Composer, improviser, and electro-acoustic music maker Anthony Pateras has for the better part of two decades continued to make forward thinking uncompromising music in a variety of guises. Whether it’s via one off collaborations or his various bands including Pateras/ (Sean)Baxter/(David) Brown, Thymolphthalein with Natasha Anderson, Will Guthrie, Jérôme Noetinger, and Clayton Thomas, PIVIXKI with Max Kohane, the Pateras/(Robin)Fox duo, North of North with Scott Tinkler and Erkki Veltheim or tetema with Mike Patton, Will Guthrie and Erkki Veltheim, you know that the involvement of Pateras ensures the result will be music quite unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Recently he started his own label IMMEDIATA and began issuing many of these projects in limited editions, which presented the music alongside some pretty incredible text and interviews. Over the years we’ve enjoyed following the twists and turns of Pateras’ eclectic career. We’ve reviewed many of his releases and spoken with him a few times. With an imminent series of performances in Tasmania as part of MOFO, including the first live show for tetema, we thought it might be a good time to ask him about the music that moves him:
12 SONGS TO LISTEN TO WHEN I FORGET WHY I MAKE MUSIC
CHICO MARX (Plays The Piano With An Apple)
Pretty much where it all started for me. My entire childhood was spent obsessing over the music bits from the Marx Brothers films. The only other pianist who has come close to the elegance and poetry of Chico Marx is Chris Abrahams. “Hey mister! Can I play the piano?”
CAMERON DE LA ISLA
Erkki Veltheim put me onto this: Paco Cepero, Paco de Lucia, Turronero and Cameron de la Isla all hanging out in the bar casually playing and singing some of the most beautiful music ever made over cigarettes and some mystery spirit they’re drinking. It’s all very relaxed and brilliant.
BULGARIAN STATE RADIO VOCAL CHOIR (Ergen Daido)
The way harmony and rhythm work with timbre in this music will never cease to blow me away. The fact that people did this live on television at one point in time is beyond me. No one sings a 2nd like the Bulgarians, and given that’s my favourite interval, this is actually my favourite music.
DEATH GRIPS (Guillotine)
Hands down the best live band show I’ve seen in the last 5 years…The Money Store was my soundtrack to living briefly in Molenbeek in 2012, which felt pretty end times as it is, but when I saw MC Ride and Zach Hill do a duo version of the band at Magasin 4 to about 250 people, the whole place was electrified and it felt good to be alive.
ELIS REGINA (Live in Montreux 1979)
When I got sick of watching Aguas de Março every night I turned to this Milton Mascimento medley sung by Elis Regina and her insanely talented band at Montreux in 1979. I get a similar feeling from this as the Bulgarian Stuff – like a razor blade through the soul. As with the Paco Cepero video, it’s also a stark reminder of how well people used to play their instruments. Morton Feldman used to say, ‘standards haven’t changed’, and he was right.
BUARQUE/MORRICONE (FUNERALE DI UN CONTADINO)
This is from one of my all time favourite records Per un Pugno di Samba, which sensibly asks the question: “how do you make Italian sound even sexier?” You get a Brazilian to sing it! This song has the most amazing lyrics, arrangement, delivery, production, everything, and its only two chords. Morricone’s orchestrations are devastating as per usual, and Buarque’s singing just melts everything.
IANNIS XENAKIS (Amenossa For Mixed Choir And Orchestra)
My partner Natasha found this the other day and it’s the only performance and recording of this particular piece. It reminded me of just how ON Xenakis was in the 1970s and 80s: Persepolis, La Legende D’Eer, Jonchaies, Pleiades, Kyania, Antikhthon, Shaar, Lichens….This piece is another showing how he simply never compromised, right until the end, and that’s just the way it has to be with music. No one took traditional instrumental forces into a world of hallucination like he did.
ERYKAH BADU (The Healer)
Max Kohane from PIVIXKI introduced me to heaps of beats-related things while we were briefly blasting all around the world together: J Dilla in particular, and Erykah Badu, who is working with Madlib here. It’s been apparent for a while that the actual avant-garde is not situated within ‘experimental’ music circles, and that the truly ground-breaking things with rhythm, timbre and phrasing are happening in music like this. People like The Internet, NxWorries/Kxwledge, Earl Sweatshirt are the electro-acoustic pioneers and telekinetic improvisers of this millennium.
BURUNDI: MUSIQUES TRADITIONELLES (Akazehe Par Deux Jeunes Filles)
The Occora series stands alone as one of the most important documents of traditional musics. This example in particular just messes with everyone. It is a recording of two young girls in a village, somewhere between the ages of 7 and 9, hocketing rhythms within a limited pitch collection so tight that their voices blend into a singular meta-instrument, and basically begins to sound like tape music.
I heard this piece live on an acousmonium at Jerome Noetinger’s Audible Festival in Paris last year, and from the first tone, I lost it. If there’s something close to the perfect acousmatic piece, this is it. Chion was there diffusing it, he’s very dignified and humble, the setting was faultless, and the sound was so alive it was basically like hearing music for the first time. In particular, you can hear the meticulous care in the sound mixed in with a kind of brutish ‘fuck it’, which is how I like my music in general.
SOLANGE (Don’t Touch My Hair)
I need to know that great things are going on now, and my friends are the people who remind me. Anthony Burr, the walking music information superhighway, told me about this. This record manages to capture a fuzzy, grooved-out dreamscape yet produce a politicised intensity, and I can’t remember the last time I heard something like that. Has anyone done that before? It is so carefully considered and put together, with every sound woven just so, but it never feels overworked.
JOHNNY CASH (The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face)
The greatest love song ever written. Ever. You know how hard it is to write a love song? Really fucking hard.
Photo: Anthony Pateras by Traianos Pakioufakis, Sydney 2016