Berlin-based music label Grautag (meaning grey day) was founded by French artist Nicolas Moulin in 2010 as an experimental extension to his visual work, which revolves around desolate cityscapes and wasted landscapes.
Moulin sees the group of loosely connected musicians and artists he attracted over time as forming an undefined “nebula“, or amorphous mass of “grey“, that engulfs its contributors and keeps them from any pre-defined identity. It’s from this zone that they explore the idea of “dystopian landscape music“ and the urban melancholia of “Grautag moments“. According to Moulin: “The idea was to make something cold, but not something cold in a resolute way, not cold in attitude, but something that doesn’t have much happiness or sadness. It is a sort of stoicism in the face of disaster. But stoicism doesn’t mean cynicism, or depression, or happiness. It can be interpreted a bit as a kind of sarcasm, but not especially. We really try to study this Grautag feeling.“ (interview with icrates.org). This Grautag feeling appears when, at a standstill, an emotional or perceived emptiness, or a certain melancholia and disillusionment, detaches you from your surroundings.
Moulin conceptualizes Grautag as a way of dispossessing oneself from the immediacy of events and their demand for response, as if, for example, watching a disaster without the sensation of drama. Moulin focuses on the decentralizing power of landscapes, in which one is integrated as a mere element among others, and where linear time and the anthropocentric perspective are disbanded. As such, Grautag-music can above all be understood as a landscape generator; a form of music that favours space over time, a music that is imaginative and contemplative, a fiction without narration that resonates the inner space of listeners. Or, as Moulin would put it; “A kind of black and white psychedelia produced by that everyday sense of emptiness that can overcome you, where ‘better days’ are definitely an obsolete concept“.
Interweaving Paris, Nice, and Berlin, the “Graunacht“ assembles the complete guild of Grautag artists to perform in various collaborations within a visual environment created by Nicolas Moulin himself.
Bader Motor is Vincent Epplay, Arnaud Maguet and Fred Bigot (Electronicat). They churned out a brand of space rock driven by fuzzy guitars, Farfisa organ, and drum machine for the inaugural release of Grautag Records.
In early contact with electronic music as an assistant to Klaus Schulze, Günther Schickert released two albums on Brain and Sky in the 1970s, yet remained a peripheral figure. 1979's Überfällig (re-released by Bureau B in 2012) was a guitar-based premonition of early postrock, replete with field recordings. His return is indeed overdue.
Growing Ideas Of Falling Generations is the debut LP by Berlin-based Nicolas Mallet. Reverb-drenched synths, drum machines, and vocals combine in an updated take on electronic darkwave.
Christian Vialard is a painter and self-taught music composer. His work with music and sound is a combination of acoustic and electronic phenomena based on the physical and plastic dimensions of sound and light.
Pharoah Chromium, the solo project of German-Palestinian artist Ghazi Barakat, is a mutoid blend of post-krautrock, psychedelism ambiant, and ruminating landscapes. Heat wave, half coma, and clammy mattress. Dusty landscape on the terminal beach; the Fata Morgana morph into oil wells on fire. It’s free jazz, ancient rituals, science fiction, via a variety of flutes and electronics. His latest LP, Chromosphere, was released on the 2015 UK imprint Deep Distance.
The visual artist Nicolas Moulin founded Grautag Records as the expansion of his artistic practice (sculptures, video, photography) with other means: Sounds that are dreamlike but under no illusions. Techno is dead and punk’s “no future” has become a tired “no present” – a state which, paradoxically, looks like it’s going to last. Music for wasted tomorrows.
Cavern of Anti-Matter is Tim Gane, best known as the musical mastermind behind Stereolab, whose timely blend of space-rock, lounge-pop and noise has had an enduring influence since the band came to prominence in the mid-1990s.
Ravi Shardja, aka Xavier Roux, composes for film and theatre. A member of the obscure French combo GOL, he is also involved in the Italo-French free-music project Oleo Strut. Ravi Shardja released a debut LP, Tuneless Monoland, in 2007.
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