“Ventilated & Reflected”
Welcome to the new Pluie/Noir podcast series. 8 years after our debut we decided to press the reboot button and return to our roots. With a new format and back to a regular monthly schedule, Pluie/Noir Interscapes will feature audio collages, mixes, live interviews, and live recordings from P/N artists, friends, and other collectives we admire.
For Interscapes 07 we welcome Walrus – Brussels-based DJ, promoter, producer and head honcho of the superlative Basic Moves label – to bring forth his very personal way of presenting ambient music. Abstract acrylic painting on film by Max Binski, the head-honcho of Pluie/Noir, also known as Cleymoore. We interview both for the occasion:
INTERVIEW — WALRUS
Hi Michiel, such a pleasure to have you at P/N. How have you been, all things considered?
Hey Bruno. I’m still rolling through life and feeling alright. Thank you.
The current pandemic has proven quite challenging for the music business as a whole. Considering you are both a DJ and a promoter and record label owner, how did it affect your work?
My head doesn’t stop pounding-out ideas, but my legs are in urgent need of dancing!
I hear you’re good at woodwork? Was this one of your “hobbies turned business” activities during 2020?
So happy there has been a lot of demand in the last few years towards the furniture I design and produce for DJs and collectors. People who’re collecting records had some time to be with their collection and imagined new furniture and setup, so I’m making the Clauset & Dekeyser planning for 2021. It’s looking like a lot of fun with several versatile projects ahead of us. I limit myself to two furniture projects a month, like that I keep some free time for musical projects, Crevette Records, and my personal life. So the people reaching out to me for collectors or DJ furniture need to have some patience. Slowly but surely, we’re building together.
“there’s been a lot of demand in the last few years towards the furniture I design and produce for DJs and collectors”
Your work for Crevette and Basic Moves has been going on since 2017 now. Do you also work on the distribution part of the store? What are your current plans for Basic Moves after Adi’s (stellar) release?
I work one day a week for the shop, and I’m taking care of the second-hand records. I’m managing the backstock and looking out if the crates are filled up carefully with used records. My Wednesdays are the busiest days of the week – very blessed to be part of Pim Thomas‘s team (DJ Alfred Anders), where I can meet so many people from different generations and with so many other music styles and sharing the same love for vinyl. Even in these uncertain times, we still hang on to those black circles full of culture.
Crevette Distribution is growing slowly. We’re searching and finding our position in “the industry” thanks to Jakob and Pim‘s hard work. They are real believers. Soon we’ll have a proper distribution website out of Brussels/Belgium, like back in the ’90s! Not 50.000 copies tho… haha… rather between 300 and 500 records, out of love for the music and the format for sure!
“Crevette Distribution is growing slowly. We’re searching and finding our position in ‘the industry'”
Oh, and great you dig the album from Adi! It has been a very fun journey to get this release together. Intuitive for sure. Raquel is an amazing artist with a bright future ahead. Basic Moves is continuing to release double maxis until catalog number 20. After that, we’re throwing ourselves into another adventure: artist compilations — In the vein of “K7 DJ Kicks,” etc. — a whole new world when it comes to licensing work and music rights clearance… we’re still looking for an internship lawyer specialized in artist rights. anyone who can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Also brand new is the label that Raquel Rivera-Lys, aka Adi, and I, will start in 2021. Sporadically originated on an afternoon of music listening in Berlin, ‘For Playful Manners’ is based on friendship and a shared sense of what makes club music fun — pointing towards the tradition of dancing, clubbing, and of the future. New music is the message, each time delivered through split EPs and making sure there’s a healthy gender balance: male/female, robot/alien, or flower/tree. The artwork will become a crossword puzzle, where you will have to guess the tracks who own them.. fun! The kick-off is expected in April 2021, with tracks by Raquel and myself. The second EP will come just before the summer and will feature Ludovic from Lima/Peru, and Lisbon-based, French-native Penelope.. all very exciting. 🙂
“‘Gems Under The Horizon’ is a new chill-out division of Basic Moves”
I’ve read you had a particular desire to start an ambient label. Is this coming to reality any time soon?
Yes! ‘Gems Under The Horizon‘ is a new chill-out division of Basic Moves inspired by the Sunday Afternoon events that we have sporadically hosted in Brussels in recent years. Artist Dieter Durinck has carte blanche for the complete design of each release. The logo is, just like that of Basic Moves, designed by Camiel Hermans.
