Over a year ago we spoke to Russell Haswell at length over the phone for in-depth interview which you can still read here. A couple of days later he teasingly e-mailed us with the tracklist for a “DIY Russell Haswell podcast” featuring all the artists we’d talked about, and plenty more besides.
Ever since then we’ve been trying to harangue him into making that imaginary podcast a reality, and, some 13 months down the line, we’re pleased to say that the boy’s come good, and we’re even more pleased to be able to share his effort with you.
A multi-disciplinary artist of unique standing and sensibility, Haswell grew up and studied in Coventry, before embarking on long periods of living and working in London, United States, Finland and Sweden, during which time he has exhibited visual artwork in such prestigious venues as Sadie Coles HQ, Anthony D’Offay, The Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), TN Probe (Toky0) and Vienna’s Kunsthalle. But of course it’s his dogged, ever more ambitious and pure pursuit of electronic music extremes for which he’s best known.
“I don’t really like one specific genre of music – because they’re all full of a load of shit.”
Over the years he has collaborated with the likes of Aphex Twin, Pan Sonic, Whitehouse and CM von Hausswolff, while he and Austrian sound artist Florian Hecker‘s ongoing work with Iannis Xenakis’s graphic input UPIC Music Composing System has yielded the albums Blackest Ever Black (the first ever electronic release on Warner Classical) and UPIC Warp Tracks, not to mention an acclaimed series of live performances of UPIC-derived material around the world. Haswell has long been preoccupied with “live” in all its meanings, and he has documented his solo performances on the albums Live Salvage, Second Live Salvage and, out this week courtesy of Editions Mego, IN IT: Immersive Live Salvage. IN IT features surround-sound recordings Haswell made of his own sets supporting Autechre on tour last year, and comes on UHJ vinyl (a unique format cut to deliver ambisonic surround sound) + 5.1 DVD [read more about the album here]. Other recent Haswell releases of note include 2010’s No Fun offering Value + Bonus (“a combination between a stereo test CD and a kind of free, live, acid noise improvisation”) and 2008’s Wild Tracks, a terrifyingly vivid foray into field recordings featuring such self-explanatory foot-tappers as ‘A Horde Of Flies Feast On A Rotting Pheasant Carcass (Extract)’.
Haswell’s taste in other people’s music is as singular and uncompromising as you would expect from such a singular and uncompromising artist. Some of you may remember the two ATP club events that he curated in 2005 and 2006, featuring British Murder Boys, Robert Hood, Pita, Earth and Mark Stewart + The Maffia, among others. It’s a revealing selection of acts: whether it’s techno, rock or noise, Haswell is evidently drawn to music that invites, or commands, a visceral, physical response.
“My influences are quite disparate in the sense that I’m picking bits out of this, and bits out of that, and I don’t really like one specific genre of music – because they’re all full of a load of shit.
“There was one classic night that sums [my attitude to music] up: I remember getting the train from Coventry to Edwards No 8 [rock club] in Birmingham, to see Entombed or Confessor, one of these Earache grind metal bands of the time. My old friend Lee Dorian was the singer in Napalm Death and Cathedral, so went to and see these bands that we’re totally brutal, and then got the last train back and went down the Eclipse and see Rhythmatic, or whoever it was on that night. I can’t remember now, it’s a blur.”
The Eclipse, by the way, was an all-night club in Coventry that regularly played host to the emerging stars of UK rave and acid house. Haswell is keen to stress that it wasn’t the DJs who made an impression on him, but the live acts – LFO, Forgemasters, Altern-8, A Guy Called Gerald. “They were something else.”
“I’ve never done a podcast before, so I’ve treated it more like a program, often playing complete tracks, and referencing: cinema, improvisation, live albums, sonic warfare, sound design, music concrete, noise, classic techno, acid and live techno.”
Haswell’s FACT mix reflects his enduring fascination with, and admiration for, live recordings. It opens with jazz pianist Keith Jarrett’s infamous declaration to an audience, “There’s absolutely no need to clap. You just clapped because you felt you should…”, and from there takes in live actions and interventions from Incapacitants, Underground Resistance, Revolting Cocks, Jeff Mills and Haswell himself. Oh, a word about the Haswell track, ‘April 1, 2010, Part 2 (UHJ)’: it’s taken from IN IT, which is in the aforementioned UHJ format. Russell tells us that if you’re that way inclined the track could be cut out of the mix and decoded into a surround setup using the appropriate surround sound processor (like this one) or software.
