Autopsija zvukova nastradalih u prometnim nesrećama: usporeni anatomski presjek škripe metala, anatomski prikaz tišine nakon udara, anatomska halucinacija cvrkuta ptica na obližnjem stablu, anatomski tlocrt zvuka kiše koja pada po krvi, repetitivna anatomska studija molitve religioznih svjedoka sudara, antomski prikaz vjetra koji pomiče kosu poginulih...
Stručni anatomski opis: filmična mješavina ovih zvukovnih čudovišta: dark ambient, drone, electroacoustic, noise i ambient black metal.
Download Sonic Cathedrals Vol. LXXVI Curated by William Fowler Collins HERE!
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Sonic Cathedrals Vol. LXXVI Curated by William Fowler Collins Track List
1. Tammy Wynette: Stand By Your Man
2. Giacinto Scelsi: Streichquartett Nr. 4
3. Bach: Violin Partita #2 In D Minor, BWV 1004 – 5. Ciaccona & Chorale Fragments
4. Lou Reed: The Bed
5. Z.M Dagar: Panchamkauns
6. Funeral Mist: In Manus Tuas
William Fowler Collins, Tenebroso (streaming ovdje)“TENEBROSO” is the newest installment of Handmade Birds’ Dark Icons Series finds William Fowler Collins exploring his darkest textures yet. Think of the best moments of Lustmord’s “Heresy” remixed by Brian Eno. Simply put, William has firmly planted his feet as the quintessential dark ambient artist. Though his career has not yet spanned the decades of the aforementioned legends, he has proven himself their contemporary, and much like the young Wes Anderson was archived properly by Criterion, we have chosen to log his work within the fold of our Dark Icons Series. Part guitar virtuoso, part visceral texture-smith, William Fowler Collins lives music, lives composition, lives sound. With previous releases on Utech and Type, it is no wonder journalists are calling William Fowler Collins a “forerunner in the field of forward thinking noise.” - www.anost.net/
For the past few years, New England-born, New Mexico-based musician (and Aaron Turner collaborator) William Fowler Collins has created dark, droning, noisy, and often deeply fragile soundscapes. His newest effort Tenebroso, is out as part of Handmade Birds' "Dark Icons" series on August 21. (The record follows WFC's Type-imprinted The Resurrections Unseen, and he has a 4-way split with Horseback, among others, out now, too.)
Tenebroso's opening track, "Scythe," is an understated composition featuring Mamiffer's Faith Coloccia on piano. She shows up after a soft, smoky blast of feedback, and maintains a spacious, icy pace until we hear silence (something maintained for an almost uncomfortable amount of time by the slow-fade start-up of the next track). The album heads into more obviously foreboding places, but this compact, delicate track-- albeit, one named after something potentially deadly-- is the one that gives me goosebumps. - Brandon Stosuy
Gog & William Fowler Collins, Malpais
Music’s ability to move me, emotionally, and to transport me to places and experiences that are outside my usual sphere of familiarity is the crowning achievement of the art. To say that 99% of the music fails to achieve this goal would be an understatement. It seems that the art has been dumbed down in recent years, especially in extreme circles. There are a handful of bands pushing the envelope. The majority seem safe and content in bubbles of repetition and melody. When was the last time you listened to a piece of music and you felt like it was a genuine experience? If, like me, you can only remember a handful of answers to that question then projects like Malpais, from Gog and William Fowler Collins, should be on the top of your list.
This joint contribution from Gog and William Fowler Collins is as unrelenting and colossal in scope as the artwork and album title promise it to be. Malpais is an unwinding tale, unwittingly set on some arid wasteland bereft of precipitation and human consideration. Using noise and ambience as the vehicle of delivery, Malpais manages to build layers of atmosphere on relatively sparse mechanics to deliver some otherworldy ambience. As clichéd as this sounds, Gog & William Fowler Collins have crafted an experience of bewildering clarity. Along this journey you are subsumed under the weight of the music from the get go, forced to live and relive moments of anguish and sublime terror. You are the lone, frail human vessel submitting to death at the hand of nature. Desiccated, hallucinatory and half-conscious. Malpais is an acknowledgement of human insignificance and the supreme hand of nature.
Not since Paysage d’hiver has music delivered such a tidal, conquering experience. This is what dying in the desert might sound like. Walls of textured noise conjure visions of titanic sandstorms. Synth and glistening diamonds of light hide somewhere in the background, the only respite before the eye of the storm. These walls of noise start and stop without much notice before falling into sections of restrained nothingness or the only recognisable human element that appears on the recording. A low, dumb thud that I suspect represents a heartbeat tracks the level of conscious activity after a battering from the elements.
Malpais is a tough experience to swallow. Swathes of noise and ambience tell a harrowing story. A story more frightening and uncomfortable than any riff-count or satanic aesthetic could muster. This is extreme music in every sense of the word. The journey however, convinces me that these two artists are forerunners in the field of forward thinking noise, ambience and drone. Pick this up now from Utech Records. You will not regret it. - www.lurkerspath.com
Malpais is one of the most artistically communicated noise releases that I’ve ever heard. It is the collaboration (not a split) between Fowler Collins and Gog, both located in the Southwest. What first drew me to this release was its affiliation with Gog, which is an act that has two other marvelous black noise albums on Utech already. But both artists put their best foot forward on this one. Their creative juices flow at full blast as each track feels like walking through an installation at an art museum. As we experience such an installation in full reality it appeals to most of our senses and not just one or two. There are things to see, touch, hear, possibly smell, rarely taste. I feel like this disc is full of different environments that stimulate the many senses.
