ISSUE 35 FALL/WINTER 2019/20 OUT NOW         ISSUE 35 FALL/WINTER 2019/20 OUT NOW    

Lee Gamble

Interview by
Federico Sargentone

London-based producer and DJ Lee Gamble recently released In a Paravental Scale on Hyperdub, the first part of an album composed by a trilogy of EPs, entitled Flush Real Pharynx.

FEDERICO SARGENTONE  Throughout the year, you will be releasing three EPs on Hyperdub, the first of which (In A Paraventral Scale) was released in February. This triptych will form a full-length album titled Flush Real Pharynx. Can you explain the reason for adopting such a narrative process?

LEE GAMBLE  A few reasons, really. One was that I’ve released several albums in a more traditional way, where you release something and then wait two years for the next one. I wanted to make Flush Real Pharynx in flux. Making it in triptych form means the first part of album (In A Paraventral Scale) is out there while I’m still making it, receiving feedback about it, tweaking it while it’s still there somehow. That feels exciting, to be able to react to the emotional landscape I find myself in more in real time. It’s a project that is a moving target.
I’m also a fan of the triptych format in art more generally. I’d been re-reading a lot of interviews with Francis Bacon over the last couple of years, and his triptychs were some of the first pieces of art to really resonate with me as a teenager. He was able to make static paintings feel like films. This sequential point of view is how animation works, of course—frame-by-frame—and with Flush Real Pharynx, I’m really thinking in terms of filmic narrative, and linear, accelerated, decelerated movement, so I figured working this way would help me compose like that, too. Three ways of viewing a phenomenon.

FS  You’re also working on your new AV performance. Is the visual, experiential component an important element of your practice?

LG  We live in a world with more images than ever before. Our brains are now used to receiving constant visual stimulations. Some years back, and occasionally still now, I worked more in what you could call “acousmatic” sound, which encourages people to listen and not have visual reference to the sounds they are hearing at all. I think this is an amazing way to work, but it’s hard to enforce in terms of audience, so these types of works tend to be heard in more academic spaces, or venues that are designed towards this type of listening, like multi-channel spatialization system, etc.
The ideas I find myself exploring right now require light, sound and visual aspects. I’ve been building towards these live shows for a couple of years now. I’m thinking in terms of automated systems with my approach to performing live; I have some further ideas I want to implement into the system going forward. The transient information from my audio is being used in several ways as data to build and destroy the visual world in real time, while its intensity is represented as light.

FS  Your work often appropriates the tropes of dance music—especially those of Jungle, UK rave and dubstep—to construct a cerebral, complex narrative. How do you negotiate your work between abstraction and the club dimension?

LG  Fundamentally, all these genres are profoundly cerebral and complex, in narrative as well as form; they’re extremely dancefloor–functional and political at the same time. That is powerful, and that is why these genres continually get silenced—the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994, for example, which was a major bill aimed at restricting outdoor raves in the UK. Things don’t generally get banned if they aren’t something to worry about, and if they aren’t powerful.
I don’t make a distinction between club music and what has come out of academia. Jungle is as cerebral, complex and abstract as anything. But the balance between the theoretical, political ideas and functionality is something I care about. I am interested in ways I can apply these modes of thought, these extra musical, non-musical possibilities, to my work. I mostly try and think in terms of sound, trying to encourage alternative modes of listening. After all, sound is infinite; it’s only once it’s given structural boundaries that it produces genres.

FS  I’ve heard that one of your theoretical inspirations is CCRU (Cybernetic Culture Research Unit), a radical, para-academic unit founded in 1995, counting Kode 9, Mark Fisher and Kodwo Eshun as affiliates. How does their body of theory, which is centered on post-structuralism, rave culture, and cybercapitalism, inform your work?

LG  Well, I came across CCRU, Kodwo and Mark’s writings around the end of the ‘90s, early 2000s. They linked seemingly disparate things together: Deleuze, Metalheadz, capitalism, hauntology, fiction. Their writings brought to the front a hyper-narrative of a genre like Jungle, offering several ways to engage with it.
Music like Jungle and Techno always felt like more than just functional music to dance to. CCRU and affiliated thinkers seemed to be rewiring that singular narrative. Jungle and accelerated capitalism, for instance, can appear separate, but having a space like a club as some kind of temporary autonomous zone to be free inside is also fundamental and madly important. All of a sudden, speculative philosophical ideas weren’t property of the academic milieu—they could, and should, connect to working-class life, music and art. Access to thinkers like this where I grew up was non-existent—but fittingly, the networked hallucination that is the Internet allowed me to find these speculations, these mental possibilites. I’m now releasing with Hyperdub, so maybe I got a pass into the Miskatonic Virtual University? I don’t know.

Image courtesy of the artist and Hyperdub.

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