Vienna’s Kai Ginkel, aka Phirnis, is a true sonic originator. Progressing from experimental noise to intricate drone, he’s made an incredible impact in a short period of time. We last featured the artist with 2013’s Feeding Lions, and he’s just presented us with a creative mix that touches on none of the usual suspects. We caught up with Ginkel to ask about the mix, as well as his musical plans for the upcoming months.
Much of Phirnis’ work can be found on his Soundcloud page, so be sure to check it out if you like the sounds!
Note: The cover image, “Waves pattern”, comes from Majali Design and Illustration ~ visit Sweden’s Maja Lindberg here to see more of her work!
Also listen at Mixcloud
Waves Approaching – Selected by Phirnis: Track Listing
Howlround: Cold Space and Peeling Oxide (The Ghosts of Bush, 2012)
Marina Rosenfeld: Hard Love (P.A. / Hard Love, 2013)
Daniel Feuerriegel: Estivating (The Sea was Screaming, 2013)
Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle: What Happened to My Brother (Perils from the Sea, 2013)
Das Sombreros: It Protrudes! (2013)
Olga Kaniewska: Waves (2013)
1000 Abstract Machines: Phone Lines (2012)
Bruzgynai: Begalybėj (Visur Visada Visuip, 2008)
Howlround: Shortwave Fishtank (The Ghosts of Bush, 2012)
Antipodes Recordings: Wellington Waterfront Dock (2012)
Elizabeth Veldon: Vocoder Improvisation 1 (2013)
Sanmi: Noise Radioactive (2012)
Guy Birkin: Bramble (Symmetry-Breaking, 2011)
First off, congratulations on a very intriguing mix ~ certainly not the usual suspects! I love being surprised by something I don’t know! How did you come across these artists and what do you feel is the unifying factor of these tracks?
Thanks, I was determined to only make use of very recent material, reflecting on the particular time frame in which the “Feeding Lions” album was assembled. I had just moved to Vienna when I started to really work on that record, a time of personal change in more ways than one. Some of the artists included had been on my radar for a couple of years, like Guy Birkin, field recordist Olga Kaniewska, or Daniel Feuerriegel, who recently did this beautiful Ambient record called “The Sea was Screaming”. Many readers may not have heard of Bruzgynai from Lithuania and he’s simply one of the greatest Noise performers I’ve ever seen, energetic to the point where it almost feels threatening. Great sense of humour too! Now clearly the biggest name on the list is Mark Kozelek and I’ve been a big fan of his work for what now feels like ages.
In the “early years” of your work as a recording artist, you experimented with a lot of different sounds. Your music now sounds radically different than it did at the start. How would you describe your current sound, and do you feel that it is still in flux?
Describing one’s own sound is always a difficult task. People keep telling me that over time it got a lot more “cinematic” and that’s probably true. Personally I do feel it is still pretty much in flux, partly due to all the collaborative work I’ve been doing and also due to some recent changes in subject matter. In general, I love to experiment, although I try not to put too much of an emphasis on growth and development, as the notion of progress is something I’m not particularly interested in. I just try not to think about “moving forward”, if it happens it happens. There’s this classic Japanoise record by the Incapacitants called “No Progress” and I always thought that title was such a powerful slogan, it should be printed on t-shirts.
Imaginative art seems to be one of your primary non-musical inspirations. What painter has had the greatest effect on your work, and what else inspires you in your creative pursuits?
Good question and a difficult one as well, as I find it hard to focus on any particular painters. So let me answer this from a slightly different angle. For the most part I used to think of visual art as illustrations in order for me to be able to stress certain aspects of some of my earlier recordings. Finding these images was an intrinsic part of the overall creative process for me, to such an extent that sometimes I wouldn’t even release a new piece of music for a couple of months because I hadn’t found any such picture yet. I tend to take this kind of stuff quite seriously. Lately of course I changed things up a little in terms of illustrations and cover art but it’s still possible I’m going to revisit this older approach sometime in the future.
The “Lovers” single was incredible. What can we expect to hear from Phirnis later in 2014?
There’s a live album called “Red Light” coming out on Fwonk sometime in early May and it will be credited to myself and The Euphoric Hum. It was recorded in Frankfurt this March when we played a show for this fabulous concert series called Phonophon where we did an improvisational set that didn’t last much longer than 25 minutes I think, just very short and to-the-point. I’m marvellously happy with the way it turned out and I can’t wait to share!
Other than that I did a set of collaborative recordings with Polish jazz/improv musicians Piotr Łyszkiewicz (saxophone) and Piotr Zabrodzki (on electric bass and piano). In February we did a small show together at an art space here in Vienna and in addition we did some extensive studio work later on, just basically played our hearts out as far as I’m concerned. After that I felt completely burned out on making electronic music for a while to be honest and I mean that in an entirely positive way. There’s lots of fine material to choose from these sessions and I’m sure that some of it is going to see the light of day sometime later this year.
A Closer Listen thanks Kai for his time and this incredible mix!