Wšldchengarten and Beethoven
It was back in high school
that Lars Hansen, who makes up the duo Wšldchengarten together with
brother Dennis, had one of his many clashes with the rules that he
constantly attempts to break as a musician.
"We were supposed to do some harmonization in music class, and I
did an interval between two notes that was pretty unconventional,
but sounded good. My teacher thought so too, but even so, he said I
couldnít do it because it was against the rules. So I said that
Beethoven made exactly the same jump from this note to that note in
one of his classical pieces. If Beethoven could do it, why couldnít
I? I couldnít get a reasonable explanation. I mean, whatís the
difference between me and Beethoven anyway? Nothing! Apart from the
fact that heís a world-famous composer and has a couple hundred
years on me. But screw it - I canít use that for anything", says
"What the hell is that?"
The episode is largely indicative of
the kind of music that Wšldchengarten creates. 4/4 time signatures
and conventional use of guitar has no place in this duoís sound
universe, which instead consists of high frequencies and fragmented
soundscapes: in short, everything that conventional Danish rock and
pop ears are inclined to call "noise". For his part, Lars Hansen
describes the music as "an eclectic mixture of deep ambient, murky
guitar, with an added dose of noise".
"There are no beats in our music", says Lars, continuing:
"Thereís nothing but sound that must be approached in a totally
different way than most people in Denmark do. We turn up the wrong
frequencies. We do everything weíre not supposed to do - take all
the things cut out in the studio, put it all together, and call it a
song. Then we say, ĎCoolí, and play it for people who say, ĎWhat the
hell is that?í".
In live shows, the two brothers improvise, agreeing on the
soundscape as they go along. But when sitting at home composing,
there is a clear division of roles. "To put it roughly, I make the
music, and Lars makes the sound, and we put it all together. Iím
very happy about my guitar, but Lars isnít so wild about it. But
what I do on guitar is handpicked by Lars, so heís also the one who
ultimately puts all this shit together", explains Dennis Hansen.
Dennis elaborated on the contrast and
exchange between the two: "Itís a little like when beauty and the
beast meet and make beautiful music together. I donít make music
with the express purpose of someone sitting down to listen to it.
Itís cool if somebody does, but I do this primarily for my own
sake", says Dennis, describing Lars as the more intellectual auteur.
According to Lars, there is a clear agenda and hierarchy of
values for the music that Wšldchengarten makes.
"I think it was John Cage (noise experimentalist and one of the
forefathers of avant-garde music) who said that all organised sound
is political. I think thatís true for us as well, because I believe
we have a political agenda", says Lars.
"Our aim is to speak
out. Our agenda shines through most in the sense that we donít think
itís reasonable for people to understand music in only one way: in
other words, the classical, traditional rock/pop perception of how
things should sound. We want to make people aware of an alternative
through our music. Thereís no point in firing off four chords and
calling it a rock hit. We have enough bands for that, so I think
itís best left to Swan Lee. Fundamentally, you might say that the
only difference between Swan Lee and Slipknot, for example, is that
Slipknot plays faster, and I donít see the point in that anymore.
For me, itís not a real alternative", says Lars.
Smash the guitar
"You could, of course, stop playing
guitar entirely. EinstŁrzende Neubaten has almost refused to
acknowledge instruments anymore. Instead, they put down their
guitars and destroyed them with a drill. Thatís the third option,
instead of just playing the guitar or tuning it a little off. What
use is that? - Smash that shit and record it instead. Iíve made some
fantastic recordings where I smashed my guitar and used the sound in
my music. Iíd had that guitar for eight years, but it served its
purpose best by being totally destroyed", laughs Lars, continuing:
"We can offer an otherness in music. We focus on all the off
sounds, and bring the dark side of music forward. We want to tell
people that itís fine to choose between fast and slow, or good and
bad rock music. But thereís also an alternative. We offer a
different understanding of music and pleasure in listening to music,
because what we make is more challenging to rock music. Itís based
on a kind of nerve, where you just stand around and stamp one foot
into the ground. Our music demands that people listen, and confront
the music. Itís complicated stuff that we do, but we want to create
a consciousness about what people are listening to, so that people
have a meaning and intention behind listening to specific kinds of
"People must have the right to decide for themselves what they
envision when they listen to our music", says Dennis, before leaving
Lars to take over.
"Exactly - and thatís why we donít make music for listeners, per
se. We just make something that people might find appealing,
something that may inspire them, and think, ĎOK, you can do it that
way, and itís actually excitingí".