Project Dark are: Kirsten Reynolds, Ashley Davies, Tony Pattinson, Jason Cook, Nick Brown.
Formed in 1995 by Kirsten Reynolds, Ashley Davies and Tony Pattinson (video), Project Dark have been producing non vinyl artefacts, made from, among other things, sandpaper, hair, glitter, circular saw blades and biscuits...
The unique sound thus created is then treated, and/or sampled into loops that form the basis of their vinyl or cd releases. On stage,

Project Dark are exploring new ways of using customised gramophones and turntables as instruments to play the ‘records’, inducing a challenging visual and sonic experience through large-scale live video/music shows.

photo: Party Girl with 7" Angle Grinding Disc and 7" Circular Saw
Collage by Kirsten Reynolds of Project Dark






I Saw Her, Standing There - Vibrö 1 (track 03)
(Davies / Reynolds / Pattinson)
Composed from Circular Saw and DARK Destroy The Beatles 7" on two gramophones and midi guitar. Recorded November 2003 at Arch 13, Scar Studios, Camden, London. Engineered and Produced by Ashley Davies and Project Dark. Kirsten Reynolds, Ashley Davies, Tony Pattinson, Jason Cook, Nick Brown.
 





Vibrö - Project Dark is almost eight years old; before, you (Kirsten, Ashley) were in a band together, what vision/wavelength/chemistry makes it work ?

Ashley Davies - We both share the ability to look at the world in a perverse way and choose to follow our ideas to the end of their journeys, however apparently absurd, and however apparently difficult, rather than try to fit in with a trend or a style.
We have complimentary skills and can swap jobs when bored or unavailable, which allows us to look at things from even more different angles. We see what we do as permanent work in progress, and every piece of work we produce represents what we did at the time, consequently we can be quite diverse within ourselves, though all of our work traces back to The Singles Club ultimately.

Vibrö - Do you have any particular way to operate and how, for instance, do you link the sound experiments with the visual show?

Kirsten Reynolds - As far as I am concerned the sounds generate the images and the visual and physical nature of the singles actually creates sound via the stylus. in this way the sound and visuals are fundamentally connected so we don't actually have to atificially link them.

Ashley Davies -Tony Pattinson is the third full time member of Project Dark, who joined us after a couple of years of working with us occasionally.
He brought the video and technical side to the fore, working with spy cameras to project the images of our singles, ('Excited By Gramophones'), then we collaborated on the 'Disc Continued in3-D' show, to the current 'Gramophone De Luxe' set.
This set is for a five piece band, mixing elements of the live gramophone / Singles Club 7 " playing, with guitar, bass, drums and keyboard most of which trigger audio/ video clip samples (recordings of our 7"s), to create an energetic dynamic missing from purely deck related stuff and playing to backing tracks.
These images are then mixed live from the stage by Tony which means we can experiment with the rhythm of the images as well as the sounds.

Vibrö - You make records from unexpected material (hair, biscuit, glass, steel, sand paper).Where did the idea stem from?
Were you influenced by recording pioneers?

Ashley Davies - It was the beginning of the journey for us really, we were on a 6 week Headbutt tour and if you live in the strange universe of the tour van, curious conversations develop.
We kept finding ourselves coming back to the idea of going record shopping and finding records that you could play and then eat, and finding sculptures in record racks, kind of like the gold disc in reverse.
We then stumbled into this whole area of history that happened in the area where Kirsten was living at the time, and we discovered we'd repeated many of the experiments made by various people with materials over the last hundred or so years.
We are also into this era of classic eccentric Englishmen and women, so it entertained us greatly finding out all this strange stuff, a very different logic to the corporate aspirations of the modern world.

Kirsten Reynolds - A record creates sound by the movement of the stylus over a physical surface. The understanding of this led to the idea of passing other surface textures under a stylus in order to see what resultant sound would be generated.
The easiest way of passing materials under the stylus is to make records with that particular surface. Once it has been decided to make a record the next logical step is to make a series of them and hence give them titles and catalogue numbers and release them on a label.

Vibrö - What about the practicalities of experimenting with home-made tools such as rocket turntables?

