Improvisation is seemingly a long-forgotten art – with so many artists putting out finely honed, and tightly wound opuses in the modern day, the jam, a cornerstone of modern music is perhaps overlooked far too often.
Made up of the rhythm section of sludge/post-metal heavyweights Wren, MISER are one such duo bringing the spirit of improv back, and they provide the rhythm section on AN005: Pillars Of Tiamat. Accompanying the richly layered walls of synth provided by Memnon Sa – the thumping rhythm section provided by MISER is what drives Pillars Of Tiamat to its esoteric conclusion. The release will be the duo’s first, bar their demo tape (see further down), and, against the richly layered backdrop of synths, showcases their unique brand of jam-induced noise.
In honour of their inaugural release through Astral Noize Records, we caught up with the duo to get into the nitty-gritty of what makes Miser Miser.
Who are Miser? How did you guys come to make music together?
MISER are a two-piece noise partnership who attempt to deconstruct the concept of a traditional rhythm section within improvised composition. Primarily, both members of MISER concentrate their creative efforts as members of the black-noise collective Wren, but created this separate project as a route to expand on their mutual interest in free-improvisation and unorthodox soundscapes.
The members of MISER worked together prior to their involvement in either project, meeting via the internet, sending music and ideas back and forth to one another, cultivating a paradigm that would later become this project. MISER is an attempt to break traditional songwriting convention and explore darker musical territories that would not be suitable with the confines of a conventional band or recording project.
A Miser is defined as a person who is reluctant to spend, sometimes to the point of forgoing even basic comforts and some necessities, in order to hoard money or other possessions. How does this reflect on your music?
The idea of a MISER is a curious personality to us with quite morbid connotations. Secondarily to this, it appeals phonetically, and visually.
How do you define your sound?
An improvised exploration of the subconscious, that deliberately forgoes the usage of the maniacally overused six-stringed guitar.
What non-musical influences do you have?
Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Gerhard Richter, Carl Jung.
Your demo sounds like a weird post/noise rock jam session under the influence of psychedelics – what’s your psychedelic drug of choice?
It’s an interesting observation, but outside of the simultaneous bolstering and shackling effects of coffee, MISER operate in as lucid as an environment as possible. Personally, we find it more interesting to try to alter the subconscious with abrasive use of the sonic realm then imbibing any external substance.
How did you come to be involved with the cult of Memnon Sa?
Memnon Sa is a good friend and a recording engineer who worked with us on Wren’s debut full-length Auburn Rule. During these sessions, we realised we had mutual interests in exploring different musical approaches, and aesthetic themes. Future collaborations have already been discussed in regards to our working with Misha.
What value does improvisation have to you guys?
Improvisation is at the very heart of the core approach of MISER, and guides most of everything we do and have planned in the future. Of course, our improvisation is informed by prior discussions, shared stylistic preferences, and carefully placed eye contact. Within our brief time as a duo so far, we’ve discovered that improvisation is not always the grand epitome of freedom, and the expectation that comes with the conversion of sound into form can actually be a restrictive process. Whilst you can technically do anything, every decision is a major risk, given that improvisation is inherently a series of bold statements.
Improvisation is also a means of expressing your raw thoughts/feelings/emotions in that particular moment/day/week as opposed to playing through a constructed piece within a set frame. It’s liberating in the sense that you can break through all of that to reach zero.
The dismantling of the pantomime that is a regularly performing outfit can be both liberating and terrifying, hopefully leading to a uniquely pure experience.
What is the long-term aim with Miser? What are your plans and vision for the duo?
Collaboration both in recorded and live settings, with a unique challenge set in every record. There are many other explorative creatures in our scene that we hope to integrate with in the future, both in the visual and aural realm.
MISER’s Demo Tape is out now on Bandcamp. Download here.
Words: Rich Lowe