PRORA: the infinite sonic freedom

The first time I met “sonically” speaking Prora was dazzlingly beautiful. What caught my attention was the musical texture. I felt an infinite wave of sadness inside of me, a kind of emotion I try to find in the music I listen everyday. This music makes me feel like the earth is trembling under me. A gift to my heart. Originally released in 2009 by Droehnhaus, the predecessor label of Empiric Records. The first edition was only a hundred of vinyl copies, now repressed as a deluxe version on 180 gr. quality vinyl with an incredible 12-page photo booklet including liner notes by Tobias Fischer and Inke Arns.
The tracks “Wiek” and “Prora Stadt” are two trips around an organ-type sound evolving. The sound could be clean or distorted but the music always floats through the air slowly and gently.

Prora 13 by N

Prora 13 by N

Both of them are highly evocative. They give to the listener immense possibilities. Sometimes I can imagine a flying seed going randomly through the trees. It makes you feel horrified next time you listen to the sound. It’s free music in the right sense of it. It does not address you to any specific place or feeling.

I’ve been speaking to his author: Hellmut Neidhardt. He publishes his music under the generic name of N. Each release, whether a single track or complete album has a consecutive number, so here at Prora LP we get the thirteenth, that is to say: N(13). You could listen to his catalogue at http://www.n-1511.com/. But you could also listen to his collaborative projects like the duo TAPE MEASURE KID or [MULTER]…

We’ve speaking about the making process of his music, about musical influences in his songs and many more….

Eduardo Garcia: As a producer I would like to ask you about how was the process of making the song at Prora?

Hellmut Neidhardt: When I started to work on that two tracks I just had managed to put together a very drone-heavy record, N(8) “Trischen” and a much more ethereal one, N(9) “Gager”. For new recordings I tried to discover new sounds and I somehow liked very much the organ-type sound I had figured out some weeks before. For me, this sound was both raw and direct and multidimensional at the same time. A sound that seemed to be simple at first but would offer new layers with every time you listen to it. Also I had some new ideas in using my delay machines… all that led to these two tracks. Also, both of them are a good example for the difficulty and task of finding a way between playing and adding new parts to a track on the one hand and just waiting and doing nothing to let the gear be something like a duo-partner on the other. Somehow like a questioning and answering between me and the machines…

EG: As I hear more and more the tracks there seems to be some pretty reference points to music from My Bloody Valentine but heavily washed on ambient. Isn’t it?

HN: Good question. I never asked that myself, but indeed I own nearly all MBV records and like them; especially “Loveless”. At that time I liked a lot of that shoegazer stuff anyway. So I think, this indeed was an influence when I started to move away from playing in “normal” bands towards that ambient / drone / experimental stuff. I also expanded my experiments with sound in that days… a further coincidence.

Graphic wokr from Prora 13

Photo booklet from Prora 13

EG: What drives your production choices and the sound you go for?

HN: It is a mixture of conscious actions and fortune, I think. As you may have already read between the lines of my answers concerning your first question I not only play around until I have a new idea, but really reflect the sounds I am using before and after playing and / or recording. I do not want to use the same sound again and again but I also want a connection to my previous work. Once I have discovered a sound, I use it as an inspiration and often a new sound really drives me towards a slightly new approach concerning my instruments. But on the other hand I really like just to enter the studio, switch on the amps and play. Those first takes often cover a freshness and power that is very hard to get repeated.

And there are two further production details: I do not edit a recording somehow. What you hear is always what I played. No overdubs, no cut and paste… And any N recording is linked with a real place. Sometimes, because I was inspired by a place I visited before (like with “Gager”, a small town in a rural landscape), sometimes because the recording “leads” me to a place (like with “Prora”, a haunting place on the island of Ruegen). Sounds a bit esoteric, maybe, but for me it works. I always really “know”, when the connection between a track and a place is there.

EG: I think noise is always original because it always shocks the listener in several ways so is originality something you’re concerned with?

HN: I am not sure how you mean that, I think. I do not only play music like that, I also listen to it. Thus I have a lot of records of that genre. I am not one of those guys who deny that there’s lots of people around, who work on a similar concept. But regardless how many of them you listen to, people using nearly the same equipment, just a guitar, effects and amps, you soon discover how big the differences between them are. Many of those have their own musical language that is determined by their own sound and their way of using harmonics. And I am quite sure, it is the same with me and therefore: yes, originality is something of high importance for me and I really try to avoid repetition, either way if I would repeat myself or other peoples work. This is one of the biggest tasks if you are working within a limited field, even if it is yourself who sets the rules. This is also the reason because I like to work with other people from time to time: my ongoing duo work with [MULTER] or my live-impro-duo TAPE MEASURE KID (with Jim Campbell) or collaborations like with Tzesne (from Spain) and so on. This always keeps it fresh and you do not only stick to your own common way and surprise: next time you start to play, all is like new. That’s great.

 

by Eduardo Garcia aka Tarmac

 

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