The label will debut with 2 compilation EPs (vinyl + digital for the first time) from very different artists, from Lithuania to South Korea. Belgian Ambient wonder Bernard Zwijzen aka Sonmi451 will do the honours in a split release with Brussels deep-techno-cat Dylan Thomas Hays. More news soon!
Why, when and how did you record this podcast?
I recorded this mix at my new flat in Brussels, accompanied by two record players, one old skool hi-fi cd player, and a Rodec MX1800 mixer, somewhere during a rainy mid weeknight in November 2020. I wanted to demonstrate my way of approaching ambient music — no musical boundaries and a personal choice of sounds that make me feel grounded and at ease between my ears and through my veins.
Your performance at CCINQ, based on the modern gestures Josef Albers produced sixty years ago, was quite remarkable. What exactly did you do? Do you intend on promoting further this kind of cultural interaction?
Over three days I experimented with the possibilities offered by the ARP2600 synthesiser (an American instrument I had never played before) and imagined a sound drawing from it, freely inspired by Josef Albers’ squares and grid points. Each evening I presented a different performance, in which art was transformed by the links between artists. Through this research I managed to capture different ambiences, sequences and sounds, which were uploaded to the internet in the form of open-source samples, available on the CCINQ website.
It was a lot of fun to compose and perform at CINQ, especially in the context of a gallery and during several performance nights in a row. I will definitely continue to create music through artistic residencies and similar settings, but not always with public performances. Hopefully, the next one will be in Ghent experimenting on the EMS Synthi 100 at IPEM: Institute For Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music.
“Each evening I presented a different performance, in which art was transformed by the links between artists.”
Short, medium, and long term goals for 2021 and beyond?
Focussing on Basic Moves (and its side labels), digging into the neverending universe of music & hopefully.. dancing again.. one day.
Franz Falckenhaus – No Morality (Strange Life Records, 2010)
Square Fauna – A Sense Of Meaning (Firecracker Recordings, 2020)
Michael William Gilbert – Other Voices / Other Rooms (Gibex, 1978)
Romano, Sclavis & Texier – Sur Le Lac (Label Bleu, 1999)
Mohammad Reza Mortazavi – Tears Of A Fakir/ opt1 (Latency, 2019)
Pretty Sneaky – C (Mana Records, 2020)
Masomenos & e/tape – The Sound Of The Earth Pt2 (Hôtel Costes, 2020)
Takagi Masakatsu – Re Pia 1 (Carpark Records, 2002)
Seungmin Cha – 지금은 우리가 (Now, We Are) (Tonal Unity, 2019)
Sonmi451 – Steady Drop (U-Cover Transparente, 2006)
Max Loderbauer– Prinzessinneneselfroschgänseteig (Bruchstuecke, 2003)
Buy the music you love — don’t stream your life away !
INTERVIEW — MAX BINSKI (aka CLEYMOORE)
Hi Bruno, welcome back to the P/N Interscapes series. How have you been, and how are things in Berlin?
Hello Denise! It’s nice to be back to the series. Always a peculiarly warm feeling — working for a series I curate myself and being interviewed after — it’s like, cooking for your own family while discussing your culinary ideas.
I’ve been relatively ok. I feel somehow lucky to live in Berlin at a time like this; things were more or less under control, the government thinks responsibly and offers a lot of support for those in need. I also have a “normal job” with a permanent contract for a few years now, so it kept me grounded and secure; otherwise, living as a full-time musician, DJ, and label owner would be impossible. In the meantime, I put Pluie/Noir‘s releases more or less on hold last year and devoted my free time to new things and creativity: music, design, modular synths, photography, video and cooking.
You are a multi-talented artist, can you give us some more insight into what you do?
Well, I do have a bachelor’s degree in Design, so at heart, I’m a graphic designer. I think I’ve been doing freelance design work since 2008. A couple of years after I finished my studies, I realized it was very tough for me to work for creative directors with a vision different from mine, so freelance was the only way, and that’s what I did. During this period, I also worked in the music industry through my Cleymoore moniker and the Pluie/Noir label management. I became particularly interested in working with Graphic Design for the music business, and it became second nature. Been doing visuals and design for record labels and event promoters ever since.
“I became particularly interested in working with Graphic Design for the music business, and it became second nature.”
