smilecoldanatomy is finally back in action with a new mix, and i'm really excited to share this, the 15th anatomy: daisen is, from casual violence!
put simply, casual violence creates abrasive, cerebral electronic music. i first discovered his music in a mix whose identity i cannot at all recall, to be honest. but i then stumbled across this record (you can stream for free here), and have been following him since. i first contacted steve, as he's casually known, almost exactly a year ago; it's been a long time but we're both happy to present his mix, a 90-minute collection of slow, strange techno. to accompany the set, steve opened up with some extensive responses to my interview questions, so please read on:
Hello, Casual Violence! Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you come from? How did you discover techno music, and what made you want to start producing your own music?
It's not so easy to pinpoint really how or where I discovered Techno music. When I was young (lets say in the 80's), and was for the first time developing my own taste in music (aside from what I was exposed to from my parents and older sister), Hip Hop, Electro, House, Acid House, and Techno were just developing. I think popular music was much more diverse. Margins were blurred, and genres didn't feel as strict, they were all one and the same to me. I was listening to music of all shapes, and in my mind there was no real difference between Chart music, Punk, New Wave, House, Techno, Electro, Hip Hop, or whatever.
I still pretty much think on this wavelength in some way, however, as I became older my taste shifted much more towards strictly electronic music, and then on to something more cerebral, dense, and abrasive. I became well aware that my city (Manchester, where I was born and still live) had this kind of musical identity and attitude of its own that was somehow dark and serious.
Rave/Hardcore happened pretty big over in the UK and Manchester, and a bunch of us at school got into collecting flyers and trading bootleg tapes from all the big party's we were too young to go to. I discovered Manchester based 808 State, who had their own radio show at the time playing all this great independent electronic music, and through this a more singular taste matured. I moved on to Jungle (which developed in to drum and bass), then became quite obsessed with the more caustic and aggressive sounds of hardcore techno for a while, from there I found Industrial, Rhythmic, Noise, and Drone. Then I got into turntables and started buying house, techno, and trance. Oliver Lieb's, 'LSG - The Black Series EP' pushed me in a more 'intelligent' direction, and then the records that were coming out on labels like Downwards, Tresor, Zhark, E-COM, and Seico Corp showed me that techno could have a more industrial aesthetic that I could totally connect to.
Man I could go on forever on the subject and still not be able to say, "I found techno here" - I guess my taste just developed very organically until I realised that 90% of my record collection was Techno music, and that Techno and all other genres had grown so much more apart.
I started producing my own music as soon as I had the tools to do so. I knew a few people who had small studio set up's and were using Atari ST's and such to create music, but I couldn't really afford the equipment needed to do so myself. My housemate at the time had just got this PC (they were pretty expensive back then), and he had a cousin who worked as a sound engineer. His cousin was saying, "you know you can do all this on a PC now". He knew about and had access to all the software, and installed us a bunch of music programs.
My early creations were pretty rudimentary, just rhythms really, but in time I developed and learned to be more expressive and how to get closer to the sound I wanted. Music is such a great abstract platform for expression of thoughts, ideas, and feelings. I suppose I got addicted, and from that point all my time and focus was channeled in to that process. I lost quite a few jobs, and it pretty much became standard behaviour for my housemate to be waking up at 4 am with me sat at the end of his bed still making music. Eventually he moved out and was nice enough to leave me the PC, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve slept since then.
Which musicians have made the biggest impact on you, as a listener and as a producer? Which musicians excite you right now?
Vromb, Orphx, Huren/Foster, The Klinik, Sonar, Ministry, Trent Reznor, Pan Sonic, Haus Arafna, Geistform, Imminent Starvation, Whitehouse, Throbbing Gristle, Portishead, Public Enemy, 808 State, Depeche mode, Oliver Lieb, Joy Division.
For more techno orientated music: Iesope Drift/Ostia, Porter Ricks, Monolake, Mike Parker, Surgeon, Voidloss, Kareem, Regis, Cristian Vogal, Sleep Archive, British Murder Boys, Inigo Kennedy, Makaton.
