«KlusiKlusi» project — Outside the comfort zone
«KlusiKlusi» — a story about how the moment where three different artists existed together was fixated on tape
Last october a label «Jersika Records» has produced a new vinyl that goes by the name «KlusiKlusi», a work by three artists — Kaspars Kurdeko, Rūdolfs Macats un Kaspars Vizulis. Before the project all three had worked together in different ensembles, but here, in «KlusiKlusi» allowed themselves to rely on their intuition and the flow of consciousness and created an improvised and experimental recording.
I listened to «KlusiKlusi» with a philosophical interest, because I knew all artists from many different projects. In my opinion, «KlusiKlusi» is a recording that captures the moment of coexistence of three artists. The way their experiences, value systems, artistic and personal qualities interact together. It looks like an improvised music is mostly connected to your self awareness, the process that is ever changing. «KlusiKlusi» album is abstract. From one side this abstractness makes it a more democratic recording, because no one dictates up front what you have to hear in it, and every listener is able to find his own meaning in it. From the other side — this abstractness repels the listener, because it is now out of his comfort zone with a predictable message in it. But do we ourselves realise where lie the borders of our comfort zone?
The three artists and the director of the label «Jersika Records» share their thoughts about the idea of the recording and the process of capturing it on tape. Because all of the parties involved were extremely busy at the moment, the meeting didn’t happen, but each has shared his opinion with me by phone or in writing, and that allowed me to make this story.
The process of creation of «KlusiKlusi» and the people involved
«I have dedicated Jersika Records to the genres of jazz, improvised and experimental music publishing, and the product I release should meet those parameters. The main principle is to provide the listener with vinyls that he would want to have in his collection. To give yourself an opportunity to discover new moods, musical quotations and references that are close to one’s heart. The music has to be exciting, interesting and truthful! The connection to Latvia is also a basic concept, just as the way the recording process is conducted, using an analog techniques of all musicians being in one shared space and capturing the results of their musicianship with the professional magnetic tape recorders. This concept is similar to the one used in such famous labels as «Blue Note», «Impulse», «Prestige», «Verve», «Stax». The recordings are made in a studio built especially for those purposes «LokoMotiv Room», where «KlusiKlusi» vinyl has been recorded,» says Mareks Ameriks.
Continues: «The recording of «KlusiKlusi» has begun in the first half of 2017, when I approached Kaspars Kurdeko with a proposition to record an album in the «LokoMotiv Room» studios using analog techniques and tape recorders, it was my vision that Kaspars should be the leader of the project. I approached Rūdolfs Macats and later also Kaspars Vizulis with the same proposition, I see each of them as a leader in their own project which has to have his vinyl in «Jersika Records» catalogue. Soon after that Kaspars has informed me that he had chosen Rūdolfs as a partner in this artistic collaboration. I suggested that they prepare a program and make their first appearance publicly, playing their music at the «Jersika Records» opening party in October 2017, during the «Jersika Street Vinyl day» («Jersikas ielas Vinila diena»). We have recorded this 30 minute long performance on tape and it is also now worth publishing, we just have to wait for the right moment (the moment has come in 2018 — the record is published and pressed in vinyl now / ed.). Later it has come to my attention that Kaspars Vizulis had also joined the project. Then we’ve decided on a day to make a recording and invited a sound engineer Krišs Veismanis to lead the process and to work with the sound that we now hear on the vinyl.
I want to say a huge thanks to Mārtiņš Saulespurēns, who has provided this recording session with a pretty exclusive, Latvian made and high quality pre–amped microphones and also shared his expertise during the recording process. Also to Balvis Trinkuns, who had prepared the tapes, cut them and glued them, and to Uldis Lavrinovičs, who calibrated the «Studer» recorder to capture the music. The thing that was lacking a bit was, as usual, time — basically we’ve spent less than two days recording the music. If there was an opportunity to provide the conditions that would allow the musicians to stay in the studio and on the same vibe, then we would have had more than 14 or 15 takes, from which we later on selected the material to include in the album. Although maybe this time frame was the right ingredient to fuel the creative process, because, as Miles Davis once said — the music is happening here and now.» says Mareks.
