ritual interview

daring is an art. the unforeseeability is an alluring weapon. these must be familiar quotations to maurizio blanco and boris may, stage name klangstabil. while from a formal point of view the monicker represents a linguistic meaningful pastiche consisting of two opposite couples of significance (klang/angst could be referred to chaos, stabil/abil order and perfection), in the contents it reflects the many-sided antinomic inputs wich wind and revive in a new molecular shape. in the privileged position of a kind of self-isolation, sperimentation characterizes the italo-german duo since 1994, with a series of releases linked together by an extreme, continuous, creative and avant-gardiste research wich explores the essence of paranoical pixelled sounds (‘gioco bambino’, 2000, is entirely realized thanks to game boy), the minimal electronica covered with sidereal and softened waves in ‘kantorka’, and the feral industrial power noise in ‘menschenhass’ and ‘sieg der monochronisten’. today the range of possibilities enriches by a new pearl, exemplary model of maturity on hymen records: ‘taking nothing seriously’ is a whirl that ravishes and astonishes with its antithetic and complementary levels, with its soft whispers talking about despair and insanity in the unexpected noisy rushes, with its fragile caresses of intimist “dark songs” crumbled by the overload, which take gently the flesh off by the soul with idm segments, crystallized in lo-fi surfaces. added to the essencial bursting emotions, is added a thick philosophical apparatus, where the concept of “nothing” acquires several subjective meanings. but let maurizio, a nice and talkative person, talk about the new album...

“klangstabil” contains several semantic elements mixed together and hidden in a kind of linguistic crossfade: klang (noise), angst (fear), stabil and abil. they provide a strange climax, like two opposite couples of meaning: klang/angst (=chaos) vs stabil/abil (=perfection). it could be also referred to your releases, where you have always experimented the power of industrial noise and the relative calm of electro. beyond the strict hint to music, is there any particular extra-musical meaning under this monicker?

finding the name „klangstabil“ was more a matter of chance than plan. we never saw it either as part of a specific musical direction. that we’re “klangstabil” in the meantime has taken on the character of a law. it means we have to keep moving in order to keep a certain state of mind alive. “klangstabil” is a sort of calling. a question that has to be answered anew. what is “klangstabil”?

you, maurizio, are italian. looking to italy from a “german” point of view, which are in your opinion the positive and negative elements of the italian electronic music scene nowadays? as a label boss, would you give any advice to italian musicians? do you have any relationships with them?

i’m not too familiar with the e-scene in italy. generally i would advise all artists to find their own musical language so that something new can develop. up ‘till now we’ve only had contact with maurizio landini a.k.a. typhoid who appears with a track on a mhz-tape. i’d also like to say that mhz isn’t purely an electronic label because we’re open for all forms of music. for us there are only two sorts of music: good and bad.

you have composed two whole releases thanks to game boy camera, a “vintage” tool, we may say. why is game boy so fascinating? and what about the modern video games? do you think modern video games provide the same creative power or could they stop creativity?

nowadays it’s hardly possible to keep up with all the possibilities of modern music production. sometimes it’s a good idea just to reduce those possibilities so that the real musicality can shine through. the gb was a challenge for us, with just such reduced means, to produce an album. eventually an album and an ep came out of it. we like working with concepts in order to find direction. here the concept was to concentrate on the gameboy. but it doesn’t matter how the music is made, and luckily the possibilities are endless. i think the gameboy was also interesting because it has its own sound character. when one thinks of the high sound quality of modern consoles, then the stimulus for experimentation dies because one can just climb on board the musical software of “reason” or “abelton live”.

experimentation is really important for you, if we think to the manipulation of sound, the aesthetic output of some releases of yours, the modifications of sound waves, feedbacks, the use of analogical and digital tools. you really enjoy yourself and i think “extreme experimentation” and “game” are really important for you. are they synonymous?

right. it’s irrelevant whether one calls it experimentation or play, because in both cases one learns how to deal with something, to use it, and to improve one’s own capabilities. when we make music we have a practically childish joy in it and we learn to handle music differently, without notes, without rules.

i think the new album contains a subtle and fine sense of irony: we should “take nothing seriously”, but at the same time we can listen to the wonderful melodies trapped in suffering saturation and despairing vocals. in other words, the work is really thoughtful and mature. could we consider this opposition just as a representation of the multi-coloured inner nature of life, an ironic approach to life, where each event can have a particular, subjective and relative meaning or both of them?

