Son Ash Andreas Pallisgaard album art - photo for Blacklisted

Musical aficionado Andreas Pallisgaard takes his years of collaborative expertise and compiles them together of his recent solo album, ‘Easy Listening for the Hearing Impaired.’

Published: September 24, 2017

Andreas Pallisgaard has been neck deep in the music scene for many years in a myriad of experimental collaborations and groups, as well as working as a producer on a number of projects – both artistic and commercial.

‘Easy listening for the Hearing Impaired’ is his newest venture. A collection of timbral, rhythmical and structural studio experiments using analog synthesizers, sequencers and reel tape. Part of the material originates from free improvisations, while other parts are composed according to more stringent design principles.

The album deals with themes of beginning and creation, while also acting as work within the work, which exposes itself as the album progresses.

The compositions of the album reject the standard notions of hierarchy and explore concepts and motives of development, splitting, splitting, filtering, and cell division.

We spoke with Pallisgaard about this project, do get a better understanding of his process for creating this album in comparison to his other ventures.

You’ve been making and producing music for many years in an impressive amount of different experimental projects. What moved you to create this solo project Son Ash?

I think my work as a producer has widened my conception of sound as such, which in time has pointed me in the direction of synthesized sound. Spending time understanding the principles of sonic synthesis leads to basic knowledge of the structural core elements of sound. In this absorption with the physical dimension of sound waves and the persistent amazement of sound as a magically invisible phenomenon, I have been highly motivated to try and think music more in a tactile and textural manner. Composition suddenly includes composing an actual sound from scratch. Working with analog synthesizers, as I have done, has been like sidestepping my habitual approach to music, which has been important for me. And I think this has been something I needed to on my own, which is why I decided to record a lot of my experiments and compile them on a solo record.

Let’s dive briefly into your career in the world of sound. With so many projects and collaborations under your belt, how do you divide your time between them?

The dialectical relation between creating my own music and working with other people on their music is a rather nice feedback system for me. I learn a lot from engaging with other artists’ ideas, and I don’t necessarily see a steep division between the two. It can feel liberating to let categories like authorship, identity, style, and genre dissolve and engage in musical energy with no further attention to categories like these. That being said, I, of course, have to maintain some sort of sharp focus in order balance my endeavors.

What draws you to get involved with a specific project?

So far I have been really lucky to work with many very interesting artists, and in some way, it’s as if an open attitude makes easy to just flow from one chapter to the next with no further concern. This approach includes some quite unexpected situations, where things are kept fresh and surprising for me. If I feel the other artists are open and willing to let go of pre-defined ideas of how a record can turn out. In the end, it often makes the process a whole lot more fun for me. In this way, I can engage in projects where collaboration is the key element to move untrodden territories.

Back to your solo album. What does the name of the project, Son Ash, derive from?

Son Ash is my blues name – directly inspired by the delta blues singer Son House. The name also imitates a kind of anagram of my other last name Hansen. Personally, I like to think of birth (Son) and death (Ash) as embedded in the name as well.

You’ve written that this album is a “collection of timbral, rhythmical and structural studio experiments.” Tell me about the method in which you conducted these experiments?

There are a lot of different techniques at play on the recordings. The overall creative strategy, if there is one, could be described as a playful dérive through the endless shapeable sound world of the machines I have used on the album. It’s a curious thing; on the one hand, it’s all about a complete letting go, and on the other hand, a strive towards mastery and total control seems needed to achieve a piece of music that really takes off.

A lot of the material comes from free improvisation, while some of it is a result of more thorough compositional ideas. All the sounds are created with a modular sequencer and a handful of analog synthesizers. I have tried to bend the logic of quantized step-sequencing to get a rhythmic feeling that defies the strictness often associated with machines. Some of the sounds are warped and manipulated on reel tape. Some of the sounds could be perceived as resembling the chirping of birds, a drum, a chamber ensemble, a string instrument, woodwind, brass, etc., while other sounds have a more other-worldly and undefinable character.

Since I have recorded a lot of different modes this way with my nose all the way down in the groove, the structure of the album was something I worked out in a separate phase at the end of the process, putting all the pieces together in a way I found suitable. But yeah, a great deal of intuition is at play here.

On ‘Easy Listening for the Hearing Impaired,’ you’re working with concepts of evolution and division. How did you translate these themes into sonic form?

I see the patches and systems I worked with as having an evolutionary character in the way they inhabit a potential for constant change through the interplay of currents and energy. This is perhaps not as apparent as it could be for the listener since all the tracks are just small glimpses into different worlds that seemingly concern themselves with movements, not unlike those from the microbiological domain. I like to think that every piece goes on in a forever changing shape outside the canvas of the album. A division is an extension of this aspect, since a lot of what is at stake is about one entity becoming two or more, or two or more entities merging into one.

In the descriptions of the album, you talk about “circular narratives” throughout the album. Can you elaborate on this?

The cyclic movements are apparent on more levels. At the very core, the sound waves are constant cycles forming a pitch and a timbre. On a rhythmic level, the repetitive patterns move in circles. At a structural level, the album ends in a state similar to its beginning, and thus forms a circle of a kind. In this way, repetition is the framework of the album, but it seems like every time something is repeated, it also changes slightly. This is something I appreciate with this music. Of course, this has social and political implications as well, but we can leave that matter for further conversation and discussion.

As there doesn’t seem to be any downtime in your oeuvre of work, what do you have in store next once this album is sitting on the shelves?

As this album has an anthological or archive-like feeling for me, I’m thinking of working towards doing my next album in a more focused period with a more limited set of means. I currently envision a music blending acoustic and synthetic percussion.

Right now though, I am working with the Norwegian composer Danielle Dahl on producing her solo debut and on TS Høeg’s upcoming adventurous loop record. Both are nearly done, and from what I can tell to-be-legendary albums.

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