Kaspars Vizulis gives his input and shares his thank you’s: «I want to say thank you to Mareks! His enthusiasm and faith in the project were very inspiring. Krišs Veismanis was our fourth band member at the sound console, working on the balance, timbres and effects, improvising along in the time and space, while everything was caught on tape. Krišs is a truly amazing sound engineer with an open taste in music, which was extremely important to this project. I was also honored to be captured on photo film by an artist Atis Jākobsons, and he did it in a very suiting place and in a right way. Atis’ works grace the covers of our album. Good people with an amazing energy — that is the core of «Jersika Records» team and the label is awesome!»
«The recording process is always live. From a practical point of view working with an analog recording technique was challenging, because the length of your play is dictated by the length of the tape. From a musical point of view — to find the organic sounding of the ensemble, where we are in one musical space during the whole recording session. The greatest atonement though is in the fact that Mareks Ameriks had suggested this idea in the first place, and that together with Rūdolfs Macats and Kaspars Vizulis we believed in it, created it and crystalised this sound. Mareks was an indefeasible catalyst of all the processes that had lead this project till the end result — a vinyl of «KlusiKlusi»» states Kaspars Kurdeko!
Searching for the common sound and musical language
Rūdolfs Macats: «Before the recording we have played together with Kurdeko for several times, in a duo, experimented a lot and philosophied about life. Later we decided that we need one more person and invited Kaspars Vizulis to join us. I found myself on a common ground with the two Kaspars’, I like their equability and the state of inner peace. At the beginning we played more pop–ish and jazz–ishly. Then I suggested we stop playing melodies — each instrument with its sound should be like a new breath, that way the pauses would sing. And that is how the real experiment started, with us being a truly ascetic artists. A I was glad about both Kaspars, because I haven’t heard such interesting sounds from them before — I’ve known them for several years now, that’s how I know what they are capable of and how they think. Also I’m very glad to have this album «KlusiKlusi» because it seems that they don’t play like that anywhere else. Satisfaction with the fact that together we are creating a true art. Yes, this album most certainly consists of a deep music with its own concept. In my opinion, this concept works, because it was was very interesting for me both as a musician and a listener, when each time I play this vinyl I hear something new. It is an inspiring process!»
«It was a very exciting time of searchings, when we spent all those hours in the studio, trying out different ideas and creating a truly unique sound. I have had this feeling of musical attraction towards Kaspars Vizulis and Rūdolfs Macats for a long time, I’ve heard them both as a part of different ensembles and solo artists, played their music. It was easier to start doing music with them because I think that we are made from the same stuff, we are united in the likes of musical aesthetics. Kaspars Vizulis is a big expert in the details of the sound, when Rūdolfs is impulsive with the ideas and directions they may take. Working with them was easy, it allowed us to try out different stylistic ideas, even though a big part of those wasn’t included in the album. We were looking for something that we haven’t heard or played before, what we haven’t felt before,» Kaspars Kurdeko shares his impressions.
Kaspars Vizulis describes his colleagues: «Rūdolfs is a very creative and intuitive musician, and this truthfulness is revealed in his musicianship. If everything goes okay and we are heading in the same direction, then he supports our choices. If at some point something goes wrong, he’s not afraid to stop us and take a sober look at what we’re doing, and that helped tremendously to move further in our music. He is also able to suggest the corrections in such away to not offend his fellow musicians — this happens through music and trust in each other. We’ve known each other for very long, played different music together. That’s why recording «KlusiKlusi» album was more like a reunion of old friends. Kaspars is a very honest musician, he takes care of his colleagues, makes sure that people he plays with feel comfortable with him both musically and personally. He is able and ready to sacrifice some things in order to create a positive environment. Kaspars and Rūdolfs balance each other out in a very pleasant way.»