the point is to take „nothing“ seriously, because it’s there just like everything else. when one has understood this then life becomes more complicated and yet simpler at the same time. in other words one begins to get the feeling for what one will, what’s important and what’s not, and that one will never achieve it anyway. for example in the title “between” which is about a former girlfriend of mine. i love her a lot and would love to be with her or allow myself to think of my being with my vision of her, that we could be together and this thought/wish is very simple, and the complicated thing is the certainty that this relationship will never happen. this certainty can make one sad and ill. one closes oneself off against others, loses one’s self-confidence up to the point of giving up completely, and one becomes very conscious of “nothing”. in the final analysis everything is lost, everything one fought for is gone and one stands alone, empty and unable to take one step forward or reach a decision about anything. with, “push yourself” i’ve tried to construct a handbook on how to put ones self back together again, so that one can pull oneself out of this „nothing“, so that one can walk upright again and from time to time it works. i don’t want to turn into an emotional cripple, to manage a cynical grin about my own fossilisation. i want to find my human humour, my sense of proportion, and to be able to listen to my dreams, which tell me what i really need and if i fail to follow them, then they will follow me.

the grindcore final episode of „a difference that’s for all to see“ seems to tell us “don’t take it seriously!”. was it your aim?

antipodes! the construction of alasdair’s text is formal, a fast rigid sequence of quadruplets, the most formally structured text in the whole project. the music went through a lot of changes during the recording phase, but nothing seemed to fit, nothing seemed to work. in the end, we stopped taking it seriously, and gave it, in a single energetic grindcore rush, a sort of polarity treatment.

i think „away’, „push yourself“ and „reason to live“ are linked by a strong logical and aesthetic connection, made up of visionary soundscapes, simply moving harmonic solutions and melancholy, like paintings representing sunsets full of violent or soft colours, like sensual images of w/b films or scented dreams. i have noticed a certain relation with the great music of gridlock (especially in the wonderful idm visions of „reason to live“), for example…

it’s good that the aesthetic connection between the pieces is understood through the order in which they appear. we spent a lot of thought as to the order of the pieces, as to how the album as a whole, as a dramaturgically complete work could be most effective. the three tracks you mention were written at completely different times, up to four years apart. “reason to live” came at the end when we felt that we needed an extra track on the cd version as a bridge between “push yourself” and “kill all lifeforms”. we wanted a pause, a calm before the storm, a slower, deeper taking of breath before the final crescendo.

why did you want to include „gloomy day“, which was just appeared in „daruma“? the lyrics seem to be an unsolved or turned declaration of love…

one has the possibility on samplers, out of context and without any real costs, to draw attention to one’s album. however, the track “gloomy day” comes from the time of “kopfmusik”, and at the release of “daruma” we had no concept for a new album. at that point we recognised the new direction that the track had taken and then recorded it again, but this time using “direct talkin´ lyrics”. the message in the text also developed. this track is the forerunner of the “direct talkin´ lyrics”- concept and of “taking nothing seriously”.

the text is about the observation of a young woman, when one’s rose-tinted spectacles, one’s infatuation is losing its power, and when one begins to realise with whom one has, in reality, to do with. it becomes clear that one has taken part in a neurotic game, where each particle of attention is misused to maintain her ego projection. it describes how one escapes the game by winning an inner distance to it.

although the linking thread among your releases (experimentation, minimalism, the destroying power of noise…) i think your new album differs from them, as it is much more “complete”, complex and multi-layered, with the addition of the lyrics, too. i know intelligent artists (and so you are) always tend to renew themselves in the time. anyway, in your opinion, where did this change (or “passage”) originate from? why did you decide to add lyrics in your latest release and what is the main concept they convey? who is responsible for the lyrics?

