Saturday, February 22, 2014


The following was to have appeared in a new Eddie Flowers-helmed magazine entitled MOUSE TRAP, but since that project (unfortunately) fell by the wayside due to circumstances beyond Mr. Flowers' control (mainly $$$$$) I felt it proper to print this interesting email gab with the extremely creative, talented, and hard-edged musical entity known as P. D. Fadensonnen here on my own turf.

As you may already know, Fadensonnen's a guy who has not only released a slew of self-produced disques but has created a style and sound which thankfully borrows the best from the past sixty years of addled noise and reshapes it for the same audience who once believed that Pere Ubu and Chrome were pointing the way towards the kind of future we all could get into! His various endeavors have thrilled the BLOG TO COMM offices for quite some time, and if you contact the guy via his blog (see link on left) he might just like you get in on some of the action as well!

So, without further fanfare...

BLOG TO COMM-Like most folk I know hardly a thing about ye. Can you give us some hearty background information regarding your musical background and any early music-related endeavors?

P. D. FADENSONNEN-I come from the southwest Chicago suburbs. My parents didn't play any instruments nor did they really listen to music in any manner outside of PBS specials on TV (think Yanni, Kitaro, and their ilk) or the rock oldies station on the car radio. So music wasn't a big priority in our household. I'm an oldest child, so without anyone to look up to, I kind of stayed in the dark about all the sounds around me.

By the time middle school rolled around, I was convinced to enter the school band and was given a trombone to learn. I never really took to the instrument although I must have spent 3 years trying to learn the infernal thing - for a kid coming into trying to learn to read music and buzz in the mouthpiece correctly, trying to understand that I was the bass for a band and played different notes than all the melodies I heard being played around me was just too much - a conceptual leap I didn't make yet. My rented trombone was sent back by the end of eighth grade. By high school I had set my sights on a guitar, and after a beleaguered family trip to see my uncle in Nashville, my cheap-o acoustic was acquired from a local guitar shop there. That particular acoustic was an abysmal beast, with action up high enough to be a flamenco guitar - just painful to play in any way - but it did give me callouses that I probably still have to this day. It broke after falling once on the floor, which opened the door to get my Peavy Raptor strat copy and set about some electric damage.

I had become infatuated with Nirvana after seeing Kurt on the news for blowing his head off, so I took about to learning their basic songwriting methods after buying their albums. I had also taken a part-time job at a grocery store and had some $$ finally to start investigating bands from interviews I had read. 

So as my listening palette expanded from that dud of a band, I finally started to find some marrow in the bones so to speak - Nirvana's terrible cover of Here She Comes Now lead me to purchasing WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT when I was 16 - and then my head split open. The first conceptual leaps of "music as sound" and actual "high-energy" were in place, although all my detours into Pavement, Weezer, Guided By Voices, Sleater-Kinney and other dreck were still clouding my perceptions - all of this being pre-internet/very beginning of it.

By the end of high school,  I wrote a bunch of grunge-y songs that I handed around to friends to try and get a band going of some sort, but it didn't really materialize to anything - probably because the songs were terrible.
As I left the suburbs of Chicago for the cornfields of Champaign-Urbana for college, I listened more to music than really played it - getting into crap-o-la like Radiohead, Sonic Youth, and Mogwai - but still thankfully listening to all the Velvets I could find (1969 Live being a big one) and finding other truths like Blue Cheer and the Modern Lovers. 

Around my junior year in college I tried to get a band going about for a year, but things fell apart after many membership debacles, fights,  and lackluster practices. The music was mediocre instrumental post rock (er, boring early 2000's crescendo rock) at best -  I can't honestly remember a tune from that debacle.  I had at least finally been exposed via band members to the MC5 and the Stooges between all the crap and was seeking out stuff like Can and Amon Duul II.

After college, I moved back to the suburbs and worked in downtown Chicago, saving up every cent that wasn't being used to explore all kinds of weird records at Reckless Records. I had been on a trip to NYC as a senior in college and knew immediately that is where I needed to be - I needed that energy.

A year later in 2005, I had moved to NYC with my girlfriend and had acquired her american Fender Strat - and armed with a real instrument for the first time - quickly developed over the next two years into being a guitar player with enough confidence to go about doing something sonically real. Being able to explore all the connections I had made the previous couple of years in my head (MC5 -> Archie Shepp -> Coltrane -> Ayler->Sun Ra->Pharoah-> Sharrock -> Mars - etc.) through the record stores and concerts that I was able to go to, I finally had a sonic PURPOSE to go along with the confidence.

