The best electronica festival in Asturias, the L.E.V., had to have the best electronic group in the area on its roster, which is to say: Fasenuova. A two-headed project - comprised of Ernesto Avelino and Roberto Lobo – they possess a long, wide-ranging experience on the industrial scene. Fasenuova put out a dark, tense album last year, “A La Quinta Hoguera”, which placed them close to Chris & Cosey, Coil, Esplendor Geométrico and other heavy metal and profane music legends. Since then, their concert agenda has increased, and it will be topped off at the end of April by another performance in their homeland and a prestigious festival. For this reason, they have given us a document that we want to share with you. We asked them for a mix, but they preferred to pass us a playlist – Fasenuova aren’t DJs – of songs that they like and listen to frequently, a musical selection that you can listen to and download here.
To go along with the music selected by Fasenuova, we have recovered the interview we did with the duo in July of 2011, by Luis M. Rguez. Don’t miss them at the L.E.V., 27th and 28th April, it won’t be long until we know the timetable.
After years of maturing underground, of developing in the shadow of noise action and research in the area of synthetic beats and industrial rhythms, Asturians Ernesto Avelino and Roberto Lobo - the double soul of Fasenuova - have just put out the album that should have everyone talking about them. “A La Quinta Hoguera” (Discos Humeantes, 2011) crystallises a long process of research and refinement that began over five years ago (a decade, if we consider their previous projects, together or separately). Starting from postulates that are related to the harshest industrial tradition, Avelino and Lobo have cultivated their music towards more concise, sparse, contained and subtle lines. Dosing out the tension, playing with timbres and dynamics, Fasenuova manage to create an enormous range of nuances (sonic and emotional) from the combination of very few elements (sharp drum machines, rough monophonic synths, amps and mics, basically). Their music is airy electronic and oblique pop; it is tension and heart, atmosphere and rhythmic drive, physical action and solemn contemplation.
In their world, one can see signs of industrial pioneers like Throbbing Gristle or Esplendor Geométrico, traces of the pagan dark-folk of Current 93, and the esoteric occultism of Coil. They offer rhythmic strategies close to those of agents of the most adventurous German new wave, like Liaisons Dangereuses or the early Der Plan, or exercises in analogue architecture that wouldn’t be out of place next to explorers of the neo-kosmische setting like Dylan Ettinger, Umberto or Rene Hell. To this we have to add texts full of mystery, capable of creating confusion and intrigue from the use of invented words, games of syllabic permutation, lexical distortions, or fake accents. The mysteries of a magical, bottomless nature or the more primary drives of the urban human give images to songs that hold many more secrets inside them than it might seem at first. Those who want to try their music can listen and download “A La Quinta Hoguera” from here. But we have to tell you that it sounds even better on vinyl.
Where are you right now, while you are answering these questions?
In Roberto’s house, in Mieres, watching the protests in Greece, 29th June, 2011.
If you were to look around you right this instant, what would you see?
The computer screen and some of our instruments on a table.
And if you look out of the nearest window, what is the view?
Picu Seana, National Road A66, the Caudal River, and two different train stations. There’s a reason why Mieres is called Mieres del Camín (“Mieres of the Way”).
What does that view suggest to you?
Mieres del Camín, Picu Seana, which we haven’t been up for a long time, the cars and the noise that they make as they go by quickly.
As has been made perfectly clear, you live in Mieres, an Asturian mining city. I’d like to know to what extent this setting has (or hasn’t) had an influence on the musical conception of Fasenuova. I’m thinking of the enclave’s natural qualities, surrounded by mountains and greens, splattered with post-industrial landscapes, as well as its socio-economic and socio-political history. For example, I’ve read that during the 1934 revolution, Mieres was one of the nuclei of the uprising. “Balls and dynamite” was the battle cry of the rebels then, shouted in the Asturian language. The decline of the iron and steel industry and mining in the area during the 70s must also have left its mark on the people of the region. Do you see traces of this setting and this character in your approach to Fasenuova’s sound?
It would be impossible for the setting not to have conditioned our lives heavily, and for this fact not to be reflected one way or another in our work. But when it comes to creating, we start from totally fantastic positions, generated in our adolescence and youth, with elements totally outside this setting. All of the cultural and socio-political conditions in Mieres and Asturias are present in the foreground of our lives, but we have also looked - we have had to look - in another, totally different direction. Our families are mixtures of miners and steel workers who participated actively in the revolution of ‘34, some of them even died in the uprising. Both of our fathers are Asturian, and our mothers come from Galicia and Andalusia, respectively.
