About today's artists, they shared the same label 'Extreme', an experimental recording project of Australian musician Darrin Verhagen, that could be described as dark ambient or gothic industrial. They began in 1992 as a trio, consisting of Verhagen, Charles Tétaz and François Tétaz. Eventually, Verhagen became the mainstay. their first LP, Bloody Tourist, was released on the Extreme label. Subsequent LPs were released on Verhagen's own Dorobo label. Verhagen's side-project, Shinjuku Filth, released music in the industrial music genre ........N'Joy
xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
Shinjuku Thief was the alias of experimental electronic artist Darrin Verhagen, also the Melbourne, Australia-based founder of the Dorobo record label. Taking his name from the Nagisa Oshima film Shinjuku Dorobo Nikki ("Diary of a Shinjuku Thief"), Verhagen additionally incorporated cinematic influences into his music by conceiving his work as soundtracks to non-existent films; his debut, 1992's Bloody Tourist, drew equally on ambient and industrial traditions, although in the future his more industrial projects were recorded under the name Shinjuku Filth. (New Age-inspired works, accordingly, were attributed to Shinjuku Fluff.) The second Shinjuku Thief LP, 1992's The Scribbler, was a minimalist piece commisioned as a soundtrack for a stage performance based on Kafka's The Trial, while 1993's The Witch Hammer was the first in a series of darkly orchestral records inspired by the supernatural, complete with a nod to the German expressionist films of the 1920s. Branching out from the Shinjuku name, Verhagen adopted another alias, that of Professor Richmann, to record 1994's Succulent Blue Sway, a techno-inspired release composed for the Canberra-based Vis a Vis dance company. Junk, a Shinjuku Filth collaboration with Black Lung's David Thrussel, followed in 1996. Two years later, Verhagen followed with Raised by Wolves on Iridium.
Interview with Darrin Verhagen - conducted by e-mail - 1/98
Darrin: Generally, I use names ("Thief", "Filth", "Richmann", "Verhagen") as a means of giving the audience a reasonable indication of the style of a given album. Despite the genre shifts throughout the Shinjuku Thief back catalog, from psycho-tribal ambience, through minimalism and Gothic dark orchestral, all the CD's are united by a very cinematic approach to composition - the use of soundscape settings, spot effects, soundbites, theatrical music references, etc.
"Soft Ash" was the start of a shift away from that style of writing into a more subtle realm which references many of the more detached approaches of minimal Electro-Acoustic composition, rather than film. The concept behind the work is still pretty narrative in its approach, but essentially, it, as well as some of the more 'user friendly' musical techniques employed are there as an entry point into some of the pieces which could be classified as more Experimental than your average Shinjuku track.
The next Darrin Verhagen solo CD will probably be further along the path of subdued Electronica, and will shed even more of the 'romantic' aspects of "Soft Ash". Essentially, I guess, the albums released under my own name would be works I'd classify as 'more personal'.
Jester: Is the Professor Richmann project also a solo effort by you? Why did you choose the name Richmann?
Darrin: Yes - Professor Richmann is a 'solo' project as well, but owing a fair amount to trends in Industrial dance and Experimental Techno. The "Succulent Blue Sway" CD still has aspects of the cinematic Shinjuku feel, but much of this was dispensed with on the Black Lung remixes I did for David Thrussel, on "The More Confusion the More Profit". The name refers to a Swedish physicist from the 18th century who was killed while attempting to duplicate Franklin's experiments with lightening who lacked the necessary grounding precautions. 'Arc' from "Succulent Blue Sway" was written to accompany an illustrative woodcut constructed at the time
Jester: Where did the 'toxic air' concept behind "Soft Ash" originate?
Darrin: I remember reading about atmospheric inversions a couple of years back and was fascinated by the notion. On further research, particularly after reading about the Belgian and London 'killer fogs', the dramatic potential for a musical treatment seemed quite strong. Once hooking up with Dr. Kurt Patterson's lectures on the subject, highlighting the part atmospheric inversions played in other major environmental disasters such as Union Carbide, Chernobyl and the like, I was sold on the project of using these ideas as a starting point.
Jester: I hear a lot of Ryoji Ikeda style sounds on "Soft Ash". Would you consider Ryoji Ikeda to be a strong musical influence on you?
Darrin: While it's not necessarily a conscious thing at the compositional stage, I think the potential for creating awareness out of subtle shifts in perception, as offered by artists such as Ryoji, Bernhard Gunter, Thomas Koner and the like, is one which had a definite effect on my own approaches. A love of the minimal end of dark ambience, the Experimental end of Techno, together with a further exploration of Electro-Acoustic composers, certainly fired me up when writing "Soft Ash".
