Tuesday, February 6, 2024

What have the last few years taught me about creating music? More specifically, about my own creativity?

• That changing your style periodically, even (and especially) radically, allows you to renew your inspiration. Ditto for "changing your project name". In the absolute, even, you should only make debut albums, changing genre each time.

• That my best albums, or at least the ones I prefer, are the ones that weren't premeditated, that sort of built themselves up over time and by chance. That I must try to compose, to work "blind", without premeditating the final result, without thinking about the reactions and the discourse that will surround the album before I've written the first note; because that creates more anguish than pleasure, and produces more mediocre albums.

• That I can be wrong for a long time about the nature of my own music and of a particular musical project: for example, until recently I believed that Maelifell had a precise musical identity and that, as I didn't wish to delve into it, its discography was therefore closed; I had to go back over it in detail to realize that in reality we had NEVER released two stylistically identical releases, and that Maelifell therefore had no identity apart from being Xavier's and my band. And so we were free. That it could go on.

• That "musical genres" and "scenes" are prisons. Belonging to them is castration. The bands I love are the ones that created their own genre (and were then imitated by thousands of others, but that's another question). And all the more so insofar as Xavier and I unwittingly "invented" dungeon synth before discovering that it already existed, and we also "invented" industrial music before hearing about Throbbing Gristle. In all humility, we are inventors, not followers.

• That I can find meaning, a complete exegesis, in albums (like "Im Kreis der Birken") whose content is half improvisation, half scraping from the bottom of a drawer. Moral: I don't NEED to start with a concept or ideas, even if they're in bulk; the music alone is enough, it takes care of itself, and I'll find all the meaning I need in it, after the fact.

• That my feeble abilities AND aesthetic choices will probably forever deprive me of any success or even respect; that it's likely that the vast majority of people who come across my pieces must laugh or scorn. And that I must not only accept this, but find some pleasure in it.

• That creating involves an element of magic, in the strongest sense of the word, and that you have to expect inexplicable phenomena such as synchronicities: for example, Florence gave me the book "En Patagonie" by Bruce Chatwin when I was working on the album of the same name, which she didn't know. Similarly, since 2017, Xavier has unwittingly bought back the same Yamaha 4-track that I was using at the time, and I "coincidentally" came across the Grundig tape recorder that I had as a child and on which I made my very first recordings.

• That to be my first fan, my first critic, my own biographer, and to write about my music as a major cultural topic, was entirely legitimate and beneficial. Humility brings no pleasure and no added value when it comes to art.

• That blatant lies, hoaxes and pure fiction were just as legitimate and fun. Life is insufficient, but the imaginary not only provides consolation, but also expands life in return, creating new situations in real life. Imagination seeds real life.

• Insofar as I spent almost 10 years without making music (between my break-up with Florence and my reunion with Xavier), only to return to it by pure chance, it's impossible to know when one's "career" will end, nor, when it does, whether it's definitive or not. In other words, you have no control over whether or not you pursue an artistic activity. It's imposed on you; and it can disappear even if you don't want it to.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

I've downloaded a bunch of VSTs in the last few days, with a touch of early 2000s nostalgia, because of their sometimes grotesquely "science-fiction" interface, which already evokes I don't know what as-yet unseen retrofuturism, and because I spent a few years working exclusively with them (alongside my composing for Maelifell or FDS, which were entirely PC-free).

There's a certain purity in composing only with a PC, a sequencer, VSTs and possibly a master keyboard. I've always hated the tangle of cables, the thousand problems with connections, compatibility, MIDI settings, latency, etc.... From this point of view, working in the studio at Xavier's or my place can sometimes seem like torture.

VSTs have their own flaws and limitations, of course - they're cold and often sound far too similar, and after going through X dozen of them you're so saturated with identical and discouraging sounds that you'd almost consider, with relief, stopping all musical activity. But I still think I've found a few that I missed, in terms of "types of sound", moods... In particular, some excellent 90's ambient pads and half-tribal, half-metallic FM percussion.

The idea behind all this is to compose with sounds I rarely use (or have never used before) to renew myself musically and give birth to compositions I don't know yet, and don't want to know in advance, what they'll sound like, what "style" they'll be assimilated to, if indeed there is such a thing as assimilating to a style or scene. I'm looking for the sensation of moving forward totally blind, into the unknown, without any determinism, without any preconceived ideas, without any goal.

For a number of years now, I've noticed that my best albums, or at least the ones I prefer, are the ones that weren't premeditated, that sort of built themselves, as time went by and as samples or VSTs were discovered by chance; I'm deeply convinced that each synth, each bank of samples or presets, "contains" in germ its own musical genre and the tracks that correspond to it. All you have to do is change them from time to time and let yourself be carried along; the music creates itself. And it's good not to control everything, to be able to be surprised and changed by what you yourself have created or helped to create, like a simple channel for transmitting a message from God, or from your own unconscious, or from nowhere.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

The first songs for Maelifell – or, more precisely, for what was to become Maelifell – were written and recorded around 1994-1995, when we were 14-15 years old.

Xavier and I were still in middle school, listening to heavy metal, cold wave and Dead Can Dance, which we thought was unique in its genre (and indeed, it's not entirely untrue). I knew about black metal, but had never listened to it.

At the same time, I was also recording alone, for a band I called Hesperides Garden, which had a maximum of... two members. Two guitarists, no bass, no drums, no keyboard; it was still far from my dream. But sometimes I rented keyboards from the local music store and recorded songs on my own. Some were released under the name Hesperides Garden, others ended up on the first Maelifell demo.

What I'm trying to say through these anecdotes is that even if Maelifell (I have no intention of denying this or rewriting history) was carried along, encouraged, uninhibited by our discovery of black metal and bands like Mortiis, fundamentally, we already existed before we knew them, we had our own aesthetic, our own themes, and our background comes as much from post-punk and its mutations as from the mutations of metal (the "dungeon synth").

