Dan Warburton

Rennes-le-Château, August 2010. Photo by Max Warburton


Interview by James Baiye, July 2012


Why have you decided to pull the plug on Paris Transatlantic?

Well, first of all, PT will stay right where it is for a while. I'll renew the hosting and leave the site online so that people can continue to read what's already there. The interviews in particular are still getting a decent number of hits – not that I really understand anything about internet statistics – so there's no reason why I should deny people access to them. I'm still miffed that some of those great reviews Nick Cain wrote for Opprobrium are no longer available. Or maybe they are now.. if so, somebody tell me where to find them.
But to return to the question: I suppose the simple, honest answer is that my heart's no longer in it. To quote what David Toop said in his Invisible Jukebox in The Wire a few years back (as Simon Reynolds did just a couple of months ago): "A lot of people feel there's too much stuff out there, too much music... I feel it myself, I love silence, but music as a whole I don't like anymore... I don't like listening to it on the radio, seeing music on television. I don't like having it on in the house... That love of music as a generalised experience, I've come to the end of that." I can't say I feel exactly the same way – for a start, I don't have a television and the only thing I ever listen to on the radio is the news, and I do like having music on and still listen to a lot of it – but I certainly think there's too much of it around and it just doesn't seem to move me the way it used to. Maybe I'm just going through a dry spell – which is Simon Reynolds' take on Toop, who's obviously still writing about music, and as well as he ever was – but I find my interests lie elsewhere these days: specifically, in cinema and literature.
I can hear Chet Baker singing "The Thrill is Gone".. Not entirely, but nowadays it seems I'm very rarely blown away by music. And certainly not the way I was when I was younger. I think most of those great epiphanies, as they call them in The Wire, occur in adolescence and early adulthood: most of the life-changing (literally!) musical experiences I can recall occurred between the ages of about 12 and 25. A few came later. I remember being absolutely knocked off my feet by Radu Malfatti's string quartet, and moved to tears by that last track on Toshiya Tsunoda's Lucky Kitchen album Pieces of Air. And by Akira Rabelais's Spellwauerynsherde. But the real slaps in the face, the things that "took my head off", to quote John Zorn (and discovering his music in 1986 was one of them), happened earlier. I'm enjoying Tsunoda's new Erstwhile with Michael Pisaro, but it's yet to get hairs standing up on parts of my body where I didn't know I had any, like "Islamic Chant" did.
That's a horrible thing to say, too – it's tantamount to admitting you're burned out and blasé. I certainly don't want to come across as blasé, so I think it's time to let younger, more enthusiastic writers take up the challenge. As far as music goes, I do feel burned out, but I hope what I write about it isn't boring, even if I often find myself bored by it.

Could that be because the music itself is less interesting than it was?

No, I'm sure there are youngsters out there who are getting the same thrills today discovering Wandelweiser or Mattin or Noise as I did a quarter of a century ago when I first came across Dolphy, Ligeti, Xenakis, Reich, Misha, Zorn, Steve Coleman etc. And they're the people who should be writing about it, with the passion and enthusiasm I don't seem to have anymore. It could just be me – I hope it is – but, yes, I would be prepared to argue that new music has got stuck in something of a rut. I'm thinking of improvised music specifically, since that seems to have become the area I'm supposed to be a "specialist" in. We can discuss composition and jazz a bit later.
With hindsight, that exciting flurry of activity – perhaps we should say inactivity – at the turn of the century that went by the name reductionism or lowercase or whatever the hell you want to call it led improvised music into an impasse. The choice was simple: either play less or play more. Playing less is what Sugimoto did, and the Futatsu album with Radu Malfatti and the Live in Australia set are extreme examples of that. Very few people followed him down that path though, because it didn't lead very far. Except into Wandelweiser country, through his compositions, which I have to say I find singularly uninteresting. The other way out of the cul-de-sac was to turn back and play more. And play louder. Either by returning to the gabby stuff Radu complained about in his PT interview, or by pumping up the volume and taking it into Noise territory. Like recent Cremaster, or the Koreans. Well, the gabby stuff has been around for ages – been there, done that – and I'm no longer really interested in either Noise or Wandelweiser.

 

somewhere between Stockholm and Gothenburg, November 2003. Photo by Edward Perraud

 

Why not?