I’m very much stimulated by industrial, rhythmic, and noise type music. It’s not just about the aggression and the sonic extremities, it’s also got something to do with this kind of aesthetic that seems to speak about something very real - It's difficult to put into words and articulate what I mean. For me music and sound must have a feeling of texture and depth, and I have a preference for more hypnotic music. I like when something takes it's time to develop. I just can't connect so well with instant gratification within most things. Even music that may seem quite harsh and powerful can still remain subtle and restrained.
I also find interest in film and game music/sound design. For example, the work of Akira Yamaoka, who did the music for the Silent Hill games, which have this almost overbearing mood and atmosphere. I have a huge interest in sound and sound design in general; to me it goes side by side with music.
Most Recently, I've been listening to (as ever) lots of Orphx (Their latest Album, 'Radiotherapy' is on heavy rotation) - Lots of music from an American duo, 'Lapse', who have this wonderfully textural and hypnotic style of techno - I’m constantly listening to, and inspired by Vromb (who I listen too possibly more than I listen to anybody else) - And right this very moment, as I type I’m listening to Haus Arafna's album, 'Butterfly', which is an amazing album. Additionally, I’m liking the current sound that’s been coming out of Italy these past few years via the Zooloft and Prologue camps.
If you had to choose your three all-time favourite records or songs, what would they be, and why?
That’s very difficult, and it changes constantly. Right now I will go with (in no particular order):
'Vromb - Episodes'
It’s hard for me to choose just one Vromb record. I was going to say 'Rayons', but I've basically gone with the highly scientific approach of, "the one that I think has the best packaging", and that’s 'Episodes'. Vromb is a total master. To try to explain his music, it's this kind of deep, dark, hypnotic, minimal, rhythmic, ambient, technoid, industrial hybrid. His albums energies flow perfectly, with each track effortlessly breathing in and out of each other as one. When I stated above that I like when something takes it's time to develop, this is a perfect example. I would maybe suggest that if you haven't really explored or heard Vromb, then listen to the Rayons album, and if you enjoy it, then listen to Episodes.
'Porter Ricks - Biokinetics'
Extremely filthy and deep, with sounds sucking in and out of each other from all directions. The Biokinetics album has masses and masses of texture, and this amazing production style that I’ve always found to be really quite inspiring.
'Orphx - Insurgent Flows'
Again it's very tough for me to pick just one Orphx album, but this is the one that introduced me to them (and still I think my favourite). Finding Orphx for me was like a reversal of the aforementioned discovery that techno could work so well with industrial and noise elements. Orphx, in balance, are like an industrial/noise project that perfectly incorporates techno elements. Very powerful and intense music… Always inspiring.
'Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back'
I know you said three, but this one's real important. Public Enemy was the first music I actually chose for myself and the first real 'group' that I ever followed. Another reason for their importance is it's the first time I understood that there was music that had a message of some real weight and importance, it’s also the first time that I understood music to have a culture of its own (Hip Hop).
Aside from techno and 'electronic' music, what else do you listen to?
I listen to a pretty broad range of music; I just haven't really had the chance recently. I’ve been spending so much of my time writing music, which means lots of listening to myself… which is as much a curse as it is a blessing.
You have a full-length album due out next year. Can you tell us about it? How have you changed (or not changed) your production approach for the long-player format? How did you go about picking the album's artwork?
Indeed, it's a (possible double) CD entitled, 'Ashes These', limited to 50 physical copy's (then after that digital), due February 2011 on my own forthcoming label, 'Maieutics'. I’m not entirely sure anymore if I’m writing an album for the label, or if I’m creating the label for the album. It's turned out that they are feeding into and inspiring one another in a very natural way.
It originally started out as an EP intended to launch Maieutics; however, it reached a point where it was eight tracks long and still didn't feel as though the narrative had fully reached its potential conclusion. I had to admit to myself that it was becoming an album, and that if that was to be the case then it wasn't anywhere near finished.