The first track is Fire in the Valley. This one feels like an installation that is dimly lit, possibly black, with a surrounding fog. Much like that fog, you get the sense that there is something to touch, to grasp, but it is all deceptive. You can’t grasp fog, put it in a box, or carry it home with you in your pocket. The noise cloud on this track gradually grows and grows without you even noticing, just like that beloved frog in boiling water, and feels very palpable and concrete with its heavy, expanding, and unfurling qualities. Yet, it is only sound – nothing that you can truly grasp.
Then the next track, Notice of Location, abounds with texture. It is downright bristly, abrasive, and very coarse. Again, it seems like there should be something to touch but there’s not. It only lasts a minute and a half but that’s enough to get the full effect of the sound.
The third track, Abandonment, is what I consider to be the most intriguing and arty of all the tracks. It develops slowly into the full specter of a true installation. From the beginning, there’s a deep, full, and consistent double-pounding like a heartbeat. This track makes me feel like I’m entering into the narrative of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, with the cardiac pulse relentlessly plaguing me. An intensity of ominously brooding drone builds and ultimately its passion is replaced with some noisy fuzz. It all slowly fades out. The track immediately grabbed me with the steady heart-like bass pulse, and made me feel like I was experiencing someone else’s chaos, since the pulse seemed to come from another source outside of myself. However, by sharing the sensibilities of the growing grimness like a rising tide, it was as though a heavy bedlam washed over me and pulled me down with the undertow. Going back to the installation idea, I underwent and shared in whatever the artist, the outside source, wanted me to experience.
Track 4 is Continuum, which is similar to Notice of Location in that it is just a barrage of harsh noise. Again, very textural. It has both the qualities of drilling and heavy machinery like some kind of work crew. It has a bit of sharpness to it that will make the fillings in your teeth tingle like they just had a brush with aluminum foil.
The last track is Of Ash and Wind. This one steadies itself with a quiet low-end swirling rumble. In this case, the setting that I feel like I’m in is my own home with a desert storm brewing outside. The wind flails around a bit, catching up sand and delivering it to new locations. Then about half way through all these effects place me in a totally different, less comfortable setting. There’s a dankness, a dampness, and a darkness to it all. Suddenly, I can feel the unknown wrap its arms around me. I can almost feel the slimy water from the underground drip on me. The uneasiness of the whole environment begins to make me wonder what’s going to come next. There are sporadic stirrings that make me expectant of another presence in the midst of my aloneness. Will it be a stranger or a familiar face? Will I be met with antagonism or rescue? Then, it goes from feeling like an open track due to its predominantly silent nature to one adrift with warm hums. Again, I’m in a totally new state. The strange thing is that there aren’t three totally different segments to this track but each flow into the other unexpectedly. It ends in a much calmer way than I would have anticipated.
Finally, a disc that really makes me feel! I not only feel internally, but I also feel externally. Obviously, I don’t feel these things in a literal sense. But, it does seem like I do. All of these textures seem real and tangible. Discover which environments these audible art installations put you in. The cover art itself has the likeness of just such an installation. It is appropriate to the artists’ southwestern environments to have the desert mountains and dug up remains of lost cultures. I suppose the overall feel on this album is decay, so that would be most appropriate. One more triumph of Gog, a nice introduction for me to Fowler Collins, and another proud addition to the Utech catalog. - www.foxydigitalis.com/
William Fowler Collins,
Perdition Hill Radio (streaming ovdje)
Lovers of Dark Ambient's shadowy recesses take note: this latest Type release brings the haunted New Mexican soundworld of William Fowler Collins to the world - and it's one of the most relentless collections of dense and harrowing midnight music you'll likely have the pleasure of hearing. Flicking through this record - skimming the surface of these crumbling, derelict sonic constructions - feels like intercepting a shortwave broadcast from the hereafter. It all points towards something sinister and most unwholesome, but to give all this context, it's worth noting that Collins' talent has been incubating for some time: his CV tells of years spent studying electronic music at Mills College under the tutelage of iconic figures like Pauline Oliveiros, Alvin Curran and Fred Frith (having also performed and collaborated with Matmos, Ikue Mori and Brightblack Morning Light in the lead up to this album's making). This musical background combines with the harsh, desert topography of Collins' Albuquerque home in rendering a sonic portrait of Americana's dark underbelly, beginning with 'The Hour Of Red Glare', whose stormy introduction - full of thunderclap noise surges - announces the album's nefarious intentions. Immediately, images of a guitar-slinging, American gothic counterpart to the Nordic doom merchantry of Deathprod and Svarte Greiner spring to mind; its maudlin intensity and dust-devil dynamics serving as a powerful introduction, teetering on the verge of outright black metal - imagine Xasthur wearing a stetson, if you will. 'Grave Robbing In Texas' offers a slightly more introspective slant on that sound, retreating into a quivering mass of tape murk and snarling sustains that's likely to give your ears friction burns if you spend too much time with it. The vast 'Dark Country Road' soon comes along, opening with a lighter, more outward-looking sound, initially howling harmoniusly like some ghouls' choir before retreating into an uncomfortable near-silence around the eight-minute mark. During this stint, static hangs in the air while unidentifiable clanking, scratching and whining from various obscured field recordings creeps under your skin. At over twenty-one minutes this might be the most engrossibg piece of music on the album, but it's arguably the most striking too - luring you away into its uncanny nightscape. There's still plenty more to come, however: you'll hear a more vicious, metallic take on Tim Hecker's saturated drones during 'On Perdition Hill' and even better, 'Slow Motion Prayer Cycle' grinds away like a decrepit old phonograph cylinder worn down to nothing. Finally, you can hear a few strands of sunlight starting to break into the mix during closing track 'The Ghosts Of Eden Trail'; warm, major-key tones shimmer across its expanse before eventually evaporating into the harsh New Mexico wind from whence it came. An immense and fiendish album - ESSENTIAL PURCHASE.- boomkat
Perdition Hill Radio is the soundtrack for going under. The other channels on the radio dial have completely vanished into the void with almost everything else, and now there’s nothing left but the doomful fuzz that sparkles with relentless satanic heat as the vessel pushes further into the desolate Southwest corridor. “The Hour of Red Glare” presents a world on fire. Explosive blasts shoot up out of the Earth, screeching in agony, while the dying machines and collapsing structures grind against each other until they leave behind nothing but dust and smoke. “Grave Robbing In Texas” begins with the soothing sound of oil fields ablaze in white noise, and represents the down-going movement as our hero shovels aside heavy dirt and layers of soot to dip his hands into the mystery-laden tombs for decaying treasures.