“I feel like the tracklist of it is half the thing,” says Haswell of FACT mix 236. “It isn’t a DJ mix…it’s a selection. I’ve never done a podcast before, so I’ve treated it more like a program, often playing complete tracks, and referencing: cinema, improvisation, live albums, sonic warfare, sound design, music concrete, noise, classic techno, acid and live techno. Just things I’m interested in at the moment; it’s fairly intuitive.”
Film music comes from Lalo Schifrin (from THX-1138), Bernard Herrmann (Fahrenheit 451) and Thomas Bangalter (Irreversible). Listen out for the imperceptible segue from Henri Posseur’s ‘Voix De La Ville’ into Mark Stewart’s ‘Liberty City’ (an inspired bit of sequencing from Haswell, for reasons which will become obvious when you hear it); that track and New Order’s ‘Confusion’, frequently cited by Haswell as a key formative influence, embody the art of studio editing at its most inspired. Swans, Big Black and Laibach showcase our man’s roots in torrid industrial/noise, while later acts of digital terorrism come from Pan Sonic & Keiji Haino, Yasunao Tone and Farmers Manual. Niku-Zidousha’s ‘Untitled’ comes from Susan Lawly’s seminal 1994 compilation Extreme Music For Japan, which introduced many western ears to the likes of Merzbow, Incapacitants and Masonna. Haswell’s friends and collaborators Autechre and Aphex Twin are duly represented and there’s room also for contributions from G.I.S.M., 808 State, Suburban Knight and Katja Fragatte. This is a mix intended to send you out in search of the original records drawn from, and to that end Haswell – with typical, near-pathological attention to detail – has included Discogs links to every single track featured.
It’s like the greatest radio show never broadcast, one which takes you effortlessly from the tear-jerking orchestral sweep of Schifrin and Hermann to kinetic techno of Jeff Mills and the scything digital noise of Famers Manual like it ain’t no thing. Asked recently about his love of live performance, Haswell replied: “Because of the instantaneous reaction you get, and because indifference is impossible – it polarises, it’s a total ‘Fuck off!’ or ‘Yes!’ situation. I’d rather be in the ‘Fuck off!’ boat than the indifferent boat.”
For us, FACT mix 236 is a total “‘Yes!’ situation”.
Keith Jarrett: Spoken Introduction. (Impulse)
Yasunao Tone: Book11-2833. (Atak)
Lalo Schifrin: Loneliness Sequence. (Silver Age Classics)
Thomas Bangalter: Rectum. (Roulé)
http://www.discogs.com/Thomas-Bangalter-アレックス-Music-Composed-For- The- Motion-Picture/master/99252
Bernard Herrmann: The Road. (Decca)
G.I.S.M.: 13 Hidden Track. (Beast Arts)
Henri Pousseur: II – Voix De La Ville. (Sony Music Entertainment)
Mark Stewart + Maffia: Liberty City. (EMI)
New Order: Confusion (Dub 1987). (Factory)
Laibach: Le Privilege Des Morts. (mute)
Suburban Knight: The Art Of Stalking (Ludovic’s Favourite Mix). (Fnac Music Dance Division)
Niku-Zidousha: Untitled. (Susan Lawly)
808 state: Narcossa. (Creed Records)
Jeff Mills:B1 Purpose Maker Live Series. (Purpose Maker)
Revolting Cocks: You Goddamned Son Of A Bitch. (Wax Trax! Records)
SWANS: A Hanging. (Not On Label)
Pan Sonic & Haino Keiji: “Shall I Download A Blackhole And Offer It To You”. (Blast First Petite)
Farmers manual: 03.fm+3*anon.-sheffield-mic-1 98 ?. (OR)
Autechre: Zurich 2001. (Beat Records)
Russell Haswell: Berlin, April 1, 2010, Part 2 (UHJ). (Editions Mego)
Big Black: _. (Blast First)
Underground Resistance: UR Live In Utrecht, Holland. (Network Records)
Incapacitants: Technodelicatessen. (Pica Disk)
Katja Fregatte – Coldplay Nancarrow Burzum Hines (extract). Karl Schmidt Verlag
AFX: Bit. (Warp)