That was back in January this year, and its shape and form at the very start has now totally changed, with tracks being stripped down and rewritten, some being dropped, and new ones being created. It’s an extremely organic process where if, for instance, a new song is added then it changes the whole flavour of the other tracks, along with the entire flow of the album as a whole, and everything needs to be re-evaluated. Like I say, it’s very organic and I’m just going with the flow.
The most notable way that my approach has changed, I guess, would be that I’m freer to experiment and write whatever pleases me. I can be more creative with tempo and form, and I'm free to focus less on the dance floor than I normally would, which has been my desire for a few years now. The fact that I’m self releasing also adds extra freedom, as I only have to answer to myself. It can be pretty hard going as things are never good enough, but I’m almost there, and it’s almost finished (minus some final details). The sleeves are to be handmade, and individually numbered (both by my own hand), so there is still that manufacturing process, and yet more possible creative obstacles to fight with myself about. It's been quite an involving and reflective experience, and very different to any other musical project I’ve ever taken on before.
I’m glad you ask about the artwork as its hugely important to me. I was playing with ideas for the look and feel of the label for quite a while. I had the musical direction, label concept, and visual design nailed, yet was struggling to find an art style that tied in with it all. The main theme behind Maieutics is enlightenment and the marriage between art, science, and philosophy. With the design being very definite and precise to represent science, and the music representing philosophy and existentialism: It made perfect sense that the art direction should of course represent (visual) art itself. I researched the classic paintings and the masters, as I felt these represented a time of enlightenment and discovery in connection with the labels philosophy, and I came across the stunningly epic looking 'Sacred And Profane Love' by Giovanni Baglione, which had this real fascinating story attached to it. I decided this second interpretation of the painting was to be the artwork for the album, and that the basis of the Maieutics artwork thereafter was to be centred mostly around the powerful and most beautiful work of Michelangelo Caravaggio.
I think I first came across your music by way of the gold-plated Why So Few release. So if I may ask, where do the vocals for 'Briefly Sexual' come from?
There are a few good reasons why I probably shouldn't say where they come from. It’s no secret, but it’s best I don't mention it here. Let’s just say that I 'borrowed' them in a creative manner.
I manipulated them slightly from their original form into something new to match the needs of that particular track, so the original source is not entirely obvious. I never intended for the vocal to be such a prominent feature (or expected Briefly Sexual to generate any kind of interest), and it was used purely on the merit of its tone and feel, as is any sound that I use. I chopped it up into single syllables, played with its rhythm and order, duplicated, double tracked, manipulated, and mistreated it in general. I’ve been asked quite a few times what the vocals are saying, and where they are from. The fact is, that the vocals don't say anything tangible whatsoever, and where they are from is a question best asked some other time perhaps.
Do you have an overall 'philosophy of music'? Aside from the musicians and sounds we talk about above, what keeps you inspired as a musician?
I do, and I would hope that's apparent from my (painfully long) answers so far. I’m interested in mood, colour, texture and feel, music has to have this to move me, it has to express something that can be felt, it has to have depth - real depth, where something further can be found beneath the immediate surface… Different layers to explore. I don't mean layers as in how many sounds are there. Music can be stripped down to a stark cold minimum and still have depth and layers inherent within the texture and feel of the sound.
It may sound cliché, but music can be a language and means to communicate ideas, feelings, thoughts, and questions that cannot be expressed so easily with words. It's a way to articulate who we are, what we experience, and a way to question or try explain those things that are perhaps beyond our comprehension. It's very much open to interpretation, a musician for example may try to express one thing with a piece of music, and the listener may interpret it completely differently in his or her own individual way to meet his or her own individual needs at that point in time.
I also believe in music that follows a more organic path, in the way that sounds are introduced, and the way in which energy and intensity flows. I like these things to develop at a natural pace and to require a little patience. Many natural things in the universe move through their own slow and organic cycles. Nature has its cycle and it develops and changes over time. I like this state to be reflected within sound, music, and the process.
