Noise Chamber [2011-02-11]Last year saw Whitehouse’s William Bennett collaborate with avant-grade and noisy German chamber orchestra Zeitkratzer, to create new and violent modern classical versions of past Whitehouse tracks. These tracks appeared on Zeitkratzer own label under the title of “Whitehouse Electronics”, and it proved to be one of the most rewarding and consistent release put out thus far by the Zeitkratzer collective, it was also one of the highlights of 2010. Both William Bennett(WB) and Reinhold Friedl (RF) (the main arranger and composers of the Zeitkratzer collective) kindly agreed to give M[M] an email interview.
m[m] How did you both come to meet? And when/ where did the idea for the Whitehouse Electronics project come about?
RF: Ed Benndorf of dense in Berlin brought up the idea of a possible cooperation between zeitkratzer with Whitehouse, I was amused by this at first, but after studied a bunch of recordings Ed gave me, I became enthusiastic. This was in 2009.
m[m] How did you go about deciding which tracks to recreate in orchestral chamber form? And who decided on this?
RF: I made proposals to William, and he made proposals to me. And we agreed very fast on the tracks that we would do- so it was very much a joint process.
m[m] Why did you decide to pick more modern Whitehouse tracks & do you think any older Whitehouse work would be suitable to convert to Chamber form?
RF: Yes, there are some older tracks that I'm working on. But I’m keeping it a secret which ones they might be. I hope we can produce it somewhere in the near future.
WB:quite possibly, yes - that said, I suppose the temptation is always to work with material that's the newest since it's what you're most intimately familiar with in terms of its construction and usually involves the ideas that you're currently most excited about. Furthermore, since the newer work incorporates percussion in the form of quite complex polyrhythms plus a richer variety of sound arrangement, it seemed a greater, and perhaps more fulfilling, challenge for Zeitkratzer to employ the full extent of their orchestral range.
m[m] How long did it take to get a satisfactory chamber version of the tracks & which track caused the most difficulty to get right?
RF: The most difficult was probably the first piece on the CD(Munkisi Munkondi- the last track on whitehouses 03 Birdseed album), as my feeling was always, that it should not become to close to Free Jazz, but keep the nasty side of the track.
RF: I worked on the transcribtion for about one week, than tow days together with William in Edinburg, and than we had a final rehearsal day in Marseille, where we first checked out the arrangements I had proposed, then included a lot of propositions by the musicians - who are really used to work like this - and than corrected the whole thing in an intense rehearsal with William.
WB: Generally speaking, one of the impressive aspects of working with Zeitkratzer was how quickly they were able to achieve workable versions, that's something I'd attribute to Reinhold's preparatory work, and also of course in addition to the undeniable talents and relevant experience of the musicians.
WB: The only tricky moments sometimes were in the communication of personal conceptual ideas that I've incorporated into the music, such as the a-musical 'contemplative' ending of Scapegoat (also utilised in other recent songs such as 'Dumping The Fucking Rubbish')
m[m] Has there been any thoughts about performing the album live?
RF: We already have. And we’ve included some of the pieces already in our shows, and will do in the future shows too.
m[m] Do you hope to work with each other again in the future? And would there ever be a chance of a complete album of new Whitehouse material in chamber form?
RF: Yes, and: yes. I'm working on it.
WB: for my part, yes, I hope very much so; something I alluded to already is how well recent compositions can be translated to this very special chamber format, so I believe it could be an exciting proposition - I already have a few special ideas, in fact, that would require my own involvement.
m[m] Reinhold please list 3 noise tracks or albums that had the most effect on you & why? William please list 3 modern classical pieces or albums that had the most effect on you ?
RF: Xenakis: Concret PH, and Shunishiro Okada live at Off-ICMC 2000, some tracks from Keiji Haino, Zbigniew Karkowski, ...
WB: my classical tastes remain firmly embedded in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, but that having been said, if we can include contemporary composers such as Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, and Istvan Marta, then it would be their work that I love and respect the most
m[m] finally what have you both got lined up next project/release wise?
RF: We are going to perform, record and produce the new SONGS program, featuring Marc Weise aka rechenzentrum on voice, but also performing and recording Stockhausen's Aus den Sieben Tagen at Biennale Zagreb in Croatia.
WB: Extralinguistic Programming, the 2-hour project that was premiered at the Tate Britain late 2010; plus of course the long overdue Cut Hands album, which coincidentally includes a couple of the pieces that we did together with Zeitkratzer
Thanks to William & Reinhold for the time and efforts with the interview, and thanks to Ed from Dense for making it possible. Zeitkratzer - Whitehouse Electronics is out now on ZeitkratzerRoger Batty