To be honest, Noise was never really my bag – I can't have more than 50 or 60 albums of the stuff, and that's a mere drop in the ocean considering how much there is out there – primarily because I find it pretty boring in concert (unless you like watching someone slice his face open with a pane of glass or vomit into a contact-miked bucket) and I can only rarely listen to it at the correct volume at home without driving everybody mad, myself included. And listening through headphones isn't the way to go. Once the high decibel novelty has worn off, which doesn't take long, I find there's very little of substance in the way of structure or technique. But don't take my word for it, I know I haven't listened to enough of it. And I'm afraid it'll just have to stay that way, because I don't feel like listening to any more of it now.
The current wave of enthusiasm for all things Wandelweiser bothers me more, because a decade ago I was way into that and I've realised I'm not anymore. Basically, I just don't feel it's going anywhere interesting, though the people who listen to more of it than I do tell me it is, and I respect their opinion. In the little niche market of the IHM bulletin board (hats off by the way to Mark Flaum and Jon Abbey for using the new media so well and really creating a buzz on the music they love), anything by Pisaro, Beuger, Frey and Werder seems to be universally acclaimed. Anyone with a smattering of talent can, it seems, record something by one of these guys and be more or less guaranteed a rave review, if only by Brian Olewnick and Richard Pinnell. The whole idea of value judgement seems to have gone out of the window. Everything's super. I keep thinking of that line of Syndrome's in The Incredibles: "Everyone can be superheroes. And when everyone's super, no one will be."
What worries me more is when I read Radu Malfatti saying he's no longer interested in material (i.e. sound) as much as structure: that's like a writer saying he's no longer interested in words. These days it seems you're a boring old fart if you say you care about what music sounds like (I think of Barry Esson's line "music is about more than just music"), but I know exactly why I fell in love with Malfatti's Das Profil des Schweigens – it was the sound: those amazing sonorities of stringed instruments bowed on the tailpiece, pegs and body (they definitely changed the way I play violin, and definitely inspired the piece I did for Jon Mueller's Crouton label, 20012002 on Folktales Vol. 2), and the terrific tension between them and the silence that frames them. Maybe sound doesn't matter for Radu now, but I can tell you that wasn't the case when we met back in 2001. I remember us listening together in my front room late at night to Carlo Inderhees's ZWEIUNDZWANZIG MINUTEN on Timescraper (EWR 0104) and him turning to me and saying "it sounds so wonderful!"
With the possible exception of Düsseldorf Vielfaches I haven't heard anything on Radu's b-boim label that comes close to reproducing the of thrill of Das Profil . Live recordings of music like this are almost always spoiled by ambient noise, which unfortunately I don't consider as worthy of my attention as the sounds the musicians are making. Said it before, say it again: trucks sound the same the world over. And with field recordings and sinewaves all over the place, the "serious involvement with silence as an autonomous musical phenomenon" that Antoine Beuger mentioned in that old Signal To Noise piece I wrote on Wandelweiser in 2001 seems to have all but disappeared in Michael Pisaro's more recent work – which I have to say I find very attractive and often quite moving, with its roots in earlier generations of American music and art: Ashbery, Ives, Thoreau.
As far as a piece like Manfred Werder's 20051 goes, whose score consists of the words "place", "time" and "(sounds)", well, I suppose you could argue that everything you've ever heard in your life is a "performance" of that piece. I'm reminded of what the lads from Reynols said about their first "dematerialised" album, the empty CD box: "That CD is everything, everywhere." "Everybody has that record, even people who haven't been born yet." As such, I don't feel like spending hours listening to a recording of a Zürich railway station when I can just open the window and stick my head outside. Let's just say I think there's a world of difference between a Manfred Werder and a Jakob Ullmann. And no prizes for guessing which of the two I consider to be the composer.
Having said that, I do feel uneasy criticising this stuff publicly, because I'm sure the people doing it are totally sincere about what they do and great guys to boot. It's been my pleasure and privilege to meet and become friends with a lot of musicians – I haven't spent much time with Radu Malfatti but I like him very much indeed – it's a recurring problem of being both a writer about music and a musician yourself. But what are friends for? If I can't tell a friend he's got spinach stuck between his teeth or his flies are open or he's had too much to drink and should go for a lie down without him getting royally pissed off, I'm not sure he's really a friend. In any case, the word "friend" has become totally debased since MySpace and Facebook. Like so many words.

What about free jazz?

