Saturday, 25 February 2017

Brian Case: Tense Nature.

Photo by Zoran Orlic .
In a 2015 interview Brian Case, the frontman of Disappears, commented in response to a question about the band's last album Irreal, 'Yeah, that's something we really focus on - stripping away as much fat as we can and having this direct hit...'.That philosophy has carried on into his first solo album which, while very different from Disappears musically, has that same sense of pushing at boundaries. Brian's album Tense Nature was created by reordering and reworking guitar samples and small drum loops and is an unsettling listen, its twelve tracks closer to sound sculpture than traditional ideas of music. It is also an album that amply rewards the attention and time needed from the listener to access its intelligent sophistication.
Brian kindly agreed to an interview to discuss this work.

How long has the gestation period been internally for Tense Nature, is it a realisation of something that you've been thinking about a long time?

It's was about a year or two maybe? The first set of material I was playing solo ended up becoming another project I am involved in called Bambi Kino Duo with EVI player Justin Walter. That group of music needed something and was based more on live performance, it needed to react with another person and instrument. But I still wanted to do something by myself so I started sampling my guitar and editing those samples in random ways. From there it was a matter of figuring out how to make those samples interesting, figure out how to add some other elements to them.

Were there any people or bands that helped give you a sense of what you were trying to create?

Structurally I wanted to group things like Music For Films or some of the Moebius soundtracks, small pieces making a larger whole. There's also this Will Sergeant soundtrack called Theme's for "Grind" that works a lot like that. 

You have been in several bands and obviously that involves collaboration and,I guess, negotiation. What was it like working solo?

It's cool to have a vision and see it through, but I really love the collaboration in a group setting. It's exciting to think you know what's going to happen with a song or idea and have it come out completely different. This was a little more about trusting that these small pieces were going to form some kind of whole picture, so it had it's own twists I wasn't expecting. The two processes are really different from each other.

It sounds like an extremely complex album, was it difficult to realise technically?

Not so much. I guess you have to be able to edit yourself which is the hard part, but I've gotten pretty good about that in recent years. I mean, when something isn't working I feel like it's really obvious. I think the harder part is not giving up on something that you know has a place somewhere, even if you can't see it in front of you.

Is Tense Nature a realised vision, did you know what you creating from the start or was it more evolutionary than that?

It all came from hating playing solo, I hate it still. But I thought it was important to do something like that, to get uncomfortable and see what happens. I want to have the ability to do music on my own and these songs are the beginnings of that. They evolved from some pretty terrible shows!

In 2015 Disappears toured and released an interpretation of Bowie's 'Low'-I wondered whether covering 'Side 2' of Low was helpful in any way-such a musical shift for Bowie-did it encourage you?

Maybe inadvertently - I think everything you're processing, studying, creating gets into you in some way. But I think I'd started down this road a bit before then - I've been trying to play solo for years and I think it just pushed it's own way out.

Have you any plans to perform the album live-where would be most suitable, art gallery or club?

Good question - it'd definitely be better in a space where people can focus on the subtle nature of it, maybe that's not a rock club with a bar and a huge stage with a guy pushing buttons on a box. But sonically it requires something that can push some really low sub frequencies and that's usually not how galleries are set up. I'm still figuring it out....I'm doing some shows in Europe in the fall (2016) and they'll be opening for a band so it will be more rock situations for now. 

This is your debut album, can we hope for any more to come?

I've got some new stuff I'm working on and I've changed my set up a bit so that always leads to new music. I'm hoping to have some sort of release planned for early 2017.

Thanks to Brian for his time and words. Tense Nature is out on Hands in The Dark Records.

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