King Midas Sound & Fennesz – Edition 1
We’re hugely excited to be hosting the first listen of Edition 1, a collaborative album between Austrian experimentalist Christian Fennesz and King Midas Sound – the group consisting of singer/poet Roger Robinson, vocalist Kiki Hitomi and Kevin Martin, who’s most commonly known for his work as The Bug. Edition 1 will be released 18 September via Ninja Tune, and it marks the first LP in a series of four which will see King Midas Sound collaborate with a different artist each time. You can stream Edition 1 and read an interview with Kevin Martin below.
King Midas Sound and Fennesz will perform together in London at the Ninja Tune-curated Clock Strikes 13 event, which takes place at St. John at Hackney Church on 30 October. More information can be found here.
Firstly, can you tell me a little about the concept behind the ‘Editions’ project?
The proposed series originated after a conversation between Roger Robinson and I in a hotel room, after a festival appearance in the Netherlands. We both craved freedom for King Midas Sound from being perceived as just another “club” act or – worse still – as just a ‘live dubstep outfit’.
We came up with the idea to construct a series of “Tape Archive” releases where we work with a different collaborator in a different field every time. But then we dropped the tape idea, but kept the concept. The aim was to link to disparate artists who we definitely felt an affinity towards in terms of mood, emotion or intent. We both wanted the process to work quickly, like a set of instantly impressionistic sketches or sonic polaroids, which wouldn’t be bogged down by the slowness of an industry or the slowness of me as an obsessive-compulsive producer.
How did you feel about Christian Fennesz’s music prior to working with him, and what made you want to collaborate with him?
Having witnessed him at a festival we played in Russia a number of years ago, me Kiki and Roger were completely blown away by just how beautifully dissonant his live approach was. We were gobsmacked by how he could whip up an intense electrical storm from a fragmented whisper. He seemed to have the same goal as we have in KMS, which is to explore beauty, fragility and white noise avalanches simultaneously in a live context.
His recordings are always awe-inspiringly gorgeous and full of insular mood swings. His work seems magnetised to the heart stopping breathlessness of swooning and the unforgettably resonant sense of irreconcilable loss. A fellow romantic and a fellow restless explorer, he seems to be looking for a fresh zone to call his own, just as we are.
Can you describe the atmosphere and setting of the Edition 1 recording sessions?
Both me and Roger had been through very tough times immediately prior to the making of the record. We had both went from pure joy to near tragedy, and ultimately complete relief, due to both our respective newborn children’s struggles for survival at perilously young ages. So the record was made literally just after the celebration of knowing our respective sons had fought and won their life-threatening battles. But the long shadows cast by enduring the stress and madness of those previous times definitely inform the mood of this album I feel.
Yet, for me, I genuinely feel it still remains one the most beautiful albums I’ve ever produced. And strangely, it’s an album I can barely remember making, as I worked on it so fast and instinctively without getting bogged down in self doubt or analysis. We had recorded Roger’s vocals in Berlin at my studio, while Kiki recorded her contributions in Leipzig, and Fennesz of course made his recordings in Vienna.
And it’s funny, but listening to the record now, it feels extremely panoramic, widely expansive, and brimming with changes of season and mood. It’s a record drenched in oppresive rain and blinding light, a wash of bright blue and melancholic grey, which in hindsight resembles my initial impressions of these first years in Berlin, with its extreme climactic shifts, Soviet architecture, and vast, numerous, green spaces. It’s an emotional head trip full of hallucinations, foreboding, insanity and tragedy. But ultimately, this record is a treatise on unconditional love.
"... if you are looking to get lost in the blur of a slow motion meltdown, you may have found the right group and record."
And can you tell me about some of the lyrical themes on the record?
As always, re-Midas, me and Roger seek to exhaust our obsession with the thematic palette of lust, melancholy, love and isolation. We talked many times about the works of Samuel Beckett, the films of Wong Kar-Wai, and the void like photographs of Hiroshi Sugimoto during the composition of this record. But strangely enough, we rarely talked to each other about the psychological hell we had just passed through.
Roger is a poet in the best sense. He’s a man who can reduce you to tears of laughter or sadness within one sentence or lyric. While so much post-modern pop culture revolves around short concentration spans, A.D.D., fast thrills, faster changes etc, we just delight in being contrary, and flourish in our own methodical slowness. We love TOTAL immersion, and we crave the deepest possible mood explorations. So if you are looking for a Hollywood blockbuster soundtrack, we are not that. But if you are looking to get lost in the blur of a slow motion meltdown, you may have found the right group and record.