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Interview: Clock DVA

by François Zappa

Clock DVA, the groundbreaking electronic-music project of Adi Newton, has never put limits to their artistic vision, as we can read in this long interview with the English musician. In August, they have released Horology, an incredible 15-CDs box will a lot of unreleased material that, curiously, was my last birthday present. They are coming with their audiovisual live concert to the Ombra Festival that will take place in Barcelona between the 26th and 28th of November. 

—How did growing up in a place like Sheffield marked the music that you make?

—A: Sheffield was unfortunately a bit of a cultural wasteland due to funding and economic art policies. Without the Anarchic Arts Theatre Project known as Meatwhistle which gave inspiration, support and guidance to many who created and enjoyed their time there, there was virtually no resources for artists of any media. Personally, I had no preconceptions of ever getting involved in music. I was editing a fanzine and it was only through chance that it occurred. My focus was on painting and visual art. The fact is that there was very little in terms of a scene. By late 79 the anarchistic values and independent doctrine were being replaced by a form of empty materialism that saw its vile apotheosis in the 80s with the New Romantics and the commercialization of electronics into pop.

—Painting and theatre were two of your first interests. How do you think they influenced
your approach to music?

—A: “All art (after Duchamp) is conceptual (in nature) because art only exists conceptually.” (Joseph Kosuth 1969). For myself in the years pre-1977, as a painter, a visual artist, my belief was that there was nothing radically new that could emerge, only a re-rendering, extension, hybridization or adaptation of ideas. The discovery of Dada and Anti Art at an early age had effectively confirmed that to me.
My perspective is that of a painter. That’s what I am and still remain. My work became a multimedia practice without my intention to do so, it is essentially visual and conceptual. The side of it expressed through sound is part of the media disciplines/techniques I employ to create the work. So to me, my influences have a wide topography, that’s why I never focused on the UK, but looked to Europe and America and the rest of the world.

—Especially in your first cassette (tape 1), I can feel a pop/rock vibe. Back in the even a
band like Cabaret Voltaire was making covers of the Seeds. Were you interested in

—A: I guess there are elements in these later works. But if you compare them with the early works such as Horology II which does not have any of those elements and is based more on the experimental electronics and acousmatic techniques of the GRM, and then, of course, the output of The Future which was electronic-based. Of course, I had all the Velvet Underderground and The Stooges works so, their influence is part of my development.

—We were recently listening to the first box of Horology and I am a bit confused with the info there and the releases according to Discogs. In the box the CD entitled 2nd (released in 1978) includes the tracks from The Sex Beyond Entanglement. Were these two different releases?

—A: I think you are mistaken, 2nd only contains the tracks:
Otto M / Genitals and Genosis / Soundtrack for the Theatre of Eroticism / Now Haag
and Sex Works Beyond Entanglement has none of the above tracks included on 2nd. The tracks below constitute Sex Works Beyond Entanglement.
7 DC (Seven Day Cycle)
Extreme Frequency Manipulation Experiment 2
The Pop Hell (First Version)
The Horla (Bizarre Idea)
The Pop Hell 2
Throbbing Sweeping Obscene
1958 (First Version)
The Edge (First Version)
Constructivists (First Version)

—You said that “With us it was always the visuals first and then tying the music to it,
looking to combine both equally.” Are you still thinking this way? You were always
interested in the concept of sound-image, right?

—A: I’m still very much in that frame of thought, and TeZ and I certainly are very much behind the development of the DVA visualization. We have colleagues, we are working with, to expand the Visualization and Panos is an independent visual artist within his own right, so we see visualization as a means to expand the audio concept. Both medias can, of course, work separately but combined, there is a combination and expansion of their separate power that creates a further element. It has become increasing de rigueur
to use visuals in the context of live music performance. When we began, there was a handful of artists/groups engaged in this idea. Now most employ some sort of visual, and in a lot of cases it’s used as a
light show with little consideration of its content. Then, there are those like DVA who use visuals in a way to entrain and expand conceptual ideas inside the music/audio.

—You have cited Dadaism, Surrealism and Alfred Jarry as influences. According to you,
how these art movements and artists have made music different?

—A: Alfred Jarry wrote in 1888, “To keep up even a worthwhile tradition means vitiating the idea behind it which must necessarily be in a constant state of evolution: it is mad to try to express new feelings in a ‘mummified form.’ My inspirations were for the most part influenced by the art movements of Europe and America, particularly the late 1800 early 1900s and the movements in literature of supernaturalism, and the symbolists, which gave rise to the futurists, dadaists, surrealists, expressionists, and the experimental phases of American art including the New York dadaists and eventually the abstract expressionists, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Yves Klein, Adolph Gottlieb, Barnett Newman, etc. And the advent of early electronic music pioneers such as Harry Partch, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, Morton Subotnick, Pauline Oliveros, etc. Also the artists who became what we now refer to as modern art / postmodern art, like / Marcel Duchamp / Alfred Jarry/Francis Bacon/Antonin Artaud / George Bataille /Stéphane Mallarmé /Gérard de Nerval etc. They have been a constant influential part of my development. I would also say the cinematic, the role of film has and still is a major influence / interest to me, especially the work of Andréi Tarkovski / Carl Dreyer/Kurosawa/Maya Deren / Kenneth Anger / Stan Brakhage to name a few.

