Interview to Cranioclast by Massimo Ricci
"Keeping away from theory and philosophy, can you describe the genesis of your musical ideas? How and when a new Cranioclast creature comes to life"?
"That's nice that you don't ask for specific theory or philosophy, as there is none and the concept behind the word "philosophy" seems a little bit too big to us. We are just on an expedition into a universe we create by ourselves - that's all. So much about the things you didn't want to hear, back to your question: there are a lot of influences that contribute to our output, but it's difficult to pick singular sources out of the mass. As on the conceptual level, we are open to any kind of inspiration, like noises we hear, a musical style, a particular song we like, sometimes it is an image etc., which is of course quite banal. If you take our first Lp "Koitlaransk" as an example, you have the main source of inspiration right at hand: it is the complex work of the English science fiction writer J.G. Ballard, who took us deep into his own special inner universe. There we found a base to built up some own soundscapes, visual visions, texts etc. Later we drowned in the concrete ocean of the fossiles of WWII bunkers and partly emerged with the a con cristal lp again. For the double Cd "Iconclastar" the first inspiration were photographic images which weren't done with a foto-camera, but glass-plates layered with different materials and fluids, and treated like negatives. In case of the 7" can I talk or s it was a recording of a damaged nick cave record where the needle stuck in a groove and the recording of it was ignored for almost 10 years and rediscovered by accident(?). The basic material for the long track of the compilation nature morte was based on a recording of pure feedback noise created by our studio equipment, but not by the speakers, more a communication between mixer and various effect machines, without any contribution from our side, except switching the electricity on. The 12" "Rats can coil-cats can roil" was inspired(?) by the finding of a mummified cat during a walk in an abandoned factory. So much about the genesis of a couple of ideas. Well the second part of the question is easy to answer, the stuff is simply released when we have finished the recordings and the packing stuff, which takes more and more time the older we get. But the word creature for some of the releases is a very good expression, as we terrorized ourselves a bit over the years with some handmade cover stuff. Some get little monsters shocking us when there is an huge order. An experience which won't hinder us to do such things again, we seem to get older but not wiser"
"Before you issued "Koitlaransk" did you ever put hands on some musical instrument or did you start from zero level"?
"Our teachers in the elementary school tried to teach us how to play a christmas carol on a recorder. But we never were good enough to join the elementary school christmas orchestra and had no chance to pose as a shepherd with a flute. One of us even was banned from taking part in the singing-lessons of the school class, because the teacher was already horrified by his voice even before his vocal change during puberty, afterwards he did not think better of it. So we had the best precondition to do something without caring too much, then we coloured our hair and made some wild short loud & fast "songs". Later we learned by doing, how to work with a taperecorder, now of course there is the unavoidable stupid screen in front of us"
"Do you decide the sound of your records in advance or you leave the ideas flowing while in the recording studio"?
"Well we have to keep them flowing till the last moment, but not due to a great concept but rather to our simple rudimentary studio equipment and our own inabilities. So a lot of improvisation is necessary especially in the early days. This is essentially true for "Koitlaransk" which was mastered with a 4 track recorder and if we remember correctely 2 tape decks and 4 walkmen, and us hitting and switching buttons all the time. On this record is a piece where we had to reverse a part of the track, because in the morning hours when we checked the final master one of us fell asleep and stopped the wheel of the master machine. Because only one wheel moved, the tape got entangled and was damaged. So we couldn't use some centimeters of the tape/seconds of the music anymore. As both sides of "Koitlaransk" were one continously flowing mix (?) and the deadline in the cutting studio came nearer and nearer, we had no chance to mix it again. We cut the damaged piece out and turned around some beats of the track, so that it was reversed and the result sounded great, at least for us, especially that morning. Generally we think/discuss about an atmoshere we want to create with a track/release and later try to get as near as we can to these ideas, with varying success. Although in most cases we are more seduced by the results of the sound manipulations and they lead us away from the original ideas to their own plateaux. which rises again the question, creatures or not "
"Among the records, is there any that you particularly like (that may be refers to a particular remembering in that period, or something else related)"?
"Well of course there are a lot of sentimental memories about each release/track and we will bother our grandchildren with all of them, they will look into the sky quite bored but listen patiently because they know their grannies are a little confused and nothing much happens in their life anymore. But to be even more concrete musically may be lost in karak is one of our favorites, because it was done easily, worked out well (to our taste) and we laughed a lot about the results our work. And most of all we went through not trouble with the sleeve (vinyl version) and last but not least we descovered the first famour cocktail recipts of mr coitra.. In terms of a complete project a con cristal was probably the most interesting one, with all the "catastrophe tourism" (Bad Alchemy) we did to take the fotos/recordings/reserach of the WW II bunkers across the european shores. We even collected much more material after the release than it was included in it, these were a quite maniac days "
"What's the strangest thing ever happened to Cranioclast"?
