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Zero Times Everything

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Richard Sylvarnes and Tony Geballe of Zero Times Everything from 2018

MSJ:
It's been about a year since we last interviewed you guys. What's been new in the world of Zero Times Everything?
Richard Sylvarnes: We’re deeply focused on recording our follow up album. We want it to be a long sprawling mass of sound - a double album within the canon of famous double albums like Electric Ladyland, Quadrophenia, Physical Graffiti. most of the final Swans albums, or even The White Album. That’s a tall task but that’s what we want to do. Whether we succeed or not; time will tell.
MSJ:
What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
Richard Sylvarnes:  That our record Sonic Cinema was a surefire contender for Best Album of the Year. That’s tough to beat.
MSJ:
What's ahead for you?
Richard Sylvarnes: Besides getting material together for our next record, we are playing a benefit in New York City for the New American Cinema group, better known as the Film-makers’ Cooperative. The phenom guitarist Reg Bloor will join us onstage to perform something from our upcoming record. It’s going to be a night to remember. We are sharing the bill with Philip Glass and his sons, John Zorn and Kenny Wollesen, Elliot Sharp, and (an extraordinary musician who I have just recently discovered) Vijay Iyer. Also Optipus is going to be doing the visuals for our performance. They are spearheaded by Bradley Eros and are amazing multi projectionists.
MSJ:
What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Richard Sylvarnes: I was just in Berlin and spent a lot of time at two of my favorite places; Space Halle and Hard Wax. Both places offer a treasure trove of musical discoveries. One album I bought was Tooth by Raime on the London UK label Blackest Ever Black - heady stuff.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Richard Sylvarnes: The World Goes On by László Krasznahoraki. It’s essentially a number of narrated short stories tied together. I read someone describe it as a post-post-post-modern/anti-modern potpourri, mishmash. I think that sums it up well.

Tony Geballe: The Clasp of Civilizations by Richard Hartz, indicating a possible path forward.

MSJ:
What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Richard Sylvarnes: I don’t know if this would be considered a concert, but I did see Ben Klock, Matrixxman, Aurora Halal and several other DJs at that hedonist temple otherwise known as Berghain. Each played four hour sets and the sound system at Berghain is extraordinary. This particular Club Nacht started at 11:59 pm on Saturday and lasted till late Monday morning - exhausting and yet spectacular at the same time. Returning to New York City I saw Ben Klock again doing Photon which is a light sound extravaganza in an empty warehouse in a very industrialized neighborhood in Brooklyn. Actually it was only a few blocks from my studio. He was joined by Marcel Dettmann and other spectacular DJs. That party continued at Outpost at 5:30 in the morning. By then I was asleep.

Tony Geballe: Recently I heard Diamanda Galas in Brooklyn and loved it. I’ve been to several presentations of works by my friend Frank London (most famous as a founding member of the Klezmatics, but he does so much more than that) lately, also. He is doing great work in so many areas: improv stuff, music for theater and film, even a new opera. And a tribute concert for John Abercrombie that was beautiful.

MSJ:
Do you remember the first concert you attended?
Richard Sylvarnes: I can quote verbatim from our first interview but I would rather not. If someone wants to read about my first concert they can revisit it there. But I will talk about my close encounter with my first concert. I was visiting cousins in Minnesota and Chicago was playing at a stadium there. We did not have tickets but there was a hill that overlooked the stadium. We’re talking beyond-the-beyond cheap seats. My cousins, my brother and I climbed the hill and there they were. At the time their hit was “Saturday In The Park." I loved that song - still do, and they played it. These small figures, what seemed miles away, with a sound that drifted and changed with the wind, played one of my favorite songs. I will never forget it.
MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?

Richard Sylvarnes: The Arturia Minibrute 2S which is related to the Minibrute that came out in 2012. The Minibrute 2S is a powerful sequencer which has a patch bay that gives you access to the Eurorack which expands its capability. I’m only now beginning to wrap my mind around its incredible capabilities.

Tony Geballe: GigPerformer by Deskew Technologies has totally revolutionized my live setup, and in combination with MidiGuitar 2 it is very, very close to the dream setup I’ve been envisioning for years.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Richard Sylvarnes: I’m happy that I have not been shot by some gun-toting red American. During our live concerts, and the song “Kapital,"I actually read directly from Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital." In our present day and age, reading a communist text in public could have serious repercussions. I would hope the song ignites a dialogue and not ill-understood venom, hate, and explosions of gun powder.

Tony Geballe: Perhaps a quote from Andrei Tarkovsky, the late film director (with apologies for propagating the male pronoun): “The allotted function of art is not, as is often assumed, to put across ideas, to propagate thoughts, to serve as an example. The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good.”

MSJ:
This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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