In 2007, I met RD while working at a woodshop, and after mutual exposures of sonic information during the day at the shop cd player (Captain Beefheart, Dolphy, Arthur Doyle, High Rise, Mouthus, Haino) I finally worked up the confidence to ask to jam with his band King Crab at their rehearsal space and then just with him as two guitarists. Everything sonically speaking between us from then to now has been chronicled under Fadensonnen. 

Last year when I turned 30, I got a tenor sax which I am still learning, but will be put to use on future recordings - I like it much better than the trombone.

BTC-Now let's see...refresh our memories and tell us about your first CD release.

PDF-From 2008 - 2010, RD and I recorded many times in just a duo guitar formation, improvising and working on motifs that would re-appear. The process proceeded in what I would call creative-collaborative-antagonism, something we found essential to make things interesting.

By the summer of 2010, I started to finally listen through the sessions to lay a foundation for an album (eventually WHITE NIGHT). A number of tracks which didnt meet the criteria for the conceptual framework of the album were constructed into easier to digest EP length works - EPs being a less daunting enterprise. RD had moved to England temporarily, so I decided to also take on the overdubbing responsibilities as well as percussion duties.

Our first release, the GREY EP, materialized six long months later - its tracks having a ghostly intensity not present in some of the other sessions.

EAST RIVER BLUES is a free for all to set a tone for the EP and clear the sonic air, RD's wah guitar howling at the moon. 

FUNERAL FOR MURDERED ORANGES was a kind of sonic ghost repeat-o riff that drifts in and out of sleep. Its titled in homage to John Cale.

CAMBRIDGE-UPON-MORNING is a big drone number from one of our more hazy sessions - RD adding some soulful leads as one drifts through the ostrich guitar atmosphere. 

BROOKLYN GAMELAN is a drone percussion guitar chant ending in a rolling wave of electricity.

GLACIER NIGHT is a cosmic blues, RD's guitar drift-picking its way through until the song implodes in percussive density.

BTC-How did this one do as far as sales go? Do you do much in the way of "promoting" your releases?

PDF-The GREY EP has sold about as much as our album WHITE NIGHT out of the back catalog, although everything is only measured in the dozens at Fadensonnen Records. We have somehow been able to reach people around the world just through our website, some radio play and generous reviews.
With the availability of production for everyone to self-release and the saturation of bands being incredibly dense, I dont think its possible to realistically expect a successful release to be past around a hundred copies in the sonic field that we happen to operate in.

I am still learning to promote the releases better with each passing one, picking up contacts that help out our label. I believe in that pre-internet idea of a trustworthy curated context providing the best tool to seek out new records - so fanzines and webzines that fit my own aesthetic criteria (i.e. things I would actually buy) are what we generally send our promotional records to.

I would hope that when we make opportunities for ourselves to play live in the future, our performances would be the best promotion for our releases.

Q-You mentioned radio play. Are you talking actual broadcast radio (perhaps some college outlet) or internet radio?

A-The kind folks at WFMU has been generous enough to play our tunes from time to time. 

We've sent out our releases to some other college outlets as well.

I don't think we'd be able to ever breach the land of Billy Joel.

BTC-Could you tell us more about some of those interesting amphetamine and feral wah lead guitars you play. Are they home creations you worked out in your basement electronic shop?

PDF-The amphetamine lead and feral wah lead guitars are more descriptive sounds than actual modified instruments - I remember buying Eno's HERE COME THE WARM JETS and being impressed with the descriptions he used in the credits (i.e. snake guitar, electric larynx, etc. ) so I've always thought that it was a more interesting way to list the sonic contributions - a way to color the music as sound.

An amphetamine lead is usually a form of out of control manic lead guitar playing I try to employ on solos, whereas RD usually uses a aggressively distorted wah sound when taking the lead.

Anvil rhythm guitars are usually lower bridge pickup frequencies, octave shaking guitars employ octave effects (either higher of lower), snake phase shifter guitars use panning phase shifters and ostrich guitars employ the famous Lou Reed tuning. 

A lot the weirder guitar sounds also have to do with obsessive filtering and echo effects used in production.

BTC-OK---I must say that I am impressed with the production on your releases which show a strong WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT influence.Can you fill us in on any non-trade secret information regarding the recording of your various releases?

