late march 2010 we received a very short email from someone calling himself an-men. any other names are until today unknown to us. that short message said simply: i am an-men. i live in morocco and i make collages in the form of sounds. i’d like you to hear some of them, which i attach to this missive. would you be ever so kind as to respond? of course we did answer the email after listening to the demos. we never quite heard anything like those. we thought they were not demos at all but finished recordings. there was a very earthly and strange low-fidelity qualities to the recordings presented. they had an assurance and a organisation diverse from what we were and are used to. they were not ambient but noise, akusmatica, arabica, melodic, experimental, with tones of sampling improvisation and an evolution in themselves that easily could tell one story or various simultaneously.
we contacted an-men and we agreed to a recording session at the naked lizard lounge studios in london in september 2010. without knowing the semblance of an-men we went to heathrow airport to find this pale man recording the environment in the arrivals’ lounge. he records everything at any given time. believe or not these recordings are transmuted with basic equipment and used in the entirety and all tracks of what became ‘gozyasi’. we spent four days in the studio and basically an-men refused to be known as a person, his sounds (he never called it music) are the important, and only those. his work was intrinsically instinctive and simple. he refused to use any form of technology he couldn’t master and he brought his own equipment. the time we spent in the studio could well been spent in a hotel room or any other part of a house. an-men refused to use effects also and dubbing was partially allowed in two tracks only. a revox was used to re-record the compositions and a simple analogue echo chamber we found on a second-hand shop. the drum sounds were compiled by an-men playing the back of a carton box with the microphone inside, and other percussion was sampled from vinyl records (he brought himself also.) a great part of the recording sessions were spent analysing and editing birdsongs an-men recorded by the streams around east sheen, in richmond park and by the river thames (some at night time.) [...] an-men used too a great deal of turntablism and work with scratching and then treating the sounds with simple reverb and echo. [...] the time in studio produced several other compositions not in the album ‘gozyasi’ (‘varese’s ant’, ‘blooeddroatee’, ‘bolorgir linga’ and ‘remains today’.) additionally two other tracks were produced for side projects, one with pianist and composer matteo marchisano-adamo (yet untitled and yet to be released) and ‘bolorgir manark’, a composition for the orchestra eclettica e sincretista (led by composer marco lucchi) and to be released on the album ‘curtains’ in 2011.
the titles of the compositions were decided by an-men even before the recording (and, in some cases the re-mixing) tracks; he knew perfectly well what he wanted to achieve and how: thus the speed of the sessions. for what we could perceive an-men has his own language (and spelling) which brings an added charm to the ‘gozyasi’ album. ‘leeleein blume’ seems to be a wrong spelling to ‘lily in bloom’, but he uttered something about people springing the sounds and the environment, and while working on this theme he referred several times to ‘bloom of the novel, the man that lived more in a day than we all live in our whole life...’ so we must presume (maybe wrongly) that an-men was referring to leopold bloom from james joyce ‘ulysses’, but we never know. ‘artehamo’ is even more difficult to decipher as he recorded the whole tracks almost in silence and only seemed concerned with the sounds and not in explaining them (as with all the other tracks.) we must indulge in our ignorance and use our imagination, but then we don’t have to explain anything. we presume it may have to do with ‘art i love you’(?) – arte/te/amo? ‘anaïs’ is, undoubtedly based and made for miss nin (the writer) as an-men kept on reading pages of her diaries. ‘lalla bai’ seems to be a misspelling of ‘lullaby’ but then nothing was said about it. ‘ammehlea’ presumably is another woman with a different spelling as ‘maria’ is for sure another woman (but whom?) ‘gozyasi’, we discover some weeks later, is ‘tears’ in turkish, but well can be something or someone else whatsoever...
an-men wanted the sleeve of ‘gozyasi’ to be a picture of some old labyrinth taken from some ancient book or illustration. he had his own collection cut and paste in a kind of diary or notebook he kept all the time with him. it was only after dinner one night in steven lee rees home that an-men fell in love with some photographs taken that day (of a glass of wine, exactly) and there he immediately asked permission to use them. he preferred them to the labyrinth idea as ‘they look like an enigma, they are liquid and though they seem airborne... perfect for the water and air and fire and earth’ (decipher yourself what he meant with it!) we wanted to interview an-men for a post on the catalogueofwonders.eu
website but instead he produced some cuttings from magazines and newspapers referring to ‘prospero’s books’ (by peter greenaway) and a thick volume, ‘the house of leaves’ (by marc z. danielewsky.) he preferred us to copy the articles and photos and just do not write anything about him. (the photographs and articles are posted on an-men’s page on the website.) he provided us also with some handwritten pages (maybe on his own calligraphy) regarding a dictionary of a language (invented?) regarding water, labyrinths and other strange facts (created?)
apart from the music we do not know many things about an-men, and we are sure he will be upset with this introduction to his first release. after his departure to tangiers we received one single simple email saying: “‘gozyasi’ is what it is supposed to be, since ever. the sounds may one day turn themselves into music. it is not up to me to transmute them more than they are. thank you for letting me be.”
released 01 June 2011
luis vaz de camoes >
The eyes where love in chastest fire would glow,
Joying to be consumed amidst their light,
The face whereon with wondrous lustre bright
The purple rose was blushing o'er the snow;
The hair whereof the sun would envious grow,
It made his own less golden to the sight;
The well-formed body and the hand so white,
All to cold earth reduced lies here below!
In tender age, a beauty all entire,
E'en like a blossom gathered ere its time,
Lies withered in the hand of heartless death:
How doth not Love for pity's sake expire?
Ah! not for her who flies to life sublime,
But for himself whom night extinguisheth.