With Long Distance Calls in the Desert the concept behind it is to experiment with 'Ur-callings'. I don't know if you understand 'ur': ancient, basic, original, primary. We were thinking of yoddling, Basque shout, alphorn, Tibetan horn - also experimenting with the sound of silent nature. So we asked Jeff of Table of the Elements if it would be possible to organise a 'concert' in Death Valley, desolation canyon.
He did. We were joined by different artists and by a very dedicated audience (how did they ever find out where we were?) During daytime we placed the recording gear (board and directional mikes) and ourselves each on separate sand hills, and when the night fell in and silence grew, we made 'long distance calls in the desert'.
I recall the sound of a Turkish pipe, which was not planned at all - probably a creative fan. It sounded perfect and we put it on the CD. I recall also we could not climb down as it was pitch black, and we were rescued by well-organized fans with powerful torchlights. Zappi burned his feet trying to walk barefoot and Keiji (Haino - Ed) did not wear his eternal eye-shades.
"On ne peut rien faire contre le silence, nous sommes des merdes de mouche dans le cosmos..." (you can't beat silence, we're fly-shit in the cosmos) was the overall impression I gained from this experience, together with admiration for the amount of energy that everyone involved put in.
Ferrara Brain Pan
It is a remarkable synchronicity that I just subscribed to this list this morning and the very first posting I receive is the one which follows...
Jean-Hervé Péron wrote:
"I recall the sound of a Turkish pipe, which was not planned at all - probably a creative fan. It sounded perfect and we took it on the cd."
Without wishing to boast (well, okay, maybe a little) I would like to inform you (Jean and the rest of you) that it was ME playing that Turkish pipe in the desert which ended up on the Rien CD - I quote the full story from an interview I gave with Deluge (online music magazine)...
"Here's what actually went down... Faust (a new line up with two of the original members) did their first ever American performances in May of 1994, a seven date tour organized by the record label Table of the Elements.The San Francisco concert (which I attended) was followed by another performance (event, or manifestation, might be a more apt description of the occurance) later the same week in the desert location of Death Valley, California, on the portentous date of Friday the 13th. I traveled down there with a small entourage of devotees in Brent Pusser's van (Brent of Three Day Stubble). It had been a very traumatic week for me (owing to personal reasons I needn't discuss here) and, for better or worse, I brought along a bag of mushrooms for the trip. We got there, it was predictably hot, I stripped down to a loincloth and hiked up to a small ridgetop to watch the sunset. Dusk was falling when the mushrooms started to take effect. Keiji Haino was scrabbling around the rocks below in his trademark black attire and sunglasses and making a clang and clatter with a pair of large hand cymbals, a didgeridoo was playing in the distance.
I had my zurna with me (the zurna is a Turkish double reed instrument, made from pear wood, with a cylindrical bore and flared bell, similar to the Indian shenai, what is generally referred to as a shawn,) and I started blowing these Arabic modal improvisations which (given my crude abilities on the instrument) sounded like some deranged Islamic call to prayer. After a spell of this I wandered back down to find out when Faust might be going on.
"Fast forward to several weeks later, when the long-awaited Rien album is released. I buy the CD and take it home, put it on in the dark and lie back to listen. Track Four (Long Distance Calls in the Desert) starts out with a field recording of wind blowing, footfalls crunching the crusty sand, faint mutterings, a didgeridoo in the distance - the next thing I hear is the sound of some badly out-of-tune reed instrument: it's me! Faust had recorded the event and put it out on their record. I felt a mixture of elation and embarrassment (flattered to be on a record with my all-time favorite band, yet embarrassed by my less than stellar instrumental abilities on this difficult instrument). When my performance ends on the record, Jean-Hervé Péron (Faust's bass player who in this case was the one operating the tape recorder) says "You can't beat the silence" (perhaps this was a comment on my playing).
"In any event, my appearance on the record is anonymous (I received no credit) and entirely fortuitous. But the fact is incontestable: I played on a record by Faust."
Now it can be told - Ferrara Brain Pan is the uncredited zurna player on Long Distance Calls in the Desert
The full interview is reprinted on the News page of my website (along with a more recent interview with the German magazine Equinoxe).
Ho, Ferrara. I secretly hoped while writing this comment on 'long distance calls' that eventually the pipe player would be located. Well, first:
Friday the 13th: True, I recall now. A young reporter from a radio station in LA was there (sorry i forget names) and wondering wether Faust played on purpose in DEATH valley on FRIDAY 13th, and i had to tell him very straightforwardly that we were not at all into the 'death scene, blood and torture...' (C.Manson) but rather a band who liked to laugh and enjoy life.
Keiji's sunglasses: Well, as far as I remember he did not wear them
when I was around. Probably a sort of provocation but it makes sense: he wears them when they are superfluous so he does not wear them when they are necessary! I enjoyed the company of Keiji and I saw him much later in Potsdam where he did a gig - very very very silent: it took a long time for
the audience to realize he would not start untill everybody would be quiet...
I wandered back down to find out when Faust might be going on...: Well congratulations! you managed to wander down: mybe the mushrooms helped :))) i did not succeed. I had to be guided down. And it's not unusual to hear people ask "when is Faust going to play?" hours after we're finished. I am not sure if it's good or bad.
Faust's bass player who in this case was the one operating the tape recorder...: You're right, i'm Faust's bass player but, no, i was not operating anything but my vocal strings and trying to interpret the situation. My mother is Basque and she taught me the Basque mountain call but I was scared stiff to do it because of the solemnity of the surroundings . Scott Mcleod did all live recordings and also all sound mixes on our concerts - a very friendly and sensitive man, highly competent, never tired: our daughter spontaneosly called him "flower". On that night he used a directional mic which would pick up minute sounds far away (footsteps in sand , mumbling....) but also of course a whole lot of wind.
Jimo' remixed all this material in studio. I do not know if he added
something on long distance calls.
"You can't beat the silence" (perhaps this was a comment on my playing): No no Ferrara. Your playing appealed to me as being technically well controled but still fully emotional. No, on the spot I was tremendously happy to hear this long range instrument which was not planned, and later on we all agreed that it had to go on the CD because it just fits. And, by the way, sorry we did not credit it: I did not know you. I repeatedly mentioned this "turkish pipe" anecdote in various interviews so you are secretly famous :))