Maelifell intersected with the history of dungeon synth (just as it later intersected with the neoclassical/darkwave milieu), but neither belongs to it nor was it determined by it.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

"In the circle of birches" – a reference to Perunwit, of course, with their "W kręgu dębów" ("In the circle of oaks"). The birches are the ones that once stood in the fields behind my building. The birch trees remind me of both Siberia and the American Indians. Two things that are actually quite close. As a child, I used to roam these fields and shoot with a bow I'd cobbled together from a branch and a piece of string. It would be a good idea to become an Indian again.

This is the first release since Demo 96 to feature electric guitar (there was a classical guitar riff on "Rois d'ici bas").

Also the first release to feature spinet. Maelifell returns to its folk roots, while also moving in an increasingly electronic direction, with sounds that don't try to emulate ancient instruments. At the same time, the first three tracks have an unintentional cold-wave feel, which Perunwit also had to some extent. There's something about the release that makes me uncomfortable. The melodies are cold, sad. They remind me of lonely morning walks, "white sky walks", when I was a teenager, in the streets of Sarreguemines and Neunkirch, and in the fields, of course. As I wrote in a self-interview:

I took countless walks around the neighborhood on lonely mornings as a teenager, instead of going to school. With gray skies, loneliness and Joy Division on my ears. "Down the dark streets, the houses looked the same". It's an experience of emptiness that has stayed with me forever and that I can recall at will. The emptiness of life; the adolescent intuition, incredibly powerful and devoid of the slightest doubt, that the world is empty, that we wander in it and that there's nothing else to expect, that existence is purposeless, that no event, no encounter, that nothing will ever really happen. An intuition I've never been able to shake off. Except – on my good days – by means of Faith, which gives back to the world a reality it had lost or doesn't have on its own.

The photo of Xavier on the cover is 25 years old. It's obviously not a question of "making believe" (and to whom, by the way?) that this is his current appearance, but of being out of time.

The mention of the synths used is a reference to what was done on some old DS albums (Jim Kirkwood, I believe) and electronic music in general; on the cover of Lauri Paisley's "Reel to Real", for example.

Side A : the first three tracks are from our last session. Side B : the next three tracks come from earlier sessions – the piano piece having been done by me alone, at home.

Our music is badly played, wobbly, always on the verge of going completely wrong. It's deliberate: even if our incompetence isn't deliberate, we accept our failings and don't limit ourselves to what we've mastered, and therefore play poorly on this or that poorly mastered instrument on our releases.

The mix is deliberately low. We wanted our music to be distant, muffled, remote in time, as if under metres and metres of earth.

A demo with almost no content; short, aborted tracks, lots of silence, a few sound effects.

A music of emptiness, absence and oblivion.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

A recent revelation. The distinction between music already released (as single, demo, album, etc.) and music still private, on our hard drives and recorders, no longer makes any sense to me. Maelifell exists, it's Xavier and me; Maelifell doesn't just exist through its public, official releases, it exists at all. Our public discography is only a fraction of what we are, just as the persona we embody at work, in society, in the street, etc., is only a fraction, minimal, poor, of what we are in totality.

Will Maelifell really release any more "albums"? Haven't we gone beyond that? This commercial form that no longer makes sense, precisely because we exist outside any commercial circuit?

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

I spent part of the afternoon blocking people on Facebook - people I knew from near and far in the indus scene 20 years ago, and complete strangers. I'm working on being invisible, on social networks, to those who might have even read my name once in their lives. And I don't want to see them either, even if it's only in other people's friends lists - even if it's just crossing their names in the list of likes under this or that publication.

I want to live in a universe that's exactly parallel and watertight to theirs. I don't care if I'm the only inhabitant...

I realize that I've always hated these circles. Black metal, gothic, industrial, neofolk and so on. I only entered and evolved in them through a misunderstanding - the belief that liking the same bands, the same sounds, made all these people and me natural allies, and people called to collaborate in one way or another. People to whom I could communicate something that they would understand and that we could share. That's not the case and never has been. My music has never - from what I've seen in 25 years - provoked anything but misunderstanding.

(In the same way, I've come to accept that characters like Tony Wakeford or David Tibet are entirely uninteresting, and that getting to know them better, as individuals and as artists, would do me no good and, on the contrary, would always destroy a little more of the pleasure I get from listening to them; listening to them while fantasizing about them and about the neofolk scene, giving them, through these fantasies, an interest and a nobility they don't have on their own).

It's time to admit that I'm entirely alone, and not only admit it but rejoice in it; rejoice in the absolute freedom it brings me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

"What is exhilarating in bad taste is the aristocratic pleasure of giving offense." (Charles Baudelaire)

Friday, May 12, 2023

Mental exercise: make a list of public personalities, in the musical, literary, artistic world in a broad sense. People who have made a career, who are respected. Who probably have a good taste and a wide culture. Imagine them listening to my music, and finding it bad, ridiculous, despicable. To train myself to wish it were so, and in no way otherwise.

Friday, April 28, 2023

I invented industrial music, with Xavier, in 1998, when we recorded "Towers, Open Fire", entirely improvised, on a bored afternoon, with two children's keyboards connected to a primitive mixing desk that allowed to lower the pitch of the sound, which gave it a very metallic sound. I had copied at the very beginning of the tape a passage from Burroughs, read by himself, that I had recorded on the radio:

"Pilot K9, you are cut off  back. Back. Back before the whole fucking shit house goes up  Return to base immediately  Ride music beam back to base  Stay out of that time flak  All pilots ride Pan pipes back to base"

The cover that Xavier designed afterwards (or was it me? it doesn't matter) was a collage, and all our later demos under the name of Fervex were to use a rather similar formula: messy keyboard noise, some silly lyrics, more or less humorous, referring to totalitarianism, and covers showing collages that used media figures (Kate Moss), to the world of technology and work (workers on an assembly line), to popular resistance (I don't remember what revolt in South America)... The titles of the songs referred to computers, nuclear war, surveillance. In short, all the Burroughsian and industrial mythology a la Throbbing Gristle was there, even though I had never heard of them or of industrial music in my life. It was a total coincidence.