we’ve always tried to keep it simple. everything we produce found it’s development within us, and we copy nothing. that which one hears on “taking nothing seriously” developed, slowly, step by step, and it contains everything, the albums, that went before as well as a lot that’s new. as for example the texts. it took a long time for us, because of our great respect, to find the self-confidence to work with texts, because it is an art form in itself to create texts that have the quality to stand on their own. we often used in our tracks word-samples or speech elements, but we never consciously created texts until we started having fun with it and took it from there. all the lyrics, apart from “away” and “a difference that´s for all to see” are ours. the text passages on “away” are excerpted from a radio feature by ulrich raschke, a member of the “frankfurt school“ who sadly died a few years ago. whilst he still lived we made an archive on magnetic tape of his oeuvre. he really helped us a lot. alasdair macaulay wrote, “a difference that´s for all to see”, and together with him we transposed the other lyrics into english. he and gisela macaulay have been a source of inspiration and knowledge for us with their unusually broad command of philosophy and lyric and the critical faculty that asks the relevant question that makes a text better, truer. with the texts we’ve developed the “direct talkin´ lyrics”-concept to carry emotions to the hearer as directly as possible. we’ve given the voice a new “weight” insofar as we’ve left them nearly completely unchanged and the texts, as far as possible, recorded in one take in order to transport the heightening of the rage, the confrontation with the emotion that springs out of the spoken word, to convey the exhaustion of the energies- and one allows the hearer to partake of the whole. the interpretation of the text contradicts somewhat the “direct talkin´ lyrics”-concept, while the spontaneity is lost, but the testimony of the text is amplified. the texts have made klangstabil understandable.

“nothingness” is a linguistic paradox. if each word contains a linguistic signifier and a significance, the word “nothingness” is necessarily “something” which exists just like the opposite of “something”. it exists as we can pronounce it. you probably agree, as you believe in a value-void where “nothing” can acquire new possibilities of meaning. anyway, nowadays, i believe people tend to refer to the “negative” acceptation of the term “nothing”. what do you think about it? is there a particular meaning you would give to this “void”? how would you fill it?

i cannot honestly say that i have a fixed opinion about „nothing“. there are two basic possibilities. the first: it doesn’t matter what one does, everything is worthless and behind us and before there is nothing. secondly: enjoy your life for it’s own sake, because behind us and before us is nothing. nothing makes no sense. it makes no sense, even though we humans are always looking for sense, and in suppressing nothing we find belief, and believe rather in god, reincarnation and life after death or any shit you care to mention. during the time that i’ve been busy with “nothing” my possessions began to irritate me more and more. i started to ask myself about the use of all this stuff and so i sold lots on e-bay or simply gave it away. a lot of things became worthless for me. now i have a laptop, a keyboard, my clothes and a few very private things that are bound up with my identity, and apart from that, “nothing”. this type of non-materialism has made me freer, maybe more flexible, but just occasionally i think that i’ve lost a lot of myself in the process. as i said, when one becomes aware of “nothing”, then you quickly start to ask yourself what’s important and what’ s not, until only “nothing” remains.

in „a difference that’s for all to see“ you say: “art, it leaves artist cold”. are you talking about the feelings of the artist after his carrying out the artistic product or idea?

yes, i’m sure this is what alasdair means, that there is a real point in a creative process, maybe its actually the point at which one knows that the process has reached it’s conclusion, when the work of art, whatever it is, simply leaves the artist „cold“. whatever is said about the work afterwards, by the art industry, leaves the artist cold. when every one else says, „this is a work of art“, then the artist loses interest.

i think irony is becoming really an important element in the electronic scene. for example, at wgt 2004, during the last day dedicated to industrial noise, i noticed artists were trying to joke, enjoy themselves, even with the help of playful and amusing devices. it’s like if musicians would like to leave that mask of “seriousness” which has always covered the “elitist” worlds. do you feel the same? and what would be the reason?

maybe they no longer take themselves so seriously? your description of those artists sounds as if they have difficulties in just being themselves and their jokiness like hard work. unfortunately, i know nearly nothing about other bands and projects and so i can only speak for us and that when we’re angry we let that anger out and when we’re having fun, we laugh. that’s the way it‘s always been with us. we wear no masks.

are you collaborating with other artists at the moment?

there is a small circle of artists and thinkers with whom we have regular contact and with whom we work. especially with alasdair macaulay and thorben wendt-nordhal from diorama with whom we exchange a lot of ideas.

why do you want to "kill all likfeforms?

sometimes, on a bad day, one would like to bring to an end to the foolishness of our world. but only on bad days.