What about it? Do I still enjoy it? Sure, of course I still get a kick out of the old BYG Actuels and ESPs. I was listening to Shepp's Blasé the other day, what a great record that is. But I don't feel the need to return to them very often. Things like the Brötzmann Tentet I can do without, though I might go out of my way to see Joe McPhee play in a smaller group. That kind of free jazz jock "I can blow harder than you" attitude probably meant something back in the late 60s, or probably meant something to me in my late teens, but it doesn't mean much to me now. I'm reminded of Jean-François Pauvros's definition of good music: ça fait bander – it gives you a hard-on (for myself, as you know, I usually talk about hairs standing up..). I remember the last time I saw the Brötzmann Tentet the place was full of balding and/or bearded middle-aged men and when the gig was over it smelt like a locker room. I strongly suspect many of them spent most of the concert, as my dear friend Fred Goodwin put it, breeding furiously with themselves. Having said all that, I love Borbetomagus – live rather than on disc – but is that free jazz? Maybe it is, I don't know.

 

L'Archiduc, Brussels, October 31st 2010 (after concert with Andre Goudbeek, François Fuchs and Paul Lytton)


But – and this takes us back to your very first question – it's not really a question of whether I like this music anymore, but rather whether I feel able or willing to write about it. After 17 years and literally thousands of album reviews, I feel like I'm running out of stock phrases. From "brainfry" to "earwax meltdown" to "cow-rending volume" (I still like that one, but it's not mine, it's Byron Coley's), what is there to say? I have this awful feeling of.. not déjà vu so much as déjà écrit – I go back and check what I said about such and such's last album and discover to my horror that I wrote the same bloody thing. And when that happens, it's time to stop. Tu radotes, as my wife would say. It's time I learnt to stop listening to things with a pen in my hand.
I've never really felt very comfortable writing negative reviews, except when I think the artist or writer really deserves one. I know how much time, money and, yes, love go into putting a record out. Why should I pee all over it if I don't like it? Just to wave my willy around in public? No thanks. Better not to say anything at all. It's funny, though, one of the few real hatchet jobs I've done – that reissue of Cathy Berberian's truly hideous Beatles Arias album in 2004 – actually had the opposite effect: Philippe Robert introduced me to the guy from Telescopic who'd re-released it at a concert at Point FMR here in Paris, and at first I thought he was going to boot me in the balls, but he was delighted and bought me a drink – with all the hoo-hah in The Wire, all the angry letters about angry letters, he'd sold out his entire run double quick.

How did you end up writing for The Wire in the first place?

I came across a copy in WHSmith's on rue de Rivoli back in 1996. Issue #152, with A Guy Called Gerald on the cover, which is probably why I bought it. I hadn't read The Wire since Cambridge days in the early 80s, when it was more of a jazz mag, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had evolved along with me and reflected my own interests at the time: postrock, dub, drum'n'bass, and the like. That issue had something on Jim O'Rourke and John Fahey too, as I recall. So I took out a subscription. I used to write angry letters complaining about Ben Watson reviews! Back then, if they published your letter you got a free CD (pretty lousy ones, too – I guess it was just a way for them to get rid of some of the stuff piling up on their desks that they had no intention of reviewing). I don't remember how many of mine they published but one day I got one back from Tony Herrington saying he was fed up of sending me discs and inviting me to write for the mag instead. So I sent them a huge, sprawling review of the Jazz à Mulhouse festival in August 1998 and they agreed to run it, providing I did some serious surgery on it. That was in Wire #176, October 1998, the one with V/VM on the cover. And DJ Speedranch. I wonder what became of him. So you might say I owe my "career" as a Wire journalist to Ben Watson.
People used to talk about some kind of monumental battle between Ben and me, but apart from that throwaway line describing me as "postmodern" (which, admittedly, for him puts me on the same level as a neo-Nazi paedophile serial killer) we've never actually come to blows publicly. I thought his Derek Bailey "biography" was dreadful, and did a huge disservice to a great musician, and I said so and said why, but that was after we met, when he was very pleasant. We had a good chat together.

When was that?

June 2001. I played a gig with John Butcher, Hans Tammen and Edward Perraud in a grotty basement in a bar near Châtelet, and at halftime when I stepped out for a smoke, John came up to me with this shit-faced grin on his face and said, "you'll never guess who's here – Ben Watson!" Ben was in town for some Situationist jamboree somewhere, and we talked about Philippe Carles and Jean-Louis Comolli's book Free Jazz / Black Power, and how it ought to be translated into English. I don't think he enjoyed our gig very much, from what I recall. Even though I disagree with a lot of what he says, I like Ben's writing very much (no doubt more than he likes mine) and I'm sorry he's no longer writing for The Wire. Anyone who likes Dolphy and Boulez can't be bad. Not sure I share his passion for Zappa, though.

