To say that words fail us in describing the paranormal, sonic-synthesis that is The Wyrding Module should come as no surprise. Truth be told, we’d not find success in trying to adequately describe the somewhat more straightforward music of the Ramones, either. The difficulty here is that we’re not convinced The Wyrding Module is even making music, in the traditional sense, at least any more than performing a ritual.
Which is not to say that The Wyrding Module is not musical. It most certainly is – and certainly among the most hypnotic music that we’ve had the great pleasure of sending shooting through our headphones and directly into our bloodstream with great regularity. We see this activity as an acceptable parallel to The Wyrding Module’s awesome aural amalgamation of electronic precision and human mysticism, not to mention the sometimes-negligible space that separates the two.
A couple of hundred words in, and it’s clear that we’ll not approach an accurate description of The Wyrding Module’s sound. At least, nothing as essentially spot-on as the words that came from the always-worthwhile Norman Records, whose review of “Subtemple Session II” served as our introduction to the world of The Wyrding Module:
“A massively ambitious proposition executed with an immense amount of both skill and visceral freedom. ‘Psychotropic’ is indeed a fitting description … smudges together influences from prog rock, free jazz, dub, mantra rock, psychedelia, old horror soundtracks, krautrock, kosmische and science fiction into a continuously evolving hypnagogic and trippy brew that pushes the influences forward, rather than being purely retro or pastiche, and has a sort of sinister occult/ritual/magick aspect. By the end, it’s like waking from a dream or an acid flashback.”
Keep the module weird. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have The Wyrding Module (aka Chris Gladwin, aka Dr. Derek F.) answer our ridiculous questions below. Enjoy.
Can you recall a song or album that was initially very confusing, or even unappealing to you, that ultimately grew to be a crucial influence on the music that you would later make? What was it about that music that was initially confounding – and what was it that it eventually taught you about your creativity? How has your perception of that music changed over the years?
Porter Ricks’ “Biokinetics.” Although I was not particularly dismissive when I first heard it back in the late nineties, it didn’t really resonant with me. At the time, I was more into things that sounded like the entire contents of a music shop been thrown down the stairs, rather than the minimal skulking developments and murky textures of that record. Relatively recently I happened to rediscover it whilst in the process of working on some Wyrding material. I think this colored my experience of it; it seemed to take on a much darker hue than I remembered and I became aware of a vaguely alien creepiness I had not noticed before. It became one of those epiphany moments where I realized there were parallels with the sound I was trying to create and umbral hypnotic atmospheres found on that album. It marked a shift in influence from something that was rooted in the past (Kosmische Musik, 70’s Horror-Prog) to include more contemporary industrial pastures. I am listening to a lot of isolationist (?) techno at the moment and trying to apply that “less is more” stratagem to my own work.
Is there a particular live musical performance that you witnessed that had perhaps the most long-lasting impact on your overall musical outlook? What do you think it was about that performance that left such an impression on you? When were you most recently moved and/or greatly impressed by a band’s live performance?
Seeing Acid Mothers Temple in their various incarnations always blows me away. Something approaching a giddy hysteria comes over me when they are in full freak-out mode. I think it’s the durational aspect of it; endless freewheeling passages of cosmic madness that bore in to the mind and have an almost literal psychotropic effect. Gnod are another act that produce a similar response in me. Again it’s that immersive, sustained approach, but more focused and motorik. It is what I’d like to achieve with the Wyrding Module live.
How has your perception of assembling music on your own evolved since you began The Wyrding Module? Given unlimited financial resources, what would be your ideal environment for creating music? What elements of musical construction do you feel are perhaps underutilized?
With the Wyrding Module, it is more about concept rather than techniques or gear, if that is what the question is about. I use whatever is on hand and feels appropriate, employing a methodology of heuristic play. It’s the way I suppose I’ve always created music (more often by accident than design.). With unlimited funds, I would create a gigantic zeppelin with a fully equipped workshop for Don Buchla to build me a studio and instruments. I would then hover around the globe gathering sounds and bombarding its inhabitants with orgy-inducing alien sonic rites. Imagination is perhaps the most important tool in music construction.
Despite being utterly enamored of the music you make as The Wyrding Module, we have to admit we don’t have an adequate way of describing it to the uninitiated. Is there verbal shorthand that you use when attempting to answer the question, “What does The Wyrding Module sound like?”
Joseph Stannard (The Outer Church) recently described TWM as “ScFi Diabolism.” I quite like that. But ultimately things that permeate the borders of known reality can only be vaguely hinted at in oblique whispered utterances and peculiarly unsettling symbols …
How much revision goes in to the way you structure a long-form piece – for example, something like the 30+ minutes of “The Hadronic Seeress And Other Wyrd Tales, Part 1” – from start to finish? Generally speaking, how close is the finished product to the original inspiration? How much of your sound would you attribute to “happy accidents” and how much to you think is a relatively defined sonic vision (for lack of a more unnecessary term)?
