četvrtak, 4. listopada 2012.

Rudi Zygadlo - Tragicomedies

Tragicomedies available on Planet Mu Records

Njemački razlomljena espresso-eklezijastička elektronika za japanske Ruse koji vole klasiku.

Muzičar kojeg nadahnjuju Beckett, Bulgakov i Pynchon.

Streaming ovdje.

Rudi Zygadlo interview: "I just keep weaving." An insight into the memories that shaped the Glaswegian producer’s remarkable new album on Planet Mu, ‘Tragicomedies’.
There’s something about Rudi Zygadlo that feels of another century. While the nomad-evoking scarves he wraps round his head when he plays live have no doubt coloured that perception and that magical name certainly helps, it’s ultimately down to the Glasgow producer’s ornate approach to sonic texture and melodic structure. While on his debut album ‘Great Western Laymen’ [Planet Mu, 2010] he wobbled somewhere between dubstep and erratic electronica, not always successfully but always intriguingly, with his new album ‘Tragicomedies’ he has carved out a world with such maturity and intimacy that it is hard to reconcile the two.
On ‘Tragicomedies’, out on Planet Mu on 24th September his melodies unfurl like leaves reaching towards an ever-shifting light source. Songs reveal themselves in acts, rather than any familiar verse/chorus or even build/climax form. Lead single Melpomene, which was Dummy’s song of the week back in June travels through several such acts, a startling metamorphosis that, to our contemporary ears, has the shock of the new yet also seems to speak to some other less structured time.

Moving to Berlin might be the 21st-century artist’s equivalent of 17th-century pilgrims sailing to the future United States. Not as many hand-wringing colonialist issues to tackle, granted, but at this point it's reasonable to expect to find a bar or club in the German capital where one can have a lucid conversation without command of the native language.
You might even find yourself chatting with Rudi Zygadlo, who grew up in the Scottish town of Dumfries and moved to Glasgow before Planet Mu issued his debut album, Great Western Laymen, in 2010. Pushed, albeit awkwardly, into the pigeonholes of dubstep and "bass music", in truth the producer was too eclectic to fit either tag neatly.
Tragicomedies, his second full-length, sees him moving further away again from club sounds – despite settling in a city with probably the most revered rave culture in the world today – and assuming the role of an experimental pop auteur.
For better or worse, Zygadlo's pretty much incapable of playing straight. Kopernikuss, the album's opening track, is a simple and pretty ballad for keyboard and voice – adorned every so often with disarming pitch shifts and time-stretch FX, just because he can.
Vocals, not previously prioritised in his work, feature on every track, and at various points recall Brian Wilson, Bowie in (as it happens) his mid-70s Berlin period, Animal Collective's Panda Bear and sensitive Auto-Tune abusers of the modern age like Drake and James Blake.
Musically, you're likely to hear the gloss of RnB and revamped 80s funk: Timbaland's classic, sparse productions are present in Zygadlo's DNA, while the title track stakes out unlikely territory between DāM-FunK and Radiohead.
The spin put on these forms is very personal, though. Rarely aiming for the dancefloor, results are stilted and mannered during Tragicomedies' weakest moments, and as a whole it will likely prove a divisive album.
Yet there are undeniable hooks on cuts like The Deaf School and another quasi-ballad, On. These 13 songs are a bold leap forward for Zygadlo, and feel like a personal, intimate success. - Noel Gardner


Rudi Zygadlo doesn’t have the best luck. The Dumfries-born musician had a particularly bad run of it a few years back when, while studying Literature and Slavonic studies at Glasgow University, his hallway ceiling rotted and collapsed. Some weeks later there was a dust mite infestation in the kitchen, and then, two days before his first ever solo show, he received a call from his roommate: “Rud, you’d better come home, the flat’s been burgled, your laptop’s been stolen.” All his music was gone. Zygadlo was crestfallen. “I didn’t have much to be proud of on that computer, but at the time it felt like I’d lost my chance,” he says. To salve the pain he and his roommate went to the club night Zygadlo was due to play anyway and duly got trashed. His roommate eventually went home and Zygadlo received another call: “‘Rud, you better come home, the flat’s on fire.’ So I ran home and there were like 20 firemen there. It wasn’t a big fire—I left a towel on the storage heater—so half my room was melted.”
  In a series of unfortunate events, the stolen computer ended up being a fortuitous one. He spent the next few years playing guitar in a band, reading dozens of books and deferring the rest of his degree in order to continue making music in his bedroom, resulting in a deal with venerated UK electronic label Planet Mu. On his debut album, 2010’s Great Western Laymen he fuses far-reaching influences—Zappa (the music, the satire, the politics), classical composers Janáček, Bartók and Schnittke—with schizophrenic synth-psychedelia and bass-heavy tectonics. Though the beats occasionally edge towards a dubstep wobble, any bloodline to that scene is faint. In fact, it’s kind of hard to dance to Zygadlo’s music. “I always feel like it’s a sort of charity dance, like, Aw poor bastard, we better make it look like we’re enjoying ourselves,” he says.
 Bar a few tracks, the controlled maximalism on Zygadlo’s follow-up Tragicomedies sounds even less dancefloor-appropriate. On “Black Rhino” anxious violin seesaws are backed by the sounds of a robot ricocheting around inside a tin garbage can, while “Russian Dolls” layers alien-pop vocals with funked up electro and haunting piano loops. But perhaps the album’s greatest departure is the emergence of intelligible lyrics. Halfway through 2010, when Zygadlo left Glasgow for Berlin, he was nursing a broken heart and thus the opening lyrics of the cinematic “Melpomene”—Meanwhile you’ve fallen in love/ And it hurts me overseas—cuts brutally close to the bone. “Love seems to be the default thing to write about,” says Zygadlo. “It’s quite cringy actually. Even if I’m mumbling along trying to work out what to sing, the default vocabulary is lovey-dovey shit… I guess that’s a subconscious thing that was on my mind a lot of the time.”
 Zygadlo’s misfortune is also fodder for his music. The halting, fragmented lilt of “Tragicomedy” finds him recalling a near-death experience: under the influence of hallucinogens, the 23-year-old had a slight altercation with the window of his ground-floor apartment. “I had to escape my bedroom and chose not to use the door,” he explains, lifting his shirt to reveal two raised oblong scars on his back. A passerby found him curled up and bleeding on the sidewalk and called an ambulance. “I can’t really remember much about it, but being in the hospital and not knowing what was going on and not being able to speak a language, let alone German, was an absolute nightmare. I was just so mortified. It was only a few days later that I thought, shit I really got out of this unscathed.” Perhaps his luck is on the turn. -