In the same way, still with Fervex, by pushing my sound experimentation a bit far, by recording parasites on an empty radio frequency, by getting a high and strident sound from my little keyboard connected to the mixing desk, by whispering sinister things into the microphone, I almost made Whitehouse. So I am also the inventor, in 1998, of the Power Electronics.

And of course, Xavier and I invented what is now called Dungeon Synth.

Our first pieces in this style date back to 1994, 1995 – we were still in high school. Xavier recorded with a primitive sequencer and a Soundblaster, on his father's Windows 3.1, some medievalist pieces in General MIDI. As for me, I had rented keyboards with which I had recorded tracks of the same type, repetitive, minimalist, dark; in both cases it was a primitive, broke, teenage version of Dead Can Dance of which we were fans, and very influenced by video game music. We had never heard of Mortiis, Wongraven or Summoning at that point. And when Metallian magazine allowed us to discover all these bands, they made us crazy with excitement; not because we discovered something radically new, but because these bands were realizing our fantasies, they were proving to us that what we had imagined all alone, in the depths of our small provincial town, also existed outside of us, that we were not entirely alone.

So Xavier and I invented, all by ourselves, in our teenage bedrooms, a good part of the musical styles that we would listen to in the following years.

I say this knowing that it is an absurd claim, laughable, and I am joking in a way; and at the same time I say it quite seriously. These musical genres exist from all eternity, in the sky of ideas. We discovered them by ourselves, without knowing that others had preceded us. We didn't jump on any bandwagon; our own experiments coincided with the history of music around us.

*

The consequence of all this, which I really realize, literally decades later, is that I don't need any outside influence, musically speaking. As for Xavier, he knows absolutely nothing about the current scene (or current scenes in general, for that matter) and he is right to have no curiosity about them.

We don't need any outside influence. We don't need to be part of any scene.

On the contrary, we need to free ourselves more and more from the stylistic and thematic conventions that mark the musical environments we have known in our lives, whatever they may be.

The themes, the texts, the images that accompany our music must become ever more personal, ever more "idiotic". As if we were exactly alone in the world.

Monday, April 24, 2023

The tape hiss is a sonic image of the veil of time that separates us from the happy past; it makes explicit the fact that this past is gone and far away, but it reminds us of it, too. It is the equivalent of the timeworn colors in a photograph. This electronic breath and these past colors are also a reminder that time exists, or has existed; even if we live today in an eternal, digital present, time has existed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

My future musical work must remain secret, hidden.

I must not imagine that "others" will not find my music, my images, my texts pitiful.

This WILL be the case. The total indifference with which I have been treated so far is rather fortunate; I have not yet been given the opportunity to be humiliated, mocked, despised.

I must not repeat the mistake I made when I left the small, regressive and finally musically tolerant world of Black Metal in my teens to venture into the goth/indus world.

I'm not "on the level" of the others, I don't play in the same league, I'm an amateur, a tinkerer, a wanker, whatever you want in this genre; I must not risk trying to play in the big league.

I have never, in any case, had the DESIRE to play in their court, and therefore to "upgrade". Buying more and more expensive and performing equipment, sounding more and more professional, being in competition with the others in terms of performance, innovation, etc. I don't care about all that.

I don't care about all that. I've always been a dreamer above all. I might as well have never composed anything but just written fictional biographies of music bands. Or making fake album covers. Or reviews of imaginary records. That's where I am. In the reverie. Just like I only liked the BM and dark folk scene when I knew almost nothing about it and it was a medium for my daydreaming.

The best I can hope for is that people as lonely and lost as I am will come across my productions by chance and that they will find an echo in them. The circles, the scenes, I must flee from them.

Friday, March 3, 2023

If one seeks to be recognized, to influence one's time and to be useful, and loved, then there are much better things to do than art: there is politics, love and family, work, normal life, that of the adult world, which offers a thousand excellent ways of being somebody.

It is necessary to mourn the figure of the artist, the myth of art, and to become again a child who draws alone at his table.

One does not address the "public". This word has no meaning. We address ourselves and our ghosts. To his lost lives. To those you loved, to your dead. The "public" exists only as an occasional voyeur of this dialogue – there, of this real dialogue – there.

Friday, February 17, 2023

I think back to this track on the first Perunwit album, track 4 to be exact. A single guitar, with chorus and reverb, playing eerie, slow arpeggios.

The track evokes emptiness and loneliness, how does it do that? By the silence and the solitude of a single instrument, without accompaniment. Quite simply.

A music is also defined by its silences and gaps.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Between 1996 and 2000, Maelifell changed its sound and styles several times; in other words, the project evolved.  One can hear, from the extremely primitive tracks marked by a great technical poverty to the very constructed compositions (on Eternity or Rois d'Ici-bas) using synthesizers as well as samples or acoustic instruments, what can seem a logical progression of the band, from a total amateurism to a certain level of competence, and from an ultra-naïve style to something more "adult".

Since 2017, when we started working together again, this logic no longer makes any sense. So much so that it would be relevant, in the absolute sense, to secretly record albums until we die, and then have someone put them online, all at once, without any indication of when. Because we are indeed out of time; out of any idea of progression vs. regression, or evolution vs. stagnation.

We record without the slightest premeditation what comes into our heads, what comes out of itself, under the effect of inspiration, chance, the specificities of the material used that day... It can sound like any of our old periods, or like something absolutely new to us.

Still owning all the material used from Demo 96 to Rois d'Ici-bas via La Peste, and having extended our studio to include analogue synthesizers, 16 and 8 bit samplers, various folk instruments, we are able to revisit all the styles we have practised, extending our music to other ambiances, other genres. "What exactly will be the style of the next Maelifell release" is a meaningless question because we have reached our own kind of eternity.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The indifference, if not hostility, with which I am treated in the artistic world in general – music and interactive fiction essentially – is probably a blessing, a chance offered to me, on the one hand, to develop, by force of circumstance, in a totally autistic way, my own universe, without the help, certainly, but also without the influence of a warm "environment" to surround me, but also, on the other hand, to escape the pride and the delirious pretentiousness of the artists who obtain at least a minimum of recognition.

