So this will be an ongoing monthly series focusing on musical performances I’ve documented in St. Louis and the stories floating around them.
Burlin Mud’s primitive aesthetic acts as a stepping-stone to crossover into another realm. The three-piece from the Cahokia Mounds area features musicians who have also performed in Skarekrau Radio, The Conformists, Beauty Pageant and more. One of the members, Frau, lives in Vienna, Austria so catching their live shows has become somewhat of a rare event. They recently played a show with Bitchin Bajas, Raglani, and Trancers at Apop Records. Afterward, I interviewed band members Wiggpaw and Frau about their new album and thoughts on their performance.*
*Editors note: Frau is from Austria and was answering with a German keyboard using a speech-to-text application. Some keys were missing so his answers may be misconstrued. I’m not 100% sure. They are unaltered.
Chad Eivins: Can you talk about the recent Burlin Mud release on CumSun? Where/how was it recorded?
Wiggpaw: For the well manured answer to as where and how would come from Frau, but I love the newest release Slodj recorded among trees, water, and cow pastures; a men's getaway, complete with BB gun targets and gut hanging one would expect. We were just excited to be away into a small fishing cabin in the woods by a river. Plenty of drinking and frolicking. But it was Frau who brought out the old tape recorder, monaural, with a recording head taken out and sat it on the common table and I had a tape of boiling water. We threw that in maybe within the first hour of coming back from the store for supplies. He hit the recorder and whatever came to our heads at that instant would be imprinted forever over boiling water. It went from there, from blowing into shells, walking in circles around trees, moaning, and some batteries and keyboards. It grew as our getaway did, an adventure, and when you hear the tape it sounds like an adventure over boiling water.
It's real lo-fi and you can hear the tape bending as it goes thru the head each time we add another layer. It has such depth. Funny, we also had a bunch of other equipment with better recording equipment - took over half the space in the cabin, but this little thing we did on the side was the best thing we did. And ya know, we did it this last summer. We had time for it to fester. I had a rough copy of all the recordings and played it in my van right after we got back. I would find myself going back to this particular recording again and again, for over a year. When Frau, Tron and I gathered again, we decided, without much fanfare, that this was the one.
Frau: Happy vicodin power. Carinthia sky wince, but William said part has charred with refill of the wall because I, in which Mr. Etchings clicked, just escaped with you to smack in the eye. Vintage white band backed rock holding enjoys NSA. We probably are for the holidays. It sometimes helps that way back in July, as Sullivan helps you send naked, otherwise as stated.
CE: Is there a different approach to the tapes and live performances? Do they overlap? I had heard you went out into the wilderness to practice for this show at Apop?
W: We play at Tron's place when we are recording, but the approach is exactly the same as when we play on front of people anywhere. When we play, I think we channel simultaneously our ancestral selves to a time long before circuitry and our ancestral future where circuitry is a lost technology. It's as if we become multidimensional in the sense that we are really not in our present when we play. I feel like we are trying to communicate with a lost technology that is still flying up there in space in the form of say, a satellite, yet we had reverted back to hunter and gatherers like those who had lived in the last ice age.
It's as if humanity left this Earth and, inadvertently thousands of years before, left a few to grovel in small tribes learning to survive in the wasteland, and yet we find the leftover technologies as gods who we wish to connect with. A sad display of what we, as a species, are capable of. Wilderness is always an inspiration because it represents the healing of the Earth and its resilience against the sprawl of the human infection, or it's just pretty and we like pretty things. The show at Apop we rehearsed once at Tron's, completely off senses. We played a much more concentrated version at Apop. It came back to us at ease.
F: Over cheating cancelled impressed else Düsseldorf over line cheating. Advertise what the initials Abraxas were quiet just beautiful with Bismarckian back.
CE: Percussion or some form of rhythm seems to be a constant sound of Burlin Mud. Can you talk about your choice of percussion instruments?
W: When Frau came to Tron and me to start a new project, he envisioned a duo of brass instrumentation with minimal drums. I was to be the drummer while Tron and Frau played trombone and trumpet through an array of exotic effects. Our first recording represents that. Then we kinda ventured into other realms of instrumentation like cassette tape players and home-made tube horns, but we never lost sight of percussion. Percussion is the oldest form of musical expression after voice. It's natural as well. Mammals, insects, fish, squids and birds all use percussion in their communication whether it be for breeding or warnings. You hear it all around you.
We try to bring that into our shows, so we use all available forms which can hit that primal nerve. Be it wood or bells or roto-toms, to expel those beats so one can feel them as if they came from the Earth itself. I feel when we play, these sounds represent the planet and its immensity and power it has over all of us. We all feel the beats, we all make beats.
