It’s been five years since Cesar Merveille & Ryan Crosson’s first album together and while I don’t know what has happened to them in the meantime the results of lives lived have been infused into this long player teaming with ambitious, horizon-expanding, thought-provoking beauty making the wait all the more worthwhile. Intro (Almost Raw) begins the process with haunting tones and landscapes of sculpted sounds laying foundations for the proceeding minimal ripples of Acid Pal which escapes into eleven plus minutes of double bass punctuated rapture – channelling Jazz in a way that would surely resonate with John Coltrane. The cast of collaborators is significant and their parts equally expressive throughout. More playful melodies are then explored in a funkier way on Quadra while repeating textures are re-imagined on the spine-tingling brilliance of ARP. Nordic Bummers, is highlighted by brisk Trumpet blasts as the concluding MCYH seeks a return to ambience via a psychedelic array of colour channelling West Coast guitar. In-between times a riotous story is told and yes it is even better than the debut in so many ways as ideas are given free rein to roam and expand. Forwards. Further.
What’s not to love? If you could kill for a bassline then this is it. Undoubtedly we’ve landed at party central and you get the clear impression that the producers (including Cesar Merveille and Isis) enjoyed creating Robots of Dawn as much as we do listening. It continues for nine plus minutes and every second of its funky, fuelled crisp electronic Dance Music is worth it. Tempelhof then flips the coin with sizzling (and I do mean hot) Acid sequences that scorch the stereo with perfect precession. Lasting over thirteen minutes of eccentric ecstasy the rhythms shine and shimmy to complete this excellent release of sound from Mathew Jonson & Ryan Crosson.
Which artist attracted you to electronic music in the first place, and who would you say is your biggest influence currently?
Hawtin from the beginning was huge for me and we were all/still are pretty big Perlon/Zip/Ricardo fans. Unfortunately I don’t get to see Zip play much any more but I always take a lot from his DJ sets. He’s definitely my favorite for a few years now, but Hawtin dominated my early interest in electronic music. From a studio perspective, these days I get a lot from working with Cesar (Merveille). He’s really geeky when it comes to his gear and technology and has less regimented way of working than I do. Every time we go into a session we have a nice back and forth and helps us to understand different ways of working together and I can take certain points and apply them to what I do later on by myself. Sort of like little reminders or tricks to fill out a track more.
Listening back to the excellent DRM (produced with Cesar Merveille) it’s striking the breadth of styles, moods and tempo’s that you engage. Do you find you are as free to do so when DJ’ing – how do you think that people’s appreciation of difference has developed in the past number of years?
Sometimes I feel I can wander around wherever I want when the crowd is up for it, it depends from night to night. This happened most recently at Stereo in Montreal. Peoples appreciation of difference could have to do with the age of people in attendance. When i was younger I didn’t really listen to the same type of music I listen to now and I would think that it would be a similar situation with other people. Also I feel more venues are starting to cultivate crowds or scenes that dealt with a bit left of center type of club music, which is fantastic. It used to be the weird records only come out at after hours and now in certain places it’s encourage during peak time. I think that’s fantastic.
Can you tell us about your next album collaboration with Cesar Merveille? And how would you contrast working with musical instruments and electronics?
We’re trying to take what we did on the first album and go further. I don’t want to say it’s darker than the first album but there is a mood change. On “DRM” we used a lot of instrument samples, recorded a few vocals and had maybe one session player recording. The new album we’re recording much more in terms of different session musicians, different instruments. It feels like there are a lot more layers in every track and the atmosphere is thicker. Also we’ve added the modular synth elements. Cesar has gotten pretty deep on modular stuff since the first album and I am learning more and more each day. The modular elements have added a specific character that was not present on the first album and have helped to blend electronic sound with traditional instruments even more effectively.
Has moving back to America (Brooklyn, New York) given you fresh inspiration? How is life in New York?
New York has been a great change. Its weird because I can’t imagine living anywhere else in this moment. It reminds you to move your ass every day which I think is great for me. I want to expand with some releases outside of Visionquest and possibly start a new alias project, so the city provides constant motivation to bring these ideas into reality. And then there’s the food in New York. Pretty surprised I haven’t had a massive weight gain because of all the temptation.
Do you have a favourite instrument, and do you own one?
Tough to say. Right now double bass. I don’t own one unfortunately.
How would you describe your working day, and the creative process?
Wake up, do label and agent emails because most people I work with are in Europe. Then step out of the house to run any errands or go to get groceries, then back. Eat and start in the studio. If I’m not wrapping something I’ve already started, I’ll pick a piece of equipment and start playing around with it. Sometimes that means a bass sound or a rough bass line I play on keys. Then record that into midi and build around it. Some times I make a complete ambient track, then add some drums and it becomes something else. It’s always different. I want to start sampling older classical or jazz records now that my setup is sorted in my new home so that could put a twist on things in the months to come.
Can you tell us about the plans for the forthcoming 5 Years of Visionquest tour?
We’re not doing a tour or calling the collective dates a tour. We plan to celebrate only with certain promoters who we have remained close with over the years, that have stuck by us from the very beginning and to incorporate other artists and friends who have done the same. The event we have lined up for June in New York could be one of the highlights of my year.
What else do you have planned for 2016?
Lots of releases if the timing goes to plan (which rarely happens). Whether it be remixes, EPs or the album, EPs for MDRNTY and Visionquest are in the bag. Ces and I will hopefully put the album out in early fall. I did a collab with Livio & Roby for their upcoming album on Desolat. I also want to start working on a live set with Cesar after the album is complete.
Fabric 61: Visionquest
I’m confused. Is this Techno, or is it House? If you really have to draw definite distinctions between electronic music (which you can sometimes dance to) in 2011 then please be my guest. However, the reason I feel this selection from Visionquest merits ten/ ten is because it transcends the distinction and thoroughly blur’s the lines between soul and technology – or are they now one and the same. Also, because listening to the soundtrack evolving produces the same intense involvement derived from playing Miles Davis or John Coltrane. If I can use a word such as beautiful in cold December, I can also use haunting and eloquent too. I love the way the music doesn’t shy away from songs either and they are at once thoughtful and thought-provoking. Musically the productions are skilfully crafted and engage with funk – if you can suggest a better bassline than on DJ T’s remix of Phreek Plus One ‘Passion’ then go ahead – as well as being cinematic in scope for those more heady aspects. Exemplary. 10