Monday, May 2, 2016
In conversation with David Gerard: Thoughts on “Awakenings"
I have been working with David Gerard on his upcoming WAAG release ... Awakenings ... for a wee while now and it felt fitting to provide you with some background in the run up to release.
I really look forward to sharing this album with you.
TM: I understand you consider Awakenings a conceptual album, in the vein of some of the most notable releases in your catalogue. How so?
DG: Well Thomas, I tend to operate on two planes when I am inspired to write an album. Sometimes, it's a compilation of tunes in a similar vibe, or that collectively, sound good together. Most of the time however, they are “conceptual” in the sense that I feel the album tells a larger story, and the individual tracks are pieces of a puzzle, as it were. Rubaiyat, The Dream Chamber and Pillars Of The Saints for example, were each conceptualized. With Awakenings I wanted to tell the story of a space mission, from liftoff to reentry.
TM: Would you classify this as “space music” then?
DG: A Conspiracy Of Planets would certainly qualify as space music – and The Dream Chamber was based on a short story I wrote, which has sort of a sci- vibe to it. I'd say Awakenings is more simpatico with those conceptual electronic music albums I grew up on and loved, from folks like Jean Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream.
TM: You dedicated the album to TD frontman Edgar Froese, who passed away last year, and to Pete Namlook, who passed in 2012...
DG: Yeah. I had discovered Pete's work around 2005 or so, when I was just starting out in terms of a making genuine commitment to my music. His sudden death came as a big shock to me, and he was only 51 years old. As someone who has danced on the precipice of mortality, it reminded me of how important one's legacy is to leave behind. Luckily for us, we have the gift of his music.
TM: And of course, you've cited Tangerine Dream as an influence countless times...
DG: Let's face it – they were the preeminent electronic ensemble of the 70's, and certainly as much an influence on my work as minimalist composers like John Cage and Steve Reich. Edgar and I really connected in 2010: he had heard my piece, “Scattered Frequencies” (which I dedicated to him), said how much he liked it, as well as my 2007 album, "Moog Opus No.1". It was great not only to have his friendship, but we had engaging conversations about how we both approach compositions, in spite of us knowing little of each other's native tongue.
I wouldn't go so far as to declare myself standing on the shoulders of giants like him, but I think this album pays tribute to them both through the music and the styles. I never realized how much my work had in common with Pete's until I starting combing through his back catalogue. It was just like the shock I felt to discover my early albums hearkened to Mother Mallard, though I'd not yet heard of them or their music.
TM: Speaking of which, the album art for Awakenings reminds me of one of Froese's earlier recordings.
DG: Another weird coincidence: I was playing around with different ideas for the artwork. I posted a mock up on my Facebook page, when musician Christian Fiesel and others came forward to say it was reminiscent of Froese's second solo disc: "Epsilon In Malaysian Pale". I googled the album art for it, and I was like, “cue the Twilight Zone music, - dada, da, da....." That makes the dedicatory nature of Awakenings even more fitting.
Awakenings (waag_rel085) will be released on 6th May via Bandcamp.