Housewife Records came to us with the idea to present an interview based upon a newlimited release of the VHS soundtrack to their film, “Cosmic Litany.” It seemed like a good idea after our intrigue in the project. The soundtrack features some of the grittiest noise drones we’ve heard in a while. Check it out. The soundtrack is available also as a digital download aside from the VHS edition of the film.
You had a pretty interesting description on your Bandcamp page of this Cosmic Litany film project. But for the purpose of our readers, can you go into some detail about it specifically; how it came to be, the abstract ideas behind it etc.
I wanted to create something that would envelop the viewer. When you sit down and listen to music it’s usually a serene experience, even with extreme music. You can put on an album from some wild grindcore band and relax while you’re being bombarded by intense noise. With this film, I wanted to do something that digs a little deeper. I thought it should be completely devoid of anything relaxing, or enjoyable, for that matter. It’s not something you’re going to throw on and then have a few beers with your buddies. It’s an ugly, consuming experience.. and it’s very unique. I think it offers something valuable in the sense that it will make you feel. It might not be a “good” feeling, but it’s there.
What type of equipment did you use to create the soundtrack and how did you mix it in with the film?
It was a mix of analog and digital instruments. There was a lot of experimentation during the recording process. It was improvised for the most part – I had sort of a blueprint for how it was going to play out. There were so many layers that I can’t remember what all ended up in there. The film began with the soundtrack and the visuals were built around it. I like to think of it as a visual album.
You stated that the visuals are secondary but could you talk a little bit about them and how they were created? Are they intended to reflect the same abrasiveness and discomfort of the soundtrack?
That’s exactly it. The visuals are an extension of the sounds you’re hearing. I’m not going to spoil the film at all by going into detail on this, but the visuals definitely enhance and compliment the soundtrack. Usually it’s the other way around. For me, I think a film’s soundtrack is just as important as the film itself. You could take your favorite movie in the world, remove the music, and be left with this shell of a film that doesn’t make you feel the same way, or in any way at all. Soundtracks can either make or break a film in most cases, and the good ones can work on their own as a genuine standalone experience. You can see evidence of this with the sudden public interest in vinyl soundtrack releases over the last few years. I think a lot of people are waking up and realizing that the music is just as significant as the films themselves.
There seems to be a bit of a slow trend in the underground for using “dated” formats. Why do you think this is and why did you chose to do the film on a VHS format? Was it just the grittiness factor?
I think the lack of format exploration is due to unwillingness. People are unwilling to try something different. They’re unwilling to explore for the sake of exploration. They’re stuck in their ways and it’s only narrowing their selection, which is pretty careless if you consider yourself to be interested in this type of art. A lot of films were only ever released on VHS and have never been on DVD or Blu-ray and therefore will never be discovered by the majority. Apparently they were destined to disappear. Either that, or only be enjoyed by someone willing to explore a format that’s a little different. If you dig, you’ll find something.
Putting all of this work into the project, why did you decide to only create 14 copies?
When you put a limit on something like this you’re giving people another reason to check it out. People that would really appreciate this sort of thing will find it, buy it, enjoy it and I’ll continue to work on projects for those types of people. Those are the people that I want seeing this film. Those are the people that I specifically made this film for. If they’re willing to seek it out then they deserve it.
What do you expect the listener who only downloads the soundtrack to get out of the release as opposed to the one who buys the VHS?
I don’t expect anything. I’ve already done my part. It’s up to them to experience it and feel it out for themselves. The soundtrack is just as much an experience as the complete film. Like I said, it started with the soundtrack and was built up from there. Lots of attention to detail went into the recording. I’m sure you’ll get the same vibe just listening, but if you can.. go for the full package.
How long has Housewife Records been around and how did it start? Can you give us an idea of some of the background on the releases thus far?
The idea has been around for a while, but the label officially started this year. It’s very new. It came from a few places, but mainly my interest in wanting to explore while simultaneously offering something you’ll never find anywhere else. The label has a counterpart called Housewife Records South (or Southwife if you like) that’s based in California. They deal with actual bands while I do these exploratory oddball releases. My first release was a 7″ record cut onto picnic plates with an antique Meissner Phono Recorder that was built in 1947. They were mainly used back then to send correspondence to loved ones overseas. You could record a message directly onto a lacquer disc and then mail it off to your sweetheart, or something like that. It was like making an audible letter.. and now I’m using it to cut white noise onto picnic plates that are meant to help people and their pets sleep at night. It’s very bizarre.
What other releases do you have planned for the coming months? An 8-track, floppy disc or laserdisc perhaps? Just kidding.
Those are all great ideas. I’d love to do a floppy disk. There’s something so haggard about them, it’s hilarious. The VHS for Cosmic Litany is being released in May, and I have something else very special planned for that same month. It’s a collection of “genuine” Occult recordings called ‘Broadcasts From Beyond’ and it’ll be a cassette tape. I’m going all-out for the packaging and it will definitely be something really unique and totally creepy. Have you ever heard an exorcism on cassette tape?
What do you think about a few companies releasing these “Anti-” releases…. basically an edition of an album you cannot play or have to work hard to put it together so it will?
It’s fantastic. These types of releases are closer to genuine art than some factory-made piece of plastic that most labels are pumping out. I appreciate the fact that you have to work for it, because the person that made that release worked for it too. It all comes back to the experience. I fully support these types of releases and the labels creating them and I encourage more people to seek them out and especially to make their own.
If often argued that part of the reason for people listening to noise is based around dynamics – delicate vs. abrasive, wall vs. cut-up, hi vs. low frequencies etc. mixing vs. layering. What do you care to add to this?
Noise is so subjective. I’m not sure I could contribute much to understanding why people listen to it other than that it offers something unique. Noise musicians couldn’t make the same sound twice no matter how hard they try. It’s just as much of a surprise to the noise maker as it is to the listener. Nobody has any idea of what they’re going to hear. It’s very open and I think that’s what draws these people in.
When listening to the soundtrack to the release, it almost seems at some point that there is this contrast of composition vs. decomposition; a consciously composed ambient/drone piece vs. abstract sonic abrasiveness. Is that accurate?
Yes, to some extent. It’s the same dynamics that make up everything in existence if you think hard enough. Cosmic Litany is no exception. There are harmonies and disharmony and you get this very distinct sound when they’re clashing with one another at the same time. It’s controlled chaos and it needs to be heard to be understood.
Thanks for your time. These last words are yours.
I appreciate the interview and the time you took to come up with these great questions. For those interested, they can check out the label’s offerings here: https://housewiferecords.bandcamp.com/