Wednesday, May 6, 2009


the exchange below transpired between myself and alecksander, a gentleman who expressed dissatisfaction with a recent HOLC performance in wroclaw, poland. i rarely engage with comments left on here either positive or negative, but this blog should serve as an occasional forum for open discussion about certain elements of my work and creative work in general, and i think this exchange is relevant in that regard. it reveals something about the different intentions behind ISIS and HOLC as well as the reactions that that contrast might generate from someone's encounter with both projects...

from aleksander:

"i was speaking only about my personal feelings on HOLC performance. it has nothing to do with Mamiffier, Wroclaw or the audience there in general.

i had some expectations, maybe that is the reason i found that ~30min show so bad. 2 years ago i was on Isis concert in this same venue and it is still one of the very best i've ever seen. also, the studio recordings gave me some hope for nice sounds. i know, that it is really different to perform that kind od music on stage, but still it was, in my opinion, nowhere near it. especially the one after the break. it was nothing i wanted to hear after 9 hours in a disgusting polish train coming from the opposite part of the country.

you know what was the first thought, that came to me after seeing you singing silence for 10 min and playing on an unplugged guitar (thich is cool btw, Electrical baritone ?)? that guy in so stoned or sth, that he can not hear people telling him to plug it in.. this same with putting on and off effects like 10 times. i do not know, if you were allright or not, but this is what i saw and thought. a guy treating his audience with ebow, 3 notes and max feedback on his rv-3.

the overall impression was bad, and i can not change it. i think, that this blog in a good place to express my dissatisfaction. even if i am completely wrong."

and my response:


thanks for your response. it was good to know exactly what it was that had bothered you - i was thinking that it had more to do with my personal attitude rather than the music itself.

as far as the performance goes, i was neither stoned nor did i take the performance lightly. HOLC is a very serious thing for me and each performance is a special ritual, though of course sometimes it works better than others. it is indeed a very different beast from isis, but that is the point. these days isis is about density and complexity and there is very little restraint in what we do, so i have gone the opposite direction with HOLC. what has become important in HOLC is not the technical proficiency of my playing, but the space in the music, the intervals between the notes, the construction of dynamics, and a desire to move slowly and patiently. it may seem overly simplistic to you, but it is certainly more complicated than just turning pedals off and on. it is true that the set is reliant on effects, but i use each individual pedal as an instrument in and of itself. i will agree the "encore" was questionable, but it was because i didn't have anything else prepared and the promoter told me i should play more.... so in the end i agree that that part of it was disorganized and a bit lacking, and i will also admit that trying to play an unplugged guitar for about 60 seconds was pretty ridiculous, though i found it amusing rather than upsetting.

much of HOLC is about feeling and i'm sorry you derived no special feeling from the performance that night. all i can say is that i did it with my heart invested in it much as i do everything else - isis, the past work of HOLC, and all the other music i've made.

thanks for sharing your thoughts, your disappointment makes a lot more sense to me now and i can appreciate your perspective even though i obviously don't agree with you."


Matthewrita said...

I like the thoughts and interactions, from both directions.

Derek said...

you know, i think the important thing here is that a willingness to chances is an essential ingredient in the evolution of art in any form.

personally, i'm not very interested in the HOLC thing. however, i really think it is important for people to experiment and stimulate themselves in any way, shape, or form they choose. i am going to boldly assume that mr. turner uses HOLC to fulfill himself as an artist on some level. actually, he pretty much states it here. it seems to me to about exploration and process, not calculated results.

