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Le Guess Who? Preview #12: Aksak Maboul
Christian Eede , September 24th, 2021 13:29

The group's Marc Hollander talks early Kraftwerk and free jazz in the latest instalment of our Le Guess Who? preview series centred around the coinciding Mega Record & CD Fair

Ahead of this November's Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht, we are presenting a series of previews centred around the coinciding Mega Record & CD Fair, and artists playing at the festival.

Last week, Ghalia Benali discussed some of her favourite jazz records, as well as a record by Oum Kalthoum that she couldn't live without, and this week, attention turns to Crammed Discs founder and Aksak Maboul member Marc Hollander, who, below, tells us what's been on regular rotation for him over the last year.

Le Guess Who? will this year welcome the likes of William Basinski, faUSt, Pa Salieu, Angel Bat Dawid, Space Afrika, Lyra Pramuk, Jesu, Alabaster dePlume, L'Rain and Duma, as well as guest curation from Midori Takada, John Dwyer, Phil Elverum, Matana Roberts and Lucrecia Dalt. The Mega Record & CD Fair will run alongside it in Utrecht. You can find more information about the fair here.

Le Guess Who? will take place from November 11 to 14, 2021. Find more information here.

Which three records would you be on the hunt for at the Mega Record & CD Fair?

Marc Hollander: The New York Art Quartet's Mohawk (1965), Kraftwerk's Ralf & Florian (1973) and Butor/Pousseur's Votre Faust (1973).

When / how did you get to know these records, and why are they special to you?

MH: Mohawk is one of my all-time favourite free jazz albums, featuring John Tchicai, Roswell Rudd, Reggie Workman and the great Milford Graves. I love the way these tracks are seriously grooving, in a very organic way, without a fixed tempo, with Tchicai's minimalistic and lyrical melodies floating on top. I've known the album since the late '60s, but missed an opportunity to get a copy at the time (though I did find it on CD a few years back). The cover's quite nice too; it's part of a series designed by Dutch artist Marte Röling, for a short-lived but remarkable avant-garde jazz collection on Fontana NL.

For Ralf & Florian, I like that short interlude in the Kraftwerk story, sandwiched between their wilder first couple of records and the long robotic period that followed. The record is quite laidback, charming and quirky. I saw them perform a show at that time – just the two of them – and I loved it. This record is also what drove me to get my first drum machine. Apparently they didn't want this record to be reissued, ever.

Votre Faust is, I think, the only recording ever made of that strange opera, conceived by Belgian post-serialist composer Henri Pousseur and French experimental writer Michel Butor. It uses a lot of collages and quotations from many different musical and literary eras. It's called "Your Faust" because the plot can fork into several storylines: the audience is asked to vote, at separate points during the performance! I never heard the music, but have known of, and have been intrigued by, this piece for ages.

What album have you listened to the most over the last year?

MH: Working on my own music and on the various releases we're busy with at Crammed Discs does leave time for listening to other records, but not that much. So, aside from the upcoming Aksak Maboul album (scheduled for late 2022), the album I've listened to the most is Where's The One? by Congotronics International, the 20-piece supergroup featuring Juana Molina, Kasai Allstars, Konono No.1, Deerhoof, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, and Skeleton$, which only existed for a few months, ten years ago. Deerhoof and us have been working on a double album derived from those 2011 sessions; it's very exciting and will come out in the spring.

What's a record you wish Crammed Discs had put out?

MH: I can't really even begin to think like that about records we didn't put out: releasing a record is more than just 'putting it out': it's a long story which generally develops over a period, and gets entwined with your own life. You get involved with an artist, with the experience of making an album, one way or another. Therefore, I can't project myself in a record I haven't been involved with, and think 'I wish we had put that out'. It would be a sci-fi exercise, with many unknown parameters. So the only possible answer to this question would be: I wish we'd put out a record we couldn't possibly have released because we didn't exist yet. Let's pick any of the life-changing albums that crossed my path, for example The Soft Machine's Volume Two.