Monday, August 23, 2010

DOTDR talks with Andre of Sektor 304

Alright!!!! My first interview for this site and the first one to really get to talk music in as well. If you have not had the chance to check into this portuguese industrial/avant garde electronic act, then do yourself the favor and after reading this or even during it, go out and check them the fuck out!!!!!!! Many thanks to Andre for his time and those of you who support the true artists and love of audio and art, especially the insane stuff.

JW of DOTDR: I received Soul Cleansing from Malignant and seeing as how Jason has been consistently churning out some of the best in dark ambient/industrial/power electronics that I’ve heard in general it was not a surprise when it completely sent me into a gratuitous shock. I love the blend you have of ambient, minimal, industrial, and power electronics, it’s almost a perfect fix all in one release as it flows through the styles to keep it alive. How has Soul Cleansing done so far? How do you guys feel about it looking back at it? In “Death Mantra” that continual beating like a heart is really great, it adds the right rhythm or “pulse” to the track that is seemingly stark.

André: First of all, thanks for your words about our work. We are glad so many people are enjoying what we do!
Well, looking back at the album I still feel that the necessary distance for an objective view upon it has not yet been achieved. It was a hard work getting the album ready. It took about a year to record, mix and to get the artwork all done, and there were a lot of headaches throughout the process. In the end, we both feel that it represents the best we could do at the time, technically speaking, and we are quite proud of the outcome.

In terms of outside appreciation, it’s been great. All the reviews have been quite positive, some have been surprisingly very good and Jason has done a fabulous promotional work. We couldn’t feel better with our situation.

JW: I’m glad that it all worked out for you guys, the hard work really shows in the final product and I’ve been sold on it from day one. It must be great to be on a label like Malignant that releases of such a high caliber, I’m never disappointed and you all seem to strive to put out the most intense audio possible. I’ve been mainly an industrial/noise/electronic head and just recently in the last five years or so have returned to metal and am used to interviewing metal bands who typically don’t want to get into music ironically or personal, so it’s really great to actually talk to artist like you who create stuff that is intentionally deep and are less concerned about image and Satan.

André: Well, one thing that both me and João decided since the beginning is that we would go wherever we feel like. No boundaries, no genre definitions, no nothing. Of course that with time, Sektor’s identity has become more defined and now we know what it’s best and what’s inconsequent to do, but by no means we are limited by “conventions”. Both of us listen to a wide variety of music, from industrial to kraut rock, heavy metal to dub, noise to free-jazz, etc…

I believe that if you take a good look at our catalogue, from the two early CDRs to the album and our collaboration with ambient/noise artist PS, you can clearly say that we do not focus on one type of subgenre, but we actually search around, collect ideas, digest them and use what we want. Take a look at “Final Transmission”, then listen to “The Beast”, both from the “Soul Cleansing” album and compare them, for example.

It’s also interesting that you mention the “image” factor. This is quite an important point for us, especially since I deal a lot with graphics and artworks and currently work as a freelance illustrator. Image is something that should matter a lot for a band. Above all, it should be a reflection of the music, concepts and it should work as a whole with the record. The problem only begins with the image does not reflect honesty or if, above all, it begins to gain weight over the actual music.
I prefer having an attractive packaging with graphics that honestly reflect the music.

Sektor 304 deals with tension, power, brute force, in sum, it deals with primordial forces, ritualistic and claustrophobic environments. We do not wish to be a part of the goat herd just for the sake of it. I would never put a rune or a horned beast filled with pentagrams on the cover just for the sake of it. It doesn’t suit our music. I owe more to Joseph Conrad’s “The Heart of Darkness” rather than “Mein Kampf” or “The Satanic Bible”.

JW: Like you guys I’m really diverse in my listenings and also do art on the side, so I completely understand the strain to put out something good and how high ones own expectations can be. Thankfully you guys are honest and strive to go for who and what you are and not cater to something that will simply bring in superficial fans. The more influences that you have, the better and more unique your art will be whether it’s visual or audible.

You have a huge list of acts under the “influences” column on your MySpace page, most of which I really love like: Einsturzende Neubauten, Nurse With Wound, Vetrophenia, Lustmord; and then you go into the listing of kraut and prog stuff like: Eloy, Cornucopia, Annexus Quam, Amon Duul (I and II). I’m a HUGE fan of all of those bands and am really surprised to see you having so many influences and interests as I do. Although Sektor 304 is purely industrial/electronic, do you feel that some of the dreamlike atmospheres created in the kraut and prog stuff influences you here?

