Name: Anthony Moore
Occupation: Composer, performer, producer, lyricist
Current release: Anthony Moore's The April Sessions, a collaboration with Dirk Specht and Tobias Grewenig (with Svann E. Langguth), is out via Sub Rosa.
Recommendations: Anything from the Oulipians e.g. Georges Perec "La Vie mode d'emploi".
Anything from the fabulous musical oeuvre of Beatriz Ferreyra e.g. "Echos".
If you enjoyed reading this interview with Anthony Moore, there are unfortunately as of this moment no websites of social media profiles to follow his activities. His discogs page, meanwhile, offers those interested in his music a chance to stay up to date with new releases.
Anthony Moore chose to answer a selection of our 15 questions interview in an essay style.
Born in 1948, I was a child of the fifties. My toys were mostly bakerlite; valves from old radios, smell of solder, crystal sets and the magic of radio waves captured by natural materials, germanium, aerials and earths - no battery needed. And kits, Meccano, glue, wood and steam-driven engines. My pet was a cat's whisker radio.
So I liked to build things. I started constructing short pieces of music quite early. I loved to play the piano as a young teenager and had the advantage of not being taught. I wasn't interested in becoming a good musician but I was fascinated by organising, sequencing and multiplying series of chords (mesmerised by repetition and the building of harmonic pathways that would diverge and converge), and the nature of resonant sound itself - right foot to the floor on the loud pedal and playing with both forearms, resting my forehead on the keys and listening until the final dissonance of the equal- empered (and therefore untuneable) waves died away …
So I suppose that it was the direct experience of sound and noise that touched me more than any particular influence of music or practitioners of that 'conservative' art. As it turned out this was a serendipitous preparation for the arrival of tape recorders in my life - a huge moment! Starting with the early english models of Brenells and Ferrographs, I eventually graduated to Revoxes and Uhers. I believe it was these tools themselves that influenced my work rather than other sources, and I don't recall there ever really being a 'phase of learning' when I started out. Of course, I admired the arrogance and anarchy of rock 'n roll and it wasn't too long before I started experimenting with psychedelics which certainly had an influence.
Pretty soon though, I became aware of the American minimalists ... La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, Terry Riley and started listening to much of the “Folkways” collection and many Unesco recordings from around the world.
Another powerful influence would have been the experimental cinema of the 1960s. In fact it was in the making of numerous soundtracks for non-narrative, underground films that I developed any skills I might have.
You ask, “How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?” and “What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?”. I suppose my identity influences my creativity in that I have an irresponsible and naive belief in freedom. Nevertheless, possibly my main creative challenge in the beginning was how to deal with a kind of musical double-life. I was naturally drawn towards fairly serious-minded experimentation and dared to think of myself if not as a composer then as an 'organiser of sound' in the Cagean sense. At the same time I revelled in the disrespectful nature of pop. I recorded albums of songs and founded the group Slapp Happy. For most of my musical life I could never see a way of bringing these apparently opposing sides of my work together.
When it comes to technical devices, I cannot over-exaggerate the power that magnetic tape held over me. It seemed to run through the very core of my being, not as a medium of storage, but more like a sonic brush for painting in the air. And like a painter, I saw the process of making sound as a solitary act. It never occurred to me to collaborate with someone else on the same material in the same medium. However, to work with filmakers and the tape-like ribbon of information they engaged with namely, celluloid, was entirely natural. I really enjoyed watching the aesthetic collisions that arose from similar methods of production in different media.
But much of the above has changed. We have been talking about the early times, late 60s through the 70s. Now things are very different and playing live with other musicians is something I value profoundly. I have to thank 20 years of teaching the history and theory of sound at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne for that transformation. I went from being a 'studio animal' working mostly alone, to challenging myself in live, collaborative moments and being spontaneous, probably because of having to give lectures and workshops from 1996 until 2015.
The April Sessions LP is a perfect example. Working together with Dirk Specht and Tobias Grewenig along with Svann Langguth has been an important and lasting experience. We have also made other pieces together and performed in various combinations with Martin Rumori and the different members of Therapeutische Hörgruppe Köln. I cannot over-state how much I appreciate working with these great musicians and friends. (see “Ore Talks” and “The Present is Missing”).
You ask, “Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career?”. There have been a few breakthrough moments. Working with the filmaker David Larcher on his first film “Mare’s Tail” in 1969 was the moment that tape manipulation really took a hold of me. A more recent breakthrough would have to be the commission from the WDR studio for acoustic art in 1999. The simple reason is that they were just beginning with the idea of spatialised, 5.1 channel broadcasts at the end of the 90s and it gave me the opportunity to make movement in space the key element of a 40 minute composition called "Moving Sounds". There are also stereo mixes in existence but the piece was based on the idea of a multi-channel recording of actual movement of sound rather than simulated movement.
"Studio 3 at the WDR in Cologne which Klaus Schöning so kindly enabled me to turn into a playground for "Moving Sound" became a volumetric area through which sounding objects could fly and swing. The aim was to experience movement through space by mechanical means rather than electronic manipulation. All the faders on the mixer should remain at unity gain and the pan pots set at full left and right. Thus sounds that are quiet can be so simply because they are distant, loudness really is sometimes closeness. Movements to the left or right are actual in a network of travelling receivers and mobile sources. A series of experiments were carried out with various kinds of movement using pendulums, springs, spirals and other devices. The results of these experiments are then composed to form a piece about space and shifting, sonic perspectives." I have continued to be interested in multi-channel installative work to this day (may 2021).
With regard to your question about the healing power of music, I see it slightly differently. I prefer to imagine sound as an ideal navigational aid through one's personal existence. It’s only my opinion of course, but if one looks at the physics of sound and becomes familiar with strategies of sonification it starts to be possible to understand one's environment and the many pathways through it by applying a kind of sonic geography. And the non- displacing nature of waves could also offer a metaphor for accepting the simultaneous co-existence of differences without the necessity of one thing always being replaced by another ... 'either and both' is the essence of listening.