Newt
(Copyright © 1998 Piero Scaruffi)

NEWT: Absolute Zero Music

Newt is a collaboration between Daniel Myer (who is also engaged in Haujobb) and Tehanu (aka Andreas Meyer of Forma Tadre). They advertise themselves as a "drum and bass" project, but that label does not do justice to their hyper-kinetic electronica. Their rhythms are almost never linear, perennially fractured, dismembered in a fiery brand of neurosis. The electronic counterpoint has none of the grace and elegance that dance-music aficionados have become accustomed to. The duo prefers complex loops and dissonant shrills. The dynamics is so articulated that pieces such as "Motive One" seem naturally designed for the cinematic medium. The collagistic technique of "Hull Break" leads to an uncharted territory half way between musique concrete and ambient. Their recent release is "-273c" (Quantum Loop). "Ostad", to name one, sounds like a slowed-down version of Morton Subotnick's dadaist pieces...

How was your collaboration born?
Daniel: "The history of NEWT is the history of 2 persons. We are not only different as persons can be, we also have two separate stories and careers. Each of us has been and is involved in his own band or project. Therefore, the history of NEWT is split in three periods of making music in this constellation. The beginning was at an electronic/techno club in our hometown. That's where we met for the first time and decided to do something together."

Tehanu: "We first met when a mutual friend of ours invited some people to form the first techno club in town. There was a compilation from the different musicians working in this project. I put the original version of Plasmasleep from the later "Navigator" on it. Daniel and the other Haujobb members obviously liked it very much, so we came in contact. Daniel asked me if we should try something together. So we started to work on the first phase of NEWT."

What influences would you name? What do you listen to, what has been important in your formative years?
Daniel: "Influences are different for each of us. For me it is the daily work with my equipment and some atmospheric jazzy music and soundtracks."

Tehanu: "I can hardly remember anything... I like the rhythm of some machines... like my former refrigerator!"

How would you describe your genre of music?
Daniel: "We don't like and wouldn't know how to classify ourselves. We have two personalities, two different characters. It's hard enough to find one way to make things together."

Tehanu: "I think the least I could say is that I got certain attributes which generally apply to members of the human race... Although this is superstition..."

What do you like or don't like about the current scene?
Daniel: "We don't care much about the current scene."

Tehanu: "I feel uncomfortable about scenes in general"

What do you consider your main achievement in this album, technically or artistically?
Daniel: "It's precisely the balance between technique and art. If the music were too technical, it would sound like machines. Too artistic and nobody would understand the music, because there would be nothing left to define music itself. That balance is actually the balance between me and Andreas as musicians, and our work with the technology. Two guys, two brains and four arms around the technique."

Where do you see Newt on the current european electronic axis?
Tehanu: "Somewhere inbetween. We are using dynamic and structural elements from different sources, trying to envision our own musical conception which has to do with small and great spaces, empty rooms, electricity, flow of energy."

Your record very much suggests stark, barren climates and desolate regions. How much does the environment where you live and record affect the work?
Tehanu: "There is no direct correspondence. I do not think that NEWT would sound very different if we were living somewhere else. We are drawing from a concept which is the common ground where we can work together. This was not a pure rational decision but rather a process which evolved as the years passed by."

What were you trying to achieve with this album? What past influences affected the recording?
Tehanu: "Originally we have been working in three different musical phases. -273 C stems from the last phase. The only tracks which have survived (but now rather different) from the first phase (some years ago) are White Sun and Abyss, I guess. I do not remember much about the second phase. When coming to the third phase and making -273C vs +37C we knew that this was the right way. Concerning FX: I do not think that we are actively trying to evoke effects in others. As far as I am concerned I get paralyzid when making music and thinking of others. The situation is like this: When I transfer ideas or emotions (whatever this means) into music and get these things back as distorted but still true reflections or even better than the original idea then I know that it is right. Not only for me but for others too. I have made up myself some rules to achieve this, sort of: try to "obbey" the samples and to form them so they can shake hands: "Hello, we came from different places but now we are here in this place together and that is right." This is important cause when working on a track it can happen that the samples develop some sort of their own life. Then I think it is better not to put the original idea back by force into the track but to let it live its own life."

Attempt to describe your future goals in successive recordings. Will they be along these lines?
Tehanu: "Yes. I think we are still trying to get to the core of NEWT. But it is not like "Come on Daniel, this track needs some more "isolation". I find it very difficult to speak of music not only in these terms which are sort of negative social terms. But as you mentioned when it is well executed there can also be beauty in it which seems paradox but is absolutely right."