 

with Hans Tammen, Le Baltard, Paris, 2nd June 2001

 

You seem to be suspicious of musicians and writers who make references to contemporary philosophy. Why?

When I was at school, I had two English teachers. One was an old-school, Leavis-loving Great Tradition Romantic who happily admitted he hated anything new; the other seemed to like everything, Barth to Barthes to Sartre to Freud. When I asked him why the first guy didn't like modern literature, he smiled sweetly and said, because he hasn't read enough of it. So maybe that's what it is with me. I'm not as opinionated as he was, I hope, but I certainly haven't read enough philosophy to be able to comment on it in detail. I feel intimidated when I read an essay referring me in a footnote to page 592 of something by Michel Foucault – but also a little suspicious, yes. Has this chap really read all this? If it's someone I know and trust like Matthieu Saladin, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but all these folks who rap on about hauntology (an idea I've never bought into) and toss in quotes from Derrida willy-nilly, well, I'm deeply sceptical. How much Derrida have they read? Goodness knows, I've tried a few times – I have copies of De la grammatologie, L'Écriture et la différence and Marges, and I've never made it through any of them.
The point is I believe you can listen to and enjoy Brahms without necessarily knowing much about Beethoven or Haydn or Bach, or you can thrill to Eric Dolphy without having heard much Charlie Parker, but I don't think you can really appreciate Derrida unless you've read and understood Husserl and Heidegger, which I'm afraid I haven't. Similarly, you need to know your Freud pretty damn well if you want to get to grips with Lacan, and apart from the early case studies and bits of The Interpretation of Dreams, I've only ever skimmed through Freud. Deleuze is also quoted here and there – maybe a bit less these days now that all those Mille Plateaux releases have receded into the murky past, but there was a time when you couldn't open The Wire without reading the word "rhizome" – but I wonder how many of the people who quote him have actually read anything he wrote from cover to cover. There was a time when I was quite into Lyotard – if you don't believe me you should see my heavily-annotated copy of Driftworks – but I had to struggle through Habermas before reading The Postmodern Condition and I'm not sure I understood much of it. Adorno's another hero for many, but without a thorough grasp of Marx and Hegel and even with a good translation (Adorno's notoriously difficult, it seems, even for native German speakers), it's tough going. I'm sure there's a lot in there, but to be frank I don't feel like devoting several weeks of my life to reading something just to be able to cross-check a couple of references for a review of a book I'm unlikely to want to read again or of an album I'm almost certainly not going to return to.
I'm sure I'm coming across as something of a boor, but – and this is the important point – even if your readers are unfamiliar with what you're discussing, it's your job as a writer to explain it clearly and coherently without having to wrap it up in reams of impenetrable, pretentious twaddle (I'm thinking here of several essays in Mattin's Noise & Capitalism book). It's not a question of crude dumbing-down, like Slavoj Žižek appearing on The Tonight Show, it's simply a question of good writing. Barthes and Foucault could do it. Guy Debord could do it.

And yet you described Debord as "seriously overrated" yourself in a review.

I did, and I regret that. It was after doing that interview with Mattin that I went back to Debord and found it much richer than I did first time. And his films are wonderful, especially In girum. I have a hard time with Hurlements en faveur de Sade – does anybody actually enjoy watching that film? – but I agree with Mattin that it's one of the major artistic milestones of the last century.

 

en route for Stockholm, November 2003. Photo by Edward Perraud

 

Film seems to have become your principal passion these days. How come?