—Occultism has been key also in your musical research. Do you think that your vision
has anything in common with Psychic TV’s?

—A: The idea of true will as expounded by Crowley and in many ways De Sade, G.I.Gurdgieff or Ouspensky as they were all concerned by man’s true nature in that the will is central and that we should follow our desires, our dreams and our inner psyche. But this is not a simple act and involves the uncovering and discovery of the true self which is a raw and difficult path. Other great thinkers have come to similar ideas and referred to this journey in different ways, as self-motivation, or positive psychology. What we are, what is born within us, the masses, the majority never awake being sleepwalkers of life and their actions as P.D.Ouspensky and G. I. Gurdgieff explored. So, to try and encapsulate all would be impossible within the context of a simple answer but I do expand upon different beliefs within the work and cannot say there is one single philosophical theory or idea as there are many thinkers and magi who have expounded great truths and ideas as previously mentioned and quoted such as François Rabelais, Marcel Duchamp, Albert Camus, Friedrich Nietzsche, Aleister Crowley, De Sade, Antonin Artaud, George Bataille and Jack Parsons to name but a very few. The work, research and philosophy ultimately lead back to the self, enabling inner growth and cosmic awareness. I am extremely wary and watchful when meeting other artists
within this field who I see use The Great Work as an aesthetic, a vehicle to promote only themselves
outwardly and appeal to a particular buying audience, alchemically speaking ‘all that glitters’ is not gold. To answer your question What is the Fifth Element of the quintessence?

—”Music is magic, a religious phenomenon that short circuits control through human response” That’s part of Genesis P-Orridge’s text for Thirst. Do you think that the connection between magic and music that can be seen clearly in some cultures, have somehow been forgotten?

—A: Totally, the Mass of Western Religions have systematically hidden and replaced the original connections and concepts with ones that have little meaning or importance. Religion is a mechanism of control and so far removed from its original concept/beliefs, it has become an empty ritual played out to maintain the mass in a state of somnambulism.
Early cultures knew and engaged the use of sound as a intrinsic and vital element of man’s spiritual being, there is no question of this and evidence can be found in many diverse cultures dating back to Neolithic periods and beyond. Today we are rediscovering these concepts and starting to understand and decode their importance to future evolvement.

—After a series of experimental works, Advantage seems to focus on more rhythm music, and look into funk and jazz. Did you want to make more danceable music? Sadly, Lee Scratch Perry has died, were you influenced by these records of early dub?

—A: With Advantage I wanted to create an album that would be more accessible to a larger audience. I was already previously interested in Jazz in the early periods of White Souls/Thirst: Miles Davis/John Coltrane/Eric Dolphy, Ornette Colman, Art Ensemble of Chicago, etc. Also the area of Noir and hard-boiled crime fiction such as Jim Thomson, the film works of Ida Lupino, Jacques Tourneur, Edgar G. Ulmer, Orson Wells’ “Touch of Evil,” Detour, Gun Crazy, etc. and the more obscure works of Noir writers such as Cornell Wooldridge and James Ellroy. I think the tracks “Tortured Heroine,” “Beautiful losers,” “Eternity in Paris,” “Dark Encounter” work well. They convey the atmosphere I wanted to achieve, but overall for me it is a flawed production in many ways and not as satisfactory or successful as other works I’ve made.

—What happened after Advantage, that you left the band for a time?

—A: Well it’s a bit of a long story so I will cut it short: after a number of European shows I felt the direction and the group dynamic had run its course and I felt I needed to return to more experimental work. I had a lot of ideas for TAG and there were a number of musician friends I wanted to involve, so after DVA was wound up with the previous members, I focused on TAG and releasing new TAG material and doing performances.

—ln an interview, you spoke of the importance of dreams, something that also the Surrealist group was interested in. How would you describe the creative side of dreams? Do you think dreams can be a source of inspiration for music, not only image?

—A: With regards to your question regarding dreams, yes, The Surrealists were very much interested in dreams and its psychological aspects. And the TAG film and soundtrack The Delivery, is really an exploration of the nature of Dreams and Chance in so much as it’s free of logical formation and narrative, and does not focus on a structural logic. The linear notes of the TAG album The Delivery explore this in much more detail than I can here.

