Clew of Theseus
* Hello. Please introduce yourself and the moment you are answering these (this question) as it seems suitable to you. age/sex/name/occupation/etc. however you want.
My name is Ben Brucato. I'm 31 and currently live in Phoenix, Arizona, where I've been for the past 9 years. I grew up in Ohio, so I'm a midwesterner, at heart. I'm currently unemployed and attending graduate school.
* First of all about Clew of Theseus. When, how and why did you start this project?
Back in 1997, I started creating my first experimental music and shortly started using the name Clew Of Theseus.
* The first album was released in 1998 I guess? What was the influences and what was the intentions of the project. To show, to tell something to someone or to yourself?
I didn't really know if it would ever turn into something serious. It wasn't until I released my first 7" in 1998 that I realized there were so many artists doing similar things, and a whole network of labels, distros, tape-traders and so on. So I guess my original intention was purely to experiment with sound. Once I realized there was a broader audience with whom I could communicate with through my work, it took on a different meaning and purpose, and I started taking what I was doing much more seriously.
* How long have you been into noise/industrial scene when started doing your own stuff?
I grew up a big fan of early industrial music, like Einstürzende Neubauten and experimental sides of rock music, anything from Sonic Youth to Man Is The Bastard. But the concept of a noise scene was very foreign to me. I actually thought I was doing something really unique at first!
* What about the name "Clew of Theseus"? Ancient greek mythology and noise. The ship of his and the clew of his ship. Why have you chosen such a name and what does it symbolize to you / in connection with your music?
Actually, a "clew" is a ball of string. Theseus, king of Athens, entered the Labyrinth, to slay the Minotaur, to whom the Athenians had to sacrifice their young. It's a symbol that I thought was interested and loaded with possible metaphorical value. The idea that brute strength alone could not save Athens, that he had to make his way back out of the Labyrinth and return with the children.
* While stumbling through your releases. The first one - Memorial: 006306 seem to have political connections (The Secret Destiny Of Amerikkka let's say etc.), later on you have started to explore more abstract and inner happenings and went through the whole spectrum of various themes. Sex, misanthropy, violence etc. Why are those themes important to you and personally or you are just "curious" about them?
That first 7" is riddled with really terrible, misguided politics, taking everything from William Cooper's "Behold A Pale Horse" to anarchist politics. I guess I could easily chock it up to immature naivete! As I matured personally and artistically, I obviously started to focus my efforts better, but some of my earlier output lacks the kind of focus I demand out of artists. I've only recently put as much effort into the ideas and themes of the sounds as much as the sounds themselves.
* In your last album "Meridian" you seem to get even further from the "typical harsh noise sound" to create dark, haunting and somewhat mystic, yet noisy atmosphere. What can you say about this last album? Your inspirations for this album?
I think this is my first truly focused release. A lot of it has to do with making personal decisions in my life to unshackle myself, psychically from corporate jobs, shitty relationships, materialism, and to explore - for lack of better terms - my spiritual self and my psychic powers. This album is the most true expression I had created, to date. "Meridian" is inspired by the idea that we often feel that we're left with a dichotomous choice between "caring for lepers" or marching people into the gas chambers, of altruists or ubermensch. But there's something else we can become - we can instead psychically rebel against this dying world, this world degraded by
weakness and exploited by nihilists. It's hard to respect either choice, so hopefully we can find another path.
* What is the best place to listen to your newest recording. Place, time of day, time of year, mood...
It's funny you should ask that, because I have suggested to many people to save the first listen of "Meridian" for a night when it's violently storming. It was recorded during one of the most violent monsoon seasons on record in Phoenix. The storms destroyed several parts of town, caused massive flooding both at my shop, Cabal, and at my home. Buildings all over downtown had windows blown out, trees blown out of the ground and scattered in the streets, trees falling through houses, streets flooding, powerlines down. It was like a hurricane, but in the desert!
* For me your new album is the most oppressive work of all that I've listened to. What reactions were you hoping from the listener? What was your intentions? Or there was none and it is simply the reflection of your thoughts/feelings and that's it?
Well, I wouldn't release material if I didn't expect to have a reaction from the listener. People often speak such bullshit about how they are only doing it for themselves. If that were the case, they would never release any of their works. In the case of this album, I wanted to present the bleakness, and oppressiveness of the world around me, of the misery I see everywhere I look, but also of the power that can be harnessed - the elemental and psychic power to destroy and create worlds.
