MDR Selects – Simon Grab

MDR Selects, a series where we invite our favourite artists, record stores, labels and more to curate a playlist of songs that hold specific meaning to them. 

We’re excited to welcome something a little darker this time round, from composer and sound artist Simon Grab. Co-founder of Ganzerplatz Sound Studios in Zurich, Simon produces music & sound design for feature films, documentaries, theatre and radio. His new album «Posthuman Species» is a sonic journey through an astonishing land of fragile feedbacks, pulsating drones and opulent outbursts of noise.

Recorded on a no-input-mixing setup consisting of low
frequency oscillators, filters, analogue effects and a
mixer patched with itself, the album sneaks up on dub
and left-field electronica from the side. Over time, the
self-oscillating setup falls in and out of tune with itself,
emphasising its transient nature. The album is a work
of science fiction, telling the story of a time when «The
New Kind» shapes its own wonderland.

“This playlist explores how my music is influenced by hardcore, black metal, doom, drone and whatever all the other affiliated genres may be called. I never really cared about the ‘true’ styles and categories – I was always situated in between the lines, finding it more interesting breaking the rules and negating assumed borders. I guess my own current work is somewhere between experimental electronics, noise and dub.

All the suggested tracks in the list have crossed my path at some point. I’m attracted to dark energy; accepting negative forms and dead ends with an implicit critique of society. Critical statements are not only present in lyrics but also in the frequencies, as in the way of playing and the way of composing.

Taking time for deep listening with long tracks is a pleasure, especially living in a time when particular attention on anything longer than five seconds is rare, with pieces lasting 20 minutes or more (I had to leave out a couple of hour long tracks which would have made this playlist about six hours long!). These longer works are filled with complex dramaturgies, precise sounds, spaces and collages. The vocals are mixed just slightly above the instruments, but still cut through because of the raw power of the voice. Having played guitar in different bands I always listen carefully to sound distortions; to how these fluttering vibrations are positioned in the mix and how they shape and fill the space. And then there’s the audio feedback as a musical element, singing and pulsating above the notes, technical errors being willingly used as additional composing tools, and signals being boosted into the red, cutting through the air as a dense sound wall.

I also inserted some current tracks from the electronic scene and two tracks from my new album «Posthuman Species» into the playlist, which all do integrate flawlessly (not only because some of the producers have musical backgrounds in hardcore and metal). In my ears these two hours do not suggest a mix of various genres, they deny the assignment of categories. It’s just music.”