Text by CLOT Magazine
Our latest mixtape come by saxophonist and producer Simon Spiess aka Late Bloøm, with a live video performance recorded exclusively for CLOT Magazine. Simon works with reel instruments, tape and synths – working the magic in the blur between these but he has an over 15-year expanding career as a trained saxophonist and composer.
As Late Bloøm Spiess has recently released two tapes, Symphony Of A Blooming Field & Pulsing Planets and One Who Knows, as a double tape “in a continuum”. Exudating a haunting sensibility, the releases the artist shares are only possible as a unit, as each one informs and completes the other. The earthly cannot exist without the otherworldly.
With vibrant sound to the point of sensory overload, invoking nature as a flux of blossoming fullness and evoking Spies’ fascination with nature, he reinterprets with cinematic soundscapes, heavy droning and repetition of various sound textures, almost like a shamanic experience.
Late Bloom it’s the culmination of a decade’s worth of musical explorations. And it aims to create singular intersections between such disparate musical idioms as spiritual jazz, ambient/drone and electro-acoustic music. The compositions utilise modular synths, woodwind instruments, tape experiments, field recordings and all types of sound processing and collaging techniques. Symphony of a Blooming Field & Pulsing Planets was recorded whilst the lockdown in Denmark. One Who Knows manifested itself during the week after the first session and was recorded within one day in Switzerland.
This mix the artist shares, is not at all a recreation of the two past albums, but it comes from the space where I made those records. It’s a development that is rooted in these records, I guess. My inspiration was to say goodbye to our beautiful and inspiring home, where we lived and where I made this music, and to say goodbye to these old yet very strong walls by playing poems for them.
We are moving to another place now, but I am grateful for what this space gave me as a musician and gave to us, as a family. I would describe this as music coming out of a very mystical time, a stormy time and some darker spaces, and the transformation of these things into something bright and hopeful! There is no light without darkness! No mystic in the sun. I love to observe these borders, feel them acutely, and finally transform them into something you can’t describe using words: music!
Regarding your new releases, could you tell us more about the intellectual process behind them?
For me, the first part of the process was theoretical. I wanted to figure out a way to create this new music which, at the time, felt like it wanted to float out of me. It felt like something deep down in my roots, but no branches were in sight just yet. I couldn’t just go on playing the saxophone like I used to, so I needed to reflect, research and start trying new instruments.
The next step, it was all about educating myself about electronic instruments, like synths, and learning new composing methods. I had a specific sound and feeling in mind, but to get it expressed in a new format, I needed to experiment, relearn everything and pretty much start as a newbie. Also, on top of that, I needed to let go of all the old patterns I acquired as a musician and a composer and to approach the compositions not as a writer but through recreating soundscapes. This was a time of a lot of introspection, analysing and experimenting
What have you technically been exploring with them? What were the challenges during the production?
I learned a lot about synthesis and sound design. But also about the technical and electronic details, machines and instruments. I learned how electronic sound is created and about the process of production.
It was extremely satisfying to combine sound with noise or let noise become sound. Or add noise to the sound to make it more organic. Also, after a while, I was only interested in patching and creating organic sounds. In the end, I always came back to a natural sound, like a musician of an acoustic instrument. The biggest challenge was to learn every technical part of the gear so that I could to finally let go of the technical and intellectual aspects of creating so that I could receive the music and let it just happen.
You are also a saxophonist. How has this musical training/background impacted your more experimental electronic compositions?
I see myself as a different person or musician when I play the saxophone and operate electronic instruments. The music is different, the approach to creating is different, and the expression has another type of impact. As a woodwinds player, I tend to improvise often because technically it allows me to express myself more fluently. As an electronic musician, I‘m more focused on composition, sound design and a more calm or introverted expression. Or I tend to express a calmness which evolves steadily. The music of both approaches should impact the listener, but it will be a different one. I wouldn’t compare the two.
You also work with reel tapes. What is it about working with tapes that have fascinated you the most? Is it the physicality of working with tape, or is it something metaphysical, like the idea of the loop and infinite repetition?
It starts with the most welcoming warmth of sound. Whatever I put through tape, it always warms my heart and soul. It gives me this feeling of visiting my grandparents for Christmas.
Next to that, I love loops. It is satisfying to find yourself drifting away in it and be reminded by every cut in the tape that life could end, but this loop won’t. Finding interesting loops or recording on short and long loops is also challenging. I like to work with a simple Walkman, four-track recorder or even tape emulation in Eurorack!
What is your relationship with novel musical technology? What use do you make of it for your compositions?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it a novel, but I for sure love to tell stories with my music. I‘d love to go in the direction of film scores or cinematic music. I want to create pictures in the listeners head, to let them see more beauty in the darker phases in life or to bring more mystique to the mundane.
How do you cope with digital overload?
I meditate. I enjoy nature. I sit outside in the rain and listen to the raindrops falling on the umbrella over my head, or walk on fresh snow and enjoy the sound. But I‘m also confronted by it and try to be more healthy by trying to find calmness in life without it. But it’s an everyday challenge, to be honest.