I AM deliriously proud and pretentious, but fortunately my pretentiousness has ceased to be indexed to any idea of my artistic qualities or of the interest that my work should legitimately arouse in the public. Even if I were to do nothing more than draw with felt pens on sheets of paper, write three-line stories full of mistakes, and record two-note songs repeated in a loop, I would still be more and more proud and pretentious, because it is my identity, my being, that becomes my work over the years; art is only a poor means, a path like any other.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

I often reflect on my relationship to music, instruments, etc. Just as I reflect on my relationship to photography – in both cases it is the relationship (and the most intimate one) to technique.

My inner life is more determined by technique (recorded music, movies, video games, internet dialogues and readings, photography, pornography, etc) than by anything else more alive, more direct. My experience of life is essentially mediated.

Friday, January 20, 2023

I realised something fundamental that I had never understood or at least never made clear to myself: I never play music for myself, for pleasure, just to frolic with my favourite instruments and sounds; everything I do is utilitarian, I only turn on my instruments to compose and record afterwards, and when I do so, it is with a very specific record project, with a content already determined in my head. And my way of playing, my way of writing a song is very cold, "professional", conscious, etc. I don't leave any space for the music to be played. I leave almost no room for chance, for accident, for madness. I don't do that anymore, if I ever did, anyway.

Xavier, on the contrary, and it's by observing him that I realise how I operate, does exactly the opposite: he only plays for himself, for pleasure, without recording himself, unless I literally beg him to do so, and he never asks himself what he's going to do with his compositions.

When we finish an album, he's not particularly interested in the cover, the title, the name of the project, the "concept" that encompasses it all. He quickly forgets what we're writing and when I give him a cassette or USB key containing our finished work after X months, he rediscovers our music entirely and I almost have to persuade him that it's really about us, not just me.

I am obsessed by the notion of the album, by the album as an intellectual object and a fundamentally multimedia work, where the music does not and cannot go without a visual and literary accompaniment, without the storytelling that surrounds the conditions of its production, etc.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Our songs are minimalist, unambitious, repeat themselves from one time to another, use outdated material that we've been over a thousand times; our themes are childish, those of retarded teenagers and provincial yokels romanticizing their plot of land; we make IDIOT music and we assume it entirely and we wouldn't want to do anything else – IDIOT music, that is to say, IDIOSYNCHRATIC: local, specific, atavistic.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

It was illuminating to read an article about the first blues recordings, drowned in hiss, and the tendency, on the contrary, of the triumphant rock, to eliminate the sound imperfections and the very sound traces of the recording (such as hiss, therefore) in favor of an illusion of real presence of the musicians during the listening. If we place these two things on a line to make a paradigm of them, there is nowadays a phenomenon still external to this paradigm, and which is an additional devolution: it is the export.

We have moved, imperceptibly, from recorded music to exported music, for pieces that come directly out of VST and a DAW, to a WAV file, regardless of their musical genre.

This is not necessarily the best calculation from a technical point of view, but from a moral point of view one can support the idea that it is necessary to record what one has done, strictly speaking, instead of simply exporting it. Each technical choice carries its own "ethic".

*

I think I'll use my Grundig tape recorder to record my next little pieces. It's so simple, so straightforward; it has the added advantage of being absolutely and authentically lo-fi from a sonic point of view, but that's not even the primary reason.

Even in digital on a multitrack, the mere fact of playing one's music from the PC or an instrument and recording it, in real time, on a medium, is something else than exporting – even if the difference is null from a technical point of view it is real psychologically. Recording = performance, export = simple calculation.

*

It's funny that I bought back the exact same tape recorder I had as a child, after finding its brand and reference in an electronics store. And that Xavier buys back by chance exactly the 4-track I had (Yamaha Mt-400). I sometimes think that these are signs that we didn't complete our mission twenty years ago.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Hiss is there to make it clear that it is a recording; it is not a matter of creating the illusion of the presence of the musicians, on the contrary, I want it to be clear that it is a recording, made with such and such a type of material, and that this impacts the sound itself and the listening experience. A recording made on such and such a date, under such and such circumstances. It's like a diary page.

Sonic images of the world. A miniature world. Its copy at least – its ghost, locked on a CD, on a tape, etc.

A sound recording is much stranger, much more ghostly than a photograph or a film.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

I finished last night the floppy disk containing MIDI files, photos and a Maelifell bio, which I wanted to do last year, for the 25th anniversary of the 96 demo. So the actual anniversary was missed, but as there's no doubt that nobody cares, I guess it's not too bad. It's a satisfaction, in any case, to have completed this object – I've duplicated about ten of them, which I'll give to Xavier, Eric and others, for the rest we'll see according to demand. In the same way, I've started duplicating tapes again; I transferred Bunker blues and Un dimanche d'exécutions to tape and made several copies, with my double turntable.

It's more for the object than anything else, given the sound quality of these transfers (it saturates nicely), and I like the tape object itself, the idea of duplication, of growing, in the real, material world, a body of finite objects in the space where my music is contained - in reality, you could define a USB stick or an Archive. Org in exactly the same way, but there is something more to the old media, perhaps due to their simplicity, the handmade, almost 'handmade' (this is obviously an illusion) aspect of their production / duplication, and even their relative reliability and fragility make them even more lovable.

*

Talking about Maelifell, it suddenly occurred to me, while for years I've been wandering around with 150 projects under crazy names, mostly to remain anonymous and prevent even these unknown projects from being linked to each other, to take up the name Maelifell, to continue this musical path, without fear of anyone or any external consideration. As if it had taken me all these years and vain efforts to remain anonymous, to make me realize that nobody cares about Maelifell and me and my past and present projects, and that three enemies in the business are not going to spoil anything.

The relief was immediate. A feeling of returning to something fundamental that had been put aside, neglected, forgotten for no good reason. Perspectives that are reopened. Priorities become clearer, blockages disappear. Initially I didn't want to touch Maelifell's discography, I didn't want to "spoil" our old albums, our "masterpieces" with new albums that might have failed. And suddenly I said to myself, never mind, let's move on, let's assume we've had several periods - the early PSS, the medieval, the neo-classical, the neo-folk – and let's do what we want, none of it is sacred, none of it is so serious.