«I like the way Kaspars is able to toy with the colors and the acoustic space, he always tries to find different musical solutions and adapts quickly. Last winter Kaspars has played his first (I think it was his first) solo concert — drums, percussions, electronics and some self–made instruments. This experience and his knowledge of sound helped us with our recording session. Rūdolfs in turn plays not only the keys, but also drums, composes, writes songs and sings. He is not afraid of new instruments, sounds and challenges. He is able to find the creative sounding in almost every instrument, despite even the fact of having little experience with it. This quality of his is important both in rehearsals and during the recordings. With his actions we were inspired and motivated to go even further than what we’re used to,» Says Kaspars Vizulis, adding that like in a concert, naturally and without even noticing it everything that is redundant is being thrown away and the choices made are appropriate to the moment, and that describes not only the music, but the meeting of all «KlusiKlusi»participants.
Abstract against certainty
«The listener is wise! He doesn’t need to be convinced that the music is good. The listeners are curious and eager for new musical developments and look for those constantly. I would describe our music as a large scale wall painting, and its true beauty only can be admired when looking from afar, but you can always come closer. An unobtrusive flowing synergy between electro and acoustic instruments — a hierarchy of nature,» says Kaspars Kurdeko.
Abstract VS certainty
«Yes, the album is abstract, and this choice was deliberate, it is as an inconspicuous painting in a room. I think that this abstractism is minimalistic and see–through enough, thus not hard to listen to, because the whole picture is not harassing, but more like it can lead you in a state of trance and make the listener think about himself. To play like this is close to meditating. This is an atmospheric album, it’s not sweet, nor sour, it’s not aggressive, it is somewhere in between. It gives the people a much needed balance» — album description by Rūdolfs Macats.
Rūdolfs continues by discussing the concept and the space: We didn’t think about the notes, but more about the concept. We still have music with the rules, but this time we’re the ones to set them. This is the only way to create a new style. Concerning «KlusiKlusi», I’d say that this is a minimalism with pauses, where we accept the colors of different sound frequencies and gve them time to sound and fade, before we saturate those with new sounds. And the technique used in the second composition is a permutation. It means that we choose, for example, two or three different colors and then we play them in different times, lengths and dynamics. In whole there’s nothing new about this concept — similar techniques were used by such composers as Morton Feldman and John Cage, who are New York based artists and avant garde and minimalistic music pioneers. I also think that contemporary music is the one to live longer. It is like nature, an unobtrusive and self absorbed harmony that doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not and isn’t pompous. This music is most definitely meant for people who are more philosophically oriented or want to achieve this specific state of mind. You can’t dance to this music or sing along with it, it doesn’t have catchy lines.»
«Because the album was released to public after quite some time since the recording was made, I managed to distance myself from the feelings I had during its creation and listen to the music more objectively. And even now, a couple of months after the release I’m still able to listen to what we’ve played with a fresh ear. I’ve heard, as if remembering, each time we returned to some certain story, that we held in minds, we changed it a bit, especially if some time has passed since last reminiscing. That’s why I don’t want to tell the listener what to think about this album and what would be the best way to audition it. Even though I want to help, give some guidelines, but maybe it’s a totally different view that will help someone find the meaning of «KlusiKlusi» music» says Kaspars Vizulis.
«I think that this recording is brave and honest. I appreciated the fact that the musicians had accepted this challenge. This is a completely improvised music. When choosing such approach to the recording, which is being outside of the comfort zone, musicians realize, where exactly they are in music, considering their musical level at the time of the recording, both mentally and technically. This authenticism and an inimitable energy can be heard in this recording. I’ve listened to it and admitted that it is the kind of music I want to hear when I decide to head into a musical journey.» admits Mareks Ameriks.