Thursday, 28 November 2013

TEA Podcast: Valanx

Arne Weinberg goes off the deep end and supplies TEA with an experimental podcast and frank interview, talking of his escape from dub techno, the Glaswegian life, and a forthcoming collaboration entitled Val_Ex.

It was 2009 that Arne Weinberg put and end to his AW-Recordings, a label the German established in 2004. In five years of productivity it released music for a select group of lesser known names, The Moderator, Kubra and Erell Ranson, while putting out records by established artists such as Convextion (Time Light Curve), Paul Mac, Deixis - label owner of Abstract Forms, and of course, Weinberg himself. 

A highlight of AW-Recordings' catalogue was the techno-electro tipped Viewpoints Chapter One from 2008, a various artist release that included music from XDB, Steven Tang's Obsolete Music Technology, Frustrated Funk owner Ovatow, Scottish techno mainstay Stephen Brown and Delsin three-piece Strand, whose track "Bloated" from 1996 is, put simply, immense.

After the label's final salute, the 2x12" Alpha & Omega LP by Weinberg, AW-Recordings was brought to a halt; poor sales cited as the primary reason for its closure. Moving from Germany to Glasgow, Scotland, where Weinberg resides today, the modular synth enthusiast continued making music, self-releasing a spate of digital Archives and other 12"s for the Technoir and aDepth Audio imprints, before boldly deciding to stop making music under his own name.

During this time he was also producing dub techno as Onmutu Mechanicks (sometimes with German producer Niko Tzoukmanis), primarily for Danish label Echocord, delivering a discography of four EPs and the one album Nocturne. As we discovered in our interview with Weinberg, he left the genre all together after being branded by some as a copycat producer, and subsequently, the Humvee-inspired Valanx project and diametric. label was born. 

This presented a new lease on life and music, and as Weinberg describes; a new freedom, all of which is now funnelled through diametric., which was launched by the electro of Keith Tucker's Optic Nerve project with the fittingly titled Reassimilation EP. Weinberg then debuted Valanx ten releases later with the superb debut album Xenolith, which he’s since been followed up by a further two albums. 

As Valanx, Arne Weinberg provides TEA with a podcast evasive of his dissatisfied past, and honest to his own tastes, while also speaking with us over email about 'the reality of the music business', dub techno snobs, a new project called Solemn Embrace, and teas tailored for the soft Scottish water.

Hi Arne, thanks for the mix. Could you explain how your Valanx alias differs from your other projects?

Valanx means total freedom for me. No rules, no structures I have to follow. It is the most personal project I have ever done because in the past I have always followed rules to a certain degree, such as dancefloor and club friendliness, tempos, sounds that will work for the listener. With Valanx, the only interesting thing for me is that I want to listen to it. Now that makes you probably think that I have not been honest in the past and that I made music with my old projects to please others. I never was a crowd pleaser, but you know, certain elements had to be there and I used to build my freedom in sound around those rules, such as the four-four bass drum rule that’s always annoyed me in most of techno. All the different styles in electronic music are very restricted in their appearance. Valanx lets me make my music with less of those restrictions.

You haven't released anything under your own name since 2011. Is Valanx your main project now?

Yes, it is. I will not release music as Arne Weinberg anymore. This is in the past - a past that I am proud of and a past that means a lot to me. It’s almost like a legacy. Some people don’t seem to understand the decision I have made, but, it was important for me to move on and to find a new freedom, as I felt imprisoned in the techno scene and in the constant struggle to please the DJs and all that. It has been an on going change in direction for me, starting with the launch of my second label diametric. in late 2009. That was the first step to more freedom, even though at the time I didn’t realise that it would become such a total and drastic change for me as a producer as well. 

I initially contacted you about Onmutu Mechanicks, is this still active? You told me you haven't really been following dub techno as much these days...

Onmutu Mechanicks is in a state of limbo at the moment. I have released an album on Echocord and some 12”s and I am very proud about that album as it shows (at least in my opinion) that there are still some possibilities in a very restricted genre such as dub techno. After the album I released another 12” on Echocord and some of the dub techno snobs actually gave me a hard time, saying I am a copycat and stuff like that. My reaction to this was to stop doing dub techno as I really can’t be bothered with stupid comments and this was exactly the kind of restrictions and closed-mindedness I wanted to get away from. So the chances that I will revive Onmutu Mechanicks are rather slim at the moment, but who knows, maybe some day….

You also moved to Glasgow, is that right? 

Yes, almost six years ago. The decision was mostly because my wife and I had issues with the life style of German society. Everything is about work and the status quo, and we didn’t enjoy life as much as we do now in Scotland. Also, Glasgow offers so much cultural variety, and, Glaswegians are, simply put, a wonderful breed of humans; honest, in your face, direct, pretty crazy; all things we like. The downside of Glasgow is the stupid violence, especially linked to football, but I suppose every society has its dark sides.

