A moment with Preslav Literary School

Photo by Stephen Burch


Adam Thomas, the old world name for Preslav Literary School, the avant/noise/drone musician based in Berlin is an old and dear friend of mine.

He sent me a sneak preview of a new album of his, Veer, which is a gloriously dense and hypnotic affair, and he asked me to give it the once over.  In my response, I asked him some pretty searching questions which form the basis of this interview, if you will.

DG: How do you make recorded music these days?

AT: It is still a laborious process bound with ignorance and stubbornness.  Veer was a recording of a live show, initially. The live show, as ever,  was constructed from – say – fifty tapes culled from obsolete collections, fleamarkets, childhood storage.  I played this found tape material live in Switzerland, it got broadcast digitally and online  through an open source radio station.  I then took the recordings, edited them a little on some free open source software, slowing them down,  looping a little.  Then recorded some back onto tape through analogue reverb and delay pedals, and back into the computer before doing a final edit, mix and master.

DG: Is it a studio affair or is it more of a live affair with a bit of post production? What post production program do you use?

AT: I’ve been using Audacity and Paul’s Sound Stretch.  Limited, but open source and very worthy projects to support.  The limitations are a blessing, actually.

DG: How do you make the sounds? How do you make the reverbs? Could you reproduce it live?

AT: Yes, and I usually do – the process of rerecording album tracks onto tape is an important one – some tapes have been used on every album now, and somehow they get more and more buried into the fabric.  Live shows tend to be more cut-up and less slowly paced than the album, partly through wanting to engage the audience, partly through adrenaline.

DG: Is it emotional music for you? Where’s your voice? You have a nice voice.

AT: Another new album, out June – here’s the final track. All voice.  Yvan Deroy

Actually my voice is all over Veer too, you just can’t recognise it amongst the static. And, yes, it’s very emotional for me, through association.  These sounds are beginning to represent something for me – where I found the tape, where I played the tape live, what context did my life bring as I was listening to the tape for recording purposes…

The albums aren’t confessional – they’re about trying to express something I couldn’t otherwise.  They’re liminal lovesongs perhaps, borne from books.  I want them to feel real and unreal, like the locations in novels.  You know it intimately, but you can never go there.

DG: If you answer those questions, I might publish them on my blog as a Preslav interview. If you want.

AT: Whoah, I should’ve read further.  I’d be honoured.