William Fowler Collins is making maps as much as he is making music. While the piece as a whole is a road album that takes us deeper into an endless desert night apocalypse, “Dark Country Road” especially shows Collins building his nightmare world with sound. A blurry blues guitar-slide opens up the track and establishes an early Americana mood that is eventually pulverized under industrial scrapes and flesh-eating-insect-inspired atmospherics. Throughout the almost 22-minute journey, one can see the Lost Highway-esque headlights barreling along a bleak dirt road, insect guts splattered on the window, the occasional movement of predators in the shadows. The traditional Americana aesthetic attempts to sneak its way back into the track, but is constantly overpowered by the dark hum, perhaps representing the loss of North America’s cultural foundations, as it plunges further into destructiveness and horror.
“On Perdition Hill” drones its way to the ghoulish summit, providing only a moment of calm before plunging once more into the breach of “Slow Motion Prayer Circle.” One can vaguely make out the sound of religious chants under the fuzz, and if the track were sped up, it might take on a more familiar form. The creeping slowness, though, shows how the materiality of the popular conception of time is dependent upon the presence of its corresponding historical and cultural world. With the death of that world, time moves differently, more slowly, since there is no longer any use for it.
“The Ghosts of Eden Trail” is a momentary homage that ends the wrecking journey of Perdition Hill Radio — a tribute to the cherished pioneers of a once ambitious cultural world, who failed to realize that their own creation would eventually become the monster that it is. Collins asks us to think of the all-consuming sprawl of decay that pushed, and still pushes, further into the West. He asks us to see the nightmare-world that is concealed by the myth of progress and expansion.
Despite the recent popularity of the dangerous political discourse of hope, the dystopian imagery presents itself as a more timely critique of the present historical moment. Underneath the hopeful rhetoric of economic renewal, cosmopolitan responsibility, multiculturalism, and so on, sits the more pressing but concealed problems of general destructiveness and meaninglessness. The popular solution is for those previously excluded to step out into a more welcoming public world and to fill up new spaces within the old machinery — to breathe life into the old values in such a way that they realize themselves rather than remain empty shells and mere ideas. In contrast, the unpopular solution is uncertain of how to be a solution, but this seeming paradox is also its greatest asset. Instead, it plunges into the darkest depths of our historical consciousness, our cultural world and its values, and patiently spelunks. This “solution” knows that the formulation of a real solution depends upon a complete embrace of the possibility of total horror. Perdition Hill Radio is a critique of the latter sort in that it ventures into the wasteland of the present in order to reveal the reality of terror, rather than paint temporary rainbows over it. For this reason, William Fowler Collins has created a timely album that must, then, appear untimely. - Elliot Sharp
William Fowler Collins, The Resurrections Unseen (streaming ovdje)
The silhouetted, impressionistic black metal ambience of William Fowler Collins has cast a long shadow over all who've crossed his path. Returning to Type Records for his 2nd LP, two years since 'Perdition Hill Radio' and not long since recording with Gog and Isis' Aaron Turner, William still exists in a permanent nighttime state, as though the sun has completely abandoned the New Mexico desert and left him, and his music, to slowly decay in the darkness, suffering the attrition of sandstorms and the slow waste of vitamin C deficiency. This is tangibly experienced through titles like 'Embracing Your Own Annihilation' and 'The Light In The Barn' or 'Abattoir' but no more so than the music, a sound of micro entropic processes surveyed with a narrow-eyed panoramic gaze. But there's no theatrical drama to 'The Resurrections Unseen', rather this is a sound mutedly resigned to its fate, stoically watching white noise flesh and guitar textured fabric disintegrate with time, watching the dust accumulate at the stumps where heavy leather boots once stood. The amount of space and detached sense of control in this music is only comparable with the most skilled ambient manipulators - we're talking Deathprod, Thomas Köner, Lustmord, Kevin Drumm - and could well turn out to be a serious seasonal favourite round these parts. Highly Recommended. - boomkat
William Fowler Collins, Enter The Host
Previously heard on Type with his Perdition Hill Radio album (released almost exactly one year ago), New Mexico's William Fowler Collins returns to the dark side with Enter The Host, an EP that finds him setting down his guitar in favour of shuruti box. Once again, droning murk is the pervading force in Collins' work, but there's a restraint and focus at play here that sets this cassette apart from his feedback strewn full-length. The first side soon fires up a gnarled, sustaining signal that's leant depth as Collins cultivates and nurtures various overtones and contextual atmospherics. There's a penetrative urgency to this piece that - despite being derived from a fairly humble droning signal - has a real sense of energy to it, but it's the more sinister second side that makes the biggest impact, dispersing some grim harmonics across a quarter hour piece. Strands of stagnant tonality ripple slowly up until around halfway, when Collins seems to clean up his act a little, consolidating the piece into a simple, organ-like presence that grinds the tape to a close in a shadowy and stealthily modulating fashion. - boomkat
