Establishing A False Sense Of Security – Brain Warping With Pat Murano

DY: Let’s start at the present and then work backwards when necessary. Decimus is your latest project, right? Can you tell us about the concept behind it, the Zodiac? Do you think that there’s a direct correlation of the sounds you make with each zodiac sign, or is more of a feeling the concepts invokes in your mind – a resonance? Do you think you would make the same records without that concept?

PM: Decimus is one of several projects that I’m currently working on.  My label, Kelippah, more completely reflects what I’m up to these days. Raajmahal, k-Salvatore , Key of Shame, a Duo with Tom Carter and, Safiyya are all active and ongoing projects. Decimus is, however, my first and only solo project. I’ve been recording myself at home sporadically since the early nineties but it was really the non activity of the No Neck Blues Band and Malkuth that inspired me to take the whole project up a notch in 2010. Maybe in retrospect i needed some kind of conceptual framework to really get the ball rolling for me and that’s exactly what the zodiac provided.  How do the lps relate to their respective zodiac assignments?  In mood, emotional content, what month they were recorded in…. Varies really, but I do think that having that conceptual structure has helped drive me to explore different aspects of my ideas and abilities. Hopefully preventing me from making the same record over and over again.

Why this ancient guys zodiac? Well I guess i see parallels in our approaches. From what I understand, Decimus Magnus Ausonius was utilizing early Christian doctrine as a means of preserving and perpetuating far more subversive information. I like that. Music provides a similar opportunity. When you put on a record you expect to hear some music, you might even expect to be manipulated by the music(i.e. putting on an upbeat song to improve your mood). I see the format as an opportunity for the listener to temporarily submit their will to my own.  This occurs in three stages.

1)establish(false)sense of security by presenting the familiar
2)gradual disorientation
3)introduce suggestion.

Allow me to take you places that don’t ordinarily go. It all sounds kinda’ pretentious. Really it’s about psychedelic drugs. Do you like psychedelic drugs? I do. When I take them I often feel…

  • Joy
  • A sense of beauty
  • Dread
  • Fear
  • Mortality
  • Giddy mirth

Frequently in seemingly incongruous succession.  Maybe this music could do that? You’d really help me out in accomplishing step 2(above) if you took drugs before you put on a Decimus LP, just sayin’.

DY: You’re really prolific right now – are you always like that, or does ‘it’ come in fits and starts?

PM: Yeah, I’m definitely in a prolific mode as of late. Why? Well, logistics have a lot to do with it. In the past two years, I’ve finished grad school and my son started school. I only work about 20 hours a week so I suddenly have considerably more free time on my hands. Not to mention a refined work ethic from years in school.

Music is also the way I recreate. I hate TV so if I have I night where nothing is doing I’ll start futzing around recording stuff etc… Once a project is starting to come together, I tend to get obsessed. I’ll have an idea at work and I’ll run home as soon as I get a chance to make the changes. I’ll listen to shit over and over up until I send it to the pressing plant or the label. Once it’s sent off, I’ll listen to the test pressing when it comes in once or twice and then never again.  The momentum ebbs and flows and occasionally I’ll force myself to stop for a while when I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself but the drive make music is pretty strong right now.

Music is also the way I socialize. The people I chose to play music with are friends. Instead of going to a bar every night, we meet up, hang out, play music.

DY:  We’ve heard how other people describe Decimus, what influences they hear, how it makes them feel. How do you describe it? Do you even bother?

PM: Having to describe my own music is inevitable to a certain extent if I’m gonna run a record label or try to book a tour. I don’t mind though. I consider what I’m doing psychedelic music. Psychedelic not in a Jefferson Airplane way but maybe more in a high fever type of way.

DY:  Here’s one for the gear heads: what kind of equipment do you use? Circuit bent stuff? Vintage synths? Found sounds? On Decimus 3, something sounded a little like a mellotron?

PM: There is nothing I play that can’t be found in your local guitar center or bed, bath and beyond.  I have no idea what a mellotron looks like. Nights in White Satin is the shit though.

DY: The new NNCK material sound seems to have evolved from a spare, almost minimal, primitive approach into a more cosmic, buoyant sound. It seems more overtly psychedelic. Do you agree? Who all plays on the two latest NNCK records?

PM: I guess I agree. A lot has changed in the 20 years or so we were a band. Our tastes, our interests, our abilities. It’s hard to articulate what our original intentions were. In many ways we didn’t have any, which is kind of amazing. We were earnestly exploring. The line-up of the band is the same on every record. We were never a revolving collective or a bunch of random folks jamming. That’s the misconception of the band that bums me out the most. We were a real band. We practiced two nights a week for years.

DY:  Do you consider any of your projects “intellectual” music? Do you worry about that much, what it means, theorize about it? Or is it a visceral exploration of sounds and consciousness. AMM has said that they never speak about a specific performance either before or after, that they vowed to never do so. Do you share that affinity with the ephemeral nature of your music?

PM: I guess I waxed philosophical up on question 1 but ultimately it is not intellectual music. I have no desire for it to be “understood”, in fact I try my damnedest to keep it inscrutable. Like I said above, the sounds are conceived to work on your consciousness like good drugs should. What the fuck did AMM talk about then? Not even a post-show “Yeah John Tilbury, you’re shit was sick tonight son!”? I’m gonna call bullshit on those bros.

DY:  Are there clearly different goals for each of your recording projects? Key of Shame versus Raj versus Decimus versus Safiyya?

PM: Definitely. In my mind they are all completely different projects.  Only Decimus represents my own personal goals and visions. The other projects are collaborations. The chemistry of the individuals involved dictates the vision.

