‘a complete experimental playground’
ZTT records was established in 1983 by record producer Trevor Horn, businesswoman Jill Sinclair (Horn’s wife), and NME music journalist Paul Morley. In many ways the partnership between Horn and Morley was an unlikely one, with Horn’s early ’80s projects with Buggles and Dollar not the sort of acts that Morley would have lauded in the music press. There was no doubting Horn’s prowess in the studio, however, with ABC’s 1982 smash-hit The Lexicon of Love testifying as much.
The first signings for the new label would be crucial in establishing its ethos. Legend has it that Propaganda only had three songs to their name when Morley was introduced to their music by NME colleague Chris Bohn (aka Biba Kopf) and became intrigued as to what they might offer the new imprint. One of the said tracks was a German-language interpretation of Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Discipline’, which could hardly be considered material destined to take the charts by storm. The band was a trio at this point comprising Ralf Dörper, Andreas Thein and Susanne Freytag – incanting vocalist in this initial line-up – who reflects: ‘Paul liked the music, but it was also the combination of the name, the weird Germans and the really hard beat.’ Called to the studio in London, there was a need to recruit a singer and fast, so Susanne’s friend Claudia Brücken – then still at art school – joined the ranks.
Continue reading “p:Machinery”
‘lost in the sound every night’
Recently David Sylvian reflected on the various live outings he has made since his first solo tour, In Praise of Shamans, in 1988. His recollections were particularly warm in relation to the Everything and Nothing tour which included stints in both 2001 and 2002. It was, he said, ‘enjoyable due to the fluency of the musicianship and the shared camaraderie.’ The musicians had evidently enjoyed their time spent together: ‘Socially speaking, everyone found their comfort zone and stayed within it.’ (2021)
Continue reading “Midnight Sun – live”
‘years with a genius for living’
At the end of the behind the scenes video that takes us ‘fly-on-the-wall’ into the sessions for Brilliant Trees in Berlin, a relaxed David Sylvian leans against the studio wall enjoying a snack of ice cream – the only food he could find in the café next door to the studio suitable for his newly adopted vegetarian diet. He confides to Yuka Fujii, who is behind the camera, ‘I should have just under an album’s worth of material when I get back to London. But I think I will use some of it as a separate single, because it doesn’t sit together as one album. So I will get back to London and I will write some more, and go into the studio and try to finish that.’
Continue reading “The Ink in the Well”
‘very intimate and revealing’
‘If we’re interested in improvisation, then that suggests that we’re not quite sure what music is. We’ve got some idea but we’d like to find out. So every time we play, “what music is” is open to a certain freedom of discovery, open to question. The possibility of being surprised by oneself or by the situation – that is what we hope for.’ These are the thoughts of Evan Parker, eminent free improvising saxophone player since the 1960s, decades during which he practically reinvented the playing technique of his instrument and in so doing created a new language of sound.
Continue reading “Emily Dickinson”
‘from totally opposite parts of the musical globe’
Dai Fujikura had an early and unusual fascination with David Sylvian’s work. ‘I grew up listening to his music—which is a bit strange, as I was born in 1977. The first album I listened to was Secrets of the Beehive. At that time I was 13 years old or so, and I hadn’t listened to pop music—well, maybe I’d heard it on TV, but I’d never purchased it nor was I interested in any music other than classical. Being a classical musician was my life from the age of five! Practicing every day, doing homework, going to “juku”, which was a sort of “extra school” that lots of kids in my generation attended. So, I had no time to waste, and no time to search in other genres of music.
Continue reading “Five Lines”