In the second hand bookshop she was amazed to find a battered and tattered copy of “Eros and Civilisation”. “This” she shouted. Everyone turned and looked at her. “This might just help us understand all the idiocies that are happening”.’
Gidouille are Chorltons answer to This Heat. The pleasurably perplexing mix of avant noise, blended effortlessly with hints of jazz sax, dub, found sounds and with a dense spiritual layering built within it, Gidouille are enough to excite any music fan, and be excited at the prospect of their future projects. The duo consisting of Mick & Kat (according to their Soundcloud page), are soundtracking the perfect film in your head that you have not yet seen, and I guarantee you’ve already bought a ticket to see it. With favourites such as “Merdre” and “Blues In The Rue Morgue” it's hard to imagine anyone who is a fan of acts such as African Head Charge, Delia Derbyshire and David Sylvian not to like them.
Chatting to them gave me a whole new sense of how to approach creating music with it being “a way of creating an audio response to experiences” and “using graphic scores to come up with themes”. All this brings us to this band that really have a lot to say.
We started with small talk about the life of these musicians in Manchester and how our lives have crossed over throughout the years. “We used to always play Noise Upstairs, a monthly improv gig at FUEL. It’s got a great format, it’s ran by a guy Anton Hunter. He puts your name in a smelly yellow hat and picks a trio at random.” In these settings you have so many different people coming through like Cruel Nature Records, Invisible City Records and Steep Gloss Records, who really showed interest in them and got on with putting out one of their releases Massive Sensory Overload. “Theres a massive cohort of people, we’re like a venn diagram.” Dave Birchell, a well known guitarist and promoter who also runs a night called Curious Ear at The Peer Hat, has been good friends with them for a few years and put them on quite a few times. They also played an online show at The Eagle Inn in Salford for the Buxton Festival and Summit in July, “It’s very eclectic and our friend Phil Morton curates groups of musicians almost like a conductor”. Phil also runs Improvisors Network, “We’ve gone to London and played a thing called Skronk at Tyneside Studios, we were the main act. We played mainly with drum machines”. So there are all these little pockets of experimental musicians and Gidouille keep popping up in there.
Their influences come from everywhere, “Industrial metal, Einstruzënde Neubauten, Stockhausen, John Cage and Merzbow”. “We make our work thematically. We sometimes use a graphic score, have you come across a graphic score?”. Asks Kath.
I had never seen or heard of a graphic score. Then Kath pulls out a notedpad with a circle and little notes at different points of the circle. “When we’re on the train, we start brainstorming. We love the Herman Hesse story called The City. It starts with a bird in a forest singing, ‘We are moving forward.’ Then a society grows and eventually destroys itself, it ends with a bird in the tree still singing. It’c cyclical!” Mike says. “I’ve also been reading a lot of Vico, a 17th Century philosopher, who believed that time isn’t linear. He believed you had the age of the gods, then the age of the hero and then the people and then it goes back to the start. So in the graphic score we wanted to show the theme of having a lifetime”. However that is not how they always approach music, they use books, travels and cities too. The book Eros and Civilisation by Herbert Marcuse on psychoanalysis was something they found in a shop in Edinburgh, that got them going, “We ended up with a simple structure stolen from Freud, Id, Ego and Superego”.
They are also keen fans of Deep Listening, with people like Pauline Oliveros, a composer from 1960’s San Fransisco, who was one of the first to work with digital tapes. “Lots of people collaborated with her after that, including one of my heroes, saxophonist Joe McPhee”, says Mike. “There’s a lot of interesting stuff on the Japanese level. Our second tape, Massive Sensory Overload, was our reaction to going on holiday to Japan, it was such an overwhelming experience”. They used found sounds and manipulated them within their music alongside other influences like what we have discussed before. “In Hiroshima there was a huge bell in the Peace Park and we recorded that!”, the bell commemorates the attack of the atomic bomb and that has some strong concrete ideas with it. All these emotions made them want to put it together and express themselves and there you have their song ‘Peace Park Nagata Ya’.