Kirsten Reynolds - The rocket propelled turntable came about as a result of trying to use a broken record player. I realised that the sound output was working, but not the motor.
As the speed of rotation wasn't particularly important I began considering other ways of getting it to rotate. I had a supplyu of rockets left over from some work with The Bow Gamelan and though that rocket propulsion might be a good idea. I was a little aprehensive at first - especially as I had no workshop at the time and had to test it in my bedroom! It was one of the few occasions where it behaved exactly as I had hoped and so we have been using it ever since.

Ashley Davies - If it seems like a good idea, try doing it, it can only go wrong at the very worst! The rocket turntables were quite straight forward really, more difficult was the 10,000 volt spark generator (a spark as a stylus), this caused us the side effect of short term memory loss, and we have taken out a number of electrical kit such as laptops, we re-invented this for the'Sonic Boom' event in a gramophone, if you remember seeing it, we fixed the problem!
The only problem we have with the rockets are setting off fire alarms/ smoke detectors.

Vibrö - We've heard some of your shows had been canceled by local authorities for fear of noise pollution.
Do you often face this type of reactions? even within an audience?

Ashley Davies - We have an alternative ending to the show these days, nothing ever got cancelled except for a show at the South Bank on the roof which was because of a local residents committee not wanting any noise after 8 in the evening, what's the point of living in the middle of the countries premier Arts zone and complaining about it! We've never had a problem with the audience.

Kirsten Reynolds -There was another occasion where a show in a nuclear bunker was cancelled because of nervousness about our rocket record player. Given what the place was built to withstand I think they were being unnecessarily cautious!

Vibrö - You seem to be exploring various areas from music to fine arts. How do you approach the 'institutional' gallery and museum exhibition (Sonic Boom, for instance) or working with artists such as the Chapman brothers?
Kirsten Reynolds - As far as I am concerned music and art are exactly the same thing. Sculpting in sound, materials, paint or ideas is essentially the same activity. The definitions of the areas are created by the displaying institutions, not the artist or musician.
I worked with the Chapmans in a DJing context and they had a very similar attitude and were happy to try things out to see how they worked. We used old Wire records as a raw material and created a 20 minute live piece for the interval for Wire's gig at the Barbican in London. Amazingly people even danced!

Ashley Davies -
The same really, there's an agenda or theme for the event, our work is adapted to that end, we do the show. It's a matter of having the right tools for the job each time. We tend to use each event as an excuse to try something new out, or expand one aspect or another of our armoury

Vibrö - You are also very involved in live performance, film events, electronica, turntabilism. How important is live entertainment to you?

Ashley Davies - It's the medium to get the best physical energy from our work. And we enjoy the travelling, meeting people of similar tastes, and the adventure of possibility that occurs from these trips, we are a vey sociable group of people. Live it's very real and honest, especially with the new show beginning to suggest ever more interesting routes we can take.

Kirsten Reynolds - I think the live entertainment element is very important - especially at the moment as it is very easy to rely on computers and sequencers to provide reliable control even in live situations. Part of the excitement that I am interested in is as a result of necessary risk taking and the balance of achieving what is planned but also allowing spontaneous elements to be integrated.

Vibrö - In early days, you were compared to industrial/punk bands like Einsturzende Neubaten. Who do you actualy relate to, get inspired by?

Ashley Davies - As I always say, I dont mind who we get compared to as long as I like them! Often comparisons are made by journalists with a limited knowledge of music so they struggle for reference points, I like Neubauten incidentally.
I don't think we could conclusively describe who we are influenced by, it's such a mixture of people and bands and artists it would make little sense. One of our favourite characters is a little known Englishman called Augustus Stroh who did many great things for sound recording in the 1890's. We share a sense of humour with the Futurist movement, and Werthers Originals are our preferred choice of tour sweet!
The thing we mostly get inspired by is ourselves, we tend to have more ideas than we can deal with, they get written down as a matter of habit and then get referred to when the excuse arises, we know a good idea is a good idea!.

Kirsten Reynolds -The other big influences are people and working situations we have been in before. I would mention Paul Burwell and The Bow Gamelan who I spent many years working with. Also Mark Anderson and Blissbody from Birmingham - particularly for pyrotechnic influences and their ability to combine modern technology with more traditional sculptural making methods.

Vibrö - Any collaborations with musicians?

