"A FURTHER INSIGHT INTO NOT APPLICABLE" - LINER NOTES
In January 2010 we released the free downloadable "A Further Insight into Not Applicable"; Isambard Khroustaliov designed the artwork, using images by Britt and himself, and I wrote the liner notes. In the digital release, the latter appear scattered across the various jpegs that form the album's pdf booklet. Here below is a text version, copyable, pasteable, quotable.
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A SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENT IN ANARCHY Little did we know when we released out first collective work "NA - an introduction to Not Applicable" a year ago, that over 6000 people would have downloaded it; and little it matters nowadays that it was a free download, with a little "donate" button hidden somewhere in the page, that most people decided to leave unnoticed. After all most of the material was recorded live, during performances with their own economy already arranged. And the videos were all out there already anyway, their commission already cashed in. The decision to not manufacture it in any physical support, then, settled once for all the production costs to zero, giving our hot heads final justification for just letting people take it. No charge. Treat of the house. At times it seems to me that being part of Not Applicable is all about trying to do things the wrong way, mainly just for the sake that the right one has been already tried anyway. Or trying the wrong way in the quest of finding out exactly what is wrong in it, or indeed if there is anything wrong after all. This is the story of my life; I wonder how come I didn't end up in such a madhouse earlier. Can't you have a label without a logo? a commercial organisation without a treasurer, or meetings without a moderator? Why can't you stack three hours of original music and over one hour of videos in one single release? And give it all away? WHY? Not Applicable, the label, the group, the team, the people (I'm never going to call it a collective!) has probably most eloquently than ever, been defined by Isambard, who in our ABOUT page, describes it as "a group of musicians, composers, visual artists and filmmakers collaboratively developing new approaches to their respective artistic pursuits. Not Applicable is an open-ended framework which encompasses both the realisation and documentation of these collaborations in the form of performances, installations, CDs, DVDs and on the web." That's it. Not Applicable is what we do, and if one day we will start doing other things Not Applicable will become something else. No constitution, no declaration of intents, no manifestos, no hierarchy. Quite a risky situation, considering it opens a door to the possibility of one of us going nuts overnight and declaring in public "this is what Not Applicable is about, and this is the direction we're taking now!" and still be coherent with the original framework; and with no constitutional basis to throw him out, one is left with no alternative but dealing with it, and observing what sort of music can come out of this. But isn't this what improvised music is all about? To generate a system that generates its own rules as it comes into existence, and to deal with it as it develops, with no schemes imposed from outside the system itself to refer to. This is the way I've always perceived the whole issue anyway. Reminds me of that John Zorn piece, Cobra, where whoever is in charge is merely a co-ordinator, a prompter for the group's intentions, needs, spontaneous twists. - A brain, totally subjected to the body's drives and general state of health. The possibility of organising a revolt against the authority of the prompter, or even of isolating yourself and do your own loner thing, is also contemplated in the piece's intentions, and it's coherent with its purposes. Democracy has got nothing to do with this. Democracy is only possible (and sensible) within a centrally structured, constitutionally based organisation of any more than two members. This is no democracy; this is a bleeding organism, and so is the music that comes out of it. You see, this is not about praising the beauty and the advantages of being part of a group, but rather to be given the chance of observing its dynamics, learn to function within it, allow it to inform our possible artistic outcomes and let the latter teach us about new forms of sociality; to read back spontaneous music and try to find schemes there, suggestions that there are still unexplored possibilities of the human natural tendency to co-operation.
UNEXPECTED BENTS "NA - an introduction to Not Applicable", our first collective release was an anthology, a collected selection of previously unreleased tracks, the majority of which was recorded live, during our regular nights at Scooteworks Café, in South London. Many friends have been our guests during those evenings so delightful to remember; a lot of new music has been created, some extemporaneously, some hurriedly composed, under the threat of a monthly recurrence. The idea of the first "sampler" (as we keep on calling it, even if it has no reasons to bear such name) was, chiefly, to make music that we were pleased with, publicly available, and incidentally to promote the whole adventure, to inform as many people as possible of our aesthetics; to say "this is Not Applicable in its dynamic state; the rest of the catalogue are our finished works". A portrait, an introduction in fact, to Not Applicable. This second collective output happens to be a monographic one. This is probably because the single event documented here in its entirety contains most of the extremes, the idiosyncrasies and the convergence of many different influences that transpires from the first, anthological one. It is here treated as a further insight, for whoever cares to take the trouble of investigating further, because, unlike an artificially assembled collection, it can give a truer rendition of the minute-by-minute dynamics of the group. It also furtively suggests that a maturation and a consolidation of the elements may have taken place between the two releases; something we like to believe. The two tracks that compose this album are the integral, unedited documentation of a live performance, which was set up with the desire of taking advantage of a rare occurrence of having most of the core Not Applicable sound makers in London on the same night, together with some of our dearest friends, and past guests, from Berlin. This jolly party was further enriched by the unannounced last minute appearance of Anna, another Berliner, in London for a course.
The evening is divided in two sets. The first one follows a scheme suggested by Rudi, a progression of duos alternating seamlessly on stage: R. Fischerlehner - A. Kaluza A. Kaluza - L. Ohlmeier L. Ohlmeier - A. Willer A. Willer - M. Ravalico M. Ravalico - R. Fischerlehner With I. Khroustaliov being given the liberty of intervening throughout the set at leisure.
The second set is a collective improvisation by all the above participants, added by the fortuitous arrival of Tom Arthurs, who, on a day off, appeared during the interval, and was forcibly driven back home by Isambard to collect his horns. Hadn't it been for this act of love we would have missed forever the dark intimations that came into existence on the last nine minutes of the set, because I have a feeling we would have probably called it a day at 24'10"...