André: Ahahah that list! That was one busy Sunday reminding all those names! Yeah, like I said before, we listen to a lot of different music. I believe it molds your way of working and the trick is actually be able to comprehend the best from each one and then work with all that information in order to built your own body of work.

You mentioned the kraut and prog “dreamlike atmospheres”. I think we do have influences of that. Take the “Final Transmission” track for example, or even the “Transmissions” cdr, prior to the album. They are all exercises in ambience, from noise to clear dreamlike spaces. Curiously, those bits usually come from improvised sessions… hum… interesting…
The recording of “Final Transmission” was actually quite interesting with the ending going almost into this psychedelic scenario with me on the bass, João playing the guitar filled with delay and reverb effects and it was this friend of ours called Sara, who was just there with us, that saved the day by slowly adding a fade-out to the rest of my sounds while I was tripping with this monotone bass line. That track was directly recorded into a minidisc recorded with no overdubs… how nice! So I guess there is a strong psychedelic music influence on us.

JW: I try to really pay attention to what I review and when I wirte interviews I also listen to the artist stuff to ensure the right inspiration comes out. I love to just improvise to minimal drum and bass and experimental stuff and use effects on my bass to create weird psyhedellic pieces inspired purely by mood and where ever things take me, I love to hear that in other artists too.

Speaking of prog/kraut/ambient psyche music, I found a really cool disc last summer of an obscure kraut/dark psychedelic act Damenbart and it’s this dark ambient similar to some of the Amon Duul stuff on Tanz Der Lemminge. I’m hoping to start putting prog/kraut/psyche stuff up on this site soon as well because it’s amazing and I obsess over it too.

André: I never heard Damenbart. Got to check it out! Thanks for the suggestion! You should start that kind of stuff on your website. Introduce it to other people, especially if they aren’t used to that kind of music (like people who only listen to metal and stuff like that).

JW: Absoltuely, it's really amazing!!! In fact that’s my whole purpose behind DOTDR, to expose people to so many great thigns that they would never normally know about. I also hope to start a trading forum for obscure and cool acts on vinyl, disc and cassette. People glance at the site for one specific review and they get a crazy audio stream of stuff and tons of additionally interesting things including art and custom silkscreen shirts soon too.

I’d like to know more about you guys, partially because of the cool music that you dig, but also the stuff that you create. I can definitely hear the Einsturzende Neubauten in the use of live percussion and power tools, but it doesn’t jump out at me as them, you have a great sense of rhythm throughout the tracks and I’m a rhythm fanatic. Can you tell me more about Sektor 304 and what you do?

André: The rhythm came in naturally since João is a drummer in several bands. If you hear our first cdrs, there are fewer rhythms, but things naturally began to take that course. Perhaps, more than Neubauten, I guess the main influence was both Test Dept for the junk metal percussions and Swans/Godflesh for the more severe pounding you find in some tracks like “Death Mantra”.

Another inspiration came when we started hearing African music and African field recordings of processions and rituals. Their use of drums is quite powerful, to the point where nothing else is needed to fill the spaces. Besides, the rhythms are also quite unconventional in a western / European perspective, with lots of strange tempos and a notion of “group performance” that we loved (and that is quite similar to what Test Dept. did).

When it gets to composition, I believe that most tracks that have a strong rhythmic basis always start developing through the rhythm or the programmed beat. It’s central.

Usually, when the rhythm is played it’s up with João. He handles all the percussions, along with junk manipulation, fx pedals and in “Soul Cleansing” he also handled the bass. I work with sampling, loop, programmed beats, synths and vocals. Since I work with samples, I also have to deal a lot with junk manipulation through contact mics in order to get good sound waves and also field recordings. This is quite a generic task division, since there are several small things where we shift places. I guess in the end we do everything…

Right now, we have this third member for live performances that will handle an electric double bass. We were lacking someone to perform the bass live and when this opportunity came, we took it. The electric double bass becomes more diverse that just the bass. I still can’t believe the amount of sounds he can draw from there… and the instrument looks quite nice too ahah

JW: That’s fucking wicked, I really love a lot of non-western music and try to incorporate that in some of my scales and chords when I play acoustic guitar especially. The combination of those tones and different finger style techniques can create some trippy and even beautiful results.

