Published by Alessandro Violante on March 13, 2017
After the release of the new collaborative effort signed Imminent Synapscape, entitled The humanoid robot, we’ve thought to talk for the first time with Olivier Moreau and for the second time with Synapscape about the first album involving Imminent after several years, exploring different directions of the music of the incredible three. Let’s talk about it with the artists.
Hi guys, it’s a great pleasure to interview you on our website. Your new album, differently from your previous releases, it’s a full length, in which different approaches coexist. Techno, IDM, industrial… what can you tell us about it?
Olivier: The idea of the album started 10 years ago. It took some time to get things in movement after which we finally had a good workflow and the album began to take shape. At some point, the album was almost finished, we took a quite long hiatus. Nothing planned, just the hazards of life. When we started again, time had passed and with a fresh look on what had been done, all tracks were remixed. Some lightly other quite thoroughly. The break completely changed how we perceived it. The result being more dynamic, coherent and compact.
Philipp: I think the spirit is not that different from our previous work. It’s still the three of us who are doing something together. Of course things change by gaining more experience and skills throughout the years. We never wanted to go back to the old formulas. It was great what we did then but it was done.
The album is entitled The humanoid problem and in some way is influenced by Japanese robots anime. How long have you become passionate about them? Have you ever explored this “topic” on your previous releases?
Olivier: The robot theme was there from the beginning. It was more a graphical idea than anything else. After the “Incredible Three trilogy”, we asked ourselves in which direction we would go for the next one. Tim (Kniep) came with the Japanese robot idea with a specific existing cover in his mind. It all started from there. And no particular robot fetish on my side, I always loved the imagery of it but that’s it. Funnily, until this interview I didn’t make the connection but the name of one of my first project, Urawa, is derived from Kendi Urawa which was supposedly the first man (accidently) killed by a robot. It seems we got lost in translation at the time as the proper translation of his name may be Kenji Urada.
Philipp: I’m passionate about SF books and stories in general. Of course I love robots but I’m not that much into movies and animes and stuff.
Olivier: Japanoise is certainly not a direct influence as I have never paid much attention to the movement and I hardly know it except of a few big names. If Japanese music did influence me, you will find it at the other extreme of the spectrum, classical Japanese folk music. I am no expert but I can immensely enjoy the shakuhachi for example.
Philipp: It is with all kind of music and sounds. I love some of it but similar stuff leaves me untouched. Of course it had been an influence but other influences had been stronger on me.
Who’s “the man with the steel face”? The cover artwork seems like a movie poster. Have you thought about it as a sort of soundtrack for an unreleased movie?
Olivier: We are the men with steel faces. The Incredible Three morphed into the Man with Steel Face. Three becomes one. As for the cinematographic aspect, it has always been there on all Imminent Synapscape releases. From the medium itself in Screenwalking, to the western of The Incredible Three and the sci-fi of the Humanoid Problem. It’s a guideline. The Incredible Three were already like a movie trilogy, we just kept the spirit with the new one. The next one could be a gangster or love story theme, who knows?
At the same time, The humanoid problem, if you agree with us, it’s a starting point from which thinking about how progressively “machines” are having an important role in our life. While making the album, have you thought about this? Anyway, what do you think about this situation? Is it positive or negative?
Olivier: Since the first machines were invented centuries ago, this philosophical question has haunted the men. But there is no real answer. Even if this was negative, could we still live without the machine? I don’t think so. We have become slaves to our machines for the better and the worse. In a near future we will be reaching a tipping point for artificial intelligence. All of the craziest concepts of anticipation may become reality or possible. This is frightening but exciting.
It seems to me that the album, although some of your sounds can be recognized here, is something different from what you’ve done before. For example, in Continental time lapse, I think about English IDM. What were your intentions and influences?
Olivier: I hope it is different from what we have done. What we wanted was not making another Imminent or Synapscape album, but something else. When we worked on the release we actually talked very few with each other or about what we wanted to achieve. We just did it. There was no plan. As for the English IDM thing, i did listen to a lot of it in the 90’s, so this may for sure have left some traces in many of my compositions.