William Fowler Collins, Hiding In Light (streaming ovdje)
Having already dispensed premium slices of sonic darkness for Type and Root Strata, desert-residing drone harbinger William Fowler Collins delivers a highly limited new cassette release for Digitalis. Hiding In Light has a particularly nice flow to it, segueing between extreme lulls of gloom-smattered ambience and the more expected noxious elements of Collins' sound. The field recordings that bookend the first side divide up the darker aspects of this music very effectively - breaking down Collins' mordant drone tendencies and bringing you closer to something approaching a grasp on the real world. When the drones do first kick in they're almost infra-sonic in character, acquiring intensity through a fudgy distortion that hangs nicely over the track. The muffled recording character really emphasises the warmth here and keeps the bass frequencies at the forefront of the mix. The second side is a little more phantasmic, droning through a spacious, weather-beaten rumble that develops nicely into a full-blown dissonant soundscape. The slow fade-in plays well off the cassette format, as the music seemingly emerges from the tape's natural hiss. The requisite levels of isolationist bleakness still hang over these recordings, but there's a substantial sense of patience and depth to Collins' creations too. Restricted to 100 copies and already sold out at source... - boomkat
William Fowler Collins, Western Violence & Brief Sensuality (streaming ovdje)On his debut album, William Fowler Collins seems to will his surroundings into life, almost in a mythic way -- if the image of the electrified American West is combination of open skies, desert heat, and lost, haunted emptiness, as suggested by musicians from Ennio Morricone to Savage Republic to some of Steve Roach's collaborations, then Collins is a fine continuer of this tradition in his own way. Western Violence & Brief Sensuality makes for a great name as a result, poised somewhere between the ghost of high and lonesome twang and the ear-piercing screech of live-wire distortion screaming across the wastelands with empty after-echoes following. Sometimes the two sides coexist just so, as can be heard in the deep loping guitar set against muffled grinding background on the opening "Night Watchman," but it's a calm introduction to an album of intriguing extremes. Sometimes the nearly preternatural chill of a landmark effort like Lull's Cold Summer comes to the fore -- "Autumn Lights," with its core drone, ghostly background swirls, and surface crumble, is almost a miniature tribute to that album. Other moments emphasize the use of field recordings or found sound: "Untitled Dream 1" has rough crumbles and distant wind crackling around its calm, chilled guitar meditations and melodies, while "Midday Sunshower" feels both like a storm and a meditative zone as tones rise from the distance while swirling roughness spatters closer to the microphone. A song like "Dawn at McDonald Ranch" eventually settles into a calmer drone but not before a trebly wash of thin, intense feedback, while the big guitar grind of "Foothill's Ghost" suggests his own take on classic acid burnout, through different but parallel sensibilities.-allmusic.com
William Fowler Collins/Svarte Greiner at Cafe OTO na Vimeu
William Fowler Collins - Abattoir na Vimeu
William Fowler Collins: Interview - "A candy colored clown they call the sandman tiptoes to my room every night."
My first experience with William Fowler Collins’ work was his 2009 album Perdition Hill Radio, which I reviewed last year for Tiny Mix Tapes, where I called it “a soundtrack for going under.” The drones and frictions evoked images of the simultaneity of Western expansion and destruction, the perpetual movement of a chimerical beast that devours itself just as it does everything else. With a cassette out this year on both the Root Strata and Digitalis Industries labels, and a CD with fellow Albuquerquean Raven Chacon for their Mesa Ritual collaborative project, Collins has had a productive year as he continues to explore the darker regions of humanity’s sonic consciousness.
Over several email exchanges and late-night gchats, we discussed his musical education and development, his music’s filmic and dystopian qualities, and his new and upcoming releases and projects.
What’s the most recent great record you acquired and why’s it so great?
That would have to be Krzysztof Penderecki’s Utrenja. I’ll spare you the extensive review, as I think his comment from the liner notes sums it up best: “Utrenja is a combination of pure a capella vocal writing and orchestral effects (for strings and percussion) very much connected with electronic music.” Part one is called “The Entombment of Christ” and part two is “The Resurrection of Christ.” I’ve recently become more interested in vocal sound and this has some dense, textural choral music in addition to its surging strings and blasts of percussion. I’m a huge fan of Penderecki’s work. I love its chilling, terrifying qualities. I find it thrilling to listen to. When I heard this on WFMU recently (Bryce played a vinyl version in its entirety) I immediately searched out a copy to buy. I’ve also been enjoying Deathspell Omega’s Fas — Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum and Nihill’s Krach and Grond albums quite a bit lately.