Probably because I'm a bit fed up with music! No, if you think about it, film and music are the only artistic genres that everybody can relate to. There are many people out there who hate ballet, who get nothing out of sculpture or painting, who never set foot in a theatre or run a mile from a book of poetry, but do you know anyone who says outright they don't like any music at all? Or any film? It doesn't matter if it's Lady Gaga or Ellington or Bach or Boulez or Beefheart, everyone has some music somewhere that they like (actually I did meet someone once who claimed she didn't like music at all, a student of mine, but what she actually said was that she didn't trust music, which is slightly different – and much more interesting). Same with film: whether it's Pretty Woman or Prénom Carmen, I'm sure there are films out there you like. Along with popular music – by which I mean jazz, rock, pop – cinema is the art form of the twentieth century, in the way that opera was the art form of the nineteenth.
I've always been interested in mixed media art, that special thrill that comes from combining words, music and images, and I've always thought that if you do it properly, the effect is much more than the sum of its parts. I discussed this a lot with Fred Goodwin when we started working together on our poetry / music show in Cambridge back in the early 80s. I saw a production of [Berg's] Wozzeck in Edinburgh about that time that absolutely shattered me: I was literally unable to speak for hours afterwards. And seeing Laurie Anderson's United States in its entirety in London in 1983 was another major epiphany. So was Einstein on the Beach in 1992 in Bobigny outside Paris. There was a time when I was heavily into Wagner – there was something about the idea of the gesamtkunstwerk that appealed to me as an impressionable, ambitious and horribly arrogant student – but opera, I'm afraid, no longer interests me. We went to see [Weber's] Der Freischütz last year at the Opéra Comique, an opera I recall loving when I studied it in Robert Bailey's Wagner class at Eastman – and it was awful. Sitting in a sweaty box with bored bourgeois pigs belching into their teeny hankies waiting for their coupes de champagne and canapés at the entr'acte. I think of that line from "Idiots at Happy Hour" by The Freeze: "A part of your society / I choose to stay away."
Going to the cinema's different – when the lights go down you're in your own world. Sure, there may be some slob nearby wolfing popcorn or some cretin changing his ringtone, but you can usually filter them out. And if you can't get to the cinema – which, alas we can't as much as we would like to – there's the DVD. The advent of the DVD and downloading (which I don't do much of, unless it's something I can't find elsewhere) has really, seriously, changed my life. With my wife Marie we watch a film almost every night of the week. And with our son Max too – and if he's not watching one with us, chances are he's watching one on his portable DVD player in his bedroom. All the films I remember loving as a kid, or dozed through drunkenly in the Art Cinema in Cambridge as a student, are now available, and we're buying them up as fast as they come out. In the past I used to spend a fortune on LPs and CDs, now it's DVDs. It's a serious addiction. I need to see someone about it. Unlike music – and I mean the kind of music we've been discussing here – cinema is something we can share as a family. There's no way we could sit around after dinner listening to Radu Malfatti or Borbetomagus, much as I'd like to.
When I met Marie one of the first things we did together was to draw up lists of our ten favourite films, and I remember telling her that I didn't have that many. I told her I'd much rather watch the same ten films over and over again, whereas I wanted to listen to as much music as possible, and all different kinds. Today I'd say it's the other way round! I could probably survive with a seriously slimmed-down record collection, but, on the contrary, I want to see as many films as possible. Funny how you change.. And just as well too! I remember she took me to see [Jean Eustache's] La maman et la putain in the Auditorium in Châtelet, and I hated it. Now, what do you know, I love it.

What were your ten favourite films back then?

No no, I'm not sailing off to that desert island again. It was hard enough doing the Top 40 for PT back in 2003. Nowadays I'd have a hard time picking a top hundred. Films, I mean. I like all kinds of films. I like all kinds of music too, but as I mentioned before it seems I've allowed myself to be locked up in one small cluttered room full of improv albums, and I don't have much time to listen to anything else.
Maybe I'm finding something in cinema that I no longer find in music, I don't know. Certainly there are numerous points of contact between the two, and I'm not just talking film music or sound design. Like music, film is time-dependent, it works with memory and duration – with rhythm. I'm always fascinated how some films can compress an enormous amount of information into an incredibly short space of time – I love the tight energy of film noir, especially Richard Fleischer (Armored Car Robbery, The Narrow Margin..), Anthony Mann (T-Men, Raw Deal..) and early Kubrick (Killer's Kiss, The Killing..). At the other extreme, I love how very long films like Jacques Rivette's work with rhythm. Long doesn't mean slow. Béla Tarr is slow. There's a connection with improvisation too, if you want to look for it – in the mid-60s Rivette was very interested in Pierre Boulez's incorporation of chance elements in his music, and explored the idea of structured improvisation in L'amour fou and Out 1. But most of all I like the interface between different media, the tensions between the rhythm of the text, the plot, and the montage, between music / sound and image. I get the same "more than the sum of its parts" thrill from film nowadays that I got from opera and music theatre 30 years ago.

You mentioned [poet] Fred Goodwin earlier on. The last time you put Paris Transatlantic on ice five years ago was to work on your album together, Compendium Maleficarum III. Is there a sequel in the offing, then?