Philipp: I suppose that all the three of us have and had many influences in our life. That makes it almost impossible to name specific influences for a single track. I for myself I’m not a very rational person when it comes to music production. Making music is playing my favorite game which still is my big love because possibilities and results are endless.
Xylo Renewal is a very straight to the point song, very techno. What do you think about techno industrial phenomenon, that seems having generated a remarkable interest in younger generations? Also Virtual retaliation seems to build a bridge between techno industrial and your classic beats.
Olivier: Any new interest in the scene is always a good thing. I just fear that once again when something gets hyped, most only see the shiny surface in the spotlights and won’t try to reach further to the roots of the movement. The term industrial, like many others at the moment (EBM, noise, new beat, wave, etc), is misused for marketing reason and coolness by people who actually have no idea what it is about. Don’t get me wrong, there are good things and good people making great work out there, I just don’t like the overexcitment of the hype and the brainless jumping in the bandwagon by people who snobbed the thing a few years ago. As for the gap betwen the scenes it has only been there in the mind of people, musically it has never existed. From its origins, techno has always been very ‘industrial’. Just look at the early 90’s, techno was very noisey, dark and brutal. I grew up with that techno sound and industrial side by side, and never understood why they couldn’t just live together. I hope this will now happen.
Philipp: Younger people grew up with all kinds of techno, hip hop and electro. That’s why they are used to certain elements. I grew up in the 70ies and 80ies so my musical background is quite different from that. After Synth Pop and New Wave, Industrial and Noise were a logical step towards some more avant-garde sound, which was an important subject for me back in the 80ies.
Even subculture has its generations now. Now wonder because they are vivid 35 or more years.
If I’m not wrong, L’uomo meccanico rises again is the first song having an (hybrid) Italian title. Have you been inspired by Futurists and Luigi Russolo or what else?
Olivier: I have been for a very long time a fan of Italian sountrack. I always loved the design and the titles of these old records. The Italian titles were always cooler than the English translation. Colonna sonora sounds for example much better than original soundtrack. By using ‘L’uomo meccanico’ into an english sentence, you give a name to the creature instead of a simple description, you give life to the machine. To come back to the italian soundtracks, The Incredible Three was on my side at least some kind of hommage to the italian masters of the spaghetti western which had a great impact and influence on me (both the movies and the music).
A curiosity. Who’s made the mastering of the album? It seems to me having a rougher touch, if compared to your other albums.
Olivier: Philipp did.
Philipp: I did the general ‘mastering’ and Olivier did the vinyl mastering. I don’t call it mastering because i’m not working on rendered stereo files but on the full arrangements. This gives me more flexibility in altering things without touching elements that do not need to be processed. It takes much more time than a regular mastering but the result is more satisfying to my ears.
Maybe it could not seem important, but I would ask you how much of Synapscape and Imminent there is in these songs. How have you composed them? Has each track been composed by both of you, or some of them should be credited to Imminent, some others to Synapscape?
Olivier: All tracks have been composed by the three of us. We exchanged files via the internet back and forth, and sometimes I would be very surprised at what I would get back as it was not really what I had expected. But this was good, this kept the game fun and open. Much more than on our previous releases, this one is really a combination of the three of us. I really like the sentence ‘Three becomes one’ as this sumarize perfectly how I feel about this record and I believe as the others do too.
Philipp: This time all the tracks were made by the three of us together. Although we did not met in person it was possible to do it via file sharing. Another advantage was that we all are using the same recording software, so it was not that difficult to do it this way.
Usually it starts with a basic arrangement one of us made and then the others continue that work and add tracks or change things or whatever it needs to complete it. In the end we all had a revision on everything to decide what is complete and what needs to be altered. It took us about five years to get everything done. We have had no rush.
Have you thought about bringing this collaborative project live?
Olivier: A date is already planned for later this year and we are working on it at the moment. This won’t really be a premiere as we used to play together quite often in the early 2000’s. Last time was 10 years ago so it will be a kind of reunion.
Philipp: Probably yes.
Thanks for your time. Greet the readers if you like!
Olivier: Il futuro è nostro! (link to Diego Fusaro‘s book, Il futuro è nostro)
Philipp: Hello readers.