Jester: How did you first get involved with composing and performing music?
Darrin: Originally, my musical upbringing was pretty conservative and mainstream. It was only into high school that I discovered the German electronic movement, and branched out from there. At school I started writing works for piano, most of which were like some mutant, not to mention extremely worrying, cross between George Winston and Kitaro, moved into electronic music with my first synth, a Korg Monopoly, following the Jarre, Tangerine Dream path, and thereafter pursuing my fledgling interests in world music, Industrial, Musique Concrete, Techno and Post-Classical styles.
Jester: What were the events that lead to the creation of Dorobo Records as a vehicle to release your own music?
Darrin: Basically it was the lack of label interest in "The Scribbler". The Industrial labels we presented it to found it "too classical", while the more "New Music" labels found it "too Industrial". Initiall, I pressed 500 with the idea of it being a limited edition run, but was surprised at the response, and the label, somewhat foolishly, grew from there.
Jester: What is it like running both a record label as a business and trying to to release and promote your music as an artist?
Darrin: Awful. Absolutely hideous. Very quickly, the label side of things, such as screaming at overseas distributors for money, overtakes all the time as well as part of the joy associated with writing music. More recently, as I've started getting work in Australia as a paid composer, I've followed the possibilities offered by licensing Dorobo discs elsewhere, thereby handballing most of the headaches associated with manufacture and distribution. I think this is the only way of successfully running both in parallel.
Jester: What motivated the decision to create a sub-label called Iridium Records?
Darrin: When David Thrussel offered me Black Lung's "Depopulation Bomb", I was hesitant about releasing it on Dorobo. I felt the nasty Techno edge was a far way removed stylistically from the rest of the label, and realistically, in a different world altogether when it came to marketing and distribution. Iridium therefore was a way out, maintaining a degree of consistency with the Dorobo aesthetic, while still releasing dance material I enjoyed. Anything which is more firmly grounded in either Techno or Industrial usually gets passed on to the Iridium imprint.
Jester: Will all future Dorobo Records releases be distributed by Darkwave (Projekt Records) in the US?
Darrin: Darkwave will carry all our CD's as part of their mail order service. The rest of our distribution is being carried out by Dutch East India.
Jester: You mentioned to me once before about completing the Shinjuku Thief 'Witch' trilogy. When can we expect the final release?
Darrin: It has actually been 2/3rds finished for some time now, but I had to shelve its completion while working on the "Raised by Wolves" production last year, and an Electro-Acoustic composition for ABC National Radio this year. I hope to have it completed around April/May. Thus far I am really happy with the direction it has taken, more accomplished musically than its predecessors, but set into a much more disturbing soundscape
Jester: What about follow up albums to "The Scribbler" and "Bloody Tourist"?
Darrin: There were plans for a "Scribbler" follow up, using Kafka's "The Penal Colony" as a starting point. Realistically, I can't see finding the time to do any work on that in the foreseeable future, even though a temporary return to minimalism holds considerable appeal. That said, one of the tracks which was started, ended up getting overhauled and used as 'The Art' in "Raised by Wolves". "Another Bloody Tourist" was also started, a ten minute track "Simbi" completed and used in an Australian dance production a couple of years back, but once again I ran into time constraints. Generally speaking, while the initial structure of a piece can take form very quickly for me, the detailing usually takes five times longer. As a result, a Leeb/Fulber release rate is nigh well impossible.
Jester: Where did all the out-takes that eventually became the Shinjuku Filth "Junk" album come from?
Darrin: Many of those tracks were actually written during and after the original "Bloody Tourist" sessions - eventually released after pressure from a number of local radio DJ's.
Jester: Will there be anymore Shinjuku Filth releases?
Darrin: The most recent remix I did for the Snog single, 'Hooray', was a Shinjuku Filth work. The limited edition Industrial dance score "Raised by Wolves" was issued as a "Shinjuku Filth" release. 400 copies have been allocated for the States and should be available from DEI and Projekt while stocks last. It's about as far removed from the subtlety of "Soft Ash" as you could possibly imagine, but has outstripped the "Darrin Verhagen" sales in Australia by about 4:1. It's actually a CD of which I never tire of listening.
Jester: Who/what is the visual design firm I+T=R that develops all of your album covers as well as the Dorobo video compilation?
