Interview with Tobias Fischer published on tokafi.com
Nomen est omen: "To" is Peter Jørgensen's second album. It is divided into two distinct sections. And it deals with the duopol of composition and chance. That's as far as concepts go, however. For despite its programmatic character, "To" has easily turned out a most dreamy and deep drone work which doesn't require fancy press releases or intellectual analyses to be appreciated: Angelic sweetness, light-filled sensuality and a dewdrop-like dance of harmonics and harmonies dominate the first half of the record. "Solbakken 2006.06.25 3:50am", a pure field recording, then leads straight into the mysteriously murmuring, morbidly metaphorising and mantrically meandering second section. Like night and day, this juxtaposition is not one of antagonisms, but of completely natural and necessary counterpoints. And only by treating both with the same playful curiosity and immersive intensity has Jørgensen been able to carve out a message - even though it essentially remains wordless throughout the 30 artfully condensed minutes of "To". Besides, colourful contrasts have always been an organic aspect of his style anyway, with different tracks not just seamlessly segueing in- and out of each other, but always displaying a stimulating degree of friction as well as a continuous timbral progression suggesting an intuitive narrative. Delicate compositional tricks, such as initially speeding up the flow of the record with some shorter tracks and closing it out with a spacey seven-minute meditation to create a sense of temporal disorientation offer plenty of food for return visits. With this in mind, it shouldn't take you longer than two seconds to figure out that this is one of the releases no to miss this year.
Before beginning work on „To“, did you put together a timbral palette?
Rather than creating or assembling a timbral palette before I start composing, I tend to move back and forth between recording, composing, processing, listening etc. So it’s very much a combination of working towards an idea - or rather a feeling of where I want the sounds to go – on the one hand reacting to what emerges on the way on the other. The only thing I knew before I started working on the album was that I was going to use string instruments and that I was looking for a broader timbral spectrum than on my previous album. A deeper sound.
What kind of field recordings and acoustic instruments did you use to achieve this deeper sound?
Let me think… There’s a lot of upright bass in there, some e-bowed guitar. On the track “Sakramente” I used some recordings I did in a church a couple of years ago. I had some of my friends come over and do solo improvisations. There’s clarinet, cymbals, bells and accordion. There’s field recordings from various travels and quite a lot made at home with my daughter singing. The latter is used quite extensively throughout the album, but for the most part it’s heavily processed.
The relationship between chance and composition was an important focal point for the album. Where did your interest in the subject stem from?
Some of the software I’m using is kind of esoteric in the way that it’s often impossible to predict the outcome - the way it translates or reacts to what I do. That’s been really inspiring too me – and quite important given that I don’t have anyone else in the “band” to interact with. Some years ago I realized that I had been working in a very similar way when I was around ten years old. When my older brother moved away from home, he left me his old ghettoblaster. I spent a lot of time playing guitar and singing and recording this onto cassette tapes. Mostly just little ideas or motifs or whatever. The tapes eventually got so worn out from me recording over and over that you could hear layers and layers of the recordings I had made over the years. I remember being really enchanted by this, but not quite knowing what to do with it – didn’t know at the time if it was “ok” to make music like this. So in a very unconscious way, I guess my interest in this method started back then.
How did you set about exploring the relationship through your composition?
It’s become a pretty natural part of my work method, I guess. Working with the computer. Feeding it sounds/ideas, listening to the answers, reacting to that etc. It's still very much an onging process. The album in itself can be seen as documentation of where these explorations has taken me so far, but it's certainly not a final conclusion. I'm still very intrigued by this "technique" and it's definitely something I intend to further explore in the years to come.
How did the two-part arrangement of the album develop?
At some point I had maybe around twenty more or less finished pieces and I then started to find a way to connect these. Ten tracks ended up on the album. Somehow it felt right to have the space with just the field recording in the middle.
How much was added to the album in the mastering stages by Greg Davis?
I have very little knowledge of the actual "technical" work Greg did on this. Even before I started working on this album I knew that I wanted Greg to do the mastering. I really, really love his music and was convinced he would “understand” mine and know what to do. He has made the overall sound fuller, richer. I’m truly pleased about his contribution.
You were super-excited about being able to release with Low Point. What makes them such an ideal label-partner for you?
Well, first of all I think Low Point releases some really excellent stuff. Records by people like Chris Herbert, Machinefabriek and Gareth Hardwick have been on heavy rotation on the stereo here. When I had a rough mix of the album done I send it to Gareth (of Low Point) and he was just like “I like it. Let’s do a release”. From the very start it’s just been a pleasure to work with the label. By the way I’m coming to the UK in november to play some concerts (a.o. a Low Point label night in Nottingham).
A „kind“ review of your previous full-length informed us that it was, in fact, „not a bad album, but fails to demand attention“. With regards to flow and dreamy nature of your albums: How much are you actually interested in the typical kind of focused „attention“ at all?
As such I don’t think there’s any limitations or rules on how you’re “supposed” to listen to music. Be it mine or the work of others. I do think though that the more you focus when listening to “To”, the more you will get out of the experience.