You finished your MFA at Mills College in 2004. Who did you study with and who had the most impact on your development as an artist?
I think they all helped me grow. Maggi Payne helped me to fine-tune my listening and mixing skills, Chris Brown introduced me to Supercollider and early American musics, Fred Frith encouraged me to take my own path, David Bernstein exposed me to the world of 20th century composers, [and] Annie Gosfield helped me refine my noisier endeavors with the guitar. They all played a role. I think I was starving for the opportunity and I was at a point where I could really apply myself. I had a great time. At Mills I discovered AMM, Giacinto Scelsi, Penderecki, Henry Cowell, Maryanne Amacher. I began to investigate Indian Classical Music. Those are but a few. The list could go on and on.
I’ve heard many horror stories from people entering music programs, namely those grounded in a more rigid traditionalism, but always great things from Mills alumni. You’re currently teaching at University of New Mexico, right? What courses do you teach? Are there a lot of shared musical interests between you and the students or faculty?
Right, many of the schools can be more traditional, elitist, and conservative. I’m sure that Mills is the only place that would have accepted me. When the course is offered, I am an adjunct instructor of Sound Art in the Electronic Arts area of the Art & Art History Department. The students I’ve had generally do not have musical backgrounds and some do not have a background in art, either. I expose them to a huge amount of new material that is usually completely new to them. There were times when we listened in class for close to two hours. Turn the lights off, get comfortable, and listen. I’ll start with Luigi Russolo and end up in contemporary sound art, covering John Cage, Maryanne Amacher, Merzbow, and many more along the way. Some come to the class thinking that “sound art” is a fancy way to describe music so I try and get them to find their way from music to sound. I also teach them to work in a multi-track recording environment [Pro Tools], and their final projects can be recordings, installations, or performances.
“I have mountains directly behind my house to the east, and to the west is a view of expansive desert with inactive volcanoes. These vast, primitive landscapes are intense and they can certainly be inspirational.”
A few weeks ago I was working the door at a Merzbow performance in Philadelphia and this older man asked me if there was a construction project going on behind the doors. I responded with a “Yes, you should go check it out.” He exited several minutes later with a confused expression and shaking his head. Are there any memorable Merzbow reactions from first-time listeners in your class?
I’ve seen Merzbow a couple of times now. It was a relentless, punishing barrage of sound. My class wasn’t disturbed by the Merzbow I played for them. I was a little surprised. Blank stares. They reacted more strongly to Cage’s “4’33”.” “This is bullshit!” some exclaimed. A few were a bit outraged but we talked through it.
Why do you think they were more terrified, challenged, or bothered by silence than noise?
I think they reacted like so many have since Cage premiered the piece. Some people have fixed ideas about what music should be and this wasn’t it. They were suspicious at first. Also, some of the students are involved with musical projects even though they aren’t majoring in the field, and noise wasn’t anything new for them. From what I’ve witnessed, the noise genre today is fairly easy to enter into for all kinds of people. It might be similar to what punk had going for it in its early days. Start a band before you’ve been trained. Jump in with both feet and make something happen your own way. That’s exactly how I got involved with music over 20 years ago.
So was it punk that initially sparked your creative urge? What were some of the most foundational bands for you?
Hendrix and punk, yes. The Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols, P.I.L., Butthole Surfers, Minor Threat, Black Flag. Those were big for me when I started actually playing the guitar. John Zorn’s Naked City project really spun my head because it juxtaposed hardcore, metal, jazz, and country.
So I just listened to Utrenja. This would be a chilling live experience. The percussion really adds a great momentum to the spectral vocal parts. I couldn’t help but think of Bergman’s Seventh Seal while listening, not just because of his use of choral music for the score, but the entire point of view of the film. Do you know if anyone has presented it recently?
I’d love to see it performed live. I have no idea if it has been done recently. I believe he’s conducted it himself, though. Utrenja and other music by Penderecki are used in The Shining.
Your music has a very cinematic quality or at least provides an invitation to visuality. Have you ever composed music specifically for film?
Not in the traditional sense where music is at the service of what is happening in the film. I’ve worked in a live context with a filmmaker named Paul Clipson, who makes films using a Super 8 camera. I would be giving a live solo guitar performance while he’d be projecting a film on the screen behind me. For our appearance together at Courtisane Festival in Ghent, he provided me with footage before the concert and I played along to it in my studio a few times to give myself an idea of what direction to go in. He preferred that I avoid trying to match the music tightly with the film. The unexpected moments where things sync up by chance are what appeals to him more, I think. I’ve also worked with artist Claudia X. Valdes on a project entitled “Jornada del Muerto.” I created 40 minutes of guitar music that has four distinct 10-minute sections. She then created a video piece for each section of the music. She mixes the video live on the stage with me as I am performing. Those are the projects in which I’ve worked with the moving image thus far. Given the right situation, though, I would be interested in creating music for film.
Are there any directors, dead or alive, you’d particularly like to work with?
Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky, and David Lynch come to mind immediately. I also like the Western genre, so Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah would be another two. I like what the Coen brothers did with No Country for Old Men, and contributing to a worthy adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel could be interesting.
On Perdition Hill Radio both the sounds and song titles evoke haunting, apocalyptic images. Were you inspired by the desert and mountainous landscapes of New Mexico, or was the world motivating the sounds more imaginary?
