N O   P A R T   O F   I T
Far more important than baking bread is the urge to take dough -beating to the extreme - Otto Muehl

Monday, July 13, 2020

Interview Series #17: Blake Edwards

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.   

 Scheduled March 2019
Active since at least 1991, Blake Edwards' main project Vertonen has traversed many different roads.  What I'll touch on here, firstly, would be his arrangements for various field recordings of factory/industrial landscapes titled Fait a la Machine.  I should add, that Edwards not only tracked down the various field recordings, at times getting permission from staff on site, but he also speaks French, so don't mess with it.  I should also add, that I think it's okay for me to say that he's an English teacher, so apologies in advance for any errors on my part... as they are surely my fault.  

While it would be a disservice if I didn't point out Vertonen's epic sense of long, sprawling ambient tundras that heave themselves into swirling mechanical feeding frenzies, or sometimes just dissipate into dust, I'd have to highlight a few of my favorites being a bit of the earlier works; The split LP with Nautical Almanac, Return of the Interrobang, Deteriorated Broadcast, The Split LP with 16 Bitch Pile Up, and some others that have a humble, yet ambitious feel to them, in the sense that they are often in the classic "everything but the kitchen sink" vein, but have a precision that only a pioneer could foster for that long--keeping us guessing.  Maybe it's simultaneously light-hearted, but also buttressed with the feeling that you're in good hands.  And even with the more ambient works, they are sometimes accompanied with deeply conceptual overtones, forgotten languages, and laborious symbolism, sometimes almost convivial in their ambiguity, and are dadaist the sense that they sometimes harken back to a more mathematical/serialist approach to noise music that is basically long-forgotten- a complete lack of the mythical fervor than many of us try to achieve with symbolic tropes or emotional diadems.   I would also be remiss to exclude the fact that Vertonen is quite fond of loops.  He's worked with locked grooves, real-time vinyl damage, and extracted numerous looper-cauldrons on extremely limited CDR from Robert Turman, Velvet Underground, Lana del Rey, and his live sets did include at one time tape recordings of machine sounds, harsh noise, synthesizers, and Lady Gaga.   

As a label head, Edwards ran the CIP label for an apparent 25 years, releasing intimate and integrity-driven large-run media with the likes of Wolf Eyes, Z'ev, Chop Shop, Joe Colley, Hafler Trio, Skozey Fetisch, Hans Grusel, and many others.   In place of CIP is now a smaller run label Ballast in its stead, focusing on more intimate listener settings. 

 1. What kinds of things have you been getting into lately?
Lana Del Rey, OULIPO, letterpress.

2.  What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby? 

3.  How would you describe what you do?
Audio-based art, often with textual and visual components.

4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?
Most recently I’ve been interested in extracting as much possibility as possible out of outdated or damaged equipment.

5.  How would you describe your philosophy?
Form follows function.

6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?  If no, then maybe you'll share your favorite conspiracy theory (whether you believe it or not). 

Absolutely not, nor am I particularly interested in conspiracy theories.

7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience?
While that may be yet to come, perhaps to date contracting cryptococcal meningitis. Being in an ICU and subsequently receiving seven spinal taps likely shifted my perspective on the phrase “carpe diem.”

8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?

dead edits is a collaborative operation I execute with Eric Lunde.

9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"? 
NON: Pagan Muzak, Tori Amos: Under the Pink, Big Black: Atomizer, Misfits: Walk Among Us, Roland Kayn: Makro I-III, Faction: Darkroom, Hafler Trio: intoutof, Lana Del Rey: Born to Die.

10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?  
My memory apparently isn’t that good: I do remember riding a tricycle on my grandmother’s concrete cistern (which doubled as a sort of patio) when I was perhaps 3 or 4.

11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent? 

Yes. The extent is while I may appreciate it, I will not support them financially.

12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?  Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out. 

I do not: there are people I admire, but I would not pedestal them as a hero or a heroine.

13.  What would you like to have on your epitaph?  Or what is your favorite quote? 
A favorite quote: “If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.”

—Catherine Aird

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