Album cover artwork for Andreas Pallisgaard's project Son Ash

Sound

Andreas Pallisgaard creates Easy listening for the hearing impaired.

The Danish musical aficionado takes his years of collaborative expertise and compiles them together of his recent solo album under the pseudonym Son Ash.

by Andreas Pallisgaard & J.Scott Stratton
Artist info: pallisgaard.net

Andreas Pallisgaard has been neck-deep in the music scene for many years in a myriad of experimental collaborations and groups, as well as working as a producer on a number of projects – both artistic and commercial.

‘Easy listening for the Hearing Impaired’ is his newest venture. A collection of timbral, rhythmical and structural studio experiments using analogue synthesizers, sequencers and reel tape. Part of the material originates from free improvisations, while other parts are composed according to more stringent design principles.

The album deals with themes of beginning and creation, while also acting as work within the work, which exposes itself as the album progresses.

The compositions of the album reject the standard notions of hierarchy and explore concepts and motives of development, splitting, splitting, filtering, and cell division.

We spoke with Pallisgaard about this project, do get a better understanding of his process for creating this album in comparison to his other ventures.

You’ve been making and producing music for many years in an impressive amount of different experimental projects. What moved you to create this solo project Son Ash?

I think my work as a producer has widened my conception of sound as such, which in time has pointed me in the direction of synthesized sound. Spending time understanding the principles of sonic synthesis leads to basic knowledge of the structural core elements of sound. In this absorption with the physical dimension of sound waves and the persistent amazement of sound as a magically invisible phenomenon, I have been highly motivated to try and think music more in a tactile and textural manner. Composition suddenly includes composing an actual sound from scratch. Working with analogue synthesizers, as I have done, has been like sidestepping my habitual approach to music, which has been important for me. And I think this has been something I needed to on my own, which is why I decided to record a lot of my experiments and compile them on a solo record.

Let’s dive briefly into your career in the world of sound. With so many projects and collaborations under your belt, how do you divide your time between them?

The dialectical relation between creating my own music and working with other people on their music is a rather nice feedback system for me. I learn a lot from engaging with other artists’ ideas, and I don’t necessarily see a steep division between the two. It can feel liberating to let categories like authorship, identity, style, and genre dissolve and engage in musical energy with no further attention to categories like these. That being said, I, of course, have to maintain some sort of sharp focus in order balance my endeavors.

What draws you to get involved with a specific project?

So far I have been really lucky to work with many very interesting artists, and in some way, it’s as if an open attitude makes easy to just flow from one chapter to the next with no further concern. This approach includes some quite unexpected situations, where things are kept fresh and surprising for me. If I feel the other artists are open and willing to let go of pre-defined ideas of how a record can turn out. In the end, it often makes the process a whole lot more fun for me. In this way, I can engage in projects where collaboration is the key element to move untrodden territories.

Back to your solo album. What does the name of the project, Son Ash, derive from?

Son Ash is my blues name – directly inspired by the delta blues singer Son House. The name also imitates a kind of anagram of my other last name Hansen. Personally, I like to think of birth (Son) and death (Ash) as embedded in the name as well.

You’ve written that this album is a “collection of timbral, rhythmical and structural studio experiments.” Tell me about the method in which you conducted these experiments?

There are a lot of different techniques at play on the recordings. The overall creative strategy, if there is one, could be described as a playful dérive through the endless shapeable sound world of the machines I have used on the album. It’s a curious thing; on the one hand, it’s all about a complete letting go, and on the other hand, a strive towards mastery and total control seems needed to achieve a piece of music that really takes off.

Photo of a live performance with Andreas Pallisgaard's project Son Ash

Back to your solo album. What does the name of the project, Son Ash, derive from?

Son Ash is my blues name – directly inspired by the delta blues singer Son House. The name also imitates a kind of anagram of my other last name Hansen. Personally, I like to think of birth (Son) and death (Ash) as embedded in the name as well.

You’ve written that this album is a “collection of timbral, rhythmical and structural studio experiments.” Tell me about the method in which you conducted these experiments?

There are a lot of different techniques at play on the recordings. The overall creative strategy, if there is one, could be described as a playful dérive through the endless shapeable sound world of the machines I have used on the album. It’s a curious thing; on the one hand, it’s all about a complete letting go, and on the other hand, a strive towards mastery and total control seems needed to achieve a piece of music that really takes off.

A lot of the material comes from free improvisation, while some of it is a result of more thorough compositional ideas. All the sounds are created with a modular sequencer and a handful of analogue synthesizers. I have tried to bend the logic of quantized step-sequencing to get a rhythmic feeling that defies the strictness often associated with machines. Some of the sounds are warped and manipulated on reel tape. Some of the sounds could be perceived as resembling the chirping of birds, a drum, a chamber ensemble, a string instrument, woodwind, brass, etc., while other sounds have a more other-worldly and undefinable character.

Since I have recorded a lot of different modes this way with my nose all the way down in the groove, the structure of the album was something I worked out in a separate phase at the end of the process, putting all the pieces together in a way I found suitable. But yeah, a great deal of intuition is at play here.

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