Thursday, November 19, 2015

The HNW-Q No.9: Charlotte & Julien Skrobek

(photos by SKG, taken from "The Guardians of the Galaxy")

Dear Readers,

I am very proud to present the HNW-Q No.9 featuring this time Charlotte and Julien Skrobek. I stumbled across their works in the second phase (after its unnoticed and nameless initialization during approximately the 1990's) of the unfolding of the HNW-universe: the ruthless epoch of its fetishization and brainless exploitation. Or less pretentious: the totally annoying and brainless imitation of Romain Perrot's kingsize intellectual invention almost worldwide. This imitatory and levelling flood destroyed nearly all promising, different and original projects. It opened all doors for totally worthless HNW-projects despite the courageous attempts by some label owners (e.g.:James KillickJoseph GatesGrégory Henrion and the Skrobeks) to moderate the flood. But who can honestly moderate a flood of garbage ?

Another ugly side-effect of this eurocentric hegemony of one HNW-paradigm that was unnecessarily derived from and connected to HN (the second awful acronym) was the total erasure of different ways to spell out HNW. This led to a severe sales problem, because no one could explain why one should own more than one HNW-recording. Uniformity and stupidity became synonyms and trademarks deliberately chosen by most of the HNW artists, because they were too stupid to understand Perrot's invention and his serial production method and to uninspired to develop different ways of HNW that could or should have been connected to a critical reception of the works of Richard Ramirez and Sam McKinlay or to other forms of Classical Minimalism and Experimentalism in Music, Sound-Art, Electroacoustics and the Fine Arts. But the HNW-industry prefered to chain itself deliberately to a misconception about the HNW-sound - being brutal or extreme (how stupid is that ??) - instead of serious aural research of an unmapped territory of Non-Music or the infinitely close to music and its backdrops in the High Art or Avantgarde worlds of the XX. century. Sadly HNW is most of the time popmusic of the worst kind: it takes no risks, it is absolutely predictable, it is a cheap and sedating factory music. Remember: It is really difficult and close to impossible not to fall in the deadly traps of late capitalism.

The totally regressive and depressive development of HNW from a public, mildly discussed and slightly commercial phenomenon (yes, there were times when people liked to pay for this in large groups) to a mere ignorant underground trade thing killed all my interests over the years. And I am still not sure if I should spend more time exploring this area of sound in detail again. Why should I listen and comment HNW when there are so many better composers and projects around that seriously work in the field of a re-mapping of the crucial distinction of Music and Non-Music, Silence and Sound ? The amounts of violent stupidity, anti-intellectualism, misogyny and ignorance in the underground ( I call it igno-ground now) are absolutely intolerable. Disgusting artworks (your grand grandmother was not really shocked, but anyway you were the king in your kindergarten noise group for one day !) combined with talentfree sounds straight from the assembly line produced in a sad basement located in a land called I.D.O.C. If you are still absolutely clueless about the official and unofficial music history of the XX.century, then please stop making sounds !

One last remark before I return to the outstanding projects of Charlotte and Julien. I am absolutely sure that no one (writers and normal consumers) is really listening to HNW with respect and attention. One look at the reviews and the debates is sufficient here: always the same annoying descriptions. It does not matter at all if the piece lasts for 10 hours or 1 minute and how it was produced. In the end this only proves how helpless the reception of post-Cage-Soundworlds still is ! The following question still remains largely unanswered and undiscussed: how do you review a work that does not follow the classical criteria ? Consequently HNW tapes, Audio Files and CDs will hang around lazy in the sun for a very long time to come waiting only to be traded and traded and traded again and again without purpose and final destination. These questions remain: Why are people producing things no one needs ? Why is someone trading loneliness for a climate of open and critical debates ? Why is HNW - being around for several years now - unable to develop itself in terms of critical evaluation and inventiveness to an amount that keeps it thrilling and unpredictable ? After all these more general and polemical remarks, I would like to come back to the featured artists.

Charlotte and Julien Skrobek are two of the most versatile, adventurous, experimental and non-orthodox artists in the field of HNW. Consequently I would like to call the field in which CJ are working no longer HNW, but Experimental-Non-Music (ENM) and/or Silence/Music (S/M). I think these two acronyms catch the impetus of their works far better and individualizes their complex approach and entries in this field. And I can avoid the moronic acronym ANW. The names Charlotte and Julien Skrobek stand for a wide range of thought provoking, innovating, courageous and often irritating projects. Charlotte and Julien are trying to map and conceptualize the ENM and S/M-field using a wide range of systematizations, production-techniques, intellectual references, original artworks and designs. Most of the projects affiliated with them (eg. Ghost, Ruine, The Sandman wears a Mask, Figures of Solitude, Static Park, Absurde) are very good examples for serious aural research about sonorous silence.

