ULAN BATOR - Musical revolution thanks to technical evolution

23. January 2017

Ulan Bator

ULAN BATOR - Musical revolution thanks to technical evolution

eclipsed: During the "Abracadabra"-Tour 2016 you conceived, composed and recorded the new album "Stereolith" on your laptop during the "Abracadabra"-Tour 2016 in the hotel and in the tour bus. How'd that go?

Amaury Cambuzat: Times have changed. If you want to produce music these days, you have to be able to work anywhere and fast, especially when you're on tour a lot. Thanks to the new technologies, laptops and pads with a MIDI system, I can record music anywhere, anytime. The ability to do this in a hotel room with headphones and a simple mobile audio interface has completely changed my way of composing music, in the best way possible. I like to work like this. With guitar and USB keyboard, simply in plug-in-and-play mode, I create the base tracks, work out new melodies. This is possible at any time until I think I have found the right mood. For "Stereolith" I kept most of the sounds that I created in this way. But afterwards I re-recorded the bass, the drums, the saxophone and the vocals with the musicians who accompanied me on the tour.

eclipsed: The album features many different styles, structures, moods and sounds. Where did this come from?

Cambuzat: The sound is just as important to me as the music. The most important thing is that I find atmospheres that move me emotionally in a new way. For me it makes no sense to repeat myself, especially as I am influenced by different music styles: Krautrock, Progressive and especially the Canterbury School, and the New York No-Wave scene. I also listen to a lot of electronic music, and that's so different things like Cluster or Animal Collective. I grew up in Paris and studied piano at the conservatory there. That still helps me with the harmonies. As teenagers Brian Eno, Tony Visconti, George Martin and Todd Rundgren were my superheroes. They created impressive sounds with old equipment.

eclipsed: The tracks on "Stereolith" are short and compact, but would also be suitable to be much longer. Didn't you feel like elaborating on, varying or expanding the tracks and ideas?

Cambuzat: I tried to give every track and the whole album exactly the right length. I hope, however, that the listener, who arrives at the end of the album, wants to play it again right away. Live will probably be different. I am sure that we will play the tracks of this album live in extended, "transcendent" versions.

eclipsed: After over 20 years, you're still very experimental. Is it more difficult to experiment today than it was then?

Cambuzat: In the sense of "breaking new ground and shifting the boundaries of what is possible" - from this point of view I am probably experimental. For me, however, the word "experimental" is not a musical category, but rather an expression of how I deal with music and that I encounter life in general with curiosity. In the beginning the music of Ulan Bator was very rough, today it is more colourful. Life is interesting when there is a development. The same goes for music. I'm still experimenting, probably more than ever, but in a different way because I use different, new instruments and recording techniques. But instead of being called "experimental", I would prefer Ulan Bator's music to be considered independent and authentic.

eclipsed: You've already worked with Faust and Michael Gira from the Swans. What experience have you had?

Cambuzat: Michael Gira produced our album "Ego: Echo" and released it on his label Young God Records. Personally, I learned a lot from him about working in the studio, especially in terms of production and arrangement. He's a great producer with clear ideas. The collaboration with Faust began in 1996 when we were working on our third album "Végétale". When we met Péron and Diermaier, we started playing live under the name Collectif Met(z). My collaboration with Péron and Diermaier continues to this day. I recorded guitars and keyboards for the Faust albums "C'est Com ... Com ... Compliqué" and "Disconnected", also for various live projects.

eclipsed: Your long-time musical partner Olivier Manchion, with whom you founded Ulan Bator in 1993, left the band in 2001. What did you feel back then?

Cambuzat: After the tour, he decided to leave the band for "Ego: Echo" in order to devote himself entirely to his private life. He's a really great bass player. Especially at the beginning we missed each other, less as musicians but more as friends. But I have found other good musicians who have been with me ever since. But I have to say that the real development, the revolution of our music is made possible by the new technology and software. This allows me to do the things that I really want to do and that were not possible at all 15 years ago. I started my music career with analog equipment and have to admit that computers help me a lot, not only with composing and recording, they also reduce costs significantly.

* * * Interview: Bernd Sievers