Robert Curgenven is an Ireland -based Australian composer employing sound as a physical field of perception. His work encourages us to consider our physical experience of sound: how it shapes our understand ing of our embodiment; what it tells us about this embodiment and of how we inhabit space, both individually and collectively as an audience; and how the auditory shapes our perception of time and duration. For him sound is weather and his work entreats us to feel and hear air. His live performances, installations and album releases span pipe organ through to feedback, immersive resonances via turntables and custom-made vinyl, as well as carefully detailed field recordings from remote areas in Australia where he lived for many years. The Wire surmises that “behind the music—to these ears at any rate—lurk such [disparate] presences as Alvin Lucier, King Tubby, Murray Schafer and Eliane Radigue.”
1: As well as snakes, there are no moles in Ireland
2: The singer from the band Cameo, Larry Blackmon, is Laurence Fishburne’s cousin. Fishburne – known for roles in Apocalypse Now, Pee Wee’s Playhouse and The Matrix – appeared in an Cameo music video “She’s Strange” as a bartender .
3: The up and coming Albert Einstein did not get his Nobel Prize in 1922 for relativity but instead for his discovery of the law of photoelectric effect as a result of a debate some months earlier in 1922 with noted philosopher Henri Bergson at the Societe Francaise de philosophie in Paris about the objective nature of time (Einstein) vs its subjective framing as duration (Bergson). A particular point of contention was Einstein’s statement that “The time of the philosophers did not exist.”’
1.What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Sound and its physicality.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I started playing the organ around age 7 and playing music in various ways since including finally releasing a pipe organ LP two years ago.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
I’m not really given to generalisations like this and often go for silence these days, but some memorable albums off the top of my head:
Naked City – ‘Grand Guignol’
Burt Bacharach – ‘Make it Easy on Yourself’
Asphodel – ‘Storm/Throne/Swarm of Drones ‘(1, 2 & 3CD compilations)
Ministry – ‘In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up’ (live)
Duke Ellington – Live at Newport 1956
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
The city I lived in in 2004/5 – when my flat’s Spreehof, by the Oberbaumbruecke, which looked over the Wall would now be directly opposite the O2 Arena and the wasteland the roof garden looked out over is also gone. Berlin’s proximity to the new EU member states at that time was palpable too.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
By the River Lee (Cork, Ireland ).
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Return to working “out bush” in Australia, though how that could be possible given the continuation of the Northern Territory Intervention in Remote Indigenous Communities which prompted me to leave after 2007 I can’t say how that would be possible.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Probably a €1 charity shop amusement or a 78rpm acetate.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
First I’d like to finish my outstand ing collaborations.
9. What was your best gig(as performer or spectator)?
Performer: Taking glasses off the shelf at the opposite end of the venue from the force of the bass at A4, Bratislava, 2013. Spectator: Jazkamer, Metal Music Machine live at CTM, Maria Am Ostbahnhof, 2007.
10.How important is technology to your creative process?
Simple works well, technology is just what we create.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?
Yes and I’ve never asked directly so I couldn’t really say. They are quite straight.