Scotland’s Rudi Zygadlo Is On A Different Planet (Mu)!

Scotland’s Rudi Zygadlo Is On A Different Planet (Mu)!

Why Rudi Zygadlo's 'Tragicomedies' is not an ode to Shakespeare.

Words and Interview by James Walsh and Joseph JP Patterson.
Following the release of his Great Western Laymen debut album on Planet Mu, Dumfries-born Rudi Zygadlo uprooted to Berlin for the best part of 18 months. However, rather than immersing himself in all of the electronic dance music that the city has to offer, the Scottish musician drew on other influences – writing the majority of his intriguingly-named follow-up, Tragicomedies, while on Europe’s mainland. Continuing on from where his debut left off – with its literary references, but stripped of its more overriding dubstep elements – his sophomore effort is more evolution than revolution. From speaking with Zygadlo, it would do him a disservice to fall into the trap of trying to make sense of his music by comparing him to artists of a potentially similar ilk.
As an aspiring artist, who did you grow up listening to?
I listened to a lot of Frank Zappa when I was younger. While I still listen to him, I don’t listen as much as I used to. I’m into a lot of classical music at the moment, as well as some lesser known ’80s pop, the likes of Les Ritas Mitsouko and their album, Mark and Robert. I don’t particularly like referring to other artists, as I end up fighting to think of someone to say, and then afterwards, I don’t know if they actually matter in regards to their influence on my own work.
To somebody who has yet to hear it, how would you describe your music?
It depends who’s asking, but I tend to fold up and not try to describe my music. It might be away from things they don’t know about, but I suppose there’s a palette of dubstep – though less with this album – with strong poppy structures, string jangles, piano vamps, but then also a focus on strange modulations and being bass-driven. You could say it’s obscure pop, with jazz and classical elements.
And what inspires your songwriting?
Literature. Writers like Beckett, Bulgakov and Thomas Pynchon. There are a lot of odes to Greek mythology on the new album, and one idea I had for the album was to write a song about each of the nine muses, but it didn’t unfold like that. I suppose I turn to the conventional things, like love and closure – as everybody does – and I enjoy creating pastiches to poppy songs. I’m passionate about making music but when it comes to writing lyrics I just think, ‘Fuck!’ I find they can often be quite cringey, but it’s also a case of drawing on incidents from my life and then constructing them in a way that’s emotive and at the same time makes the listener think deeper about what they’re hearing.
The new album is called Tragicomedies. Where did the name for the album come from, and what’s the meaning behind it?
It may seem like an ode to plays or to Shakespeare, but it’s no specific reference to theatre. It just seemed to be an umbrella term for the content of the album’s lyrics. The writing process is very nostalgic. In looking back on events as I wrote the album, my memories have become compartmentalized into tragedies and comedies. Though, I suppose making sense of the moments when writing lyrics is like creating a dramatization to music.
In what ways does it differ from the last album?
There’s certainly less dubstep on the album and more influence from 20th century music that can be classified under the umbrella of classical minimalist. The electronic and bass feeling is definitely still there, and the sound combined with the lyrics definitely gives it a sense of now.
Did writing in Berlin have any effect on you musically and determine the way the album sounds?
It’s hard to say if living in Berlin for a year and a half had an effect on the music. It doesn’t particularly strike me as a homage to Berlin, though lyrically it does deal with events there. I don’t know if it would differ if I was living elsewhere or back in Scotland, but there was no conscious effort or effect from the city. The first album was all written back in Glasgow, in the space of just 3-4 months. This was a very different process. It was much slower this time and didn’t role off the tongue as easily. I probably used up all of my original ideas on the first album, so I had to search deeper to not revisit themes.
Who do you hope Tragicomedies resonates with and what do you hope people take away from listening to it?
I hope it resonates with everyone, but that’s not going to happen. I think it’s important that people see and listen to art and music beyond that which is trending. It’s not that obscure, really, but people might need to listen to it more than once. I hope people don’t try to categorize it and hear the innovation instead. I’m always disheartened when people compare one artist to another, I just think that it’s important to try and not hear anybody else but see a piece of music on its own merits. I hope people can do that with Tragicomedies.
Finally, what’s the aim over the next few months now that the album is out there?
I’m going to be doing some more writing and we’re looking to tour Tragicomedies. We’ve got a band semi in place, which is sounding pretty good, and we’re playing in London soon. It’s in its fledgling stages and, as with anything, there are obstacles to overcome but we’ll be definitely going ahead with it. I’m very much looking forward to getting out there and playing the songs.

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