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INTERVIEW: Vision Fortune
Joe Clay , September 16th, 2013 09:49

We talk to the band about their new mixtape Titanic Part II: The Legend Goes On... (2000), which you can listen to and download below

When I interviewed the London experimental drone trio Vision Fortune for he Quietus earlier on this year, their modus operandi was clear. “We want to cause confusion” was the soundbite; the aim being to blur the boundaries between guitars and electronic music, something they had started to achieve with their hypnotic and intense live performances and stunning debut album, Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune. But it is typical of this contrary band that their next move is a curve ball – a mixtape, previously solely the preserve of hip-hop artists. And musically, Titanic Part II: The Legend Goes On… (2000), is not just a continuation of the furrow they were ploughing, but a complete stripping back of the VF aesthetic, dropping the layers of distorted guitars and instead focusing on minimal, repetitive song sketches; stark rimshot snares, hammered percussion, snatches of rippling piano, reverbed vox, samples of dialogue and dub basslines. It’s jarring and odd, but also an immersive listening experience in the same ballpark as James Ferraro and Dean Blunt.

We've got an exclusive download of the mixtape - listen and get it below - while you can head to Italian Beach Babes' website to pre-order the vinyl:

I conducted a Q&A with the band via e-mail while they recorded new material in Italy, and it is apparent that all is not well in VF HQ, with brothers Austin and Alex Peru not on speaking terms for a period after the release of the album. It was evident when I met the band that they are all deep thinkers on musical discourse (a trait that can come across as affectation, but is shot through with a surreal sense of humour and some truly bizarre reference points) and this can lead to disagreements. There’s also the tension of spending so much time in enclosed spaces with the same people, accentuated when two are siblings. VF want to do something different; to shake things up, explore and experiment. VF want to keep moving forwards, but aren’t exactly sure which direction to take to get to where they want to go. When they say, “We tried playing as a free jazz/chamber music fusion power trio”, you believe them. When they say that the music on the mixtape was “really influenced by spending long hours sitting in front of a small desktop fan”, you believe them. What happens next, even they don’t even know…

Mixtapes are usually made by hip hop acts. Why have you chosen to do one?

Austin Peru: I feel it’s a format that not that many bands are exploring at the moment. It’s something that many artists in the hip hop world we respect and admire are doing and thought it would be an interesting challenge. The three of us have signed a contract that we will produce a mixtape every time Dennis Rodman makes a visit to North Korea. This mixtape is a homage to his inaugural visit in February, and we have already started work on our next mixtape for his recent second visit.

Is the mixtape a cathartic process, a using up of old ideas or song sketches before you make the next album, or did you deliberately set out to make it?

Alex Peru: A bit of both. We had lots of ideas that needed finishing, but weren’t sure where to put them. Then we listened to Lil B’s Rain In England and had a sudden epiphany. We tried to contact the Based God himself for a collaboration but all we got back was some generic e-mail response.

It’s very different in style. The guitars dominated Mas Fiestas… but they are only really used for basslines on the mixtape. The music is really stripped back and minimal. There’s a heavy dub sound on some tracks – is this a style you’ve adopted just for this project, or is it representative of where the VF sound is heading?

Andres Cuatroquesos: It’s hard to say, we’ve been throwing all sorts of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. We’ve tried a salsa/merengue hybrid, tried playing as a free jazz/chamber music fusion power trio, and wasted a lot of time trying to replicate an obscure strain of Swedish funk, but in the end the dubby songs mixed well together. I guess the music was really influenced by spending long hours sitting in front of a small desktop fan during the mid-July heatwave of this year trying to finish these songs, which is probably the best, if only, way to really listen to them.

The last time I spoke to you, you said you were interested in making electronic music with guitars – is this the first stage in that process?

Alex P: Most of the mixtape was composed and recorded using the first keyboard our mum and dad bought us. The new stuff we’re recording now is pretty different; we’re kind of considering a name change.

The mixtape has a spoof movie name and there are references to films and the film-making process in a lot of the titles. Is soundtracking something you are interested in exploring?

Alex P: Definitely, but no-one’s asked us yet so this is kind of our soundtrack to a film we were thinking of making, starring Kevin Costner in the lead role as a local baker seeking revenge against an evil corporate bakery mogul who stole his flat bread recipe.

There’s a track named after Waterworld with sampled dialogue and the cover is an image of Kevin Costner from the film – are you into Waterworld? I was obsessed with it when it first came out. It was billed as this epic movie-making folly, but there was something amazing about it. Are you fans?

Austin P: For sure, it’s a movie we saw as kids and the bleak aquatic setting was seared onto our collective consciousness. It was possibly the weirdest idea ever for a blockbuster action movie, and unsurprisingly was a complete flop, but having no idea of this as kids we thought it was the best thing ever.

What have you been up to since the album came out?

Alex P: Mainly nothing. We kind of fell out a bit after the album came out and weren’t speaking. Working on the mixtape was the first time we’d done anything new together for a while.

Austin P: Yeah, the first time Alex and I had a proper conversation after the album came out was at my graduation ceremony this summer. During lunch we decided to end the period of silence and start making music again.

I hear you are in Italy to work on the second album – how’s it been going?

Alex P: We’re recording in our drummer’s timeshare villa in Tuscany. We’ve got it all written out, so we just need to record it. This album’s either gonna be our last kiss goodbye to music, ‘cause we’ve all got pretty sick of each other, or the start of a meteoric Kings Of Leon-style rise to fame and excess.

Austin P: The album is going to be the start of a 17-song project that depicts the 17 stages of a monomyth; our hero is going to be the element of water. Funnily enough Andres is actually bringing a 6 x 6 blank canvas and easel as he’s got really into drawing really cruel and slightly un-PC caricatures.