DY:  On Decimus: Everything you’ve been releasing lately has all been so striking. Each record is distinct and coherent within itself, but is also a part of a greater aesthetic continuum running through each release that forms a cohesive whole – that’s quite a rare feat. I tweeted you once and said that it really does seem like you’re hitting your stride. Do you feel  with what you’re doing now, your ‘vision’, has coalesced? It really is remarkable that you’ve been able to sustain the level of intensity and beauty you have in a non-idiomatic way.

Several Decimus Records

PM: Thanks for the kind words. I really do appreciate it. I spent my whole adult life as a member of a group. When I was confused about whether something was good or on the right track, I had 6 other people whose opinions I trusted to talk about it with. With Decimus I am operating in a vacuum. I’ve spent the last 5 months working on Decimus 10. I’ve tweaked and retweaked -Listened to it a million times.  Aside from myself, Approximately 4 other people have heard it. Is it good? Is it horrible? Is it better than the other ones? Am I slipping? Who the fuck knows? I could lose my mind wondering about that shit. All I know is, That’s the one I’m working on now and I’m OBSESSED! So has my vision coalesced? Meh…

DY: I came up with a descriptor for what Raajmahal and music other similar units are doing, like Angel Provocateur and Blessed Oblivion. Just as a lark I called it “Free Gossamer.” There’s a distinctly different feel to the Raajmahal record than any of your others. Tell us about the personnel, the instrumentation (just you on guitar and Carla Backer on vox, right?) Do you just improvise those records, too? And to that point, with any of your projects, do you ever go in with any sort of framework or structure in mind ahead of time?

PM: I’m into it but what’s a gossamer? Eh, don’t tell me, I like the way it sounds. We’ll just let it be. Raajmahal on the LP and the Digitalis Cassette is myself on Guitar, synth and bass, Carla Baker(NOT Backer) on Vox and Guitar and Santa Wolanczyk on Vox, guitar, bass and synth. There are improvised parts but those are written songs. In fact, it’s the only band I’ve ever been in(well, aside from in high school) that plays covers. We have a cassette that’s coming out on Sloow tapes pretty soon. That one is just Carla and I, recorded in my backyard…..

The amount of framework and structure applied varies from project to project. Decimus and Raajmahal are very structured. Jason and I often discuss the framework of K-Salvatore’s music.  Key of shame tend to be a much freer prospect….

DY:  Who is Hobo Sonn? Those two sides you recorded for the split are like mirrored universes? Did it just work out that way?

Decimus/Hobo Sonn Split 12″

PM: Hobo Sonn is an English gentleman named Ian Murphy. He released two lp as Hobo Sonn(probably other stuff too). Both of which I think are really special. I had never contacted anyone just to tell them that I like their stuff so I was like…why not?  We worked on our sides totally separately and didn’t hear each other’s music until they were both complete. It’s pretty remarkable how they go together no?

DY: Who has been doing the silk screen cover art? It’s pretty fucking great.

PM: My old pal Phil Franklin at Bright Spot Ink. He does amazing work. There should be record moguls lined up outside his door. Queue up here bitches:

DY: Where ‘s the most unconventional place you’ve ever played? Was it spontaneous?

PM: I’m not sure how spontaneous music that requires a pile of gear and amplifiers can be. Although I occasionally play on the street in front of my apartment and I have, in the past, suddenly decided I was in the mood to do it and just quickly set up and played. Does that count?

Unconventional? That’s hard to say. For a long while non-venue concerts were NNCK’s bread and butter. Rooftops, boat basins, Tunnels…In general, playing in regular rock venues bums me the fuck out.

DY: What’s the weirdest shit you’ve been listening to lately?

PM: The weirdest? Hmm. Have you heard “Birthday song” by 2 Chainz?  The video’s pretty fucked up too. The first line of the first goes “She got a big booty so I call her big booty”. What’s that mean?

DY:  Living or dead, any person you could work with, who would it be?

PM: In general, I can appreciate someone’s work without wanting get up in their business but… The RZA is a huge influence and inspiration. Imagine if someone passed him a Decimus record and he was all “Yo son, I wanna work with this kid. Bong Bong.”? That would be awesome. Smoking angel dust with Ghostface Killah would be sweet too.

DY:  You’ve played w/ Tom Carter quite a bit in live setting, right? So it was just natural that this next record was going to get made. What’s different about your chemistry with him than other folks? Is there any friction between your visions that’s productive, or is it all pretty much in accord? I know a lot of his titles evoke blatantly spiritual themes.
PM: Tom and I first played together back in March at the invitation of Jason Meagher to be recorded as part of his Natch series. We had barely met and new little of each other’s solo work but the musical chemistry was instant. While our styles may seem different on the surface, there hasn’t been any friction at all. Our first record together is coming out on my label in early November and it’s a good one… Here’s a link to an excerpt.
We’re playing our second show ever on November 13th in Brooklyn. We pretty much already have a second one in the can. Any takers?

Also coming out on Kelippah by year’s end is an LP by Dave Shuford(NNCK, D Charles Spear, Rhyton), Jason Meagher (NNCK, K-Salvatore) and ME ME ME. That shit is a strange one.

What else is coming that I’m involved in? Raajmahal Cassette on Sloow Tapes, K-Salvatore Triple 8″ Lathe, K-Salvatore 6xLP(that’s right) boxed-set on Planam(reissue of a triple cassette from 1996. Originally in an addition of 10)Decimus- Glass Tetany Cassette on NNA Tapes, Decimus- Psittacosis Cassette on Brave Mysteries. And in Early 2013, Decimus 10 LP on Further records [and another] Raajmahal LP on Digitalis.

DY: Is it after the end of the world already?

PM: Don’t you know that yet?

Be sure to check out Pat’s SOUNDCLOUD page for galaxies of sounds.

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