Yes, I suppose there could be, in the sense that Fred has sent me another load of MiniDiscs of recordings of his poems, which I have to go through and edit before I start thinking about putting sound to them. But I am, as I said above, short of ideas and low on inspiration at the moment. Not to mention lacking in software. And I'm not sure how I could follow CMIII. It's a really special record for me, and one I'm extremely proud of. I don't know, we'll see. Right now I don't even want to play the violin anymore.

 

Rotonde de Choc, Paris, 2005

 

Why not?

I'm bored. I don't surprise myself anymore. I've steadfastly refused to rehearse or practise the violin since I started playing it again back in 1998 – I'd like to say that's for noble artistic reasons, but that'd be a barefaced lie: it's more a case of being lazy and having neither the time nor the patience to work on technique – I describe myself rather fancifully then as a "lapsed classical violinist". I studied the instrument seriously from the age of seven to about 15, and then went on playing it until I left for the USA in 1986. I didn't take it with me there, because I knew I was going to a top-notch music school, Eastman, which would be full of players much better than me. I didn't so much as touch the fiddle again until 1998, when I started improvising. And it was in trying – and failing – to do the technically difficult things I used to be able to manage quite easily, like playing double-stop harmonics, double-stop glissandi going in different directions, etc. that I discovered I could make all kinds of sounds on the instrument that I'd never heard before, and that I'd never heard anyone else make before. Little by little I started preparing the violin with elastic bands and chopsticks and things, experimenting with scordatura, bowing on different parts of the instrument (the Malfatti influence!) and building up a repertoire of what Paul Lovens calls "tricks". And it seems now every time I pick up the fiddle I just pull out one of the tricks. I feel like a night club conjuror who's been doing the circuit for years, pulling the same old rabbit out of the same old hat. Maybe someone hearing it for the first time likes it (that seems to be the case) but I don't. I've been doing this for 14 years now, and it's time to do something else. I don't think there's any shame in saying I'm tired of doing what I'm doing, and that it's time for a change. But most improvisers seem to go on forever, which I can understand if they have to do it for a living. Thankfully, I don't. In pop music you look pretty bloody silly if you're still poncing about the stage when you're old enough to be a grandfather, but in other areas of music it seems retiring gracefully is out of the question. That's fine if you've still got the chops – look at cats like Sam Rivers, wow – but it's sad as hell if you're just going through the motions.
I'm tempted to quote Shakespeare here – "there is a tide in the affairs of men", and all that. You break into the scene, you're hot property for a few years, and then someone else comes up behind you and pushes you off the stage, taking up from where you left off. (I think that recycling process is artistically very healthy: look at the way British rock journalists are constantly pushing their heroes off their pedestals and hyping the Next Big Thing, and compare it to the dire star system that exists here in France. I'm sure Cliff Richard is a nice enough chap, but he's a joke. Try telling a Johnny Hallyday fan that here in France and they'll probably attack you.) Here in the little niche market of new music, who's hot today, on the trumpet, for instance? Nate Wooley and Peter Evans. A few years ago it was Greg Kelley and Franz Hautzinger. And Axel Dörner, of course. They're all still busy and playing just as well as they ever did, but nobody at Wire HQ has asked for a piece on them recently. After a while, the interest dies down, and you either reinvent yourself and come back fighting with something genuinely different or join the merry band on the European Festival Circuit Annual Grand Tour. Musique Action in May, if you're post-rock / RIO, Jazz em Agosto in August if you're mainstream free jazz / free improv and/or Météo in Mulhouse and Densités in October. Or you hook up with some hip dance company and make a decent living doing stuff for ballet, which I think is what Christian Fennesz has been up to lately.
It's the same thing with labels – there's a period when one imprint is really leading the pack and changing the game, but after a while they either fall into a rut (Leo, Cadence, Creative Sources, Clean Feed..) or run out of steam, or money, or both (Grob, Formed, Durian..). Survivors like Emanem and Erstwhile, who keep both the release schedule and quality level up high, are thin on the ground. Right now I'd say Monotype and its related Polish imprints is the most exciting label around, and I'm ever so proud Jakub has included a couple of things of mine in his catalogue, but I wonder how long it'll last.
And of course, it's the same story with magazines like this one. I think we've had a good run for our money – nearly 20 years if you include the pre-PT print fanzine Paris New Music Review – and I've enjoyed doing it. I like to think some people somewhere might just have had one of those life-changing experiences as a result of reading something here. If that's the case, I can retire happy.

 

R de Choc, Espace Jemappes, December 10th 2011. Photo by Emanuel Rioufol