collaborate, we found our style. It felt really liberating, finally knowing what the project is about. To compose the instrumental I used some field recordings which I processed through granular synthesis. The software that I was using cut the sound up into a thousand micro sounds and also reorganized them. The rest of the sounds came from a modular synth that I built myself. If you listen closely, you can also hear beautiful, textural cello lines from our friend Simon Houghton aka Sneaky. The cello parts weren’t a part of the original arrangement, but after we performed these songs at the Transmediale off-event called “Paraesthesia”, as a 3D, immersive installation – with Simon on cello, Gianapaolo Camplese on drums, DE KJ on vocal sculpting, Johannes Scherzer from MNTN on 3D sound mapping – I decided to add these to the final version. These guys are extremely skilled and sensitive musicians and great people, so I decided to honor that. The binaural version of this song, which will be released soon, will also feature Gianpaolo’s playing drums.
Lukasz Polowczyk: This also felt like a homecoming of sorts for me. I was tired of this regimented, polished, sanitized electronica productions that were coming out at that time and what I was working with. I was craving something more unstructured, something that’s open to interpretation. Somewhere in the back of my head I really wanted to have that freedom of the late John Coltrane, that free Jazz freedom. I wanted the energy of the track and the emotion of the moment to give its own structure to the content and the form. I didn’t want to over think the process but just to cut free and to see what happens.
02 TIMES INFINITE
Leonard: The nice thing about working with Lukasz is that he really drives the songs with only his voice. My job is to sculpt the sound around his vocal track and to experiment with the sound treatment and design. When I started to write this song I was only using vinyl and tape noise and some field recordings of thunder. The modular synth line in the track wasn’t synchronized, but that’s also why it works so well here. It was the first take that we recorded.
RQM: This whole EP is a loose stream of consciousness meditation on dreams, visions, and hallucinations. Where as “Izzjazz” is about an LSD type dissolution of the ego in relation to the infinite possibilities and iterations of reality, then “Times Infinite” is a nightmare. It’s about the looping effect of a bad dream; being trapped there and feeling like it’ll never end. I wrote this piece after having read that there were these picnic type get-togethers happening in Israel, where civilians on the Israeli side would watch shells dropping on Gaza. I’m a father now, I was always a pacifist, but now these displays of human cruelty and indifference get under my skin way quicker now and make me think about the future for my daughter and the safety of children and the distress of parents trying fighting for their safety. The end of this song cuts directly to point: “there are children in the city below. these children are pawns. and you’re not even sleeping!” The nightmare ends, but then you wake up to realize that reality is the real nightmare. Good morning and have a nice day.
03 COSMIC GRAMMAR
Leonard: When Lukasz arrived at the studio I was playing around with a kick on one of my drum machines. We realized that we could use it as a baseline, instead. I also used a DIY Noise box that I made out of some guitar strings and piezo mics. This added some great textures and extra layers that broke the linearity of the song with randomness.
Lukasz: This is the trance, or vision, part of the triptych. It addresses the use of ancient, consciousness-altering technologies, such as Ayahuasca, and their ability to align human consciousness with the essence of “what is.” I think that we’ve drifted way too fucking far from who or what we actually are, in the greater scheme of things. For so many years we’ve been fed a gospel “designed” to brain wash us into believing that we are fundamentally different and isolated from everything and everyone else, as in being apart and outside of nature, which, of course, is rubbish. But we internalized this to the point that we don’t see any alternatives anymore, or don’t see that the very fabric of our culture is currently just a propaganda outpost for this thing called “the market”. Hence it’s not potent anymore. So we have to find vantage points outside of the market and outside of this culture derived from the value set of the market, to be able to re-envision and restructure it from ground up. Having access to portals such as meditation or Ayahuasca vision ceremonies are a good place to start. We don’t need any more dogmas or any more systems – what we need is to reconnect with the nature within and without us.
Btw. this song is also a head nod to FlyLo and hist LP “Cosmogramma”, although it wasn’t intended as such. But then again, you don’t really control stream of conscious writing, do you?