Daily Photo: The Pinkest, Least Fascist Records of 2002 The Pinkest, Least Fascist Records of 2002

DAT Politics Plugs Plus (Chicks on Speed)

Max Tundra Mastered By Guy At The Exchange (Domino)

Computer Soup & Jan Jelinek Improvisations & Edits, Tokyo 09.26.2001 (Audiosphere)

Nathan Michel ABC DEF (Tigerbeat 6)

Fan Club Orchestra Sun Papa and the Fan Club Orchestra Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Sonig)

Etienne Charry Aube Radieuse Serpents En Flammes (Tricatel)

Tarwater Dwellers on the Threshold (Kitty Yo)

Discom Automoto Mego (Deco)

Gutevolk The Humming of Tiny People (Daisyworld)

Tomomi Adachi Royal Chorus (Naya)

We all have an Inner Fascist. He's the guy driving the truck that kills a bicycling member of Stereolab, the guy sending untraceable e-mails to a million people saying he'll sell them a million people's e-mail addresses, the politician who concocts some little fiction to make his invasion of another country look legitimate, the rock critic struggling to make yet another wave of 1970s-style garage rock seem fresh... They're all human, they're all inside us somewhere.

My Inner Fascist looks at the records I've chosen for the year and sees a lot of pink and white.

'Ah,' trumpets my Inner Fascist, 'you're like an art school tutor with a class of twenty-something teachers' pets!'

'Let's not beat around the bush', he blares, 'they're all graphic designer types, manicured and manicled to their Apple laptops, digital creatives who'd get write-ups in craft magazines if they'd decided to make jewellery, pottery or tapestry instead.'

'Look!' clamours the hateful Inner Fascist, 'just look at how many of the sleeves are scribbly and pink and white, in that sort of messy-tidy cute retarded childish indie-formalist Japanese style you can't resist!'

He knows me pretty well, my Inner Fascist, and when he strikes it's like acid stripping paint. What he hates is my inner Cute Formalist. Now comes the coup de grace: 'And look at how you're wearing a thick pink towelled bathrobe you bought from Habitat Republique while writing about your little selection of pink records!'

That hurts, Inner Fascist! But I'm not scared. Fuck off, Inner Fascist! Fuck right off back to the brutal fucked world that suits you so well.

What can I say? My Inner Fascist is right. I have selected the works of gentle souls, middle class people who will never invade Iraq or shoot UN workers in the Jenin settlement, seize or storm a theatre in Moscow, plot to poison the water supply in Paris, 'relax' the environmental protection legislation around logging, make manichean epics of good versus evil for the cinema screen, sue their own mothers and wives, be fined enormous sums for insider trading, or release Christmas records saying that although they wear big rocks, they're still jenny from the block.

No, my little group of digital laureates are much more likely to stick Post-It Notes in a car park in Brussels and document the action in a fanzine decorated with green ink stamps of small snails, mess around with crumbly jazz licks using Max/MSP, collaborate with Neue Deutsche Welle eccentric Felix Kubin, tour Japan and visit Shinto shrines wearing secondhand clothes carefully picked out at Guerrisol in Paris, have friends in Nakameguro and Williamsburg, Mitte and Oberkampf, go to parties where someone is doing a scratch video performance, take a temporary job teaching primary school children, develop a sideline in Flash-oriented web design, be a student at Princeton University, have a sister called Becky, or collaborate on a multimedia video installation with Doug Aitken.

And, do you know, in a world full of many things I can only understand with the help of my Inner Fascist, these are people I understand, no interpreter required. Their music, with its playful humane inventiveness, is the cocoon in which I live. While I am within the world of this music, I am in a world I trust and approve, a world which nevertheless surprises me at every turn.

What does it do, this music? It hums. It remembers dreams (Gutevolk). It crackles. It processes jazz riffs (Jan Jelinek). It diverges endlessly. It sounds like William Blake joining The Beatles (Etienne Charry). It edits in the pub, with friends. It collaborates over the internet. It prizes small outmoded electronic gadgets like the Yamaha SU10. It answers questions.

Are the computers synchronized, DAT Politics?
Not at all, there is no MIDI synch; everything is done by ear. It is thus extremely flexible and that leaves a great freedom.