The landscapes here probably influenced the work in a subconscious way. I have mountains directly behind my house to the east, and to the west is a view of expansive desert with inactive volcanoes. These vast, primitive landscapes are intense and they can certainly be inspirational. As with all of my recordings, I feel that a number of factors could potentially influence the work somehow. These could be personal experiences, books or films, major events happening in the world such as war. The title “Grave Robbing in Texas” refers specifically to the opening sequence of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, but I wouldn’t say that the album as a whole is about the horror associated with that film. With Perdition Hill Radio I chose to work within a darker theme, and it developed from my imagination. For me, there’s as much sadness as there is darkness in that album.
“From what I’ve witnessed, the noise genre today is fairly easy to enter into for all kinds of people. It might be similar to what punk had going for it in its early days. Start a band before you’ve been trained.”
What instruments and equipment were used for that recording?
Electric guitar, resonator guitar, effects pedals, micro-cassette recorder, and the AM radio from an old Sony Walkman. The software I used was Supercollider 2 and Pro Tools.
This year you’ve released two limited-edition cassettes (Enter The Host on Root Strata and Hiding In Light on Digitalis). Are you using the same gear as on Perdition Hill Radio, or are there significant additions and/or subtractions?
With Enter the Host things were a bit different. I used a shruti box as my primary instrument. I used two microphones on each take, recording about a half-dozen tracks worth of material for each side. One mic was sent through effects pedals and the other was clean. With Side B I went to tape with some of the tracks and played them back from my 1970s Nakamichi tape deck, recording the results. Hiding in Light uses much of the same gear as Perdition Hill Radio with the addition of the tape decks, lap steel guitar, and a goat hoof shaker I got in Chile.
In the middle of Side B on Hiding In Light there’s a distinctly percussive sound. What’s going on there?
I believe you might be referring to a rough recording of a drum I got from the Taos Pueblo. Recording this drum to tape and pitching down the results can create a massive, thunderous quality.
It seems like Enter The Host is much more tranquil and contemplative, while Perdition Hill Radio is frequently overpowering and horrifying. Hiding In Light, in contrast, seems to return to the menacing, dystopian landscapes explored in the latter. How are these three records sonically and thematically different or similar? Do you see them as distinct recordings or overlapping in some conceptual way?
I do see them as distinct recordings, but there is likely some overlapping, as they were all completed within the last three years. I have an affinity for Indian classical music, and with Enter the Host I wanted to experiment somehow with an instrument found in that genre. The shruti box, to me, seemed to be the right instrument for my purposes. Indian classical music is intriguing for me because the musicians in that field that I enjoy the most, such as Z.M. Dagar, are contemplative and immersed in the moment as they are playing. On some level I’m attempting, with all of my music, to engage the listener and pull them inside the music. Hiding in Light is the most recent of the recordings you mention and is perhaps a new route through the dystopian landscapes you’re hearing. I try and cover new territory in the most natural way possible. I like to take my time and see where things are headed. I’m not currently interested in undergoing a radical re-invention with each release.
You also released a collaborative record with Raven Chacon. Did you know him before your move to Albuquerque or was it initially a random encounter? What did that project entail?
No, I didn’t know Raven before I moved here. I didn’t know anybody and so I did some digging in an attempt to find other musicians with similar interests. I sent him my first CD and we became friends after that. Our duo is called Mesa Ritual and we’ve been experimenting mostly with electronic music. Most recently our live sets have required the use of larger sound systems with exceptional subwoofer capability. This isn’t high volume for the sake of high volume but rather an attempt to enhance the physicality of the sound. We have one release out on Raven’s Sicksicksick label called Voltaic Processions. We plan to complete a full length and find another label to release that when it is ready.
“Maggi Payne helped me to fine tune my listening and mixing skills, Chris Brown introduced me to Supercollider and early American musics, Fred Frith encouraged me to take my own path, David Bernstein exposed me to the world of 20th century composers, [and] Annie Gosfield helped me refine my noisier endeavors with the guitar.”
What’s the underground scene like in Albuquerque? Are there supportive spaces and listeners for outside music?
The underground is the best part of the music scene here. It is small, like most of these types of communities are, but there’s enthusiasm and a hunger for experimentation. DIY spaces open and close with regularity. There have been some amazing shows here outside of the rock/bar scene. I founded and curated a series here from 2008-2009 and had acts such as Barn Owl, Metal Rouge, Sun Circle, and Malcolm Goldstein come through to play it.
Do you have any other collaborative projects planned?
Not long ago I finished a collaborative album with Mike Bjella (GOG) for Utech Records. That will be out next year. I’m currently working with Jenks Miller (Horseback) on an album. Looming on the horizon is a collaborative album with Aaron Turner [Mamiffer, House of Low Culture, Isis, etc.] and an album with Steven Hess [On, Ural Umbo, Pan American, etc.]. If time allows there’s an album with Xela to work on as well. In the midst of all of this I’m in the process of working on my second solo album for Type.
A friend recently recommended Horseback’s The Invisible Mountain and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since. That should be a great project. When you dream about collaborations, who are you working with?
Right now I’m just focusing on all of the projects I just mentioned. There’s plenty of work to be done. I’m grateful to be working with all of these people and also with the labels that have been supportive of my music. We’ll have to wait and see what happens but I hope I can continue to work with artists of this caliber in the future.
So your dreams are real?
A candy-colored clown they call the sandman tiptoes to my room every night.