Man-Amplifier from 1992 was about the relation between men, machines and innovation. Lately, the world has changed a lot, getting more technological. According to you, how the before-mentioned relation has changed?

—A: I think we can say that technology will continue in its increasing development as this is the nature of its form, and so human beings become increasingly reliant upon it for all kinds of reasons. The danger with technology is that it becomes increasingly ubiquitous and controlling.
And there is a huge number of problems when these technologies fail or over exploit, as we have seen in environmental issues worldwide. The inbuilt short life span and the rate of superceded technology resulting in huge problems of waste management and its effect on nature is creating overload. Not only this aspect but the psychological factors emerging in society are also prevalent and continue to affect new generations with
factors, we did not care to understand as economics are the driving factor behind the edifice of the drive, not well-being or consideration of our human situation, health, shelter, starvation, support of the old, the infirm, or those with mental issues are not a main consideration. We are not a sufficiently advanced society or culture. In fact, it is one of immolation, not creation and there seems to be no end to this factor. In fact, if
anything, there is a proliferation towards it. Accelerationism points towards the indefinite intensification of capitalism and its structures as well as the growth of a potential technological singularity, the latter of which is a hypothetical point in time where technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible.

—After Digital Soundtracks you said that you wanted to release an album called Analog Soundtracks. What happened with this album?

—A: Yes, we still intend to release an album under that title. We recorded a lot of material in Sweden at the Electronic Music Studio a few years ago now in Stockholm, part of our work on a new DVA studio Album which will be concluded this year and will be out in 2022. There was a lot of experimental compositions TeZ and I created in the time we were there which is really very interesting, so this material will form a part of that album which will follow the new one TBA in 2022.

Post Sign was released ten years after Sign. Did you see it as a darker version of the first album?

—A: All of the material for Post Sign was recorded after Sign and was unreleased for a number of years. All the material was composed and produced by me and did not involve anyone else so really it was a solo project. It deals with some darker aspects of Science Fiction/Fact and the hidden space program formation agenda after the war and also other aspects of technology which has been kept submerged, hidden from the

—Your latest works have been released as Memory Sticks. Apart from the superior capacity, what are the advantages of this format? What do you think of the comeback of vinyl?

—A: The advantage as you say is the higher capacity, but also the higher quality and that you can also include visual film files and expanded text. I welcome the return of vinyl very much. I don’t know why it was ever phased out. Also good to see cassettes making a return too.

—In an old interview you spoke about releasing a couple of books, some of them about the story of Clock DVA. What happened with them?

—A: VOD just released HOROLOGY VI, a hard back linen bound 320-page book of artworks/text/memorabilia from the period 1977/1980 which concludes the Horology series. And there are plans and work already in progress for a documentary film and a book, so it’s very much of ongoing developments. Sometimes projects like books and films can take years research and develop. This can be said about a lot of Art, it’s not instantaneous but requires time and great effort to realize.

—Now it’s the turn of the questions about the Anti-Group and a couple about side projects: In Digitaria you work was based on the ideas of the Sabean cults of ancient Khem and the Dogon tribe of Mali. Do you think that in ancient times, we were closer to expand the conscience that now with technology.

—A: The peoples of different Cultures and in different ages had a great knowledge of psychotropics and the use of ritual and a deep understanding of sound and vibration. Recent discovers have found that some ancient structures were used specifically for sound/vibration uses because of the psychoacoustic properties that were naturally inherent within them. Certainly some were engineered with the concept of resonation of certain entraining frequencies in the expansion of consciousness, coupled with psychotropics they were able to access deeper into consciousness and discover new ideas that lead to the formation of spiritual and scientific philosophies. The cosmology of the Dogon was extremely advanced, their knowledge of invisible white dwarf stars centuries before the advent of radio astronomy confirmed their existence, The Dogon also knew the star systems rotational formation and also the nature of the Mater that comprised them. We can also see in many other ancient Cultures an incredible knowledge of star systems and engineering that even today we cannot determine how they achieved to build certain structures or how they were able to calculate the complex and accurate mathematics of astrophysics.
We can sight many areas in which ancient cultures excelled far beyond what we believed. The fairly recent discovery of Göbekli Tepe estimated to be built in 9500 BC 12,000 years old, its stone Monoliths predating Stonehenge and the Pyramids, shows that early civilizations had started to develop a spiritual and cosmological belief system and, of course, it is believed that older and more advanced societies predated
these discoveries. No one knows what other possible discoveries can emerge and turn or knowledge upside down.

—This year we got the Meontological Research Recording III Transmission from the Trans Yuggothian Broadcast Station. What can you please tell us of this work?