When I moved to Berlin 5 years ago with my boyfriend, I decided to look for a job as freelancing can be quite exhausting – especially not knowing if you will score enough to pay your rent at the end of the month. Things changed a bit from there, but it grounded me, having a job. Berlin is exquisitely inspiring but quickly becomes a monumental trap if you don’t have a schedule and something steady in your life. Having a job gave me security and provided me with a reliable enough status to get a cozy and quite central flat fast in a city with an oversaturated real-estate situation. Today, I juggle my time between a full-time job, my private life, freelance design work I still do for friends, digging records, making music, managing Pluie/Noir, and now Rings of Neptune with you. I built a little office/studio space at home where I can be creative and productive; that’s where I’ve spent most of my “quarantine year.”
So did this pandemic influence you and the way you work?
I think it did, yes. I’ve tried to look at it as an opportunity to create and try new things, but especially to learn. Considering there are so many things I like and want to do, the quarantine boredom didn’t get to me. I needed some ergonomics, so I’ve turned a small room in my apartment into a place where I now can work during these successive lockdown periods — it’s tiny (about eight square meters), so I consider it as a sort of panic room for music and design.. I’ve made tons of music and many artworks during this period, re-discovered my entire record collection, and re-aligned both my music taste and my professional ambitions. Was deeply introspective, and optimistic. Together with you and our team we also created, developed, and expanded the Rings of Neptune project during 2020 (find out more about the project here); I guess in this sense, it kept both of us quite busy.
This period also made me more politically and socially concerned, so I intend my audio-visual art to carry a political voice of some sort from now on. I’ve started questioning many things about myself and the people I share my life or work with and ultimately re-evaluated my pre-conception of what humans are and how they behave during unprecedented times. But I guess this mental and emotional drift happened collectively, on a global scale.
“being away from clubs and DJ trends also helped, and today I feel utterly unbounded by club-music and its setting’s expectedness”
What kind of projects kept you busy so far?
I have a recent obsession with modular synths and started studying music theory, which ultimately led me to create music in totally distinct ways. Being away from clubs and DJ trends also helped, and today I feel utterly unbounded by club-music and its setting’s expectedness. I’m ever more interested in music’s left-field side, growing closer and closer to new-age and proto-synth music and, quite inevitably, closer to the so-called Ambient genre in all its forms. I believe it can be a ‘metaphysical transportation’ tool rather than a simple musical backdrop — and viscerally cinematic. That’s the world I want to explore under the Max Binski alias; it’s no longer only about visual art.
And now I have two full-length albums almost ready to release — which will hopefully happen soon on Pluie/Noir and Klangstudie (a new label I’m starting only for my music). I’m also composing a film score for a project I can’t disclose yet, but excitement is an understatement. And because modular synths are now an integral part of my creative process, I’ve taken the challenge of a good friend, and I’m designing his module’s faceplate in euro-rack format.
Oh, and painting! I’m finally back to canvases and inks after several years! I think it’s mostly because of David Surman. We became friends last year after I invited him to do the artwork for Rubi‘s podcast. Following his work weekly re-kindled my will to paint again. His painting style is, to me, both an inspiration and a delight.
“I believe ambient music can be a metaphysical transportation tool rather than a simple musical backdrop”
Why did you decide to end the P/N Podcast and start this Interscapes series?
Pluie/Noir is a long-running project, and long-running projects require some changes at times to keep the boat afloat. The original series ran for nine years, and 84 podcasts later, I felt I lost control over the series. I wanted to provide an expressive platform for all the talented people I encountered on my artistic path, but in the end, it longer had the format I wanted. I got an increasingly absurd number of podcasts and not enough visual artists to cater to the project’s needs. And because I curate and manage the imprint on my own, it was becoming very tough to schedule, interview, gather visuals, and plan the podcasts as I envisioned them in the first years while simultaneously working for a company full-time. I stopped interviewing the artists, and I also stopped making the teaser videos, and the series slowly lost its strong primary identity. My digital persona isn’t as methodic as it used to be when working as a freelancer. I’m increasingly phobic of social media’s algorithms and nuances — one of the biggest and most challenging paradoxes of my life.
Precisely one year ago, I had a great podcast from Evano and CP-AK for P/N in my hands, and because the original series started with Evano, I decided to press the reset button and return to my roots. Created new design templates and a video format for the Instagram age and started doing in-depth interviews with the artists I invited to the series. My original intention was to go back to a regular monthly schedule, but the whole pandemic got in the way. The core idea is still the same but slightly expanded: feature audio collages, mixes, live interviews, and live recordings from P/N artists, friends, and other collectives I admire, all personally invited so that the curation would be absolute. Unfortunately, I closed the door to mixes sent by fans, but it’s the price I had to pay to regain some control over the project. It’s hard for me to say “no, thank you” sometimes, and it got me in trouble on several occasions throughout my life.