Lastly, to briefly expand on a previous point about the blurring of margins. I do understand that there is a need for separate genres, and I'm not saying that it's a bad thing to categorise. Just that a little cross pollination, and a little individuality, are both highly important elements of musical progression.
Aside from the album, what is up next for Casual Violence?
Well, there is of course the label. I’m excited about how that will develop, along with the freedom it will bring. I’m also planning on a second label, 'SELF', which will come from a slightly different angle than Maieutics. There's some releases on the way too, with a 10" on Sect due sometime very soon, following that, I have an EP on Duality due the 16th this month (October), a CD compilation of various artist's that's also on Sect, an EP for Singularity, plus a few other things that I'm yet to start working on.
I have fair number of collaboration projects planned for next year also: some that are still at the idea stage, and some that are already in progress. I can't really say with whom yet as it's best to wait for the music - plus some of these projects are to remain anonymous. For my last booking of the year I’m making a trip to Madrid to play for Geométrika FM and Scrypard at Specka club on the 25th of November, that should be fun, and then finally, In January there is the small matter of my wife and I expecting our first born child.
Finally, tell us about your mix, Dasein Is.
I wanted the mix to be deep, textured, intense, and hypnotic. The tempo is slightly restrained to help enforce this idea, and once the groove is established I believe this makes total sense. There’s some pretty dense and drawn out layering, as my intention was for it to feel like this organically shifting rhythmic whole. The layering, I feel also brings some interesting textures and energies as the sounds wash in and out of each other from time to time. There is a slight dark mood also present throughout that feels and acts like the binding theme for the whole mix. Perhaps all that’s just my own romantic view - I’m sure it is. Ultimately, it's best left open to the interpretation of others ;)
01 Vromb - Premier Générateur - ant-zen
02 Derlich - Hoax - Singularity
03 Lapse - Blowback - Unreleased
04 Lapse - Kin - Unreleased
05 Orphx - Density Current - Sonic Groove
06 Orphx - Apparition - Sonic Groove
07 Svreca - Seda Muerta - Female Remix - Semantica
08 Heiko Laux - Hangin - Kanzleramt
09 Mike Parker - Ringing Bass - Prologue
10 Mike Parker - FWD - Donato Dozzy Remix - Prologue
11 Allan Nonamaka - Birth Is Suffering - Labrynth
12 Obtane - This Town Is A Rotten Morgue - Sonic Groove
13 Claudio PRC - Clear Depths - Obtane Remix - Prologue
14 Lucy - Triad - Stroboscopic Artefacts
15 Surgeon - First - Outline Mix - Tresor
16 Thurisaz - fram niwiht æt niwiht - Rune
17 Robert Pain - Black Queen Chapter VI - Black Queen
18 Casual Violence - Burn It All Down - Maieutics
19 Robert Pain - Scena III - Transporta
20 Mike Parker - Night Of 21 Hours - Geophone
21 Timothy Alexander - 12 - Diacope
22 Robert Pain - Black Queen Chapter III - Black Queen
23 Casual Violence - Objet petit a - Maieutics
24 Porter Ricks - Biokinetics 2 - Chain Reaction
25 Porter Ricks - Redundance 4 - Force Inc. Music Works
26 Orphx - La Nebuleuse - Huren Remix - Hands Productions
27 Orphx - La Nebuleuse - Hands Productions
28 Nuel - Untitled - Aquaplano ltd
29 Vromb - Interférence - Ant-Zen
thanks again to steve for the nice sounds and nice words. if you wanna keep up on his art, check out the casual violence blog and the maieutics blog. more of his music can be found via his soundcloud. please enjoy his set! it's been fun getting to know him, and for a sort of 'anniversary' mix, i think his contribution works perfectly. be patient, and stay tuned, there will be more anatomy mixes soon...