—A: For Recording 3, TAGC researched areas of outsider science and Pataphysical ideas derived from Alfred Jarry, a priori epiphenomenon science and also explored some of the central Meontological ideas based on the occult technology pioneered by Michael Bertiauxs work in the Coulier Noire. Also we researched Kenneth Grant’s Cult of Lam and those of Jack Parsons and Marjorie Cameron and also explored new developments of Voudon Gnosticism and the implicit science that exists behind esoteric.

The Michael Bertiaux piece is a direct collaborative film/audio piece based on the original paintings and drawings by Michael Bertiaux from his older works and exclusively from his new works from Vudu Cartography. Also on paintings and drawings by Alfred Jarry, This Long-awaited third recording in the Meon Series features collaborative contributions from Michael Bertiaux, David Beth, La Société Voudon Gnostique and Barry William Hale, based on his book Legion 49 and additional ideas fromTeratological and Pataphysical concept.

The Meon 3 book is illustrated throughout and features an in-depth article for each of the audio-visual pieces. Introduction by David Beth & original articles by Barry William Hale and Adi Newton. Each audio piece is synchronised to a visual invocation. The recordings use biological radio recordings and Earth radio transmissions and ELF information.

The films employ multiple montage and image manipulation. Work originally commenced on Meontological research recording 3 in 2009, it was developed consequently to be presented using the TAGC conceptual projection staging system TAGC named as The Meon Cube, a system whereby 4 projections are simultaneously engaged to project the Meontological films onto a physical cube consisting of 4 semi-transparent screens constructed from lightweight aluminum frames forming a equilateral square. The Cube is large enough to house in the interior a number of TAGC personnel and computer audio generating systems while the interior screen surfaces are employed for the projections. In the live context and staging, the Cube is positioned with the possibility of a 360-degree field along with the Ambisonic sound reinforcement so that the audience can audition and gain a full 360-degree audio & visual immersive experience. The semi-transparent screens also act as a way of enabling the audience to partially observe the members of The Anti-Group within, so the sense of live performance is still maintained.

Further it is also possible to experience a series of continually changing montage images as the viewer moves position within the field experiencing the full effect of what TAGC described as the Meontage. The first staging of Meontological Research Recording 3 utilizing the Cube was presented in Leipzig at the WGT on the 10th of June 2010 in the Pantheon Leipzig and also at Incubate Festival on Sept 22nd 2013, at De Nieuwe Vorst, Tilburg. A high definition fixed camera was used alongside a roaming hand-held high Definition camera on both occasions.

The Leipzig recording has been edited and post produced and is included in the SMCard that accompanies this book. The individual films are also included as well as the audio tracks. TAG would like to thank David Beth for his explanatory introduction to the Meontological recordings and Barry William Hale for his participation and contribution to the project and continual support and additions to the text for Teratological and Pataphysical experiment BWH L49. Robert Ansell of Fulger Press for permissions for use of the paintings in Vudu Cartography by Michael Bertiaux.

—Part of this research has been done in the album with Andrew McKenzie (The HaflerTrio) as the Psychophysicist. Did you ever work with The Hafler Trio in the past? Was it easy to work with Andrew McKenzie?

—A: Actually none of the pieces on MEON III or TAG Meon I or II involve Andrew. I worked with him on the Psychophysicist album and a number of other releases of Hafler Trio, and he made some remixes of Bitstream /. DVA. He also engineered the live sound of both DVA and TAG on numerous live performances. The Psychophysicist album is a very innovative work and I think we did something that was well ahead of its time. I’ve been working on a follow-up album, Psychophysicist II planned for release in 2022. It follows on the concepts of Psychophysics and uses of sound in many aspects but it’s very much a new and different album to the original but still, I hope, contains that pioneering element of the first project.

—What can you please tell us of your collaboration with Jack Dangers SŌON? Any possibility of a new album in the future?

—A: Yes, we are planning to do another album in 2022. It’s been impossible to travel with the pandemic, so I’m hoping next year to arrange to do some specific shows with Jack and with other friends in the US and at the same time studio work, and make some studio productions in SF/LA/NY.
The album we recorded at Jack’s studio TAPE LAB in SF. It was great, very intuitive and experimental. We had a great time making that album. Jack has an amazing collection of really fantastic analog and modular systems including the Colossus EMS System 100, one of the very few working systems in the world which we used on the SŌON album. So I’m really looking forward to doing more with the project and seeing my lovely friend Jack and spending time together.

—What can we expect of your concert at Ombra?

—A: Audio/Visual Material from the new unreleased album plus a selection of recent
material and a few re-worked classics.
We are very much a contemporary unit and not really interested in covering a lot of early material. In fact, for me. It would not make sense to try and cover certain periods due to the fact that the material is Electro/Acoustic. TeZ and myself have thought about the possibility of updated electronic-based versions which we may do at some future point. But we intend to do the whole of the new album live once we have released it in 2022 and concentrate on that and the material we are working on from the EMS sessions.

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