Different works have had diverse methods of construction. “The Hadronic Seeress (I & II)” materialised out of accrued experimental material, in a sense, posthumously. There was no overarching concept but I wanted to present the body of work as whole to create an immersive rambling psychedelic experience. I approached it as kind of DJ mix, blending and editing tracks together following a dynamic flow suggested by the material; essentially it seemed to write itself. “Mellifluous Ichor From Sunless Regions” had a more defined structure and from the start, with narrative passages, I want to create in a prog-rock “concept” album style. A lot of revision took place and pieces were worked on simultaneously as the chapters built up, alternate versions often ending up in live sets. The process was inverted for “Subtemple Session II,” which was basically a live set rehearsal recorded in one take with negligible editing. Generally I never really consider pieces fully resolved and due to the often improvised or generative elements they contain I will revisit them and see what transpires. I quite like the idea of creating iterations of works or elements; it adds a sense of ritual to them.
Would you care to comment on the rumor – the rumor that we are attempting to start right now – that you’ll soon release a line of men’s disposable faux-facial hair devices, under the brand name, “The Bearding Module”?
As soon as they have matured. I grow them in vats of amniotic fluid from samples of Hermann Nitsch’s DNA.
How does the hypnotic effect of music impact your creative process? How do you believe this effect manifests itself on your own music? On your own life in general? Are there concrete ways in which the exposure to certain music has impacted your personal outlook on life, spiritual or otherwise?
There is something deeply primal about drones and repetitive sounds that seem to engage a lower order of carnal consciousness. Perhaps some primitive part of our biology is stimulated by such sounds and the normal relationship between our brains and bodies becomes somehow altered. I believe the use of sound in rituals/mediation across many different cultures exploits this effect. From chakra mantras, Encohian summoning rituals, Sufi practises, Voodoo drumming, to musical forms not directly considered spiritual but aiming to achieve a similar effect such as Acid House, 60’s minimalism and Krautrock. It’s a kind of music I’ve always been drawn to and the foundation of most of what I do with The Wyrding Module. It’s about hitting that sweet spot that creates a sense of total absorption and equilibrium that could go on indefinitely. I’ve found playing repetitively rather than sequencing and trying to be as hands-on as possible production wise helps in this regard. Some of the tracks I’ve made end up edited but the original session may have gone on for several hours; “Irem” came about like that. I wanted to get to point where I wasn’t consciously thinking about playing anymore and for it to become automatic. it is something I picked up from researching classical Indian sitar music. I also did some interesting collaborative work with a Kurdish artist (Adalet Garmiany) who had an understanding of particular Sufi rituals, involving drumming and “breath” chanting to achieve a trance state. Perhaps surprisingly, I don’t really have any particular spiritual beliefs; it’s a cold Nietzschian mechanical universe for me. However this doesn’t preclude the paranormal, or rather the preternatural; “Every science is a mutilated octopus. If its tentacles were not clipped to stumps, it would feel its way into disturbing contacts.” (Charles Fort)
What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what’s your favorite Silver Apples song and why? Please show your work.
Currently I’m in the mood for Shxcxchcxsh (unhinged Swedish noise-techno.), Bell Witch (beautiful and crushing, Sigur Rós meets Corrupted?) and Skullflower (Matthew Bower is a legend; psychedelic-fuzz-industrial guitar vomit of the highest order.).
Hans Christian von Baeyer, Chancellor Professor of Physics at the College of William and Mary.– and almost certainly a huge black metal fan – says the following:
“If you don’t understand something, break it apart; reduce it to its components. Since they are simpler than the whole, you have a much better chance of understanding them; and when you have succeeded in doing that, put the whole thing back together again.”
Sometimes you can be too analytical, become engrossed in minutia and loose the essence of the whole. “Not understanding” can be a rewarding strategy; to side step rational thought and embrace the oblique. I find a lot of culture that inspires me is best appreciated this way, to be “experienced” rather than understood. The liminality of noise-music for example operates in this manner; it is in a constant state of flux between order and disorder. It resists rationalisation and formal structures in an attempt to engage with the primal and subconscious mind.
“Exterminate all rational thought. That is the conclusion I have come to.”
What’s next for The Wyrding Module?
The research process for the next body of WM material: working title, “Obsidian Manuals.” Fields of inquiry include Serialism, early electronic music, scrying mirrors, mediums, automatic drawing, generative composition, valve-punk, futurism and the Occult.
Revolt of the Apes EXCLUSIVE download from The Wyrding Module -” The Mother Of Wolves.”
Says the Module: “On a space-folk tip with this one. It’s a dub edit of a pump organ improvisation recorded last Halloween in deepest darkest Pembrokeshire. Hope you like it.”