At least during the decade of the 90s, Mieres took on a certain relevance within the whole of the independent Spanish scene, as the cradle of a series of groups dedicated to punk, pop, and 60s rock - people like E-330, La Ruta or Los Nervios. In the midst of this scene and this musical tradition, how does a proposal like Fasenuova’s fit in? In your previous groups, significantly more noise-orientated, was there something of a reaction against the norm (including the norm of the bands that there were around you at the time)?
Many of the members of those bands are our friends. We were doing something that they didn’t like and they made plenty of fun of us, but we had connected very early on with the Spanish electronic scene and our path was going at another speed, and also along another route. We knew what we liked from a very early age in our lives, and nothing else mattered to us. We had a sort of outside shell that we called “the padded anorak” - a teenage thing. We went out to listen to the Residents and we went to try to pick somebody up at clubs where they played commercial music. We felt like different beings surrounded by people who couldn’t even imagine our tastes. They were our friends, we loved them, we shared rehearsal halls, but we didn’t like their music either, and we made fun of them too (to tell the truth). The thing is that the people around here are very special, and we always get along anyway. But we do have to recognise a certain belligerent sound attitude, from our position of total isolation for many years, as a reaction to our musical surroundings.
How are things in the area today, musically speaking?
Mieres forms a part of the Mining Bowl, an area hit by successive waves of crisis. There are still people with a lot of potential, but the majority of them have had to go to other places. It is almost impossible to give concerts, there are no public rehearsal halls, although this is a request that bands, which there are paradoxically many of, have been making for over 20 years. There is no help at all, and those in power belong to generations that are still totally contaminated by Franco’s ideology. Here you have to have a very healthy spirit and great powers of concentration to focus on your creations without starting to do rap music going off on all of these undesirables.
Do you enjoy your position as a peripheral group, far from buzzing musical hubs, or do you feel this distance to be a handicap?
We enjoy living in Asturias, although how Asturias is pains us, but we don’t identify with what you are saying about peripheries, because when we were children, Mieres was New York to us, and Spiderman leaped from skyscraper to skyscraper in our imagination.
Tell us how you met and what first brought you together.
When we met, we had both read Shakespeare and Cervantes. That gave us a lot to talk about the first times that we met. Besides, we were both inclined to work with sound in a similar way: mics buzzing, amps pushed to the brink, until smoke was coming out them - stuff like that.
With Fasenuova you are very economical - was that a premise when it came to setting up the project, or is the set-up that you use determined by the means available at any given moment?
We always use all of the means that we have at our disposal, the more the better, but we also select what it is that we want, and what we don’t, to do a certain thing, so sometimes we use very few things.
Until recently, Fasenuova was usually referred to as an “industrial noise”, “free noise”, or “extreme noise” group. Your previous adventures as Étika Makinal, or together as Goodbye, did display a more noise-based aesthetic and harsher attitude, more extreme or “confrontational”. In comparison with those projects, Fasenuova’s proposal in “A La Quinta Hoguera” seems much more sophisticated and poetic. Are you afraid that labels like “free noise” or “noise”, which nowadays only represent a part of your sound personality, might put off potential listeners? Listeners who would be curious about your work if synth wave or analogue electronica with a cosmic aftertaste were mentioned instead, some of the other ingredients present in your last album? Today do you still feel like a group associated with the “international noise movement”, so to speak?
People who have seen us live don’t think about these things, because our normal live pattern is fairly energetic. But all of our recordings have been conceived of differently than the live shows. They are there to be listened to. Even the oldest ones. Noise has always been just another colour in our palette of colours, just like everything else in music. We are more aesthetic than noisy, but we feel close, even though it may be totally imaginary, to that “international noise movement” that you mention. Futurism and Dada had a big influence on us as kids.
More than once you have said that deep down you consider yourselves to be a rock'n'roll band, in the way that we can consider, for example, early Suicide to be.
We have encouraged that a lot, we have written and declared it many times, but this is simply because it’s as if everything was really rock'n'roll. Although the idea was to find a rock invented, in a way, by us. Or rather arising from experimenting together, based on incorporating many other references, very rooted in vanguards and everything that came afterwards. We like to explain that rock'n'roll has left an indelible mark, as a culture, on Mieres. It’s incredible to what extent this is still true today. There are still urban tribes, although they all coexist under sort of a “Pax Rockera” and they go out to party together. But this place has been profoundly affected by ideas imported from America, so that we all have a ton of imaginary notions in our heads that come from albums, covers, films, music catalogues, and clothes. We often say it a bit sarcastically, but we are convinced that in order to explain this place, if you want to give form to an image of the cultural reality here, you have to start with Elvis Presley. All of that mixed with the Asturian universe in terms of culture, linguistics, and socio-politics, which is unfolding here so vigorously.
