30 June - 3 July 2005

Wšldchengarten: A Real Alternative
two djs 41jd8661_photo by Rockphoto For noise-duo Wšldchengarten, Swan Lee and Slipknot are two sides of the same coin. Neither offers a real alternative to the general approach to music - which is exactly what Wšldchengarten is after.
Date:
Sunday
04.07.2004
 
 

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 Lars.

"What the hell is that?"
Photo: Jonny PawThe 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.

Political agenda
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.Photo: Jonny Paw

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 music".

"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".

JB


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