I've imagined a lot of different covers for future albums, which I'll probably never do, but whatever, this unblocking of the imagination means one thing: the project is not in formaldehyde, it's alive, it can mutate into anything, nothing is written in advance, and our past doesn't commit us to anything.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

I decided this morning, while walking, very early, while it was dark, cold, rainy, in the street of Ruffec: to start writing down my dreams again. I need to know what I have in the back of my head, and to be able to remember this other half of my life – even if it means not retaining the dreams that I know teach me nothing, bring me nothing.

Another decision, not only personal: to take back the name of Maelifell. I don't know why, it just came to me, these days, first by renaming the Instagram account "Waldbruder" to "Maelifell", so that our eventual fans can see our current life and our creativity, even if it means not offering them anything more, musically... and then finally, I said to myself why not, and proposed to Xavier to do it again, and too bad for Felix and Serge and the people who don't like me and will ironize or make judgements about what they will see and hear in the future - in the hypothesis that our future works reach their eyes and ears. Too bad. And so much the worse for those who liked the demo, or The Summerlands, or whatever, and don't like the sequel, because we owe them nothing. Now that the decision is made I have to admit that it seems absolutely obvious, it's like finally going home.

I have a pretty clear idea, if not of the melodies, of the general atmosphere I would like to develop on a future Maelifell album, made of alternations, between types of sounds and instruments, musical genres, and types of recording quality: for example a piece with General MIDI sounds recorded on k7 with a lot of breath, as in our beginnings, followed by a piece made with the Technics, which would have its own sound, then an entirely acoustic instrumental recorded with a tape recorder, then a more electronic piece, with the Volca for example, etc. .. This would give the whole thing a more lively, organic aspect than an album that gives the impression of having been entirely played, recorded and mixed on the same day, with the same equipment, in the same state of mind.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The bells that chime indicate the passage of the hours – in a world where time no longer flows, where nothing in the day is ritualized, liturgical.

Chiming bells fill the space with a melodious sound that carries a higher meaning – in a world where only noise and commercial announcements, possibly disguised as songs, reign.

Chiming bells aim to bring the community together – in a world of atomized egos.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Megalomania and autism are necessary survival mechanisms when one is a very average musician, and moreover outdated, aging, evolving in a total solitude – survival mechanisms but also very funny things.

Humor, second degree, self-mockery, derision in general, also become generally necessary, vital things. This does not mean that there is not a frequent inner struggle between that part of us which would like to take things seriously, even tragically, and that part which knows that everything is just a joke – at least partly a joke.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

For several years I did not touch my instruments, I did not compose anything. But music pursued me in my dreams, dreams that marked me enough to write them down in a notebook; dreams that seemed to tell me that everything was not over, that beyond my disillusions, my disappointments and my fatigue, beyond my feeling of having said everything and of having reached the quick limits of my talent, there existed deep inside me, in strata of my mind that I could not reach in a conscious state, an intact fascination, an intact desire for creation.

Dreams where I would find lost floppy disks, filled with unfinished and forgotten pieces of my youth, that miraculously reconnected me to my past – and to a future. I would review them on my keyboard or in my Atari, in my teenage room, miraculously intact and unchanged, and it was like accessing a kind of eternity, a return not to the past but to a deep identity that should never have ceased to be.

Dreams where I wandered through villages or on the moors, hearing a mysterious, overwhelming music that escaped me when I woke up, that stirred up a thousand emotions buried inside me.

Dreams of grey cities where I wandered into deserted, dark music stores, where I discovered new and fascinating machines, sometimes modified, cobbled versions of synthesizers or drum machines that I already knew; they were dilapidated or covered with dust and dirt like artifacts unearthed after centuries of oblivion. Sometimes they were impossible to identify, prehistoric and gigantic machines like primitive computers, crammed with cables and countless knobs.

In one of these dreams I found myself, at night, in a high school or a boarding school; old buildings with a courtyard. There were many people there, as if for a party. I had in my hands a kind of groovebox found in a room of one of the buildings. I didn't really understand how it worked, but I had managed to record a few snippets of rather primitive electronic music, and that was enough to excite me, to fascinate me. Getting a few meager loops out of it seemed more exciting and mysterious than anything more ambitious done with a computer.

Sometimes, I still dreamed of mutant acoustic instruments, hybrids, with mysterious functioning, with a strange and bewitching sound: I remember a wind instrument resembling a clarinet, where while blowing you had to turn a wheel to vary the note; but also a kind of primitive zither, which I played while recording myself on a cassette, with an old tape recorder, improvising for a long time without caring to produce viable, saleable pieces, audible by anyone else but myself. Or from a small basement studio where I discovered a guitar and a bass of poor quality, thinking that I could still record songs with them, and that the sound would probably be catastrophic, but that by drowning it in reverb or other effects it could give something strange, minimalist, distant.

The important thing was not the final work; it was the process itself. This return to primitiveness. I knew when I was recording in this dream that the sound would be terrible, but that was what I wanted; a return to the primitive recording conditions of my adolescence and even childhood, since the tape recorder that had been used to record my very first songs, when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old, was also the one that my parents had used to record me, when I was very small, learning to speak. This tape recorder haunted me: in another dream, I was in a dimly lit room, as if on a rainy day, and I was listening to music on an old cassette recorder, similar to the one I had as a child – only bigger, even more primitive. The music was synthetic, very soaring, repetitive, hypnotic.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Xavier and I's first demo is marked by a disparate use of equipment. Many of the songs use the PSS-50, but there is also one (where Xavier and I play) with flute and the "harpsichord" sound of my sister's electric piano. Another one is played entirely on electric guitar. Finally, on the B side, the songs are played by the sound card of Xavier's PC... except "The Old Tower" which I played on a rented keyboard from Beckrich's store (Akai or Kawai, I don't remember).

