Driftmachine is Andreas Gerth and Florian (Flow) Zimmer from Berlin. Shunter is their new album, it’s a wonderfully dark amalgam of ambient,
abstract, industrial and avant-garde sounds, a soundtrack for forgotten places and abandoned spaces, for movies that have not been made yet. We speak ot Flow because of his role with Morr Music and Alien Transistor and he is always a pleasure to deal with so we were delighted when he did this interview for us about the new LP.
Hi Flow, thanks for doing the interview!
We love the new album, how long was it in the making?
Thanks a lot! It all went very fast. 7 intense weeks between December /January where everything was recorded and mixed.
It’s a complex and at times unsettling listen, what themes are you exploring?
When we started recording we actually had in mind to do a tape with mostly collage-like pieces. But, by accident Andreas and I watched “Rangierer” a documentary about shunters at work at the railway station of Dresden-Friedrichstadt / GDR – which was shot in 1984. Very intense pictures watching these men at work. And the mood of the movie grabbed us both and we kinda immediately went to the studio to record. But it’s not intended to be a score – more the sound for of dreamlike state after watching it.
You release on Umor Rex, how did you come to sign for them?
A friend of mine who works for anost.net recommended the label and we sent the music to Daniel Castrejon – who runs Umor Rex – and he wanted to release the album right away. Actually, it was the best that could have happened, as it helped us to open new doors and meet lots of new people and places. Besides this Daniel is doing a wonderful job with his artwork and is generally a beautiful soul!
What attracts you to ambient/noise, non-traditional song structures?
It´s interesting and exciting to dive into the textures of sounds that can be field recordings or sounds we created with our instruments. To shape out hidden details and develop these over a certain time and then interact with these sounds again and finally creating a mood is one aspect we’re looking on.
When did your musical journey begin?
As Driftmachine we started in late 2013. Before that, we have been following closely the musical projects each of us was involved in – Andreas with Tied And Tickled Trio and his project with Ted Milton of Blurt and me with Saroos. Took us almost 15 years until we started working together.
How much field research /field recording do you generally do for a new work?
Searching for sounds is an interesting and ongoing topic. So there’s also a bit of a library with field recordings, samples and sounds that have piled up throughout the years. For the new album, the sounds of trains within the movie were an important inspiration to interact with.
How have advances in technology changed the way you work over the years? Has it made it easier to create?
Technology is an important part of our music. Adding new instruments and software always has an impact on composing new pieces. It doesn’t make it easier to create, but def. helps a lot when you’ve got an idea what you want to do.
What colour is January?
The sound is multi-layered, how do you construct a new piece and how do you decide when it’s complete?
Mostly Andreas and I work at our studios preparing some sketches which we exchange. For “Shunter” we tried to do the least tracks possible so that the sounds have enough space! Some or Andreas sent each other maybe 4 Tracks and then each of us added a bit more and then we met in the studio together to arrange and add more – in case it was needed. We listen and when we both feel that the track is done – then it`s done
As a duo do you disagree much?
Well – of course, we have our topics – especially as Andreas and I know each other for 20 years. But what’s going on inside the bus stays inside the bus.
What was the first piece of music you loved, and why?
The Beatles: Blue album. I got this one on tape alongside with my first Radio Cassette Player. Maybe I loved the Radio Cassette Player more than the tape 🙂 Can´t really recall.
What is your favourite song that you’ve written and why?
With Driftmachine it´s “Shift II. To me, it’s one of the most moving pieces we’ve done so far.
What artist(s) has been your biggest influence and in what way?
Broadcast are definitely an influence as they managed to blend their excitement in searching sounds and recording techniques into great songs.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written and why?
Oh, my – too many to mention.
Why does the caged bird sing?
To get free.
What’s exciting you on the German music scene?
It´s quite a wide range of music that ranges from Neu!, Bavarian brass music over to Mark Ernestus, Jan Jelinek and of course the scene around the Alien Transistor Label 🙂
What’s your idea of success?
Getting old with making music.
Does the path of excess lead to the palace of wisdom?
I´ll let you know asap!
Photos by Mika Shkurat.