SPECIAL UNSOUND COMMISSION
BIOSPHERE (NORWAY) and LUSTMORD (USA) present TRINITY (World Debut) with visuals by MFO (GERMANY)
WHEN: SATURDAY APRIL 21st 2012
WHAT: UNSOUND FESTIVAL NEW YORK - TRANSGRESSION
Presented by Unsound Festival New York with The Blackened Music Series
Unsound Festival New York 2012 is presented by Fundacja Tone, the Polish Cultural Institute New York and the Goethe‐Institut New York
Using the festival model as a tool to help create new work is one of the things that interests Unsound Festival both in their original home of Kraków, Poland and here in New York, and as such they’ve commissioned several projects, many of them large scale and high concept.
So far each year of Unsound Festival New York has featured a specially commissioned project. In 2010, it was Carl Craig who presented a brand new soundtrack to Andy Warhol’s film “Blow Job.” In 2011, it was “We don’t need other worlds. We need Mirrors – Music for SOLARIS” a re-imagined soundtrack by Ben Frost, Daníel Bjarnason and Sinfonietta Cracovia with visuals from Brian Eno and Nick Robertson. This year two artists with close ties to Unsound will perform a new composition TRINITY for the first time.
Lustmord and Biosphere come from different worlds – Lustmord having emerged with the industrial music scene of the early 80s and Biosphere emerging with the Techno scene of the early 90s. However both have evolved their music into distinctly unique styles. Both have also been heavily involved in creating sound-design and soundtracks – most notably for The Crow (Lustmord) and Insomnia (Biosphere).
The two met socially when Lustmord made his first European appearance at Unsound Festival Kraków in Poland in 2010. (Biosphere actually liked Kraków so much that he was living there at the time.) The idea for this project first started to germinate in 2011 when Mat Schulz, Unsound’s founder, was traveling in the Colorado/New Mexico area. Lustmord mentioned some places in the area related to the Atomic bomb that he should visit. This awareness of Lustmord’s interest in the subject, coupled with a desire to create a project with an American focus especially for this New York edition of Unsound, created the initial basis for this unique commission.
Schulz recalls “Los Alamos made me think how rich and pertinent the story of the development of nuclear testing is - it reveals how much we’re capable of as human beings, yet this comes with a very dark side. The landscape around that place is deep and full of mystery. It seemed like a great place to connect with some kind of project. And strangely enough, though Chernobyl in Ukraine has been mined in terms of a reference point for many contemporary art works dealing with nuclear power, including sound art, Los Alamos and the New Mexico testing sites don’t seem to have been addressed much in this kind of context.“
Boulder’s Communikey Festival became a partner in the commission, helping to bring it into practical reality. The Royal Norwegian Consulate of New York and San Francisco gave their financial support.
Thus the idea for TRINITY was born - TRINITY being the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device at White Sands Proving Grounds. Lustmord and Biosphere recently visited the site and other locations in preparation for the project.
Lustmord notes that the “name holds connotations with Christian doctrine and also applies to undercurrents in the project in particular Alpha & Omega vs Oppenheimer’s Shiva.” Adding “Everything changed on that day on July 16, 1945. For the first time we had the capability to totally destroy ourselves and the world we live in. We have lived in its shadow and have been feeling its resonance ever since.
The project isn’t just about the making and detonating of the first nuclear device, but is also about the mindset that bought it about and the beauty and the horror of its existence and its deployment.”
The project also intersects with the themes of Biosphere’s last album, N-Plants, inspired by post-war Japan and in particular nuclear power plants.
Quite what TRINITY will sound like and how it will be presented remains to be revealed, as Lustmord and Biosphere will be developing the project right up until this debut performance.
Lustmord and Biosphere are also fully involved in the development of visuals for TRINITY, which will include footage shot especially by filmmaker Matthew Betlej in New Mexico along with archival materials of nuclear weapon tests. These raw materials will be assembled into a visual presentation by Berlin-based video artist MFO, who has already worked with the likes of Kode9, Shackleton, Oni Ayhun and more.
Lustmord is the dark ambient / industrial musical project of Los Angeles-based musician and sound designer Brian Williams. He has been known to utilize ultra-low frequencies – infrasound (i.e. below 20Hz, known to cause feelings of awe or fear). Lustmord has also frequently extracted field recordings (made in crypts, caves & slaughterhouses), and occasionally combined these with ritual incantations, Tibetan horns & other acoustic phenomena treatments – often encased in expanded bass rumbles. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Lustmord project and to celebrate Williams will be performing his second-ever live performance in North American. His previous show was in Los Angeles in 2006 at a private event. Note - that first show was for the Church of Satan, done, says Lustmord “for the ‘Spinal Tap’ aspect of it all” not because he actually believed in their beliefs – “but some seem to think I’m actually into that nonsense and the press always ask about it so much so it’s gotten rather boring.” This special New York show follows his second-ever live performance (worldwide) as Lustmord in October 2010 at Unsound Festival in Krakow, and his solo show at Unsound Festival New York 2011.