In recent times - in the underground in the Northern part of Spain - there are several projects that seem to want to recover the urgency, the challenge, the primary, transgressive nature of rock'n'roll from experimental postulates - closer to the conceptual plane, often involving noise or the deconstruction of timbres and structures. I’m thinking of La Grieta or Billy Bao, for example, two projects that to a certain extent act as lines of communication between generations and scenes. In both projects we find Mattin, another lover of noise aggression. Are you familiar with his proposals?
We’ve never heard them, so we can’t feel ourselves to be in affinity, although we imagine we are. We know something about Mattin because Arnau has talked to us about him a lot, but we still haven’t heard anything.
Now that you mention Arnau: about two years ago you released a sweet split with the Americans Angeldust, on his label, Ozono Kids. How did your relationship with Arnau Sala and Angeldust come up?
La Defensa, with Sergio and Nacho at the head, took us to play at Cap Sembrat Festival and we all met there. Arnau is very important to all of our last phase.
Everyone who has seen you perform live speaks highly of the intensity and tension that you manage to create in your concerts. In “A La Quinta Hoguera”, however, you are more contained; more sparing with it, playing with timbres, depths and dynamics, creating a considerable range of nuances starting from the use of very few elements. It seems that you conceive of the live performance and the studio as two somewhat separate things, as if they were ruled over by different laws and required different efforts.
We have always conceived live shows in a totally different way, but they have also always been full of songs. The path towards restraint has always been arduous for us, but we have always sought it out; we have always tried to contain things. This is something you can trace in our previous work. The variety of timbre is something that we have always tried for as well. As a band you have to keep in mind that we haven’t always had access to optimal conditions as far as equipment goes. In a lot of clubs you can’t count on what you need so that all of the colour will really come out. Now it’s true that we have always tried to completely separate the idea of recording from the idea of the live show. We like for people to notice these details, things that we sometimes think go unnoticed.
Do you agree if I say that “A La Quinta Hoguera” has raised Fasenuova’s game by several notches? To say it another way, do you see this album as a turning point for the project (both in terms of refinement and artistic merit, and in terms of repercussions), or is it just another link in the chain for you?
Every recording that we’ve made has been a turning point, and this is another one, without a doubt. You have to keep in mind that this time there is a producer working, Enrique Guisasola G-Kahn. His contribution in this field has been essential for the recording to be enriched, which is what we wanted. It is also the first time that someone has worked especially on mastering, Valentín Corujo. The vinyl sounds much better than the digital versions. It is the first time that we have had this sort of means available, and the impact of the work of these two creators on our recording amazes us. Enrique’s work was meticulous and profound, a lesson in virtuosity when it came to mixing our recordings. And Valentín was able to master everything so that when you put the record on, it sounds incredible. In any case, we have to say that even during the gloomiest periods, we always believed completely in what we were doing. We don’t know what repercussions it will have, we know that using this language to express ourselves stimulates us a great deal, and this is why we want to keep doing it. But we have always had to think about things before facing the next recording, the next day of our lives. Turning points or links in the chain, or days, or however you call it. Now we think about how to record other things, what elements we could use, what words we’re going to sing, like we’ve had to do other times.
Some of the texts from “A La Quinta Hoguera” display a clear poetic literary intention. Between the lines of “El Regreso Del Nativo” there are scenes that in a way fit into the intuitive, subjective, deformed vision of German expressionism. There are images that connect with surrealism. In the use that you make of invented words (or ones taken from other contexts) and strange accents, one can also see links with sound poetry or Dada. In view of the meters that you used for the making of the videos of “Vamos A Bailar A La Noche” and “Cachito Turulo”, you also seem to be film-lovers. If you were asked about Fasenuova’s aesthetic coordinates outside of music, what would we find?
Our system of coordinates is the whole world “as a whole”, and this includes many of the things that you mention; it couldn’t be any other way. But it is all very complex to be limited. To start with, we are two different people. But it is true that we have always wanted for Fasenuova to have its own system of coordinates, as difficult as it is to try to do that. Knowing that it is impossible to get rid of all influences and surroundings, always trying to find other ways.