F: His feeling when I ask why take exportorientiert lens for England chills. Dreschenau instrument value problems in the hunting license of the white vinyl as marked. Out for Nike with tables saucer o.k.
CE: This particular performance went into several different musical territories. I heard everything from placate drones to strange horns, neo-exotica, repetitive vocals and what sounded like tormented child screams on tape. Can you talk more about the performance and themes or experiences you're creating for the audience?
W: This show, as I said before, was a sample of what we had done a few days before at Tron's house. I think it had been over a year since we had played together so I don't think any of us had any expectations or ideas of what we would come up with. It sort of just happened. Like I said, we kinda go into a trance of sorts and we are very good at adapting to each other as we go along. It took years of playing mindlessly together to achieve this. I'd say we just picked up from where we left off from a year before, which happens to be when we made the "Slodj" tape. Making this show happen might mean we found our prime as a trio. Improvisational music is hard. Not many people realize that to be good at it, you have to practice and play out a lot. To truly be comfortable doing it where you no longer think about what you are doing - I think this is what Burlin Mud has been trying to achieve all along: To embrace the technologies we have and become that technology, and worship it like gods, as animals.
As far as themes for this show at Apop, we didn't actually talk about one. It sorta came out kinda terrifying. It was, in my opinion, our darkest set yet. The screams from Frau's tape, which I think was a sample of Skarekrau Radio’s old legendary singer Kricket Greens, to sounds of wood and chains as a beat to my repetitive vocals was truly going into the woods - dark woods of human conscience.
The "Dragnet, Dragnet... America" vocals were inspired from the now imprisoned lead singer of an old mid-western band Bourbon and Clorox. I had an old duped tape of the band because I knew the guitar and bass player later on. Back when Bourbon and Clorox was a band, the lead singer who sang the same lyrics or at least from what I can make out from the recording, later went on to beat his parents to death. He was even on, ironically, America's Most Wanted. He was caught from being on that TV show.
It just came out at our rehearsal and at the show, channeling I don't think so, just exploring in the dark I guess. I never told Tron and Frau about this - just said I made it up. If you look carefully from the video, I try to stand up during this part, but could not for some reason. Forces holding me down? I don't know. Maybe it's because I don't believe in what a man who beat his parents to death thinks, and repeating his words might conjure some sort of dark magic, or maybe I haunted myself and wanted to stay close to the Earth. I love my parents. I'd never think of doing something like that of course, even if they were shitty to me.
F: With performance screening time, we would fucking be able to work most prominent string, apparently relevant dates Cash medley.
CE: Glasses seemed to be needed for the Apop show. Can you talk about that?
W: That was completely unintended. None of us came into that show thinking we should all wear sunglasses. It just sort of happened, and it's ironic too, because it was such a dark show. In the video you can see, me at least, looking under or over my glasses. I was, at most times, blind in that dark basement of Apop, but as a 43 year old who needs to buy those reading glasses now, I've learned to look over or under glasses when I need to see things away from what's on front of me. Ha ha.
F: Share of Norman chose my bathroom door. Icahn America's Siri was in sight that collects Schütischen, Wawern, Meiringen, and Werner. I am up answer part automatically. So just go online royally.
CE: There seems to be a lot of instruments or tools used live. How much pre-thought and/or improvisation goes into a performance?
W: It's funny, It seems we don't really talk too much before we play. Frau may talk about some new instrument he made, but beyond Frau's eternal vision for this band made many years ago, we don't have any pre-thoughts that I'm aware of before we start playing. We might individually have some thoughts internally (I know I do), but that's something I guess we don't need to talk about. I think we just “know” and we ride on that.
But it's a great band to try out new instrumentation, be it some new gizmo that we acquired or something we crafted ourselves. We all have something we crafted ourselves. I think over the years we’ve gotten to know how we make sounds together efficiently enough to be able to freely bring in anything and make it work. Yet also we don't use many conventional instruments, and if we do, we don't use them the way it was intended or we might mask it under layers of effects. For me, the more stuff we have, the more options we have to SUCK. For shows, we tend to bring what we know we will use, so not to clutter the area physically but also not to overcompensate.
Being in an improvisational, ambient band, it's easy to come into it with a million ideas, but once you're up there, it's just too much and you might end up sounding like shit. Having too many buttons to press or dials to screw around will just make one ineffective and you lose your potential. I like simplicity now. I used to bring too much stuff in, end up not even using all of it and get confused where one cord goes to what dial - this spells disaster. When you see us live, it might look like a lot, but in reality we know beforehand what we plan on using and when we plan on utilizing it. Of course it's all vague and not talked about, we just somehow know.
F: Where are devices and when did pity? Why pick Passau's Bauhaus?
Click here for Wandering Eye #2