Interview: William Fowler Collins (2008)
There is nothing like driving across the country. Although it might sound a bit antisocial, I prefer to go it alone. There are no distractions, and nothing to stop you from completely losing yourself in your surroundings. Out of sheer desire (I assure you it is not boredom) you are compelled by unknown forces to try unusual new things and do what you would ordinarily choose not to do. I strayed from the beaten path whenever possible. I was constantly observing, listening to, and recording my constantly changing environment.
Upon returning home after a long rip, all I want to do was leave again and find a new place to explore. I constantly search for things to take me back to the places I have visited — a familiar face, a unique sound, or a hint of sky that I swear I have seen before. In the company of friends I find myself repeating stories so as not to forget them. Sometimes I even sit awake at night and run through the thousands of pictures I’ve taken on the road in order to to force me into remembering how joyous those times were.
One night last year I was sitting in my bedroom reading the Aquarius Records “New Arrivals” list, and I came across an album review that instantly stuck with me. The artist was William Fowler Collins, and the album Western Violence & Brief Sensuality. The staff at AQ described it as a man “exploring the paradoxical perspective of [New Mexico] through experimental guitar compositions”. I was sold. I purchased the CD and awaited the opportunity to close my eyes and recall New Mexico’s landscape. The vast mountains, horizontal strata and endless sky still felt fresh in my memory. I was not disappointed. Collins not only documented the intrinsic beauty of “The Land of Enchantment”, his recording inspired reflection. I found myself enjoying it most during long drives and late nights. I made sure to include it on my “Best Albums Of 2007″ list (#52). Shortly after that list was made I awoke to find an e-mail from none other than William Fowler Collins. He thanked me for including his album on my year-end list, and wished me a happy 2008.
Since then, we’ve e-mailed one another with some regularity. William drops the occasional nugget of information following certain blog posts, like how he’s shared a rehearsal space with Om in San Francisco, or detailing his thoughts on Boris and Sunn O))). In turn, I respond with thinly veiled threats to interview him. Not having conducted an interview in almost two years, I worried he might agree to one. Of course he agreed. For the past month, we have written back-and-forth about about life, New Mexico, and Western Violence & Brief Sensuality. Enjoy!
Tell me a little about yourself.
“I grew up in Western Massachusetts. Mostly Bernardston, with a few years in Greenfield and a little time in Ashfield. Small towns. I was listening to music from a very early age. The first album I purchased, at age 6, was AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock. I listened to a lot of classic rock and then around age 14, which is when I got a guitar, I expanded into other areas such as punk, hardcore, metal…From Ashfield I moved to San Francisco and lived there for 14 years. I attended the San Francisco Art Institute and, later, Mills College. I moved to Albuquerque with my wife in the summer of 2006 because we were both offered jobs at the University Of New Mexico and we were ready to leave San Francisco. Now I work as a Designer, primarily for web-based projects. “
What were your first impressions of New Mexico after moving from San Francisco? was it an easy transition?
“Definite culture shock. It would be impossible to avoid that, coming from 14 years in a major metropolitan area into a city that feels like more of a town. We miss some friends and the excellent food in San Francisco, but not too much else. Our quality of life is better here in that we could afford to buy a house, we can actually park our car when we go out, and there is no traffic. Not to mention being able to walk to a national forest within minutes.”
Before you recorded Western Violence you played in Mire. Can you expand upon the sound, and how it might have related to what you do now?
“Mire was a band started with friends also attending grad school at Mills College. We had a pedal steel player, a laptop musician, and a drummer. I played electric guitar. Basically it covered noise, free improvisation, country, more noise… It was instrumental and pretty cinematic overall. Initially I was also doing electronics but switched over to guitar. It isn’t too foreign from what I am doing now, but obviously there was the input from 3 other players and, aside from the simmering collaborations I have going, I am mostly a solo act these days.”
Yours is certainly a unique sound. Are there other Albuquerque musicians or regional musicians you consider yourself to be closely aligned with, from either an ideological or an artistic standpoint?
“I’ve been working a side project called Heavywater with a musician here, Jim Roeber. That is both electronic and instrumental improvisation. Raven Chacon is another musician I’ve played on bills with and hope to work with. Mark Ray Lewis has a band called Trilobite and I’ve worked on his latest album. There’s also Mike Bjella, a guy who runs the Sounds of Battle and Souvenir Collecting label in Phoenix. I’m working on the early stages of a collaboration with him. The Brightblack Morning Light, who I met in California through mutual friend Colm O’Ciosoig [drummer, My Bloody Valentine], live here in New Mexico now as well. I toured a little with them last year. I just met and played with a band called the Silver Pines who are based just outside Austin, TX. I’m planning to head to Austin to do a show with them at some point. I guess what drew me to all these people is a general interest in similar types of music and a respect for their musicianship. I am fortunate to have friends such as these, especially having come into a brand new environment. I’d say that there are similarities [ideologically, musically] with some of the artists and myself, but we all have our voices.”
What about how the press (if at all) understands you and your compatriots? By most standards (The Shins aside) Albuquerque is not a city that is commonly cited as a hotbed for underground music. Do the locals recognize the great music (or any “underground” art) being made in their community?