Earlier, we were talking about invented words, plays of syllables, lexical distortions, or fake accents. I would like to know if Bable (the Asturian language) - its turns of phrase and sound - have played any role in the Fasenuova’s linguistic conception, especially at a phonetic level.
We speak Asturian and we write it every day for other activities in our daily life, but Fasenuova’s work, from the first moment, is a work that uses the Spanish language as its point of departure.
And if we talk about musical points of departure? We always tend to compare things with things that come from abroad, and at times we forget what has been done in Spain. I wonder whether Fasenuova feel themselves to be part of the continuum of the Spanish industrial scene that has given us bands like Esplendor Geométrico, Macromassa, Mecánica Popular or Orfeón Gagarín.
We are a continuum of Esplendor Geométrico, Macromassa, Mecánica Popular and Orfeón Gagarín. We have always felt ourselves to be that.
To get to know each other better, let’s try some analogies. If Fasenuova were a film, what film would it be?
We both like films, and in Roberto’s case, he is a huge film-lover. It would be hard for us to come up with a single film.
If you were a woman, what type of woman would you be?
Whew. That question is too hard. Ernesto is having a hard time in that area right now and we prefer not to answer. Sorry.
And if you were a moment and a type of daylight?
A sky like the one Dreyer puts in “Ordet”.
If a scientist with access to technology for space-time travel gave you the possibility of using a time machine three times - with a guarantee of going and coming back - what places and times would Fasenuova visit?
We’d go to the British series “Into The Labyrinth”, to “Pippi Longstocking” and to Fukushima.
One of your last songs is called “Amar Es Bailar”. I would like to ask you: is dancing loving, or is it love? In other words, keeping in mind that some of your songs come close at times to the forms of techno, and in many of them you refer to the night and dancing, what is your relationship with electronic dance music and clubs?
We like electronic dance music and clubs a lot. The subject of dancing and the night is recurrent with us. We like it like that very much. A lot of times we are talking about bodies that are facing each other in a physical space while exchanging feelings of desire, strangeness, or looking for ways to interact. “Bodies in space that communicate with each other” is a way of illustrating some of our images for talking about love as dancing, night-time as an encounter, times of day as places for celebration.
Your latest work has just been released on Discos Humeantes, both on vinyl and digital. It seems that you are getting greater visibility. Are you satisfied with the work that the label is doing?
Meeting Pablo and his label Discos Humeantes was a major recent event in our lives. His intelligence, work capacity, and commitment to what he does make him a being that we know will be talked about a lot in the future. He is the agent behind a lot of what is happening in Asturias musically right now. And he doesn’t get help from ANYONE.
The label has the good habit of offering the albums it releases in digital format free of charge. What is your opinion of this policy? More generally, and considering your underground trajectory, how do you see the whole issue of the recording crisis, “illegal” downloads and the new regulations approved by Spain’s so-called “Sinde Law”?
We are very aware of the issue of downloads and the Sinde Law, and we think that all human knowledge should be accessible to everyone from now on. Free of charge. And this doesn’t contradict the fact that we like to sell our albums.
Immediate plans for the future?
We are going to record something right now, this summer. And we have some concerts on the horizon. We have just finished a cycle of concerts in Asturias. We performed in Uviéu, Mieres and Xixón, and the three have probably been among our best. We perform on 8th July at Montaña Sagrada. In El Nasti, in Madrid. The label Truco Espárrago is working on some very well-done CD-R releases with a ton of our recordings. Arnau and Dalmau want to put out a split single with a song by Les Aus on one side and ours on the other. We have been asked for a song for a compilation in Peru, for the Buhrecords label. And there are more requests for us to participate in compilations, but we can’t remember right now.
To finish: do you think of “noise action” as an expression carrying any specific idea or value politically?
This is a very interesting question, especially because you mention “noise action”, and that has many aesthetic connotations that matter to us a lot. We could go on and on about this, talking about our aesthetic experiences around noise and sound in art in general. We are both very political citizens, very involved in the day-to-day of politics in our place in the world, Asturias. But we have never wanted to work with these elements as material for our musical expression. We have looked away from it to do our work. In fact, the noise references that we have always liked the best have, or had (or at least we see it that way), a much more aesthetic nature. We consider our “live appearances” to be noise interventions that refer to an open group of sounds, environments, melodies, staging, and linguistic images that we call Fasenuova.
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