"..a tiny plant is blooming and blowing amidst a synthetic breeze.."
Zoned Out Biology
Bryter Layter Bio:
Comprised of Joseph Raglani (Kranky) and Mike Pollard (Arbor), Bryter Layter is a collaborative unit that focuses on the lyrical faculties of analog synthesis. For the most part, these recordings find the pair eschewing the at-times unfocused, long-form drone techniques that have become fixtures in the scene in favor of short, melodic compositions that are strikingly rich in detail. Listeners familiar with the oeuvres of Raglani and Pollard will find much to love here. As the pillow-soft, analog tone-clouds that characterize the latter's work as Pale Blue Sky find themselves wed to the highly structured, dynamic arrangements that one associates with the former's solo output."Two Lenses" is rich and cinematic, rife with evocative motifs which ebb and flow from one piece to the next creating, over the course of the album, a masterfully composed, unified whole. "Your Verdant Skin," the opening salvo, brings to mind Popul Vuh's work for Werner Herzog at its most grandiose, as waves of rising, symphonic tones surge and dissolve, carrying us along with them. "First Light," with its startlingly catchy syncopated rhythms, illustrates perfectly those qualities which set Bryter Layter apart from their synthesist contemporaries, with Raglani and Pollard channeling wistful, sun-washed pop sensibilities into the cold facades of their machines. Recorded live and meticulously arranged by Raglani at his home studio, and mastered by Greg Davis to supreme effect, "Two Lenses" builds upon and extends the qualities established on the pair's 2009 cassette release "Imprinted Season" in every way. Their work here runs the gamut from maudlin and picturesque to profoundly hopeful always with an eye towards the beautiful. Due out late October/early November. LP includes digital download coupon. First 50 copies on clear vinyl.
Hello, how are you?
Ask me tomorrow.
What are you currently listening to?
I recently picked up Bjork's 'Biophilia', Belbury Poly's 'The Belbury Tales', Matsuo Ohno's 'I Saw The Outer Limits', Aaron Dilloway's 'Modern Jester'... Stuff that I've picked up in the last 6 months but that I can't stop listening to... Pete Swanson's 'Man With Potential', Ursula Bogner's 'Sonne = Blackbox', Broadcast & The Focus Group's 'Investigate The Witch Cults Of The Radio Age'. Also I have been revisiting a lot of the INA GRM titles.
How did this project come to be?
Mike and I played in Chicago at the last Yellow Swans show in the US. I think we had met briefly before in Saint Louis but we got to chatting in Chicago. Mike asked me to do a tape for Arbor. So I did 'Classically Sprained' for him. After that I suggested we do a mail collaboration together. He sent me tapes and CD's of some basic tonal things and I worked the material into song form. This is what ended up becoming the 'Imprinted Season' cassette. That was quite an enjoyable experience, things came together really quickly and the ideas just kind of flowed out. Then in the summer of 2009 Mike stayed in Saint Louis and we recorded some more tracks that ended up being the other half of 'Two Lenses'.
Soo Nick Drake, is he a big influence?
For me yeah. I haven't listened to him in ages. There was a time in the early nineties after my Post Punk band broke up and I was sort of trapped in a living situation in which I had to be very quiet that I taught myself finger style guitar and listened to nothing but Nick Drake and John Fahey for a few years. A lot of serious stuff was going down with my family and Drake's music was kinda my only councilor at the time. I think that's one of the reasons why I don't revisit him a lot nowadays but it's very much a part of my core being. A lot of stuff is like that for me. Joy Division, 'Astral Weeks', 'Ocean Rain'... it's an inescapable part of my musical makeup. It seeps out in all kinds of instances. When Mike and I were trying to come up with a name I suggested Bryter Layter. We agreed. I had no idea if Mike had ever listened to Nick Drake or not. We certainly didn't sit around listening to him or he wasn't the musical link that brought us together. I just think the idea of the name, something that will blossom in the future... kinda fit. Then when Mike did the cover for "Imprinted Season", it really seemed to solidify in my mind. Also when I started playing synthesizers seriously there were a lot of people who hated the idea of guitars in electronic music. Especially acoustic guitars. I always thought of electronic music as a form of folk music and didn't quite understand the kind of purist approach then. I just used what I had lying around to make music. So I guess part of me wanted to point this out, that this is modern folk music. Noise, Synth music.. whatever it is it's very homebrew, political and intimate in my opinion.
Will you be touring anytime soon?
I'd like to.. Mike? We've only played to gigs. One in NY and one in Saint Louis. The distance thing surely doesn't help and we both seem to have our plates full with other commitments. I'd like to though.
If you could collaborate with any other artist of your choosing whom would it be with?
That's a hard question to answer. There are so many. I have a lot of friends that I've thrown that idea out there to but nothing has come of it. I'm still waiting for John Elliott, Roger Tellier-Craig and Keith Fullerton Whitman to send me tracks. I find the idea of collaborating with someone of an older generation very appealing at the moment. I think there is a lot to learn from them. I've always wanted to ask Tony Conrad to do something. I've even met him a few times and had diner with him but I haven't gotten up the nerve to ask him yet. I toyed with asking Conrad Schnitzler but that's not going to happen now. I once asked Sonic Boom / Pete Kember but I never heard back. As far as a collaboration with Bryter Layter?? I don't really know. I'm not sure if there will be another Bryter Layter album. I think maybe this is the conclusion of some years of hard work and maybe it's time to move on.
Got any other projects we should know about?
I'm currently finishing the follow up to 2006's 'Of Sirens Born'. I'm pretty close to being finished. I've got a lot of material done it's just a matter of selecting what fits together the best and fleshing out those bits. I think it will be 100% done soon. Then it's just finding the right home for it. By the time this interview is done Mike and I should have copies of 'Husk', my double LP that Mike has put out on Arbor. Pretty excited about that, it's been years in the making.
What movie/tv show would work best on mute while listening to your music?
Haha. Not sure. I've definitely done this in the past while making records. Honestly I really think John Davis did a wonderful job on the video for "First Light". So I'd have to say him. I tried to get him to do a video for every song on the LP because I loved what he did so much.
You can only keep/listen to ONE album for the rest of your life ..which album would it be?
I hate these types of questions... Probably something like 'Que Habitat' by Josquin Des Prez. Something of beauty and regeneration. I figure if I find myself in a situation in which I can have only one album then I guess things have gotten pretty bad in the world and you would need something to keep you going and maybe something to kick-start civilization again.
Are you living your dream?
I'm living my 15 year old self-dream. The one that fantasized about music but without any real clue about life or how the world worked. In that regard I've gotten everything the 15 year old Joe asked for except the hair!
Bryter Layter is currently/maybe on hiatus, but there are tons of other projects both artists are involved in, I suggest you catch up;]...