"Oh yeah, this would be a good opportunity to make up some great story, but be honest we think nothing really strange ever happened to us as far as we know. Strange and bizarre are expressions much too often used for in most cases rather banal stuff. In fact we are a bit glad that nothing strange happend to us, may be we couldn't answer this interview anymore if it had happened"
"What do you like when you are not Soltan Karik and Sankt Klario"?
"Aaaahh, Soltan's and Sankt's little machines of desire always emerge when the other little machines want to keep their privacy and we do really thank them for this"
"Do you usually listen to other music besides your own? If yes, please give us the famous "desert island disks", or your major influences"?
"It is more the other way round, we hardly listen to our own music once it is finished. There is a mood every couple of years when we do listen to some of the stuff, but we think there has to be a period of time after the release where you have to avoid it because it absolutely bores you as you had to listen to the stuff that much. There is no particular genre we prefer, nor we do see a singular one as our major influence. We like specific bands/compositions, although it varies of course due to moods and the developping personal taste, from traditional folk music to techno so to say. And of course our ears are open all the time and if we want to - what do we hear but music?? Concerning the famous 5 disks, well we have to say that it is too difficult to take 5 out of the lot we like and to be honest our imagination can't conceive a deserted undiscovered island where you have electricity and a record player. We would rather hope to meet a friendly island tribe with a wonderful polyphone chanting not discovered and recorded by any music enthnologist"
"Generally speaking, what do you think about so-called "specialized" musical magazines"?
"Without wanting to charm "you" too much (and we do not know your magazine), of course people who do these often small magazines with much effort and who invest so much time into them, do a great lot for music (or any other subject) which isn't in heavy mtv rotation and whose artist don't smile in colour from glossy magazine fronts. To avoid misunderstanding we are neither envious nor do we think this "bad" music, these structures simply offer nothing to us. The specialized magazines, together with specialized radio shows and now the internet are often the only source of information if you do not life in very big cities where you have a specialized shop for almost every taste. The only thing we absolutely dislike are the often boring arrogance of the "initiated" and the sad structures of every kind of scene, which more communicate about certain people and which haircut they had last night, who are again stars in these scenes, and less about their products and the often perceived boring collectors behaviour which leads to 7" in limited editions for 300,- DM. These are phanomenons often perceived in the neighborhood of any kind of specialized magazines"
"Do you issue records just to make your ideas concrete and for documentation or are you interested in communicating with your supporters"?
"Well a difficult question arises here, why do we release any kind of product at all?? Hmm, of course you can say that it is sufficient to have an idea and keep it on an imaginary basis, if you are not chasing any kind of fame or a career/money thing with it, so to speak with the singer of aerosmith "if you don't want to be a star don't hold your ass out of the window". There isn't much more boring than people complaining about the side effects of their fame, the media hype etc and that they never wanted it this way etc etc, completely ridiculess. So if not for fame or money why are we doing it, stupidity? Of course often people tell exciting stories that they fight the information war or spreding the virus of "suppressed" or hidden information with their releases, we see it much more banal. We do release stuff, because it is interesting to concretize an idea and to finish a real product with all the up and downs, the changings and set-backs you have to go through and which change the original idea often completely. So something new is created even for the one who had the idea, this is especially the case if you do something with other people, fusing the ideas and working methods. It is a process where you learn a lot and at last it is a lot of fun. Then you give the stuff away and it has a life of its own, some people hold it as if it is a precious stone some throw it away into the garbage can. The aspect of communication with other people was always very important in different aspects. First the general idea to communicate with music, in our case most time without lyrics. Second the aspect that we always distributed most of our stuff (and the one of other people too) by ourselves with mr coitra's clan - coc. Besides the fact that the old boy likes to play the businessman to impress the chicks (both laugh at his rediculous behaviour), the generally interesting thing over the years was the different communication with many persons all over the world. Which was at times much more fascinating (and much much more time intensive) than making of the music itself. Communcation with supporters - ?, well as far as we know there is no cranioclast fan club, wearing t-shirts with our faces printed on them, may all gods and backstreet boys beware us from that, we think they already do a good job "
"Finally, what are your upcoming projects"?
"Besides telling our grandchildren once-upon-the-time-stories of our exciting old Cranioclast days, we hope to release a Cd this year with Cranioclast on the english label Iris Light, although we said this quite a couple of times before it seems more and more to materialize into one of those stupid silver disks. There also will be a new Core Cd in which one of us is involved too, then there will be a couple of live events with Core and/or Cranioclast this spring. some new cocktail recipts of mr Coitra of course, too"