RICHARD PINHAS press
Inreview: Sonic Guerrilla Warfare & Savage Kicks
Website: Prism Escape
Richard Pinhas is a radical thinker, a "3rd generation libertarian", and a philosopher influenced by Gilles Deleuze and Jean-François Lyotard. He's also an artist who uses his guitar, his synthesizers and his computer as what they are - instruments of warfare. From his first experiments with Schizo - a first, French, self-produced album, which was "a trigger of something in the minds of many people and a way of taking action" - according to his friend Pascal Comelade - to the seminal band Heldon, his manipulations of sounds leave nobody indifferent. He continues in the same way - always away from the conventional - with his latest album Event & Repetitions. For many people, he's also the one who convinced the philosopher Gilles Deleuze to sing Le Voyageur (the traveller) in 1973. Twenty-nine years later, with the Schizotrope project, he also persuaded writer Maurice G. Dantec to interpret the same song. That project, made up of three albums - Le Plan, Life and Death of Marie Zorn and Le Pli - achieves an interzone where the machine and the human being at last connect seamlessly.
Against all expectations, Heldon recently released another album, Only Chaos is Real. What are the reasons for that ?
It was a good way to bring Maurice Dantec and Norman Spinrad together again, but Heldon mainly existed between 1973 and 1979. At the time the whole process was a tribute to William S. Burroughs, to Norman Spinrad and Philip K. Dick ? Now, things are not flowing properly, there won't be any other album.
You also had a solo period ?
During Heldon and afterwards, until 1983, and then... nothing. I had the feeling I didn't have much more to say musically speaking, and I didn't want to endlessly repeat the same thing. The 80's were years of suffering. Most of the people who had something to say, like Kraftwerk or Brian Eno, more or less gave up creating music. It's not a coincidence those years were the years of "Socialism" in France and of Liberalism - Reagan style - around the world. It killed those who had something to say. Then, I devoted myself to mountains, parachuting, skydiving, reading Bergson and Kant... But no longer to music. I just needed to take stock of the whole situation. I thought music was over. I had serious knowledge of philosophy, I wanted to do some and it was better in the mountains, and then sport is good for you (laughter) ? Six months in the mountains doing sports and then six months in Paris experiencing drugs is a good balance.
Do you think we will soon have a "perfect drug" ?
A perfect drug ? Dick talks about "Can-D" and "Chew-Z". I believe the drugs that activate serotonin will soon be on the way. We're on the edge of all those kinds of things ? In the same way we start to witness amazing hybrids, like neurons working in combination with silicon chips. It will whether be for better or for worse. Apparently it will be for worse.
But there will also be good things, there will be some sublime ?
Some dynamic sublime. Kant did elaborate the concept of the sublime and he sets the mathematical sublime against the dynamic sublime. The mathematical sublime is perfection of the sky, etc. And the real sublime is to watch a storm or an avalanche raging furiously in the far distance. Obviously, the guy who isn't a total dickhead stands on the edge of the storm and watches, and the guy who couldn't understand this is sinking. He lost out. He neither read Nietzsche nor Kant properly, he misunderstood.
So after this period of reflection, how do you explain your return to music ?
There's been loads of personal "triggers". At a musical level, it goes back to 1992 with Nirvana. They're not my favourite, but it was music again at least, and that's what's important. But it's mostly because Americans asked for my records to be re-released. Then, gradually, little by little, I started playing the guitar again. It all started again like that.
One of the main aspects in the debate about contemporary music is the copyright issue. You seem to be in favour of its abolition ?
People have the right to steal what they want. Go ahead and loot ! This has been going on for donkeys' years anyway, for each record sold there are another 10 which get copied. There is no choice now anyway. Records practically don't sell anymore, except for the huge commercial ones. The record is dead, it has no longer a reason to be, except if we succeed in giving it an artistic form, or distributing it among the militant networks. In fact, we should convert everything to MP3. All works of Art should be free, we should celebrate free things ! Don't panic, we'll still manage to live, although we must think creatively about new ways of surviving.
Once everything will be available for free, perhaps only the worthwhile will remain ?
Indeed, because nowadays we're overwhelmed by a flow of non entities. Its not music but chaotic production of sounds whose only reason for existence is as commodities.
What makes music powerful ?
You need the intense, luminous pulsational inspiration. I have a theory according to which there may be three different worlds - the world of time, the world of silence and the world of light . Men, beings, 'subjects' are antennae, transmitter-receivers. We generate fields of vibration, we are oscillators. If we consider 'subjects', conscious beings as oscillators, music is absolutely the most powerful thing, the summit of having a blast.
Can you tell us about your new album Event & Repetitions ?
This is a solo, a mix between Le Pli and De l'Un et du Multiple, but without voices and rhythm, only instrumental. There is a track, EFRIM, dedicated to Godspeed you Black Emperor ! I've been so moved by them ! It's the band that impressed me the most in the last 15 years. They remind me of that spirit that existed some 30 years ago with King Krimson, Pink Floyd or Magma.
How would you define your work ?
I've spent all my life trying to do all I could against this fucking system by sending out pieces of wildness (laughter) ? I'm trying to make audible things which usually aren't. Making the cosmos audible. Making the strongest music ever possible in its inner intensity would be the ideal key. While 400 copies of Thus Spake Zarathoustra were issued, only 40 of them were sold while Nietzsche was still alive. It didn't prevent this book from having an amazing destiny.
