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Primary Noise – an ensemble of plants, streets and horns

Anton Anishchanka and Pafnutiy talk about the history of the project and the new album Native Soil.

Чытаць па-беларуску

Our focus in music journalism, as a rule, leans towards under the radar projects that often go unnoticed even by those who would be interested. That's why we couldn't miss the release of "Native Soil" by the electroacustic duo Primary Noise, which was released on the Austrian label Small Forms.

The project consists of two musicians: electronic producer Anton Anishchanka responsible for soundscapes, electronics and processed ambient sounds and an instrumentalist Pafnutiy on alpenhorn, trumpet and French horn.

The duo's genre is live improvisation. During the concert, you can hear the sounds of the streets with their traffic lights and vehicle noises picked up by contact microphones, geophones and hydrophones. All these sounds are processed live and mixed with pre-recorded soundscapes of Belarusian nature and wind instruments.

We talked to the guys about the project and the live recording release. You can check out the text version below.

<iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/1765623738&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true"></iframe><div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/radioplato" title="Radio Plato" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">Radio Plato</a> · <a href="https://soundcloud.com/radioplato/plato-newsroom-15-w-primary-noise" title="Plato Newsroom - #15 w/ Primary Noise" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">Plato Newsroom - #15 w/ Primary Noise</a></div>

– How did the Primary Noise project come about?

Pafnutiy: The project appeared spontaneously, and, like many good things, that only benefited it. At one time, when the cultural center Korpus was closing down in Minsk, a large number of flowers and plants were brought there. I was offered to play there before this scenery was taken out. I racked my brain for probably a month, and then I met Anton and realized that the whole field recording thing with contact mics and such (spanning all the way back to John Cage) is just the right thing!

Anton set up his equipment there and the plants and the street sounds became part of the music. As I put the headphones on I found myself completely immersed in it. Miles Davis recalls in his autobiography a studio session when the piano player did not show up. He was forced to play to double bass only and later remarked: "When you have no clear-cut harmony, it's like walking down a sunlit street in a dream – the feeling of boundless freedom and flight". That's how I felt then. It was unusual, unexpected! We recorded the concert as a one-time project, but then decided to continue with it.


– How do you prepare for the live performances?

Anton: Basically, we don't rehearse our concerts…

Pafnutiy: But this, by the way, is not from laziness. Anton prepares for every live show. For me, it is important to come feeling prepared. The point of it is that I'm transmitting my state of mind here and now.

Anton: My prep process is a little more technical. The field recordings I use are not just played back as-is. I process them using tape and effects.

Pafnutiy: Anton invited me to the studio a couple of times to check out what he had prepared, but I ran away every time, because I realized how important it was for me to hear things for the first time during the concert, to be surprised or sometimes shocked. To react live both to my own emotions as well as what is happening in the moment. From the very first concert, I was surprised to see that Anton and I had formed an ensemble, although we come from completely different musical backgrounds.


– How did the "Native Soil" album come about?

Anton: In May 2023, we had a tour during which we performed in Vienna. We were invited there by the Small Forms music community, which regularly organizes performances by musicians from all over the world in their venue. This album is a recording of our performance there, which they subsequently released on their label. The recording could have been divided into separate tracks, but we decided to keep it a one piece, like an audioplay.

Pafnutiy: This venue in Vienna was a great fit for our type of live performance. Here's a story from that show. After the concert I was approached by an older couple asking me about a specific passage I improvised on the trumpet at a certain point, why did I play those notes in that key. I was surprised and flattered by the question, because it was about a very specific moment in the show when I caught myself thinking "What is actually happening right now? We are in Vienna, stone's throw from the famous Opera House and the room is packed with audience." It all felt a bit surreal. So I thought of Gustav Mahler and paraphrased a theme from one of his symphonies. That was a personal short musical story for me. And that's exactly what caught that couple's ear. When I explained it to them they smiled and said they could sense the classical theme in there. That's the type of experiences that makes this project worthwhile for me. I had a particular emotion that I relayed musically in the very same moment. Check out the album to hear it for yourself!

<iframe style="border: 0; width: 100%; height: 120px;" src="https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=1988636861/size=large/bgcol=333333/linkcol=ffffff/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/" seamless><a href="https://smallforms.bandcamp.com/album/native-soil">Native Soil by Primary Noise</a></iframe>
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