And because less is more, instead of the usual triptych format, this series now features only a single visual interpretation by a graphic artist. I intend the artwork to be available to purchase in a limited printed poster format on our rebooted Bandcamp after episode ten, in a pack together with the mixes recorded in tape. Rings of Neptune became the “parent” label for Pluie/Noir, so having a website to properly present the Interscapes series is also something I always wanted, and that’s why you are reading this here!
“the original series ran for nine years, and 84 podcasts later, I felt I lost control over the series”
How did you make the artwork for this episode of the Interscapes series?
I developed a series of acrylic paint techniques in transparent film layers with visually striking results about six years ago. The possibilities for visual deconstruction are quite outstanding. I started using acrylic like I use photoshop: bit by bit, adding or removing textures according to my intentions.
Over the past six years, I did about 15 of them, took very high-resolution photos of each (including close-ups), and I’ve been using those textures and paintings in tons of my artworks ever since. I created this artwork for Walrus out of digitally manipulated and heavily layered close-up photos of one of these paintings. The original was a thick, transparent film-based painting in white, red, and blue I did four years ago. I intended it to be as mellow, organic, and fluid as Walrus’s music selection and mixing are. Opted to manipulate the original colors into a warmer and fuller palette, giving vibrant life to brutally abstract shapes. That’s the beauty of abstract art — it’s purely subjective. Let your imagination fly.
“I’ve also re-started reading comics, concretely mangas, which I always liked to do but never did enough”
What are your favorite sources of audio-visual inspiration?
Films, series, and video-games are still my favorite sources of inspiration. Avidly collecting music in physical formats like vinyl or tape is also inspiring because I get bombarded by audio-visual ideas. I’m not only buying a record; I’m also acquiring a physical product with a unique design and artwork that I’m supposed to experience in full. Labels like Light In The Attic or Music From Memory understand and truly explore this very well: music as a complete sensory experience.
I’ve also re-started reading comics, concretely mangas, which I always liked to do but never did enough. I appreciate the medium even more now than I did when I was younger, especially Japanese manga artists like Inio Asano, Junji Ito, or Makoto Yukimura, or the American author Neil Gaiman (creator of the fantastic Sandman series). I lacked the maturity needed to understand their depth fully. They inspire me deeply, not just visually but also intelectualy.
And modular systems, of course. They opened a pandora’s box I didn’t know I had inside me. There’s nothing quite like it: they’re complicated and at times unpredictable, frankly temperamental but infinitely inspirational. I fell in love with Make Noise after trying it at Orbe‘s studio in Madrid. I studied and learned all I could learn about modular systems for an entire year before taking the lunge. I wanted to be sure about it and use my money responsibly. A year later, I built a customized Black & Gold Shared System, and I’m now expanding my system to an Intellijel 7U Stealth Case. All things modular are my primary source of musical creation, together with Ableton’s underestimated Wavetable engine and Max MSP instruments and effects. But that’s a long story for another time.
“modular systems opened a pandora’s box I didn’t know I had inside me.. they’re complicated, frankly temperamental but infinitely inspirational.”
Short, medium and long-term goals?
My shortest term goal was to get a cat, which is already a reality today. I had cats in the past, but unfortunately, I had to give one away. The other stayed with my sister, and I can’t take him anymore as they bonded deeply. I adopted a cat through the MJM Dogs Foundation of the Netherlands (thanks, Masha). He’s a cross-breed between common-euro and Russian Blue, has emerald green eyes, he’s super cute, and seems to like my music.
Medium to long-term plans: reboot Pluie/Noir‘s label side as I currently have four releases on hold, finally finish my first solo Pluie/Noir club-driven release, start Rings of Neptune‘s label and sub-labels, explore some artistic residencies around the globe to culturally activate the cities in the circuit, and much more I can’t disclose right now. And hopefully, dance in a club, as soon as possible? (..) What’s a club?
Remember to donate if you can during these trying times, not only to your favorite clubs and music promoters, but also to social and health organizations that stand for the things you believe. Some countries also need external help due to oppressive regimes. If you can’t donate, spread the word, activate their voices if you use social media — it’s the best use you can give it. And don’t forget our planet.
Thanks, Denise, for helping me talk about myself.