Ashley Davies - We have tended to not work with other musicians in the past except for a couple of collaborations based around using other peoples better quality recording gear. Though for the recent album we were given a recording studio by a friend who moved to Japan. We decided that we could all do whatever we liked to see what our new equipment could do and we'd pick the best tracks as the album. We had never worked with a singer before, so we decided to ask several of our friends to help out.
Quite an odd assortment of styles in the end,(Bongo Debbie formerly of thee Headcoatees, Lucinda Sieger formerly of Bronski Beat, Tim from Transglobal Underground and Dubulah and Neil Sparkes from TempleOf Sound, Dave Cloud, a spledid Nashville rock god, Bruce Gilbert from Wire, the legendary Sexton Ming, Gabba from Chaos UK, and Jimi Papatzanataes, a Greek microtonal composer.....), but it makes total sense to our plan.

Vibrö - Not all the records you produce are available, although you transfered some the sounds on 72 vinyls and CD albums. Could you say a few words about "Excited By Gramophones", and 'Gramophone De Luxe' *
*(released this year on Phono Erotic, available internationally from posteverything.com).

Ashley Davies - 'Excited By Gramophones' was a limited edition vinyl album we released in 1996, 'volume 2' was a cassette album, 'volume 3' we have still never released, 'volume 4' was a cd on Invisible. They map the evolution of the 'Excited by Gramophones' set. At somepoint we will re-issue all these albums and perhaps compile another couple of volumes from the recordings we made at the time.
We also have a DVD we plan release of the 3-D show in the new year on Phono Erotic. 'Gramophone De Luxe' is the first produce from the new set. We are beginning to record more material for a new album, but in the meantime an album of material recorded with Sexton Ming over the last year is being put together.

Vibrö - You are also touring on a regular basis, where can one see you next? (spring 2004 ndlr)

Project Dark - We are always looking for more live work so if anyone wants to invite us to play anywhere, contact us. We are currently booked to play in Bergen, Norway on March 27th, Futursonic Festival in Manchester, England on 29 April (tbc), and at Throbbing Gristle’s reunion/ last ever show weekend at Camber Sands in May.

For Your Info - You can purchase 'Gramophone De Luxe' from www.posteverything.com, live news is always posted there too.
Project Dark have a certain amount of Singles Club' 7"s for sale, email for details. Some new items will be available in February / March too.

Interview : Valérie VIVANCOS





Gramophone De Luxe
Released 27 Aug 2003 on Phono Erotic

Live At The Victoria And Albert Museum
Released 6 Jun 2000 on Phono Erotic

Plate Of Biscuits EP
Released 1 Jun 2000 on Phono Erotic
Their catalogue
Project Dark have been producing a catalogue of vinyl and non-vinyl sculpted 7" singles since September 1995. More Info :www.projectdark.demon.co.uk





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Selected media/Press
'Sounds of the Suburbs' Channel 4 music documentary presented by John Peel, 1998
The Wire magazine, 'Multi Media' article. April 1997
The Independent, 'Blow up Guys and Dolls' article. June 1998
The Face magazine, 'Disco Biscuits' feature. July 1998
Nova magazine, 'Project Dark' article. September 2000
Vogue Hommes International, 'Sound Art' feature. Winter 2000
 





Selected live shows
'Music in the Anchorage', New York, USA. June 1997
'John Peel's Meltdown 98', Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, England. June 1998
'Sensations', Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany. January 1999
'Sonic Boom Live', South Bank Centre, London, England. June 2000
Belluard Bollwerk International Festival, Fribourg, Switzerland. July 2000
'Fakes and Forgeries' Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England. August 2000
'Gramophone De Luxe' National Centre for Popular Music, Sheffield, England. March 2001
Selected live exhibitions
The Metro, London, England. February 1997
Galerie Berlin Tokyo, Berlin, Germany. April 1997
The Zodiac, Oxford, England. July 1998
'Sonic Boom', Hayward Gallery, London, England. April - June 2000 .





Project Dark
www.projectdark.demon.co.uk
New releases available from : www.posteverything.com/phonoerotic
info(at)projectdark.demon.co.uk

Kirsten Reynolds
kirsten(at)projectdark.demon.co.uk
 



GENERAL INFO, SALES ENQUIRIES, PARTNERSHIP : info (at) vibrofiles (dot) com