Tell me about how you made ABC DEF, Nathan Michel?
abc def was done entirely in pro tools (free!), carefully splicing each section together. I really like that way of working because I can deal with very precise timing of events. I don't use any sequencing or midi. Probably some of the sounds went through MSP at some point, although I used that program mostly in live performance.

You gave an excellent performance of John Cage songs this October at Winds Cafe in Kitchijioji, Tomomi Adachi. It was my favourite live event of 2002. In fact, I have been listening to the eight CD box set of Cage diaries a great deal. Cage is fantastic! So gentle, yet so radical!

Yes. Thank you.

Tell me how you have started Fan Club Orchestra, Scratch Pet Land?
Fan Club is a personal project of Laurent that started in 1997. Back then he organised a night of music that was called 'the ending of my brother's records orchestra'. Many DJ's came and brought their turntables. All the turntables were connected to the mixing table of Laurent. Everybody played their favorite endings of records and it was great fun. The next time Laurent decided to have a gameboy orchestra. The game boy camera has a great sequencer inside that also non professional musicians can use. When the fan club plays, often people who have never played before join in. Laurent gives directions about what to play on an overhead projector. The orchestra is not only about gameboys. People bring stuff they like. Fan club is very much a public happening. All the live sessions were recorded. To compose the Fan Club Orchestra Volume 1 Laurent and Nicolas remixed those recordings in their studio. Volume 1 is only on vinyl at 500 copies. It was not made with a record compagnie, but in cooperation of an art exhibition. It gets distributed through personal contacts. We are finishing volume 2 right now.

Do you have future plans for Fan Club Orchestra?
We want to come together with Ari Morimoto, one of the most active fan club members. He started his own orchestra after long negotiations when he moved to live in Kobe. We want to release a record for this orchestra too: Fan Club Orchestra Japan.

Which other groups do you like, Nathan Michel?
I am definitely a fan of Scratch Pet Land, as well as Dat Politics, the Goodiepal, Schlampeitziger, and some of the other people associated with Sonig, Skipp, and other labels.

Scratch Pet Land, do you have any artist you have sympathy with recently?
Of course we have had great contacts with some of the Koeln scene. Jan and Frank (Mouse On Mars) we know for quite a while now, but only recently we met Andy and he is great too. He makes us think. Here in Brussels, at the free radio station 'Panik' we met Michael. He is passionated by electro acoustical music and a big fan of Pierre Schaeffer. The way he talks about our music sounds like poetry. At a very young age he was among the Belgian Hip Hop pioneers. (you can find him in a historic book about Belgian HipHop) There also is Claude from DAT Politics. She is a great help for contacts all over the world.

Once a week, Hirono Nishiyama of Gutevolk, you teach a class of kindergartners to draw?
Yes, I don't do it for this great love of children. I just want to recall the impulsiveness I felt as a child, the freedom I felt when I first heard music. Children know a world other than the one in which they live.

Do you think what you do, Nathan Michel, might be described as Cute Formalism?
I very much like the idea of luring people into a world that on the surface seems whimsical and harmless but is in fact wierd, formal, and a bit distant. I'm a big fan of Bruce Nauman and some of Mike Kelley's stuff for that reason.

Are you influenced by the avant garde, Hirono Nishiyama?
Give an untrained child an instrument, and the sounds she makes are bound to be avant garde!

Will you make my new album sleeve, DAT Politics? I love the design work you do with your Ski-pp label!
Dat Politics et Skipp sont les memes personnes et nous n'avons malheureusement pas beaucoup de temps pour travailler sur d'autres projets.. nous avons plusieurs sorties prevues sur Skipp + beaucoup de concerts avec DAT politics... j'espere que tu ne seras pas trop decu.. peut-etre a bientot !!

Cute Formalist music is well appreciated in Japan. What about the US, Nathan Michel?
Here in the states I think there is a definite backlash to all things seen as "cute", "ironic", etc... I call it the "new sincerity". I have even gotten a bit swept up in it myself while working on the new album! perhaps it is a response to the very frightening political situation here right now?

Ah, the Inner Fascist again! Will we let him stop the construction of our pink and white digital utopia? Children?

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