You also wrote a book entitled Les Larmes de Nietzsche (Nietzsche's tears) ?
I didn't intend to write this book, but I was asked to do so and I needed money ? That doesn't mean what I wrote is not sincere. It's just that I didn't have a vocation to write a book because I believe that playing music is better, it has something more to say.
But you've been working for a long time on a book dedicated to Nietzsche, isn't it the same one ?
That's right, I've been working on it for over 20 years, but it's not this one we're talking about. There is another book indeed still under development. There's also a book about silence and light which is in hand, and the book I'm writing with Maurice Dantec too, Métatron : La Naissance de l'Electricité (Metatron : the birth of electricity).
This is a kind of tribute to Deleuze you're doing with Les Larmes de Nietzsche ?
Yes, indeed. I believe that if he had written another book, it would have been about music. And we had been working together on concepts - the end of the ritornello for instance in A Thousand Plateaus : Capitalism and Schizophrenia or when Deleuze alludes to the concept of the idea-synthesizer in The Logic of Sense. He had asked me for some information about digital analogy, about sound-synthesizers and ideas synthesizers. Then, with all his genius, he did what he did.
It was said that Deleuze didn't have any equipment to listen to music ?
It's not true, although he didn't have much equipment, he would listen to music, mostly to Piaf or Ravel, who were his favourites.
How did the recording of the track Le Voyageur with him go ?
I asked him if he were interested and he answered that we would at least have a go. So I suggested some texts by Nietzsche that he cut out and then we found ourselves in a studio, 30 kilometres away from Paris, where there were Jean-François Lyotard, Gilles'wife, Fanny and another friend who was a philosopher in Vincennes, Cyril Ryjik. Five thousand copies of the track were eventually released and distributed for free under the title Ouais Marchais, Mieux qu'en 68, with our band Schizo and then there was a second version in the first album by Heldon. This very first version has turned into a kind of classic, it's a bit of an odd destiny because in the beginning this track was made within 3 hours, just for fun ? And to put an end to the story, Le Voyageur was re-interpreted 25 years later with Dantec in the album Le Pli.
How did meet Maurice Dantec ?
There was an instant spark between us. Let's say like a love story, yeah a great story. I read his novel Les Racines du Mal (the roots of evil). I found this book pretty brilliant and I called him. I expected to feel moved and he was the one who got moved. We eventually met and we had so much to tell one another that we stayed together for over 6 months ?
On the space conquest for instance ?
We're all fanatics of the space conquest. In my opinion, I believe "martians" do exist. If one world has been created, others must exist elsewhere. Maurice supports the concept of the Christ King. I radically stand on the opposite front, I'm against all hierarchies, against any kind of human servitude. But he is a fundamentally a Catholic, with additional beliefs according to which the world would have been created by the "martians". He also has a theory according to which once humanity will have reached a population of more than 10 billion human beings, it will have to leave the earth to go and settle down on other planets and then meet other civilisations. He also proposes the idea that there would be some collusion between the "martians" and the military. And when you know that the military are two generations of ahead of us in terms of knowledge ?
Anti-matter weapons, hypersonic planes ? ?
They already have them, that's for sure. For instance they realised the only living beings that resist atomic explosions are the scorpions. Thus they conceived some outfits made of synthetic scorpion carapaces ! NASA and the army have advisers who are science fiction writers. Each field officer has to read SF books because they realised that the world 20 years ahead was that described by the SF authors.
Nietzsche longed for the installation of a Great Policy. What would this new policy be like and what about the values that would ensue ?
A factual policy needs to be set up. The trouble is that we can't either fight the people's instinct or desire and its desire is to "consume". Deleuze used to have a fantastic expression saying "yes indeed, we do need a people but the forthcoming people". Today what are we allowed to propose ? We should stop strengthening the system and so work and consume the least possible and most of all cultivate our minds. For the moment I can't see any other alternatives except the creation of molecular networks along with the setting up of the "electronic guerrilla" Burroughs would allude to.
You also mentioned the body should mutate in the direction of immateriality ?
It's a bit on this matter that we met with Maurice, more precisely on the metratonic future. "Metatron" is the theory of the light, of antennae that we whether find in The Kabala as well as in the production of aesthetic objects. There is a becoming of the body and ideas that produce a new network of possibilities, of closely related and multifaceted realities. Proust used to say that our lives have to be like master pieces of Art. Every experimentations linked with Art, drugs and thought should encourage this process. Technology must also be involved in it because man and machine are equal entities. The opposition man/machine doesn't exist, there is a transformation of man into machine and vice versa, almost an organisation, kind of organic. After the era of carbon and silicon, we're heading towards a photonic essence, towards light. Philosophers like Whitehead or even Deleuze were the first great philosophers who made electronic or acid philosophy. They help us with seeing the electron's world, the photon's one, this world hidden behind the world. There is a very famous expression by Deleuze which talks about "coalescence of the virtual with the actual". In fact, this virtual is the real world, this is the world which is behind, that we only perceive with a little more light or a little more consciousness. In some mathematical theories, there is an original point which is called "pulsational luminescent spray". This is a beautiful initial principle, it's a bit what Husserl used to call "the immanent transcendences". Our task is to invent a world made of Whitehead, Deleuze, drugs, music, novels... They would be the components of the Great Policy and the values that would ensue from them will place us in the experimentation and in the process, they will be unknown, revolutionary...