Herr Marhaug needs no introduction (for those in need, please have a look at Lasse's homepage). A big man from Norway (Oslo more precisely) with endless energy to perform around the globe and hammer out new releases. Lasse, anything particular to share about your Anoema release and how does it relate to the rest of your discography?
Quality Control probably fits nicely with the rest of my discography. No big surprises. There is one slight difference (and this was my motivation when recording it); it is probably my first full album to have no loops or drone elements. This makes it one of my most relentless releases. It feels like a solid album, and I'm especially pleased with the final track.
You have a rather long history in making loud and intense music. Could you elaborate a little bit on your career up to now? What has changed over the years?
As proven on the recently released "Tapes 1990-1999" box-set little has changed since I started making music. After doing noise for so long I'm technically more adapt, and I now have a better understanding about what motivates and attracts me to the music I make, but the type of sounds I pursue is fairly much the same as when I started.
A crucial turning point was in the mid 90's when I started performing live. For the first five years I was only making recordings, live performance was something I didn't consider - probably because I had no idea how to pull it off, nor had I attended any noise concerts. Performing live opened a whole new world, as performance and recording are two distinctly different things.
Even in noise fashions and trends come and go (laptops, anyone?). Any thoughts to share about the current state of noise, are the glory days in the past or what?
I hate to be the grumpy old man nagging that things were much better in the old days. In the last few years the noise scene have grown into impressive proportions. Especially in the US the scene has enjoyed a growth that nobody could have predicted. A festival the size of No Fun, with all noise music for four nights in a row, would have unthinkable ten years ago. But I feel that the quality of the work hasn't necessarily grown in the same proportions. I find myself either listening to older releases or the new works of old masters. But of course good new acts have appeared and I believe that the best noise music is yet to be made.
Artistically speaking, many tend to consider noise as sort of a dead end: it is only that far you can go and all the "extreme" (whatever that might mean) has been done god knows how many times. How do you see yourself fitting into that equation? Or more generally, how important (or interesting) is the notion of extreme?
I find this quest for the so-called extreme rather pointless. For me this is not the attraction. I don't concider my work to be extreme, nor is it something I aim for. This is quite simply how music sound best in my ears. Noise music can be incredibly rich and rewarding listening; there are so many details and juxtaposition in the layers of sound. I'm attracted to how noise music is Pure Sound Pleasure, without the baggage of other forms of music. Extremity isn't a factor I think about. There is only so far you can distort a signal, and there is only so loud you can get a recording, it limits itself. And after thousands of noise releases, how can this music be concidered extreme? People seem to classify intense music and as extreme (I probably do this myself sometimes), but there is a difference. There are few noise releases I concider extreme - the last one was Incapacitants Sec End.
What kind of role does technical proficiency/ability/knowledge have in your music? Or technology in general - does the technological progress of the Western civilization manifest itself in your music?
Of course I'm using tools that have grown out of Western civilization's technological development, but I don't feel like I'm at the forefront of music technology. Mostly I use cheap and half-broken equipment. I'm no technocrat (more in the vein of technocrap). The amount of money I've spent on equipment is likely less than any rock band who never leave their basement have spent on guitars and amps. And I know little about how my boxes and software function, I have other people build or program things for me. I'm of limited technical proficiency. I know the basics and it's enough to get me through the night.
And how about performing live? What is the relationship between your live performance and the studio composition process or composition vs. improvisation?
It's different; performances are immediate, you have a chance to control how an audience listen to your music; with a CD you have no control of listening situation - you just make it to the maximum of your abilities and hope for the best. But with a CD you have the chance to meditate on and perfect your work.
I see improvisation as a tool for composition, not opposites. Improvisation can be seen as instant composition. Most of my live performances are improvised, and recordings of improvisations often form the basis for my recorded/composed work (although often in severely manipulated and processed shape). But I don't consider myself an improvisor with a capital "i". Traditional improvisors don't seem to allow themselves the amount of post-recording manipulation I do. They see improvisation as music of the "now"; a golden moment in time. I see time as something to fuck with.
Enough about aesthetics and now for something serious, namely politics. On many occasions noise is not considered to relate to our society, but rather seen as an escapist trip without any proper agenda or message. Are you aiming for some specific goals?
I see great value in escapist experiences; people have need to forget everyday life and loose themself in music, drugs, sex etc. But just because a piece of music doesn't have a set political agenda doesn't mean that it hasn't got political value.
And the ultimate question: if nobody (other than you) would be listening to your noise, would you still be doing it?
If nobody listened I probably wouldn't be doing shows or releasing records, but I'd still be immersing myself in the river of frequencies.
Tusen takk, Lasse!