Sonic Close-Ups – Rashad Becker

As engineer at Berlin’s Dubplates & Mastering, Rashad Becker has been involved in at least 1200 dance, electronic, and experimental albums. Working from his own studio called Clunk he made one of the most discussed albums of 2013. Traditional Music Of Notional Species Vol. 1, Rashad Becker’s full-length debut on PAN label, is a rewarding challenge. A seasick suite of buzzes, rumbles, growls and blasts unconstrained by any easily identifiable melodic or rhythmic structures.

As the Next Festival in Bratislava came to an end last Saturday, we bring you the final Sonic Close-Up from the London Edition with Rashad Becker. After talking about his live set and his live approach, we then went on to talk about his recorded work.

You’ve released your album Traditional Music of Notional Species vol 1 on Pan in 2013, is there going to be a vol 2 at any point soon?

There is going to be a volume two, of course. It would be super cheeky and indecent to not have a volume two. It’s basically finished. That’s a big challenge and I love that. It’s very interesting to write a volume two and to start something as a series, you have to kind of stay consistent with a certain method of writing the music and of putting together a narrative, but at the same time, of course, it has to evolve, it cannot be just a continuation of the same material. I am happy with the task and I am going to continue to release series. I want every release to have at least one follow up. I need something to hold on to, in order to grow and refine my method of writing music and that works for me.

Is the word “traditional” within the title used to confound expectations?

It’s not supposed to be punk or subversive in that regard. There’s a few levels why the word traditional is in there. My main interest in music over the last maybe ten years is in all sorts of traditional music. It’s a very intriguing way of browsing the world and of accessing societies and different cultures, but also it’s music that we traditionally perceive as not having an author, even when they’re very contemporary written pieces and they have clear authorship.

When we look at traditional music forms, we do not look at the author in the first place, and I appreciate that within an art form.

Also, there is something about the quality that the term “tradition” signifies that makes things live in their own right, where questions cease. You point at something as being traditional and that has such a strong tendency that is nearly an explanation, although it is absolutely not. It’s a quality, or it’s a condition, that makes things live in their own right and that caters for sometimes grotesque redundancies and grotesque moments when form absolutely swallows function, things like that, but it is absolutely valid because it is traditional. I like to conceive music that they might have been playing for hundreds of years, all that goes into this.

It’s easy to get lost in the musical world you’ve created on the album and to feel like it’s a dialogue between different sounds. Is it correct that there are not many organic sounds within it?

None, it’s all synthetic and it’s absolutely a dialogue between the different sonic entities on the record. It’s conceived or it’s written like that and I’m happy if people perceive it like that but it’s absolutely and totally synthetic. That is something that is also kind of precious to me in various regards, as I do not have to deal with the patina and the legacy that natural instruments as well as recorded reality carry. I like to compare it to animated movies where you are entirely free, for example in the way that you put together the cinematography, because you don’t have to follow laws of physic and you don’t have to move a camera from A to B, and I like my music to have the same freedom and the same lack of gravity. That is precious to me, but it doesn’t have to precious to the listener at all.

Photo credit: Andrej Chudý

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