Bardo Todol and Lorenzo Gomez Oviedo: Interview with Argentinian Experimentalists

FLON: So, I’ll start out with the basics– How did each of you get into music to begin with? How did you start making music together, and how would you describe what you do to someone who hasn’t yet heard it?

Pablo Picco (Bardo Todol): I started making a sort of ¨experimental¨ or ¨non form¨ music in 2002-2003 (almost twenty years in the ¨mud¨. It was (and it is) a verysimple thing: grab an instrument or an idea and then start to record. When the time comes, someone will edit or transform that recording into something more ¨narrative¨– like a disc or album, or maybe that recording will never be revisited and it will be waiting for years inside a cassete or a hard drive. I love when it takes time, it’s like a fine tasting wine.

I first met Lorenzo in December 2017. We talked a lot about experimental stuff. In February 2018 he came to my home (we live 500 kms from each other) and we dove into a very strict ¨recording camp¨. That was our first time together.

Lorenzo Gomez Oviedo: I started exploring experimental music about 12 years ago or something like that. I don’t really know when I started in that area precisely, just as I do not know today what I’m involved in and what not. I suppose that all exploratory process consists of this “not knowing” and that each movement can only be read from a distance, from another place and, of course, under tons of fog.

The second time was at my house. Knowing each other sonically, it was an experience of deepening the dialogue, of experiencing one’s own experience in the other. With Pablo I had an instant connection, an always surprising complement, we both have different perspectives on improvisation and that makes me more attracted to it than it takes me away. “Tu cara estirada por el éxtasis” reflects those corporeal and vertiginous dialogues between us.

FLON: Have you ever performed live together or is this only a recording project?

Pablo: We have only met personally three times in our entire lives! One was in December 2018 to play together live for an experimental music festival put on by Lorenzo and other people. The other two times we only recorded.

I am more a “recording” person than a “live thing” man. Live sessions require an amount of energy that I might not have or maybe don’t want to mess with. It’s another kind of art– you meet people, you share with them stuff that came right from inside your heart and spirit. It’s a nice thing but maybe too strong for me. Besides that I hate hate people taking at shows, and you can’t  blame that, because social encounters are for communicating with each other precisely.

Lorenzo plays ten (or twenty times) more than me. He’s younger and stronger. He plays, leads workshops, reading groups and more. His main work is as a book seller.  He’s more social than I, but I share tons of stuff in social media haaaaaa. I guess that might be an equilibrium.

FLON:  What are your musical origins and influences? What did you listen to that made you interested in making music?

Lorenzo: My greatest influence was something not wanted– in fact, rejected. It was learning to play the guitar from a very young age. I never chose it but I remember that the classes only served me to later lock myself in my room and play with the little I knew, transforming or breaking it. I suppose that from an early age I had this desire to experiment with sound, of course without knowing any direction or objective. Same as today.

I suppose that a lot of music influenced me to make music. To keep it simple, there are two musical universes that were essential for me: the work of Morton Feldman and John Coltrane. Both were a great impact on me and they continue to be so every time I listen to their work.

FLON: Is there a community of experimental artists in the places where you live?

Pablo: There are a lot of peolple doing experimental stuff here in Cordoba and there in San Juan. Not sooooo many but a good quantity. Experimental music ranges from synth nerds to improvising freaks, theater and plastic artists who want to experiment with sounds, retro technology lovers, vagabonds, tape monarcs and music students that are discovering free jazz. I guess I’m not covering all the possibilities but that’s a good thing, and they keep on coming. The “community” is something hard to describe: sometimes we are all very united, sometimes each one goes by itself. And there are times that the activity is strong and times when the activity is null. But I think that this happens worldwide.

The main difference is that in the northern part of the globe there might be a little more money to support this kind of stuff. And when I say a “little more” it is literally a “bit more” (I guess the “experimental artist” faces the same difficulties here and there), but the bigger the city, the more interest there might be, and of course there are more collectors that might be willing to pay something for experimental music editions.

But the music production is not centralized nowadays. There are a lot of things “happening”. Try this year’s compilation from the Discrepant label called “Gritty, Odd and Good (weird pseudo-music from unlikely sources)”. It’s a compilation made by Francisco Lopez from artists that live in the smallest countries in the world (San marino, Lichtenstein, Lesotho, George Islands, and more) and it’s amazing. Trully on my top of the year list.

FLON: Cool. I’ll definitely have to check that out. Getting back to “Tu cara estirada por extasis”, let’s talk a little more about the construction of the pieces. Was each track one long live improvisation? Was it a bunch of sessions edited together? What was your process?

Lorenzo: The album process was in two parts. The first, were intensive improvisational encounters that we had between both of them, playing different instruments, traditional or not, acoustic or not, and recording them on digital and analog audio devices. The second part was the arrangement, editing and composition that we each did separately with the recordings we obtained from those meetings. Of the 4 tracks on the cassette, we did 2 each of us, according to our sound approaches and tastes. It was quite surprising to note how even working separately we are close to our sonic directions. 

FLON: So, In the midst of this interview, your new release was named among the best of the year by the Free Form Freakout blog. That’s pretty cool! I guess before we wrap up, I’d like to ask about how you got hooked up with Kirigirisu Recordings?

Pablo: quite unexpected that we’re on that list!
It was a pleasure to be featured there…love that radio show. 
We started mailing to Kirigirisu Recordings…I guess almost a year and a half ago. Labels don’t have the resources sometimes to release, so the musicians have to wait their turn, and well…haaaa…the disc was released almost two years after waiting there. I love that idea:  the sounds are waiting to be released to the world– ageing like a magic wine!

I have some favourite artists there on the label like Antti Tolvi, Sindre Bjerga and the lovely english man Posset
The label is run by Neil Debham, an english guy who’s lived in Tokyo for almost 5 years now, I guess.

FLON: Cool. Well thanks for taking the time to chat, y’all. Please let us know when you have new stuff coming out.

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