* What about live performances of Clew of Theseus? To what kind of fests are you invited most often, with whom you would like to play and with whom you would not play, and the best gig that CoT has taken part in?
I've played a few different fests and with some great artists, like Sickness, Bastard Noise, Emil Beaulieau, and many of my favorites. I've had some really great shows, where everything came together really nicely, good crowd, good lineup, no gear malfunctions, and all that. I really don't enjoy playing live, though. Especially now that I am interested in the more magickal elements of sound, I feel like a lot of what I'm aiming to do is lost on people. It's really important to be playing with the right artists and in front of the right people, or it's not worth the time and effort. I don't mean to discredit other peoples' focus in what they're doing, or to inflate the importance of what I'm doing. It's just that what I'm trying to communicate is very focused and specific, and the setting and staging of the message is crucial for it to work right. I've faced that challenge in trying to book my first tour, and ended up giving up on the idea altogether, because it just didn't seem like it was able to come together right in that respect.
* Tell me about "Obelisk". Was it one-time collaboration between you and Greh, split or there are any future plans also? Why did "Obelisk" happen overall and are you happy of what it produced?
Greh and I used to talk all the time. We would bounce ideas and recordings off each other, and it seemed natural for us to work on a collaboration. I hardly get the chance to talk to him anymore, so it's likely that it won't be repeated, though it would be fun to work on it again. I recently saw Hive Mind live in LA, and honestly it was one of my favorite things I've heard him do.
* What are your main influences taking separately (or not) every release you have made. How is the creative process of yours going? Intoxication, jams, planning, plug-in-and-go while find what you want or how?
Every release is its own entity. It seems a lot of artists have this very distinct vision for their project, and keep doing the same album over and over, and something as subtle and minor as EQ'ing an album differently makes them feel the need to come up with a new side project. For Clew Of Theseus, the album is its own concept, and each one can be approached very differently. "The Playground of the Damned" was intensely edited and manipulated, and was really focused on degeneration and degradation tied to the sex industry, pornography, prostitution, and, most importantly of consuming its products and energies. "Meridian" is very different, in that
it's much more organic, both in how it's recorded, and the esoteric nature of the communication. I'm moving even more in that direction, which you'll really see in my new 2xC-50, "Oran." I'm much more focused on the live, performative mode of recording now. Most of the tracks are thought out in advance, and sometimes even sketched out, then usually completed from beginning to end in one recording session that could take an hour or all day. I have lately had the tendency to completely scrap a recording if it wasn't done completely from beginning to end in a day or two.
* Introduce your label Cathartic Process and your distribution CABAL, please. Why Cathartic Process was created and what are the plans for the future? What are you most proud of of what you've released already?
Recently, I've put a lot more focus on the label and really dialing in the finer details. I can thank all the shitty labels for giving me the inspiration to raise the bar - I have to practice what I preach now, when I bitch about all the half-assed bullshit that people are peddling. I'm really happy with everything I've released in the past 6 months, and what I have slated for this next year. I'm really happy to have worked with Bastard Noise on the 5xCD, and to have the opportunity to work with Eric
Lunde to reissue his entire catalog. As far as Cabal goes, it used to be a retail store. We operated for the better part of a year, but when I got laid off from my day job, I had to close the shop and just do mailorder.
* What do you think about this economic depression? Will it somehow have/already has influence on labels and on the whole underground/noise industry or maybe that depression does not even exist? What is your opinion? And what about the sellings? Have they decreased or no?
I think we're seeing some really serious changes going on. It seems to me that the global capitalist class has indicated that they no longer need the working class to build the physical infrastructure, and the middle class to manage labor and build the technological infrastructure, so they are de-investing in the privileges they used to hand to Westerners. This has nothing to do with scarcity or any of the typical crude economists' terminology. The US and Europe has enjoyed a lot of privilege to sedate us, and now the ruling elites could care less if we rebel. In fact, I think they want us to riot, destroy and kill each other. It's less work for them. They don't need us anymore. So what better than for them to manipulate an unnatural state of economic depression. I'm sure it's having an impact on the noise scene. Like I said, I lost my day job which helped support getting my shop going. I can only hope that the first effect it will have is that people will apply better quality control on their releases and what they buy. At least in that case, we can see an artistic benefit from this mess. For me, though, I'm happy with the amount of business I get with the
label. I've had a lot of support for the releases I'm putting out, and I'm really happy with the response, even in these tough times.