In short, and I realize it today fully, our current tendency to voluntarily record with many keyboards with extremely different sounds (pure and hard analog synths, small keyboards equipped with an FM chip, PCM keyboards, samplers, antediluvian General MIDI banks) and my will, for our next releases, to move in a seemingly incoherent way from one type of sound to another, and from one production quality to another (clean digital recording, 4-track cassette, dying tape recorder, outdoor recordings, etc.) – all of this has its roots, unconsciously, in the very beginning of our "career". This second musical period which opened up after ten years without seeing each other and without composing definitely looks like a kind of second chance: that of fully realizing, once adult, with the means of our ambitions, what we had only sketched in high school.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The music I play with Xavier is full of false notes and off-beats, the pieces are short and wobbly, without a real beginning and without a proper end, but it is living music, and therefore imperfect; we will never go back to the temptation of mastering everything from A to Z and of building our pieces on sequencers that are nothing but assembling sonic legos. Sequencing as a default mode of composition has destroyed, had destroyed, in us, in me, any spontaneity, any ability to improvise, to go with the bluff, to include mistakes and accidents. The music we've been making since 2017 is messy, but it's better than most of what I've been able to do alone in front of Fruity Loops since the year 2000.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

While discovering the traditional music of Moselle written on paper by the abbot Pinck (and today downloadable in MIDI on the net) I realized that without knowing it, but perhaps by a kind of atavism, Xavier and I had, in our adolescence then while meeting again after 2017, reproduced what our ancestors made: short pieces, very simple, using an instrument (or voice) or two. All the more reason to give up sounding like the others, to use the same musical structures as the others, and to do our own thing, in a "folk" continuity greater than we imagined.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Maelifell's music is an assumed bedroom music, a music of the middle class and of teenagers equipped with microcomputers as well as mainstream musical instruments; beginner's guitars, family Yamaha keyboards, supermarket microphones and cassette recorders integrated into the HiFi system received for the Great Communion or the entrance to high school.

A music of lonely, bored, walking teenagers, who have little else to do but walk in nature, read, play video games or heroic fantasy role playing games.

As adults, we haven't changed much...

The life of a professional musician is an unbalanced life, like all artists' lives. Perhaps this disorder helps, sometimes, to create masterpieces. It undoubtedly helps to explore potentialities of existence that an average Frenchman, working and living a classical family life, can only imagine or glimpse. But is it really desirable to explore these potentialities – which are, after all, often akin to the ego-poisoning of excessive fame?

In contrast to this, bedroom music is ideally less that of a mediocre amateur than that of a gentleman who lives a well-ordered, complete life, where everything is in its place and with the priority it deserves.

His music is a part of his life, a flower in his garden; not a parasitic plant that gradually suffocates him.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A few days ago, I thought about the physical wear and tear and the even crueler fate that books sometimes suffer – such a text whose author has been lost, such another of which only snippets remain... and the rare books, the disappeared, mythical books, of which we sometimes only know a vague summary, thanks to other authors, themselves buried under the sands of time.

The books quoted, plagiarized, interpolated in other works. Literary sampling.

All this will be just as true, in the future, for music. Sample banks, film extracts, nameless mp3s, albums of which only badly encoded rips will remain, old digital cassettes with unidentified content, demos half-readable due to wear and tear of the tape or digital support, works of which only a few promotional extracts will have survived, musical plundering, unacknowledged plagiarism, shoddy remixes, disappeared groups of which only the name will remain in anthologies and in the memory of specialists who will themselves disappear.

Thinking that maybe, in a hundred and fifty years, only one minute of my music will remain, badly encoded and unidentified, on a corner of some medium, I tell myself that it will have been worth it.

When I do some research on Google or on peer-to-peer, I notice that my music already exists mostly in the form of incomplete or false fragments, sometimes badly encoded, badly catalogued. That's exactly what it should be.

To give up completeness. Exhaustiveness. To mourn what will remain of me after my death.

To mourn also, already, any completeness in my future works.

To accept the idea of producing nothing more than more or less advanced drafts. Snippets of melodies, preparatory samples that will never be used for anything, drawings pencilled on a corner of a sheet of paper, lists of names and dates as an autobiography. Incomplete scripts, incipits that go nowhere, bits of dialogue without context.

I also only have access to fragments of my own memory. I never remember everything at once. I never know exactly who I am and what my life has been like, or where it is going.

And I only give others access to fragments of this life that is and has been mine. Stingy, tiny, unspeakable fragments, which do not allow anyone to say that they know me.

Radio. France Culture, etc. Mixtapes. Music, broadcasts, readings of literary works whose titles and authors I don't know, interviews with people I don't know who they are.

It must be a technique to exploit as a creator. To leave the need of recognition, to create anonymous works, voluntarily fragmentary, incomplete, badly labelled, etc... several alternative versions by work, to create oneself the doubt, the ambiguity.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Improvising, starting from nothing, not even knowing what kind of music it will give. To surprise oneself. To see not only a style but an aesthetic, a world, an imaginary, born "all by themselves".

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Why improvisation and why these flawed, incomplete pieces?

Because it is living music and we accept the failures that it entails; the days without inspiration; the general impression of amateurism and incompetence that emerges from the result, and which is moreover faithful to the reality of what we are, as musicians: amateurs, incompetent, light-hearted.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

It starts with hiss, a thick electronic hiss, of an old audio tape. Hiss (the same word as "breath" in French) is, literally, life. It is also the sonic backdrop of the world: silence does not exist. Hiss is a sound space in which the other sounds unfold. It delimits, it welcomes.

Then come the church bells, in the distance. The call to mass on Sunday morning.

Then we hear the characteristic hum of a floppy disk drive. Sunday is not only the day of the Mass; it is also the day of rest, and of the exploration of imaginary worlds, through books but also through a screen.

*

I am aware that, for the first time I believe, with "Un dimanche d'exécution", I have composed something that was deliberately cryptic, incomprehensible and difficult to appreciate for an audience other than myself. My past projects sought to please, or at least to communicate to the public something that they could appreciate; this work is truly autistic, it was composed by me and for me, for my tastes, to move me, to bring back very personal and precise memories.