From what it sounds like, you guys really know what you want and seem to have this insatiable urge to create something unique to yourselves and I respect that so much. I’d love to some good live acts again that are similar to what you do, the coolest live show aside from Boris in the last year that was improvised a bit and hypnotic was acid Mothers Temple. AMT had an opening act called The Sonic Suicide Squad, which was three guys: one on drum with a mic to each one for effects, and an alto saxophone with an effects mic, the third guy ran the effects and did some wild effects with both instruments and being a jazz nut I was floored!!!!! I need to find those guys again and work with them a bit more.
I’d love to see you live, but in general would you consider yourselves mainly improvisational?

André: Well, it depends on the track and what it demands. Like that “Final Transmission” example I gave you before. Other tracks collect improvised moments with others more organized and recorded track by track, like for example, on “The Beast” or “Voodoo Machine”.

In studio, everything in the end is calculated, measured and put into place. In a lot of tracks there is actually a compositional effort.

When we play live, things tend to get out of hand a bit, some songs might take longer with some room for improvisation on some noisier sections or in those ambient parts with lots of sounds taken from amplified objects and construction materials. Things get more intense and we let ourselves get carried away by it.
Both rational thinking and improvisation take place in our method.

JW: Now that I know more about your musical tastes, I’d love to talk tunes. What are some of your favorite artists and albums? Mine change on a daily basis and have been: The Heads, White Hills, Eloy, Embryo, Boris, and Captain Beyond this week and part of last.

André: Curiously I’ve been listening to the Heads this week ahah.
Well, lately I’ve been a lot into that old school death metal thing, with bands like WarMaster, Bolt Thrower, Teitanblood or Rippikoulu (93 Finnish Death Metal!! Awesome!!) and Crust/Metal stuff like Dishammer, Tyrant, Sacrilege or Nausea. So I guess I’m in a Metal phase right now, hem?

Anyway, Danzig’s last record has been playing a lot and I never let go of my good dose of Celtic Frost or Amebix!
IRM’s “Order4” is very good, as well as Yellow Swans “Going Places”. Grunt’s “Petturien Rooli” is awesome too!
Also, I recently bought this triple King Tubby cd that pops in sometimes with the bass level on max.
I’ve also been stuck to Miles Davis ”Bitches Brew”.
I guess that’s what’s been going on my stereo recently.

JW: Oh man, I’m always in a classic death metal phase combined with some good old crust, in fact I should have two custom shirts coming in the mail today for Discharge and Doom, and Celtic Frost and Hellhammer as well. I can rarely escape those bands or that style, it always seems to fit my mood. As for King Tubby, I dig the dub stuff and had some a while back, I really love the german dub techno stuff like Basic Channel and just pulled that out again last week to crank at work. Being a jazz fan, Bitches Brew is one of my standout releases from Miles Davis, I really dig the fusion stuff but also the hard bop and avantgarde. I love Sun Ra and most of Coltrane, Eric Dolphy and the like.

We both seem to be huge music nuts and it’s my favorite subject outside of visual art and chemistry, so given your diverse tastes what if any, album/s or artist/s inspired you to create Sektor 304 as opposed to another style like heavy psychedelic prog ?

André: We don’t work by opposition. We love everyone. Some more than others, or course… ahah
JW: Good answer, I could never pick one either and never rely on any speific anything to do my stuff, I sort of pull from stuff as I go. Currently is there anything else in the works for Sektor 304 like live shows, splits, new releases?

André: We are probably playing at this Metal festival in October. Let’s hope we don’t have to deal with rotten tomatoes or empty beer bottles. We could try to add a guitar solo to “Body Hammer”…
Other than that, we are still recording new stuff for a forthcoming album. No titles yet!

JW: You guys’d shred most I’m sure so hopefully the crowd won’t be too stupid and bombed to behave a bit (laughs). I look forward to anything you do in the future and wish you luck. Thanks for your time as well, I really appreciate the opportunity to talk with you a bit.

André: Nice talking with you and thanks for your interview! See you next time!

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