“Thus far, the press has been very kind to me. I think locally they tend to label anything outside the mainstream as ‘noise’, without realizing that noise has become a whole genre unto itself. There is a good, active community here, and there are some some supportive art spaces, and a venue called the Peace & Justice Center where shows can be put on. Basically, almost nobody comes through Albuquerque on tour in the rock scene, but underground bands will come through. It is nice to have some venues to play that are outside the rock club scene, where generally people are there to get drunk and be entertained by the headliner act. The crowds that I’ve played for here have been fantastic. They actually listen instead of yammer away through everyone’s sets.”
How has everything you’ve already written about, the city, its inhabitants and its surroundings, influenced you
“New Mexico has some breathtaking beauty. There is obviously an intense, vast desert element as well as beautiful wilderness. There are volcanoes, mesas, mountains. The sky is much more prominent here than in any other place that I’ve lived. It is consuming and almost hypnotizing. I’m not sure how this influences things directly, but it perhaps it has something to with the fact that I think of my musical pieces as emerging from – and existing in – an expansive field of sound.”
I remember driving into Albuquerque for the first time on I-40, and it’s kind of this downhill, slow approach where you are surrounded by mountains on both sides and a big beautiful blue sky above…there are houses and neighborhoods springing up from the foothills of all those mountains, it was unlike any other city I’ve ever seen. Then I had the opportunity to walk around and experience the rich culture of the city, which draws from colonial Spanish settlers. Does any of the cultural history influence you? Or is it more just the openness and breathtaking natural beauty of the area?
“I’d say the natural beauty is more of an influence. The foothills of the Sandia Mountains, where I live, are great to hike through. There’s a lot of sound coming from the wildlife there – coyotes, birds, insects. I feel fortunate to have a national forest in my backyard, basically. I just drove from Albuquerque, through Jemez and Los Alamos to Taos. That’s an amazing drive, you pass through canyons and by the caldera along the way. I visited the Tas Pueblo and got a big drum made from cottonwood and elk hide. I’ve also gone down to the Trinity site when its open to the public and that place is intense for obvious reasons (site of the first atomic bomb detonation). It is a striking place, visually, and there’s a huge amount of history here in New Mexico.”
I remember the White Sands Missile Range is out there in the middle of the state. The last time I was in Albuquerque (Summer ’07) I wanted to visit but had no idea where to begin or even if there was an entrance. What other natural elements have influenced your music?
“Driving into Taos is pretty amazing, and the drive up through Jemez and the Caldera is beautiful. We’re heading to White Sands this summer to check that out. I’ll also visit Carlsbad and the caverns there, Roswell…probably the lightning fields and the Very Large Array. Those will all likely leave an impact. I’ve been busy since arriving here, so this summer will really be a time to explore New Mexico. I just got a portable digital recorder so I’ll definitely be heading up into the foothills to record.”
Many of the songs on the album are reminiscent of field recordings. Have you used any of those natural sounds, the animalistic ones you mentioned earlier, in your compositions, or is guitar the only element?
“It is somewhat intentional. There are some actual field recordings used in one of the tracks, “Untitled Dream 1″, and throughout the album, I’d say there are sounds that, to me, can suggest things such as bombs exploding, machine gun fire, insects, air raid sirens… I used recordings I made in the city. Bus stations, walks though the city, hanging the mic out the window to capture street sounds. I don’t live in an urban setting now, so I will be able to capture a whole different environment. Then I think I’ll either process those recordings or simply layer them, unprocessed, when I edit and mix. The guitar is very central to the work, but there are other electronic elements that I created on the computer with an audio synthesis software program called SuperCollider. I would also take recordings of guitar and process these using the same program. “Evening” is actually a recording of a live performance.”
How do live performances differ from your recorded output? I imagine it would be somewhat difficult to replicate certain pieces in a live setting.
“They are different depending upon the setting. For a show I did with Ikue Mori in Brooklyn at Issue Project Room last year I used both laptop and electric guitar. I used some of the material from the CD, so pieces were loosely recreated. I designed that set to begin with electronics (laptop, effects pedals) and then finished with electric guitar (with cello bow, micro-cassette recorder, etc.). Lately I have just been doing solo electric guitar live. Basically it is improvised, but I map my sets to have some overall form. It also incorporates micro-cassette-recorder (played through the guitar, similar to track “Evening” from the CD), Tibetan singing bowl (also played through the guitar, actually), and I bow it using a cello bow.”
Was the process of recording process of Western… ever compromised by outside forces? How long did it take?
“I began recording it in San Francisco around 2005 and finished recording and mixing it here in New Mexico by the end of 2006. It was ready and released in March 2007. No perils, I love the entire process.”
Do you have plans for a follow-up? What direction do you see yourself taking after such a self-reflective and regionally-influenced album like Western…?
“At least one follow-up is well underway, and there will possibly be material for a second as well. As I mentioned I also have some collaborations that are progressing. I think the new material is different, but probably not a dramatic departure. Guitar and field recordings will possibly play a bigger role though it is hard to tell at this point. I’ve also been experimenting with some percussive elements. A lot of pieces take shape in the mixing stage, so there is a big unknown to explore.”
Western Violence & Brief Sensuality is available on CD at Aquarius, iTunes, and/or William’s Website: www.williamfowlercollins.com. William was also kind enough to donate a copy of the CD to this website for a contest or giveaway, so please leave a comment or send e-mail me telling me which state (US residents only) has the most natural beauty. I’ll pull one at random to be the winner.
Listen to “Foothills’ Ghost” [courtesy of William's website] - www.swanfungus.com/