*

"Un dimanche d'exécution" contains, interspersed with field recordings and various ambient sounds, three melodies; they are primitive and wobbly, played entirely from the same synthetic guitar sample. The sound of poor quality, with crackles and hiss. To me, this is the very sound of the past.

*

Hauntology: the sound of vinyl, of course, but also the hiss of the tapes – and the cheap sounds of the old Soundblasters, the lo-fi samples...

Friday, February 19, 2016

Do not limit myself to the demo / album form.

But also Mixtape, Rehearsals, Compiles, Generics and other functional music, Singles, etc...

Rehearsals tapes WITH their incompleteness, fragmentary nature, mistakes and hiccups, etc.

"Musical diary"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit - all these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It's the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them. ote to the artist: when the medium fails conspicuously, and especially if it fails in new ways, the listener believes something is happening beyond its limits."

(Brian Eno)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sometimes I despair about the terrible sound of Fin de Siècle albums – especially "Tout disparaîtra", which was really sabotaged with Denoiser, an effect that removes the breath quite effectively but unfortunately also distorts the sound and gives the impression of listening to an old mp3 badly encoded or too low in terms of Kbps. I would like to hear it again one day as it sounded, played directly on my keyboard, especially "Myth" which is probably one of the best songs I ever composed. And the one that has precisely the worst sound of my whole career. But maybe that explains it. Maybe it's a mysterious necessity. Fin de Siècle is about nothing but the passing of time and the degradation of everything. So I can't complain that my own music sounds like something old and inaudible.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What music to make? It's very simple.

Any music that nobody will ever want to use for a commercial.

Any music that won't get you any groupies.

Any music that even your friends couldn't pretend to like to please you.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

As a teenager, around the age of 14 or 15, I had rented a Kawai "synth" from the music store we frequented, and where I took my music lessons. I had installed it in the cellar, with the old tape recorder on which I had been listening to my tapes since childhood. I discovered while using it, with an indescribable mental pleasure, the possibility of recording on a sequencer, even primitive, of multiplying the musical phrases, the layers, the rhythms, a pleasure that is completely "banal" even tedious today...

I composed several small pieces, of which I have no memory today. It seems to me that I used a lot of percussions, bells... Influenced as I was, heavily, by Dead Can Dance, and the "dark ambient" and assimilated sound backgrounds that one could hear at the time on France Culture (notably The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud and Muslimgauze, but I didn't know their names then). These songs were recorded on a cassette tape, which is historically my very first "demo". It was a bit forgotten over time, I didn't attach too much importance to it; it seems to me that Xavier, to whom I had lent it, had eventually lost it, or erased it. I did not become aware of this loss until years later, a loss that now appears to me as central.

The problems around the lost work, the forgotten work, incomplete, badly retranscribed, parasitic, apocryphal, uncertain, etc... that I developed, a good fifteen years later, and that I try to integrate into my writings (with a certain Borgesian light influence, let's say) as well as into my musical projects, come from there, from this first demo of which nothing remains.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Life before the web and especially before social networks and the confiscation of the web by a few giants.

Before the great universal digitization. Before the definitive and complete switch to an existence made of the consumption of the world's ghost and pure signs.

The nostalgia of the raw life before it becomes a purely media / mediated existence.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

When I can't finish an album : don't try to finish it, but only put previews / promo extracts on the net.

Also: for the tracks I can't finish, put online the track as it is with fade in (and / or fade out) to make it look like a simple extract.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Composing an entire demo in less than a week. Forgetting what you've composed, rediscovering it weeks later, with admiration, and the impression of hearing what someone else has done.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The description, at the same time very technical and as literary as possible, of a music, or of a sound sequence on a k7 or a disc, as a literary genre and as a preparatory work for the musical/sound work itself.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Albums that take me to places I never thought I would go. Discovery of the diversification of sounds, techniques. Assumed lo-fi. Stillborn albums, hidden in each album that was born. Florence : muse and "fictitious" partner. Beginning of awareness of this fictional and fantasized aspect of things.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'm listening to an ambient track by ILDJARN that sounds like it's coming out of the same synth as B12 – and so I think of B12.

Axiom: the choice of a synthesizer rather than another is more than a choice of material, it is even more than the choice of a style of music. It is also the choice of the whole era in which it was produced and of all that was done with this material, and that its sounds will evoke by association of ideas.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm listening to "The Summerlands" and I remember the powerful sound of the music as it came out of my synthesizer speakers.

The shaky version, afflicted with the hiss and muffled frequencies typical of a cassette recording, sounds pitiful in comparison.

But in the end, it's good that it is. This fragile, diminished sound is the image of my memories of that already distant time. It is the sound image of the time that has passed, that veils and degrades everything, and that separates me from the living source.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The bunker blues comes from nostalgia, from the feeling of loss and dispossession of an original innocence, of a healthy primitivity, of an Eden from which we have been driven.

"Sapiens"

"Robinson's Requiem"

Tribe. Primitiveness.

The bunker is like a cave. Place of life of the first men, but also tomb. Other types: a teenager's room. A womb.

The cave and the bunker represent verticality, interiority, darkness. The steppe represents horizontality, exteriority, light.

"Moya": American Indians and A-bomb.

The bad primitiveness of the modern man.

To leave the bunker, to find an empty steppe. The hostility of the world.

But also the possibility to build something (again?)

Earth beaten by the winds (of History, of the Spirit, etc)

"Les Passagers du Vent"

Bunkers of Hoste and Meuse.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Driving on the deserted roads of Meuse, going from village to village with Laurence, going along endless fields and orchards, I had hallucinations where WAV files visualized on Audacity, kilometers of magnetic tape, trees were mixed, and as in a trip under LSD I imagine, a mysterious equivalence operated between all these things, for example I assimilated the hiss of the tapes to sound space, and the trees to events which take place in space, in this case, sounds, which occur with hiss as a background.

*

The sound waves, in a software like Audacity or Wavelab, sometimes look like forests of fir trees in the distance.

*

The hiss that precedes the music when you start a tape is the sound that indicates that you are entering another world, where something is going to happen; in this case, incidentally, music.