* Is it hard to manage a label? Is there any kind of "competition" between noise/industrial underground labels? Let's say because of artists/releases/etc?
The thing that I have the hardest time with is the tendency of some bigger distributors to not pay up front for wholesale (like Revolver). I was really irritated by this after having started a record store where I paid for everything in cash, up front, and these same distributors wouldn't extend the same relationship to me with my label.
* What format is the best for industrial/noise releases? Why? Your opinion.
I think it really depends on the material. The really clean, highly composed material of someone like Daniel Menche should be on CD. It's important to capture the finer details. For the most part, I really enjoy cassettes. You can tailor the lengths to fit the needs of the release. You can strategically use the side splits of the cassette to isolate tracks and create a break in the listening experience. You can get some really nice effects of mastering on cassette and allowing for tape saturation. Vinyl is nice, but very limited. You have to be really careful with levels, especially on the low end. Cassettes are just more versatile, sonically. Unfortunately, some labels don't know how to master or duplicate their cassettes in a way that maximizes the potential for the medium.
* Harsh noise with nowadays tendencies. It seems for everyone that it is very easy to do some "jams" and random crashings of random objects and then to release the stuff and voila. You've been in noise scene for over a decade already, but you don't release that much stuff. How much does it take for you to "craft" your creation and what are your opinion towards those artists, releasing 3 new cdrs a week. Maybe it is the future of the scene? And maybe some valuable releases are missed somewhere there in the pile of random and thoughtless giggling releases?
I think the quality control in the scene is terrible, and it's flooded with very poorly composed and recorded releases. When I put out my first 7" in '98, I wasn't known to anyone. No one knew who I was, I didn't network at all - there wasn't much of a network really. And Self Abuse paid up front for 15 copies of that release as soon as it came out. Now I'd be happy for any distro to pick up half that many copies of a release I put out from a very well-established artist. There's just so many releases to compete with these days. And with the lack of a critical voice, there are very few sources for well-written critiques or praises of releases. So artists can
shit out a turd every month and really water down "the market." I think it's really harmful for the artists, the labels, the distros, and the listeners. I have been trying to encourage more people to develop their knowledge of the history of industrial music and for them to publish critical appraisals of what they hear. That's the only way to correct this problem. If people can eloquently express criticism of release, backed with a knowledge of the historic and artistic context of the composition, and not be afraid to vilify a "hero" or praise an unknown, then we will see a reduction of the proliferation of poor quality noise, and those who really put elbow-grease and a lot of thought into what they do will be encouraged to do what they do best. I'm guilty too, in some respects. There are a few releases I've done that haven't 10% of the effort and focus that my better ones have. But that won't happen again!
* Cathartic process. Catharsis. What are your own, personal cathartic processes that you don't mind to share? Why is the purification needed for a man? Your thoughts?
That's all real art is. The purging of the psyche. The expression of the most personal of ideas and feelings. I think noise is one of the best mediums for this, because it can be truly boundless to expression. It's almost like being able to communicate in every language spoken on the earth. It can transcend culture, language and all assumptions that come along with them.
* Will there be a point in your life when you will not need/want to create anymore. Do you imagine such a moment and why could that happen?
Honestly, I don't know how anyone can live in such a state. If we don't live to create our most honest and real form of communication, why bother?
* What about the future plans of Clew of Theseus? Any live performances, releases, other activities?
I have a lot of ideas for releases that I hope to record soon. I don't want to overdo it, but as long as I have very concrete ideas I want to transform into sound, I won't hold it back, either.
* What book, record, person and random thing would You take while going to the unknown island for a period of time?
For music, it would be the works of Daniel Menche, Matthew Bower and David Jackman. For books, the works of Albert Camus. As for people, I'm fortunate enough to have found a woman that I don't want to stab in the face after spending a good deal of time with, and instead really enjoy her company! Shocking! So I'd like to make sure she was there, too!
* Anything you want else to say, your wishes, greetings etc.
Thanks for the interview!