Williams started the Lustmord project in January 1980 following encouragement and support to do so from members of Throbbing Gristle and SPK. Surprisingly for a project that has seen Williams only perform live twice in the past thirty years, the project actually started with a series of now-legendary live performances conducted in 1980-81 as unofficial and unannounced “support” for various name headline acts. Williams recalls that these unbilled California events usually ended “with chaotic and/or violent conclusions (Happy days).” He also recalls using “diverse recording sources such as caves, crypts, catacombs, car crashes and cosmological activity” as the roots of his music. Williams released the first of his many solo albums ‘Lustmord’ on Sterile Records in 1981. Since then he has released over 17 albums.
In the 1980’s, Williams was a member of SPK, one of the most influential groups of the original industrial genre. From 1985 until 1999, he owned and managed the label, Side Effects releasing albums from SPK, Laibach and others. In the late 1980’s he also acted as a consultant for Mute Records, assisting in the establishment of their subsidiary label The Grey Area and overseeing releases by Throbbing Gristle, SPK and Monte Cazazza. Williams has worked as a freelance Sound Designer since 1993 and his credits include numerous films, games and commercials including “The Crow,” “ Underworld,” and sound design on games like “Unreal Tournament III” and “Assassin’s Creed.” The Lustmord album Heresy gave birth to the genre known as “Dark Ambient”. Lustmord has collaborated with Tool, The Melvins, Clock DVA, Robert Rich and Chris & Cosey. At Unsound Festival New York he presented his first-ever solo show in New York. This year he returns to present for the first time a special new project with Biosphere.
Born in 1962 in Tromsø, a city within the Arctic Circle in the northernmost portion of Norway, Geir Jenssen has become famous for his “arctic sound”.
He was initially inspired by the music of artists such as New Order, Depeche Mode, Wire, and Brian Eno, which he described as “like discovering a new universe—a universe which I wanted to be a part of”. (In fact earlier this year he covered New Order’s classic “Blue Monday” for a CD given away by Mojo Magazine.)
In the early 80s Jenssen made music both solo under the moniker Bleep and with the band Bel Canto. By the early 90s he took a new direction with his first Biosphere 12” The Fairy Tale and first album Microgravity released by Norwegian label Origo Sound in 1991 and then reissued to wider acclaim in 1992 via R&S Records subsidiary Apollo in 1992. This debut album was linked closely to then emerging Ambient / Ambient House scenes.
Patashnik (allegedly Russian for “traveler” or “goner”) followed in 1994 exploring Ambient House styling to an even greater extent. Levi’s licensed the up-tempo track “Novelty Waves” from Patashnik for a popular campaign. This led Jenssen to question this kind of fame and he subsequently turned down various requests by his record company and peers to collaborate with well-known techno and drum ‘n bass artists or to create a follow-up album in the same style.
By his next album in 1997, Jenssen evolved his sound further arriving at what is now seen as his core sound on Substrata, a purely atmospheric ambient album released on Brian Eno’s All Saints Records. This pivotal recording moved him towards an intensely minimal style, and is now not only often listed as Jenssen’s best work but is also seen as one of the all time classic ambient albums.
By 2000, Jenssen found a new long term home on the much respected Touch imprint, releasing the albums Cirque (2000), Shenzhou (2002), Autour de la Lune (2004), Dropsonde (2006) and the live album Wireless: Live at the Arnolfini (2009). These albums expanded and explored sound terrains that have been compared to acts as diverse as Miles Davis and Coil. They show how Biosphere has consistently created work with a crafted approach that has remained free of genre cul de sacs.
In addition to his albums, Jenssen has scored a number of films, including Eternal Stars (1993), Insomnia (1997), “m Schatten (2010) and NOKAS (2010). He has also collaborated with German ambient composer Pete Namlook on two albums as Fires of Ork, and has also worked with Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart and with Bobby Bird of Higher Intelligence Agency.
His post recent albums are the 2011 album N-Plants for Touch which was inspired by the history of nuclear plants in post-war Japan and the just released Compilation 1991-2004 which brings together hard to find tracks taken from various compilation albums for his own Biophon Records.
His first US live performance took place in 2004 in Detroit, and since then he has rarely appeared Stateside. This appearance with Lustmord will be a long overdue return, and his first ever New York show.