This hiss is the sound image of the immense expanse of another space-time, whose image is engraved on the tape.

The electronic hiss is the audio equivalent of the space in which things are arranged and arrive. Not a parasite. Not the sound of emptiness, of absence. But a framework, a background, present, perceptible, as one can perceive the grain of the canvas, under the paint.

*

The basis of my music is the hiss. The clattering and the noises produced by the release or the stop of a cassette. The hum of a floppy disk drive. And the old sounds of a PCM keyboard or an ancient Soundblaster. It's the fetishism of old, outdated, forgotten machines that had their limits but now seem so much more carnal than VST synths, etc.

There is no theoretical discourse to develop on this subject. It's only a personal preference, linked to my age, to the technologies I grew up with. One misses the DX7 as one missed the accordion of the musette dances of his youth.

It is about technological poetry; no matter what the theme of the artist, or the exact style of music he plays. The poetry comes from the machine itself, not from the artist's intention.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

When I was a kid I lived on the outskirts of town, near an airfield. There was a constant sound of small planes over the neighbourhood. I think that's where my taste for drones comes from; the rumble of a plane is a kind of ambient drone.

Just like I like to put breath and crackle in my music because as a teenager I used to listen to the radio and there was a lot of static.

I like certain electrical transformers, which make a nice soft, airy chord. All year round, always in the same place.

Near Laurence's house there was a shed with a ventilation system that produced a sublime sound. One afternoon, too, she and I were in the church not far from her house, and we could hear a lawnmower outside, drowned in the natural reverberation of the church. If I had been alone, I would have sat and listened to it, indefinitely.

*

Peter Principle also recorded four solo albums : Sedimental Journey (1985), Tone Poem (1989), Conjunction (1990) and Idyllatry (2005). About the latter, released by LTM, Crammed Discs comments that "he gave free rein to his taste for experimentation and his love for quasi-psychedelic soundscapes. He once explained that he had discovered the magic of pure sound by listening to the sound of lawn-mowers in his native New York suburb, and then proceeded to reinvent musique concrète (which he didn’t know already existed)."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A memory, an image obsesses me: the memory of a recurring dream, where I discover at home, in the cellar or in the living room, in drawers or old boxes, either superb photos that I took years ago and had completely forgotten, or cassettes with old and forgotten songs – and the feeling of rediscovering a treasure, something dearer than anything else, that I had lost and was not even aware of the loss, but that finding it again makes me "complete".

*

A vague, indescribable impression, a ghost of memory, that of the old cassettes, of their distant sound drowned in the hiss, the sound image alone of buried memories, ineffable, hidden under tons of "noise".

*

An image, that of myself as a teenager, reading comic books and art books, writing role-playing games and short stories. And the feeling of having thrown away or lost the essence of all these manuscripts (of which I still see the squares of school notebooks and the blue ink, of a crazy sensuality in these computer times) which also constitute a loss, but also a treasure to be sought, to be hoped for.

*

My dreams of exhumed cassettes or diskettes, containing fabulous unpublished material or simply making me rediscover a forgotten facet of my work – and therefore of myself, of my past – have been countless over the last twenty years. I imagine that they tell me only one thing: you must continue, you must realize what you dreamed of artistically in your youth and that, because of material impossibility, lack of time, energy or seriousness, you did not carry out.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Music created by accident

Music created by several people, by improvising, and which, against all odds, turns out to be successful, perfect

Music that you don't know if you composed it or not

Music that is born by chance from the conjunction of life's noises (horns, sirens, etc)

Music heard and recorded, used without knowing what it is

Music that you have in your head and that you cannot transcribe or reproduce

Music that you can only hum a few notes of, and that you like, evocative, but that you have almost completely forgotten

Music played in a deserted place, for nobody

Music written on a score, in an indecipherable notation system

Music written for instruments that don't exist or no longer exist, of which one has no idea of their sound

Music recorded on unreadable media or from which only fragments can be read

Work transmitted by dream or telepathy

Work dictated by God or an entity

Music played on an absolutely unique occasion

Music composed for another artist

Music composed secretly for another artist

Music composed secretly or not for another human being, in their honour or memory

Music of another, modified, manipulated, distorted

Stolen music

Commissioned music

Apocryphal work

Work by a fictitious author

Work that does not exist but has an author's name, title, tracklist and imaginary content described in detail

Lost work of which only reviews remain

Work of which only fragments remain, of varying sound quality

Work with uncertain or even unknown author, title and precise content

Unknown work

Work whose existence or not is subject to debate

Work known to be fictitious or apocryphal but whose provenance is in doubt

Finished album / Album in constant reworking

Album with a defined playlist / Album with a changing playlist

Unique complete work, permanently expanded, virtually infinite

A piece of music with an ever-increasing, virtually infinite duration.

Release in the form of an album (cassette, vinyl, CD)

Immaterial release (mp3 album to be downloaded for free or not)

Radio playback only

Use as a soundtrack for a film or a play

Soundtrack for a fictitious film or play

Fake radio show

Background music for a website

Music for a video game

Background music for any space (supermarket, museum...)

Telephone ringtone

Free availability in record shops' bins

Free availability in public places

Mailing to randomly selected persons

Mailing to selected persons

Donation to one or more persons to whom the work will be exclusively reserved

Distribution on p2p

Dissemination on p2p by lying (pretending it's Madonna or another highly sought-after artist)

Dissemination via a website or blog whose address may be secret and reserved for a selected audience, or disclosed publicly, or even to an ultra-large audience by means of wild advertising (stickers in the streets, etc.)

Spam by e-mail

Wild concert

Wild Djing

Evening performance

Work played via telephone for someone

Work composed to be a ringtone

The work played live only, for a chosen audience

Music played at high volume through headphones as a means of torture

Military song

Class-related song

Revolutionary song

Religious song / Funeral song

Nursery rhyme

Music that is false and unbearable, but pure and sublime in another world, for other beings

Music that appeals to a sensory apparatus that human beings do not have.

Music that is audible to humans but is only a small part of a larger sensory work for beings with a much wider perception.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007