Now, it really sucks that the person who sat on a train for so long was disappointed. but that is no ones fault. i have gone to a lot of shows out of curiosity and been disappointed as much as i've been inspired and amazed. going out on a limb is a two way street. both artist and patrons must be willing to take a chance.

i found isis by accident, somebody told me they were like acid mothers temple so i checked them out when they were in town. what i heard was nothing like acid mother and i was blown away and gradually, as a result of that show, became more interested in the long-forgotten world of heavy music. however, it could have gone the other way, and i could have left disappointed, and that's cool too. i think blaming the artist for something that is not to your individual taste is unfair. simply move on.

now, because aaron is associated with isis, he is to some extent 'branded' and perhaps people who associate him with it will follow whatever he does, hoping to get some more of that 'isis-ness' that they crave. however, if he chooses to strategically create art based upon what is expected, the passion dies. simple as that.

now, this lengthy comment is the result of myself being pigeon-holed in my own meagre artistic pursuits and bearing the brunt of irrational criticism too. and i just think that we need to recognize that when things are so obviously not rooted in commerce that that is where the real payoff occurs. often indirectly. i mean yeah, maybe you think HOLC sucks, but bear in mind that maybe the process of creation in that context is what lights a fire under mr. turner and he carries that passion through to other pursuits that may suit your taste.

in the world of art, especially aural art, artists are rewarded for becoming parodies of themselves. so i think it is important to encourage the artist who tries other things. if you are bummed because you invested so much time and effort into getting to a show that sucks, maybe next time research what you're getting into ahead of time. there is no shortage of HOLC info on the net, expecting it to be isis-lite is simply unfair.

Krumbled Kookie said...

Thanks for posting the remainder of the conversation, Aaron. It was helpful to see Aleksander's perceptions of the show clarified. I know you don't respond ot your fans much here, but its good to see you engage a fan with a seemingly legit criticism, especially when you don't agree. That's reflective of a true desire on the part of the fan and the artist to learn from one another, and that would seem to be a large part of what you do is about. I really appreciate this blog, and that you can take the time to let the fans in just a bit.

TAAS said...

I find it very interesting. I am a fan of music and art for years but it is necessary to understand that when we are "a fan" let us owe have the capacity to accept or to refuse the evolution of an artist, a music, a technique of paint.... But at no time the artist is the property of the "fan".
I like the work of Joseph Arthur on its first disks and today I do not like his last albums; I respect his work even if I do not appreciate it. He found a new road or he expresses himself, or the other persons appreciate his work.
In conclusion, I shall never judge a work which I even I cannot realize my I shall agree to share my points of view.
Each must know or is his place.
Best regards to the musicians and the fans

Andrew G. said...

Aaron I have been listening to the "Continents" track on James Plotkin's website recently and I am very curious as to who is doing the vocals on that track? Hauntingly beautiful and I am eager to hear more updates on Jodis.

Shazusha said...

They may actually sound like Acid Mothers, since Acid Mothers' output ranges from freak-outs to droned-out stuff, so the guy who recommended you Isis was probably referring to what he though Acid Mothers was.

Torch the Bridge said...

Hey Aaron,
Just got back from the ISIS show in Birmingham, AL. =)

Even though I haven't heard much from HoLC, I tend to be pretty open-minded to a variety of music. I agree with Derek wholeheartedly, I think he has summed it up very well. Some shows can end up being a hit or a miss, but I wouldn't travel so many hours out of my way to see something I didn't really know if I enjoyed. I lean towards both sides, as I can see why the guy who initially posted the comment would have a problem with the different direction HoLC goes than the heavy-hitting ISIS, but once again, I figured he would have did some research before diving into it only to come out with negative criticism.

I do respect that you take the criticism so well, though. It shows that you're a lot more lighthearted than people might assume.

TAAS said...

It is not really a comment in connection with the subject. It is rather a small mail, writes with the pleasure to share.
The pleasure to share a record Wavering Radiant.
I shall not be original by saying that I like this record. I had some difficulties appreciating it during the first listening. I was disturbed. Certain sounds pushed aside my neurones. The singing which is more forward which is much more clear, more crystal clear.
It possesses feelings more tangible.
What inpressione me most on this album, is the evolution of every musicians and of his instrument. The drum is more than completes, the mastery of the effects on guitars, keyboards are of a vitality indispensable to the life of songs

It is a trés beautiful work. i' am not going to abuse time in how much precious, more than certain pointless things of our life;-)

Best regards since Dijon.
-Eus (Mustard's city boy ;-)
sorry i'd using translator my english is bad ^^