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Christian Eede , June 19th, 2015 11:31

A new cruncher from Diagonal plus an interview with Simon Pomery on sound poems, fluffy chicks and inspiration from London's decline

Next up on Diagonal is an EP from Blood Music which is due out on Monday. Entitled Chicks / Badgering, the EP's three tracks also come backed with a remix from Helm. Streaming above is 'Badgering', more heavily distorted, abrasive electronics from the Diagonal camp. You can pre-order the EP here and here, and check a quick little Q&A with Simon Pomery, aka Blood Music, below. A Diagonal showcase has also today been announced for Incubate in Tilburg this September with Powell, Russell Haswell, NHK'Koyxen and EVOL set to represent the label at the festival, alongside an Opal Tapes showcase featuring label founder Basic House, Wanda Group, O/H and Perfume Advert.

What's been going on in the world of Blood Music?

Simon Pomery: I recently debuted my new drums and electronics setup at Cafe Oto. In the past I got musicians to collaborate and interpret my material live, but I’m doing everything myself now. The police turned up to provide some blue strobing. In the last few minutes, I hit the kick drum and it fell to the floor, so I just had snare and electronics. Then the laptop crashed, so I just played snare drum until the end. It was an endurance test and I lost weight doing it.

It’s taken two and a half years to finish my first album, but I’m still in love with it in spite of that. I’m mixing it soon with Tobin Jones and Russell Haswell, who has the role of ‘executive producer’. I did a mix for Oscar’s ‘Melon Magic’ show on NTS. It’s up on Mixcloud, but not Soundcloud because of some copyright issue: I doubt this was because I played Borbetomagus, so it must have been Oscar’s fault. A month ago I self-released a tape of guitar improv and composition called 'Health, Wealth, and Happiness'. There was a CD-R of live cuts before that called 'Febrile Disorder'.

Your music is in a constant state of flux and evolution. How would you describe the latest track?

SP: It’s electronics, with the sound of a Northern voice, recorded in the bath, which I used as if it were percussion. You can hear water splashing, and the space and tone of that bathroom, at the beginning of the track. The voice is phased. The analogue drum programming was accidentally recorded in mono.

I’ve been interested in treating voices like sound poetry: morphemes and phonemes, sometimes bent and ripped into delays, reverbs, oscillations, and time stretches. I have been criticised for being a perfectionist to the point of not completing anything and delaying all my releases. 'Badgering', the improv and the speed of its editing, was in part a reaction to that slow process. I’m very glad to get a 12” out before the album to show how this process is going.

Tell us about the new EP. What inspired it and you at the time?

SP: It’s two club tracks, a meditation, and a remix by Helm. I made the drum machine parts for 'Chicks' with Russell Haswell. One inspiration for this, and on my album, is Taiko drumming (heavier Taiko drumming, not all the flutes/bells/theatrical stuff), and the collisions and disjunctions between what you can do physically and what is possible with hardware and laptops. So with 'Chicks' I was trying to make Taiko drumming parts - physical, non-linear, repeating, not repeating - but on an 808 drum module, and with synth modules underneath which I then edited afterwards. I then played live drum parts in a warehouse in Wembley, and sampled the screams and breaths of Xix for vocal parts. I had lost interest in guitar, then changed my approach to it: playing with a contact mic in the left hand, sheet metal in the right, finding melody in feedback. The track title subverts the whole process: yellow, tiny, fluffy, baby chicks.

'Sharking' is made solely from the resonance of placing a contact mic on the skin of a drum, then looping different tones to make a collage. 'Badgering' is inspired by friends, living in Clapton: the Walthamstow Marshes, love for London and sadness for what has happened to London. Actually, these are more general inspirations on me these last two and half years.

The main influences are drums and voices: Taiko and sound poetry. I’ve been a drummer and a guitarist from a very young age, and after being into bands and DIY scenes the next drum epiphanies were Steve Reich and Taiko. Ondekoza, Shumei, Oedo Sukeroku - I’m into them because of the rhythmic complexities and discipline for physical endurance, and what happens to the mind when listening to this, and how much it reminds me of electronic music. Good Taiko can sound like modular synth, field recordings, or Marginal Consort, or the most pummelling, intricately composed and layered rhythms.

I came to poetry and writing slightly later than music, starting with experimental poetry, then getting into form, then going between the two. So I’ve been publishing for 11 years, but grew disillusioned with the more traditional “scene” in England. The question in the back of my mind has been “can I do something with both words and music?” The Text-Sound Compositions compilation first got me interested in other approaches to language that I thought I could use in music.

What are the plans for the rest of 2015 for Blood Music?

SP: Final touches to the album. I have several records lined up that I want to get working on. I have a few shows lined up, where I’m planning on testing out a few different setups, with drums, or guitars, or machines. Then, more badgering.