Listening to Ensemble Economique is like experiencing a scene from a movie; to embark on the rewarding journey of one of his albums is therefore akin to sitting down and taking in the whole film.
Perhaps that’s a cop out though: it’s somewhat trite to simply compare any kind of explorative music to a film or soundtrack. The work of Brian Pyle as Ensemble Economique commands a little more cachet than that.
From the song titles onwards there is a sense of artistic intent and integrity. It’s easy to get pulled into the collage creation Pyle conjures, patches of familiarity sparkle amongst an overarching abstruse whole. The sonic equivalent of gazing into a Rauschenberg for a little longer than expected.
His latest release, Blossoms In Red is quite special, an intoxicating swim through moments of minimal, ambient, folk and most things in between. The man seems to be on the move quite a bit so I missed the opportunity to talk with him live, this is a short interview conducted through email before he embarks on his first Australian tour.
David Sullivan: All your song titles are quite personal and somewhat situationally esoteric, do the titles or the music come first?
Ensemble Economique: The music comes first, then the titles. As the music is almost always highly personalised I like for titles to reflect that, enhance whatever I’m trying to say with the music.
David Sullivan: Is the “You” that appears in a number of them anyone in particular?
Ensemble Economique: No, not really, it’s more of an abstract “you”, I’m writing more in regards to a feeling and less something or someone direct.
David Sullivan: What will your live set-up consist of when you play in Australia?
Ensemble Economique: The live set up will be midi keyboard/laptop, guitar, mic. I’m using samples along with guitar, so a heady combination. I’ll be playing alone, always.
David Sullivan: Have you been to Australia before? Are there Australian bands you are aware of/what is your take on the Australian music scene from someone who doesn’t live here?
Ensemble Economique: No, never been, excited! I love Holy Balm, HTRK, Dirty Three, Birthday Party, Bad Seeds, I’m sure a bunch more. Great scene/history you’ve got there, looking forward to being a part of it.
David Sullivan: You have a number of features on your new album, how did you go about the collaboration process?
Ensemble Economique: Each feature was different from the next. With Peter (Broderick) we finished that track together in his studio, with Soft Metals, we did some tracking, then I took the stems home and heavily processed it, reconfigured everything. With J Moon, I sent her the music and she sent me back the vocal part. Love having these different sort of vibes/collaborations on the record, definitely interested in engaging in more of this moving forward.
David Sullivan: Any other projects/musical goals for the year ahead?
I’ve gotta great duo brewing with the Italian composer Fabio Orsi, very excited about that and another EE record in the works, sounding good so far.
David Sullivan: On a more personal note, have you heard of the producer Clams Casino? His first Instrumentals album is really good, one of your tracks reminds me of some of his stuff in a weird way. Other odd things I hear are bits of Eno, even like Roland S. Howard guitar tones at times, I don’t mean this is purposeful on your part, you just have such a diverse sound is what I’m getting at.
Ensemble Economique: I really love yr reference points and I love those artists you mentioned, that Clams record is so good and Eno/Roland just giants.
Do you think anyone has influenced you in particular though? Like an artist that inspired you to make music from the start? Especially seeing as your music has such a freedom/ expression/experimentation to it.
Ensemble Economique: Of course it’s a tricky question, as a teen I devoured Sonic Youth, Pixies bands like that. As I got into my twenties, the doors really blew open, was finding inspiration everywhere, from soundtrack artists like Badalamenti/Bernard Herman, to folks like Laurie Anderson, Sun City Girls, lots of ancient, traditional jams like Gagaku, so on. And of course I love Pop, to much to list in that dept.
David Sullivan: There is definitely a soundtrack vibe I feel at times too, especially when watching your clips, which are excellent.
Coming back to your song titles and the imagery they evoke, is the unity of sound and the moving image (even images of life) important to you? Is it something you draw upon for inspiration?
Ensemble Economique: Not usually but I see the connection, walking on the beach, staring out the train window, looking into someone’s eyes.
David Sullivan: Any contemporary films or soundtracks you find inspiring right now?
Ensemble Economique: Good question. Loved the soundtrack for Revenant, all of the works of the Russian soundtrack composer Tariverdiev I think are vital, important.
David Sullivan: You seem to be a habitually itinerant kind of musician, what are your travel/tour plans this year?
Ensemble Economique: After Australia I’ll head back to Europe for a nice long April run with Ricardo Donoso and Jung An Tagen, gonna be cool. I love to travel, soak up the road, get deep with all those magical experiences the road provides.