PDF-WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, MC5's original single version of LOOKING AT YOU, LES RALLIZES DENUDES recordings, PINK FAIRIES live recordings, BORBETOMAGUS records, Milford Graves' BABI MUSIC - these are the kind of sonic ideals in my book that should inform high energy music - the overpowering sound of ecstatic electricity. 

So its definitely an aesthetic choice to have that sound of an unbalanced overloaded recording. The kind of super-spacious high-fidelity with unlimited tracks that one could opt to use these days has zero appeal to me - I need that kind of earthy sonic mud quality to keep it from sounding like plastic.

I'm not an expert at engineering, so with a lot of the earlier recordings taking place on a cheap video camera, its a natural kind of overload we've employed of two guitars into one amp turned up all the way and then injected during the editing process to all the drums, voice and tape splicing overdubs we can fit. 

I tend to filter out some of the uglier frequencies when the tapes are being edited and with the basic guitar tracks being so blasted, I usually try to offer some contrast by recording the drums and vocals cleaner. In the end, hopefully it's that sonic ideal of an energetic unbalanced recording that will always come through.

We've blown up two separate amps due to this process - RD's amp blowing out at the end of recording GLACIER NIGHT on the GREY EP and my amp blowing out during the recording of ONU BA on WHITE NIGHT - ONU BA ending at the moment the amp cut out. 

BTC-What can you tell us about your collaborator "RD?"

PDF-RD is the real musician in our duo - a natural and trained talent on both guitar and drums - the rhythmic contrast to my arrhythmic nature.

He's been involved in the music scene for a much longer time than me - he's had actual bands growing up and had the musical duo King Crab with outsider filmmaker Zachery Lister-Katz for 6-7 years, in which he played drums and guitar. They had releases out on Abandon Ship Records and Little Fury Things Records.

His influences into our process come from a different thing - he brings a wider palette to the table - equally influenced by classical music, folk, jazz, blues, thrash and black metal. He's also the advocate for pushing things into weirder sonic territories.

He's from the east coast originally which thankfully squashes my midwestern-isms down when they become too much.

He finally moved back to the USA this year, so hopefully more will be revealed when we put together some live dates.

BTC-I've always liked your Les Rallizes Denudes blog where you review their myriad assortment of releases. You also seem to have more items in your collection than are generally available to us lowly peons. Tell us a little bit more about your devotion to this epochal Japanese group.

PDF-I wouldn't say that I have that big a collection of Rallizes recordings - there was a period when I was making a bit of money building cabinetry and had some disposable income to grab up certain items as they came out. There are roughly 20 multi-disc sets I happen to have - which is a lot of music - but for the amorphous unending world of the Rallizes canon thats not that many. In this day and age anyone can download even more stuff than I happen to have if they have the patience.

The blog started as a way for me to mentally wrap my head around the essence of what Mizutani laid down for 30 years. I have to be in the right head space to let his musings sink in - but inside that hermetic world of deep electricity he built is a kind of wonderful, screeching hall of mirrors of sound. No contemporary of the Velvets ever looked at their whole thing ( blasting noise and feedback, ballads, tight rockers, psychic energy ) and saw that whole template and image and took it to SUCH AN EXTREME.  And within that kind of understanding, Mizutani laid down his extreme statement of atonal yet beautiful energy guitar rock. 

He's a wonderful guitarist, songwriter (theres actually dozens of Rallizes songs) and spiritual leader, in the sense that electric guitars and feedback can be a religion.
The kind of secret world that he created and maintains by hiding up in the mountains of Japan is really such a fascinating story of the 20th century - there's no real other comparison in my book to a genius like Mizutani having such an odd trajectory of relaying his communication - yet when those of us somehow get to hear that communication, its such a life-affirming statement of truth  - no schuck or jive.

BTC-So, what does the future hold in store for PD Fadensonnen?

PDF-In January 2014 the first Razorlegs recording should come out, a duo I play in with Andrew Hurst that explores different live-to-tape duo exchange configurations with a different palate of instruments. 

In Spring 2014, the second Fadensonnen album entitled Badlands will come out on Tom Gilmore's One Hand Records for the vinyl and on Fadensonnen Records for the cd/digital. Badlands is a scorching three track mostly instrumental album recorded this past fall and should satiate those seeking a high-energy fix in the coming months. 

After performing in NYC earlier this year, we are hoping to do a live date or two in 2014 in addition to recording more and releasing more recordings, hopefully with a few collaborations in the future with similarly un-balanced individuals.

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