Peter Rehberg on raiding the GRM archive and starting another Editions Mego sub-label

By , Mar 29 2012

Recollection GRM is a new sub-label from Editions Mego, dedicated to excavating the huge archives of Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM).

GRM was formed in Paris in the late 1950s by Pierre Schaeffer, out of the ashes of the increasingly fractious Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète. Through GRM Schaeffer was able to continue his practical and conceptual investigations into concréte, electro-acoustic and electronic sound, alongside the likes of Luc Ferrari, Bernard Parmegiani, Iannis Xenakis, Francois-Bernard Mache and Mireille Chamass-Kyrou. Out of this research centre would emerge some of the most distinctive and pioneering electronic music of all time.

Though much of this material was documented on vinyl – primarily on the dedicated labels Collection GRM and INA-GRM – original copies are scarce and difficult to acquire at affordable prices today. We should all be grateful, then, that Editions Mego’s Peter Rehberg has entered the picture. With the cooperation of GRM’s Christian Zanési and François Bonnet, Rehberg’s Recollection GRM aims to restore some of the august collective’s most important and enduringly powerful works to wax; each of the new editions has been cut by Rashad Becker at Berlin’s Dubplates & Mastering, and clad in new artwork by Stephen O’Malley, with bi-lingual accompanying texts.

Recollections GRM opens its account on June 5 with a brace of LP releases. REGRM001 is Pierre Schaeffer‘s Le Trièdre Fertile (1975-76) – his last, and his only purely electronic, piece; REGRM002 features Guy Reibel‘s extended acousmatic work-outs Granulations-Sillages (1974) and Franges du Signe (1976). You can find more about both releases here.

New Mego sub-labels have been coming thick and fast in recent years: Spectrum Spools, A&R’d by Emeralds John Elliott, continues to document the explosion of recent activity in the US synth underground, though lately has expanded its remit to present older works from Robert Turman and Franco Falsini; Old News focusses entirely on the electronic experiments of Jim O’Rourke; Ideologic Organ reflects its curator Stephen O’Malley’s interest in ritual musics and electro-acoustic composition; and the newly minted 12″ imprint Sensate Focus is an outlet for “neat house” produced by SND’s Mark Fell.

Recollection GRM is a more than worthy addition to the family. FACT spoke to Peter Rehberg to find out more about its inception and his plans for its future.

“The works made at GRM over the last four or five decades represent some of the most well-made and pioneering electronic music ever.”



How did you gain access to the GRM archives and obtain the permission to release records from it?

Peter Rehberg: “I approached François Bonnet at GRM about vinyl versions of old GRM works, and we came up with the idea of the new label. I’ve always found the works made at GRM over the last four or five decades to represent some of the most well-made and pioneering electronic music ever. And much of it has stood the test of time well.”

 

Where did the impulse to approach GRM come from in the first place? How long has the project been brewing?

“I had in the back of my head for a while, but I guess we got discussing in late 2011. I simply asked why this stuff is not on vinyl. François and Christian Zanesi replied, ‘We’d love to, but don’t have the facilities.’ I offered them a business plan based on my other sub-labels and we came to an agreement.”

Does Recollection GRM have any connection to the KTL V album, which I gather was recorded at INA-GRM?

“No, it was kind of parallel. Stephen [O’Malley] and myself were working at GRM for our concert in Krems last October. However, it was shortly after this that I approached François with this idea, so maybe it was linked – but not directly.”

“It was decided that anything that is released has to sound good now – fortunately with the GRM catalogue, most of it does.”



Did you have any particular curatorial/editorial concerns or objectives with this project?

“One thing we discussed was that it should not be a simple rehash of the previous series, but something new altogether. Stephen O’Malley’s materials related to original releases as well other bits from the era, and he came up with a new image. The first release by Pierre Schaeffer was a Prospective 21 Siecle release, whereas the Guy Reibel is from Collection INA-GRM. So we’ve already started to mix things up. It was also decided that anything that is released has to sound good now – fortunately with the GRM catalogue, most of it does.”

Recollection GRM is yet another addition to the ever-expanding Mego label family. is it getting harder and harder to administrate so many different imprints and releases? Or it is somehow a case of the more you do, the “easier” it gets?

“Well, yes, I still do all of this myself so both sides of that coin are true. I think this will be enough for sub-labels for some time. Kind of running out of space on the website!”

 

How did you go about selecting the works to release through Recollection GRM? Did you have a wishlist before you entered the archives, or was it more a process of chance and discovery?

“I have a big wish list, as does everyone else. I think it’s just  a matter of constant discussion to see what can be achieved and what is practical. Many circumstances surrounding these recordings have changed over the years.”

“I just think it’s good to have these works made available again on vinyl, especially as the format is now so popular.”



Do you seen an end to Recollections GRM, or is GRM’s archive vast enough to sustain the label indefinitely?

“I think it would need a lid on it sooner or later. But who knows when?”

Any future releases you can tell us about?

“REGRM004 will be a compilation called Traces 1, which is a current work in progress. This is planned for September release. It’s all very exciting. I just think it’s good to have these works made available again on vinyl, especially as the format is now so popular. Now young people can access these recordings in their format of choice for normal prices, not the funny money some of the originals go for these days.”

 

Kiran Sande

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