How are you enjoying life in Scotland?

It’s wonderful. Work life is much easier, people are nice and friendly and the countryside is just breathtaking and beautiful. One hour to get into the middle of nowhere and be surrounded by nature is a big advantage and we go to the Highlands as much as we can.

How are things going at your label diametric.. I discovered it listening to your Xenolith album. What has the label achieved since then?

I am very happy with diametric. which like Valanx, doesn’t follow any of the typical rules. It is hard, really hard to make it all work financially as the market is so over saturated and people really need to be forced to take notice, especially when you are running a label that is not focusing on trends and the dancefloor as much as others. I am very much influenced by the diversity of labels from the ‘70s such as Harvest for example, and I enjoy the broad spectrum of music and formats that I am able to work with. diametric. releases techno, electro, ambient, drone, experimental and electronica on vinyl, CD and tape. A lot of people expect a label to do one kind of music on one format. As I don’t follow that rule it is hard to sell the releases, but so far I am able to keep the ball rolling and there is a small, but very enthusiastic and loyal fan base out there, and those people are the reason I do this, because they enjoy the music and the variety in the same way I do. To answer your question, diametric. has achieved being alive after almost 5 years.

How would you describe the music of diametric.?

In general I’d say that the music is rather dark and most of the time functionality is not the interesting part of it. The music on diametric. can be anything, I would even release guitar based music if I like what I hear on a demo for example. For me, it is important that I feel I have a connection to the artist. And, I don’t like to work with divas, sometimes artists expect things from a small label that are simply ridiculous and I don’t want to work with people that don’t have the same passion as me. I’d like to see diametric. as a family of like-minded people, and at the end of the day I don’t care what kind of music they do. If I like it then I’ll go for it, no matter what people out there think.

diametric. has almost reached its 20th release. Did you think it would get this far?

No, I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m struggling and there is always the danger that I will not be able to finance it further because sales are not really good. I don’t have a problem admitting this, people should know about the reality of the music business these days. What I learned from running my first label, AW-Recordings, is that no matter what others tell you, you should always follow your instincts and don't compromise in order to generate sales. As for the future I don’t know where this all will go, but I'm simply enjoying the ride and I'll do whatever I like to do. As long as I have fun and I can finance the releases, diametric. will live on.

Let's talk about the mix. How was it recorded and what were you hoping to achieve?

The mix is a collage of sorts, I wanted to create an atmosphere with it. Technically this is all done with Ableton Live, nothing fancy, I’m not going to pretend I am a super skilled DJ. With the kind of music that is featured on this mix I don’t see the point of long-beat-match-mixing. The mix is about a journey and I hope people will enjoy the trip.

What else are you working on at the moment, both yourself and diametric.?

I personally have just finished a new project called Solemn Embrace that is done, completely with my Eurorack Modular system, a radio and some effects. It's highly experimental and weird. I enjoyed this project very much, every single sound is done with my modular system. I’ve just released this recording as a cassette on diametric., 50 copies only, that’s it. That’s what makes me happy these days. There will be a mini-album on Solar One Music in early 2014 by Val_Ex, a collaboration between The Exaltics and Valanx; dark and brooding industrial electro. Other than that I have just released the second Valanx album Ejecta on CD on diametrc. and I’m currently working on the next release which is a 12” of remixes from the Valanx album. Remixers are: The Exaltics, Adam X, CRC (of Morphology) and Louis Haiman, and that record is huge. After that there will be a CD album by a new artist called Sons of Melancholia, wonderful deep melodic IDM, which reminds me of early Autechre for example. And last but not least there are 12”s in the pipeline from FBK and Oliver Kapp. Both straight techno bangers. So yeah, I keep busy.

Do you drink tea?

Yes, I love tea. My favourite is Scottish black tea. It is specially made for the Scottish water which is very soft. Wonderful stuff really. I also like green tea, for example Chinese gun powder tea.



01. Cranium Pie - This Was Now / Awakening Of The Birds [Regal Crabomophone]
02. Nocturno Culto - Bastard son [Peaceville]
03. Mika Vainio - Freight [Blast First Petite]
04. Florian Von Ameln - Oblique Texture [Futuresequence]
05. ADMX71 - Nine Decades Later [Sonic Groove Experiments]
06. Troller - Tiger [Living Tapes]
07. ASC - Falling From The Sky [Silent Season]
08. Mika Vainio - Sub Atlantic [[Blast First Petite]
09. Valanx - Spawn [diametric.]
10. Ian Martin - Double Cross [Elephant Recordings]
11. Nacht Plank - Glisten [Lampse]

TEA Podcast Valanx Duration: 59:49

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