Charlotte and Julien Skrobek  also put the problem of stasis and kinesis, volumes and textures, a refined spelling out of a certain manierist trompe-l'oreille-effect and the mapping of the inaudible silence (a nickname for no-musical-content or no-information) on their agenda. They are treating the production devices(eg. distortion-pedals, microphones, recording-machines or other electronic maniupulation devices) used in HNW like new instruments that desperately need attention and research to avoid artistical arbitrariness. With equal ferveur they try to develop what I have called a psycho-acoustics or simpler a research of the impact of sounds on our brains. HNW seen as a S/M-device for a sobering up of our ears -- to listen, finally  -- with our brains in standby beyond corny processings! Another paradoxical effect of HNW (in my opinion this is also a target or important part of CJ's work) is that it changes our relationship to sounds. It generates a strange effect: it is shocking when it starts and it is even more shocking and uncanny when it stops. As if music presents itself once and for all in all its fragile intensity. Sounds appear out of silence and disappear in silence again. HNW-sounds are maybe like a dramatic curtain: staging this minimal definition of music: on/off or zero/one/zero/one etc..

One final remark about Charlotte and Julien Skrobek as label owners. In retrospective the name of their first HNW-label Slow Death was very funny, sardonic and a little prophetic, because HNW was already dying slowly back then and it is still dying. But the name "Slow Death" is for me also connected to the finest releases and most unorthodox artworks ever in this field. Who has no lasting memories of these red covers ? Who has no lasting memories of the 2011 releases like Angström's "La chute des anges rebelles" , Askell Grochen's "Cri", Skrobek's own projects Ghost, Bones & The Sandman wears a Mask and Alois Richter to name a few before the label folded surprisingly in 2011. After a hiatus of few years the Skrobek's returned in 2013 with an new label called Ink Run Recordings with refreshingly new artworks opening new perspectives on Static Noise (relating  it closer to Modern Art and Graphics) and a bunch of interesting projects (to name a few) from Flesh Clocks, Cuttings (with Charlotte and Clive Henry) to The Girl with the Stanley Knife. Their newest label is called Ensemble Vide Records (click here) it started recently in October 2015 with a series of Multi-CD-r-Sets with works by Absurde (Julien and Charlotte's new project), Black Matter Phantasm, Vomir, Chier (looking for a different body orifice than Vomir ;) ), and a new release by Ghost.

I want to close the introduction with a description of the very early phase of our universe (source: Wikipedia) and reconnect it to the beginning of my text in which I related HNW to this process. Let's hope that HNW returns to its hot phase again: 

In the first phase, the very earliest universe was so hot, or energetic, that initially no matter particles existed or could exist perhaps only fleetingly. According to prevailing scientific theories, at this time the distinct forces we see around us today were joined in one unified force. Space-time itself expanded during an inflationary epoch due to the immensity of the energies involved. Gradually the immense energies cooled – still to a temperature inconceivably hot compared to any we see around us now, but sufficiently to allow forces to gradually undergo symmetry breaking, a kind of repeated condensation from one status quo to another, leading finally to the separation of the strong force from the electroweak force and the first particles.

[written by SKG, 

This is the HNW-Q No.9
brilliantly completed
by Charlotte & Julien Skrobek:

The HNW-Q No. 9

[1] I discovered and invented HNW for myself, when I was looking for something new in sound-making.

[2] The initial radicality of HNW would be preserved, if it got archived properly.

[3] HNW is the contemplation of a harsh noise texture until it causes an auditory hallucination.

[4] HNW is not completely music.

[5] I like the acronym H.N.W. because it says what it does.

[6] HNW is pure contemplation.

[7] The sounds of machines are frequent but not a necessity.

[8] HNW helps the way one's brain works to be revealed.

[9] Monolithic Walls are richer than non-monolithic.

[10] The Future of HNW would be recognition by the academics.

[11] The Death of HNW would be recognition by the academics.

[12] HNW should be related to Malevitch to understand it better.

[13] Singularity and Originality in HNW are marginal but a human necessity.

[14] HNW should be called Static Minimalism, because that's what it is really.

[15] HNW should not be called Static Minimalism, because it sounds pretentious.

[16] The permanent repetition of the HNW-Mantra (No ideas, no change, no dynamics, no development etc.) leads to an imitation of Vomir.

[17] Volume in HNW is unimportant to us. 

[18] Distortion in HNW is one out of many tools.

[19] My Unconscious is sometimes called upon in HNW.

[20] Narratives, Analogies and Metaphors in HNW are impossible in sound, only in thematic imagery.

[21] Time and Space in HNW are arbitrary.

[22] HNW is musically the nearest you can go to absolute Nothingness.

[23] My HNW amplifies sonic details and imagination.

[24] Minimal Music and Cosmic Drones are relatives of HNW.

[25] Conceptualism is the byproduct of HNW.

[26] The main ingredients of brilliant HNW are the ability to trick the listener's mind into thinking there are changes and movements when there are none.

[27] The purpose and the concept of my HNW are absurdity, chaos and order.

[28] The distinction between ANW / HNW is harshness.

[29] The philosophy of HNW can change from one person to the next.

[30] My first words about HNW were this is a musical revolution.

[31] My final words about HNW would be that is what it is.

[32] The phrase I would like to add to this questionary is HNW is the same as near-silent music.

(photos by SKG, taken from "The Guardians of the Galaxy")

 Merci beaucoup, Charlotte et Julien !
Please support their label EVR
and their various projects !

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