“There is a phrase that someone from TQ zine made, ‘THE NO AUDIENCE UNDERGROUND’, we used to always use that on our songs, because if nobody buys our music, we are okay with that. That’s not what we do it for”. The pair are a truly academic duo when they apply themselves to music theory and the simple fact is that they only release things that they are totally happy with! They then go onto tell me about a band I’ve never heard before, Laibach. A Slovenian industrial martial band that have been pushing boundaries since the 80’s, turning up in full military uniform and covering The Sound Of Music in North Korea. The name Laibach was a forbidden name under power of Tito in the 80’s, it was the Germanic name for the capital Ljubljana, which was a massive art centre for Slovenia. “They are a massive influence on everything we do! Have you also heard of Sunn O))?” Somehow we then got onto Doom Jazz. Talking about how German band Bohren and when they played a show with Steven O’Malley they saw in Glasgow, we talked about how Sunn O)) have become leaders in the experimental scene with their dissonant drone, we then talked about how they make their own music.
“Mike is musically trained on jazz grades, he’s trained on Alto and Sporano saxophone and now he’s starting flute, but I’m a listener.” says Kath. “My instruments would be electronica. I’m really loving the Theramin right now. and I love to use Moog, and Mini Moog in particular, and KA Oscillators.” continues Kath.
“What I think Kath is best at using is a thing called a Blackfly by Electro Faustus, an American pedal company. It’s a metal box with springs on top that Kath plays with a bow, chopsticks, plectrum and a toffee hammer. The reaction Kath gets is amazing because people haven’t really seen one before. Kath is the only person I’ve ever seen play one and she gets an amazing range of sounds out of it.” says Mike. “I also use a lot of drum loops and we quite heavily use a mini mixer. We also have a few Shruti boxes, which are classic Indian drone boxes and put them through pedals, we record them three times so it sounds like a bagpipe! So we can get an unified sound using these electronic instruments we put all these together through an amplifier, then popping in some recorded sounds we’ve got on our Zoom 1. Then we do it! Our name Gidouille comes from an imaginary science created by a French madman, Alfred Jarry, who was a Dadaist before its time. He lived next to a cemetery and put meat in his windows to attract owls at night. He invented this pseudo-science called pataphysics, which has thousands of definitions, but generally it’s the science of the exception.” Using that philosophy and theology you can see that they love to do things instantly and capture a perfect moment in time and improvisation becomes key.
“You can never play a wrong note.” says Kath.
Mike often finds himself wanting to include lots of humour in the process of writing their music. “There’s one song we have, it’s about Frued! In the 70’s there was a documentary on him and after visiting a female patient on the way back into Vienna, his associate turned to him and announced he knew what to prescribe her, ‘Penis Normalis twice a day!’, I was just laughing my head off and it’s looped in the track! There is also Pie and Mash For 2, I just wanted someone to say that!”. They also have a song called Volkshire that they describe as “Morris dancing gone wrong, or to the dark side.”
The pair continue to be self professed Germanophiles, with a big love specifically for German football culture. There were in a bar in Dulwich and they were taking part in a scarf swap and someone approached them and said “Yan from Hamburg would like this!”. They go down into a back room and find him with a denim jacket with the sleeves cut off and a big embroidered Altonaer FC logo on his back and they start chatting. They’ve been friends ever since. Going out to Altonaer and Hamburg to visit him got them talking about their music and Jan had always made zines in Hamburg and offered to make their artwork for them. Here we have Eedipal Wrecks as my favourite example of this great collaboration. They travelled between Union Berlin and Dynamo Berlin, (the stasi team at the time) and to Leipzig visiting people and getting engrossed in the culture. They were at a game at Eisern Union and there was a free kick close to the 16 yard box and the team built a wall to defend against the free kick. The fans at that point shout ‘Die Mauer Muss Wegg!’, which translates as ‘The Wall Must Fall’. Another poignant moment for the pair as this is another song they have made since. They even remixed their own tune with recorded sounds from the game and it’s really become a big hit with the club!
So with all this in mind, the philosophy, the theology and the science behind everything they do, the places they have been and books they have read that have influenced everything they have done, it paints an amazing image of a band. Gidouille really give us everything we can ask for from an avant grade band and we hope you give them a listen on their soundcloud soundcloud.com/idouille or give them a message to get hold of one of their great tapes.
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