Hunter-Gatherer & Angkorwat: the DEAF 2009 Irish Interest


Posted October 23, 2009 in Clubbing Features

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With the main draws of the DEAF 2009 line-up focused very much on the pioneers of the past, the glut of lesser-known acts can get lost in the tiny 6-point font line-up. Of the current burgeoning underground experimental set in Dublin from which Patrick Kelleher’s You Look Cold emerged from earlier this year, two acts exhibit a particular potency.

Huddled under a sheet, lit by a green lamp and a laptop backlight, Hunter-Gatherer’s live sets demand a ninja-like focus. Utilizing mid-90s Warp beats his songs journey from the ambient to the ecstatic, conjuring up textures that vary from cashmere blanket to frost-covered park grass. Equal parts expressive and obscure, Hunter-Gatherer’s many layers are worth unwrapping to get to the core motive within.

What do you think of the current state of Irish electronica and experimental music?

Irish electronica’s had a great decade. There have been so many great electronic releases in this country over the past few years, like Manta’s “Head Movement” EP, Spectac’s “Rabbid”, Herv’s “Snap Hands”, Sunken Foal’s “Fallen Arches”, the list goes on. I know I’ll never be on such a list, but it’s inspiring to know that there’s still a wealth of talent here. The Skinny Wolves and Box Social crowds have gathered a host of talented experimental artists around them, any of whom can hold their own with international acts. When you look at labels like Kaboogie!, Frontend Synthetics, Osaka, Acroplane and Psychonavigation, it’s plain to see that there’s a very healthy scene there.

You’ve been to the future in a Delorean – what does the music sound like?

Someone will eventually try to synthesise synaesthesia. If it works, it’ll be called Synthaesthesia. I’ll receive royalties every time the term is used. I don’t know – if I was gifted with the knowledge of how music sounded like in the future, not only would I be talking about the past, but I’d have to impose limitations on my own creative output in order to avoid influencing the course of history. Music has to evolve in various ways in order to arrive at some future state where a paradigm shift has rendered successive musical genres outdated. If we knew where we were headed, we’d simply take a shortcut and speed up the process of musical evolution. Put it this way: if the future is intercontinental improv sessions of virtual bassoon and bullet-drum percussion workshops, I’d feel like we haven’t gotten very far, or at the very least, we’ll have taken a few wrong turns.

What are the ultimate goals of your music?

Not sure. Catharsis. Re-opening, cataloguing and/or magnifying old wounds. Connecting with something to whch language may not satisfactorily cater. Reconstructing nightmares. Amplifying dread. Probably failing spectacularly. Ownership over your own ideas, once they’ve been reinterpreted by others, is a grey area. It’s all relative, and there’s little point in tying yourself in knots worrying about whether or not listeners will view the work in the same way as you. What’s important is that it really meant something to you when it was being made and that it left an imprint.

What are the merits of making your music on laptops rather than perceived ‘live’ instruments?

It’s just one way of working. When I perform live I tend to expand the sound with processed, wordless vocals, circuit bent keyboards and so on; live instruments and software stimulate the musician in different ways, but it’s important to go with whatever’s right for that particular track or album. MIDI keyboards, MPCs and those ridiculous Eigenharps have blurred the lines between what’s virtual and what’s real. It’s pointless discussing it, really – music is music. And most music is electronic now.

Any other acts on the DEAF billing are you looking forward to?

Of course. Plaid, Clark, Exile, Mountains, Angkorwat, Naphta, Children Under Hoof, Rob Hall, Legion Of Two, Sunken Foal, Grouper, Lakker, Beardyman, Ulrich Schnauss, E+S=B, Roger Doyle, Thread Pulls, Surgeon; I could go on…

Hunter-Gatherer plays with Spilly Walker at Filmbase from 8pm on the 24th October. His album I Dreamed I Was A Footstep In The Trail Of A Murderer is due in late November 2009.


You wouldn’t trust Angkorwat if you ran into her on a dark night. All eerily-filtered vocals and menacing synth melodies, the overall effect of her music is an unsettling, keep-watching-over-you-shoulders sensation you mightn’t shake for days afterwards. Already earning the deserved attention of Wire magazine and producing her debut album with David Kitt, Angkorwat has more potential than you’ve had Monday morning headaches.

What do you think of the current state of Irish electronica and experimental music?

It was good to see the quality and quantity of artists on this year’s DEAF compilation – it shows that things are going on. I’m a big fan of the Box Social collective, too. Lately I’ve been seeing perhaps two Irish underground bands per week. Also, a few all-ages venues are popping up without bars, which is great because that gig/alcohol combination isn’t something I like. My problem is that there aren’t enough women making these types of music, or putting themselves out there if they are.

You’ve been to the future in a Delorean – what does the music sound like?

I never think about that. Electronic musicians aren’t always concerned with ideas of the future or time in general – my music definitely isn’t. And I’d not be caught dead in a Delorean!

What are the ultimate goals of your music?

Goals change depending on the project I’m working on. I approach music-making in a pretty instinctual way so I rarely sit down to think about the reasons why I do it, which is something that shows up in the music itself I think (in both positive and negative ways). That’s the way I like it. I love the work of a lot of very cerebral, techie musicians but to approach it that way myself would suck all the joy out of it. I’m more concerned with the need to make/listen to music rather than to master a machine.

What are the merits of making your music on laptops rather than perceived ‘live’ instruments?

I began writing songs only because my laptop had Garageband pre-installed, so it was a very cheap and convenient way of starting out. With a computer there’s no need to look for bandmates or hire rehearsal space, which I can’t afford to do. I find it fascinating that you can create a very personal, intimate sound out of something as relatively limited as Garageband instruments. I’ve been using or sampling lots of live instruments recently, though. I don’t stand firmly in either camp.

Any other acts on the DEAF billing are you looking forward to?

Grouper, Children Under Hoof, Bibio, Tim Exile, Ulrich Schnauss.

Angkorwat plays with Children Under Hoof and Kevin Blake at 3pm on the 24th October at Filmbase.

http://www.myspace.com/angkorwatwat

 

All images by Cait Fahey

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