Darrin: That credit goes to Richard Grant, a local design wizard. He's single-handedly responsible for the entire aesthetic of the label. Rik's actually employed, full-time, doing corporate design work, but spends the rest of his life experimenting for underground Experimental, Techno, and Industrial artists.
xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
This disc works well as headphone ambient sound experiments. At least a couple of tracks are punctuated by loud bursts, but you'll survive. Composer Verhagen definitely sees each track as a standalone and even has volume level recommendations for each track. While this may provide the most accurate listening experience, it is not practical. In each piece the sky is falling. That is, each piece is inspired by a historical event of "lethal atmospheric inversion" where airborne pollutants are brought to ground level. The total effect is both eerie and impressive. The cuts are entirely different in conception, but not representation. Instrumentation varies from sampled sounds to percussion to strings to horns to environmental sounds. Recommended for listening to alone on dark, foggy nights.
Darrin Verhagen - Soft Ash (flac 174mb)
01 Soft Ash - Origins 5:56
02 The White Death; Part 1 (Meuse Valley, Belgium 1930) 5:12
03 MIC (Bhopal, India 1984) 7:05
04 The Plague Wind (London 1871) 8:04
05 Chernobyl (Former USSR April 26 1986) 4:54
06 The White Death; Part 2 (Meuse Valley, Belgium 1930) 6:23
07 Fragments (Monnongahela Rice Valley, USA October 25-31 1948) 10:51
xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
Orginally part of the soundtrack for a theatre piece of the same name, Raised by Wolves takes the chaos of the world's media monologue and binds it into a snapshot of the times. Walking a line between soundtrack and avante-garde, Darrin Verhagen recompiles the global village ethnicity of Shinjuku Thief's Bloody Tourist days with the conversant electronica of Shinjuku Filth's Junk.
Raised by Wolves builds its picture of dystopia by layering snatches of infommercials, tribal percussions, white noises and bleeps. The cutups thicken into a sound that layers up in this short release, as if Verhagen compresses the music into the release's short time frame. Each layer resolves into discreet components depending on where you choose to listen, but there is always a lot going on. More than a musical gimmick, Raised by Wolves seems to capture something of a hyper-real media experience.
Raised by Wolves does not rest, setting moods that are always on the move. The "Credit Sequence" is powered by an driven electro percussion, but "The Art" is more like Verhagen's orchestral Shinjuku Thief work under attack by ambient sounds. "The Birth" is noise built out of the ashes of a Regurgitator sample (who also featured in the original production) and chaotic white noise.These different methods are all coordinated with the Verhagen's trademark cinematic sense that does not categorize easily. It is not the pure electronica that some may have expected after Junk, but the diverse sound is enough to make this worth the exploration.
Shinjuku Filth - Raised By Wolves (flac 236mb)
01 The Cockroach Sex 4:23
02 The Credit Sequence 2:43
03 The Galaxy 3:04
04 The Birth 1:38
05 The Revision 2:57
06 The Art 5:00
07 The Sale 3:10
08 The Earnest Exchange Of Ideas 5:02
09 The Match 2:50
10 The Car 1:25
11 The... Erm, "Repository Of Consequence" (Ah, So To Speak) 3:20
12 The Pitch 0:19
Shinjuku Filth - Raised By Wolves (ogg 93mb)
xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
Two dance soundtracks from the schizophrenic mousepad of dorobo supremo. "Zero" skitters from seductive soundscapes spiked with violent techno eruptions, fractured and edgy drum and bass, through to super cool glitched funk. Stung's etymological approach to detail renders it a little more "lower-case" than its partner, with it's exoskeletal crunchiness softened by a more lyrical use of rhythm, texture and melody. An album bordered by the distant threat of "raised by wolves" and the considered subtlety of "p3", "zero/stung" ultimately rests as an album more unashamedly enjoyable than either. A limited edition pressing of 1000 only, reversible metallic cyan artwork to represent either album, and the drop-dead design sexiness you've come to expect..
Shinjuku Filth-Darrin Verhagen - Zero-Stung (flac 264mb)
01 Shinjuku Filth - Edge Effect 7:05
02 Shinjuku Filth - Loup Alloy 3:42
03 Shinjuku Filth - - 2:22
04 Shinjuku Filth - Trismus 4:09
05 Shinjuku Filth - E. B. 2:59
06 Shinjuku Filth - Parataxis 5:09
07 Shinjuku Filth - Zone Melting 2:25
08 Shinjuku Filth - Ground 5:05
09 Darrin Verhagen - . 6:02
10 Darrin Verhagen - .. 3:54
11 Darrin Verhagen - ... 2:06
12 Darrin Verhagen - .... 1:51
13 Darrin Verhagen - ..... 4:12
Shinjuku Filth-Darrin Verhagen - Zero-Stung (ogg 127mb)
xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
Shinjuku Thief's latest album is Verhagen's 4th soundtrack for the Australian Dance Theatre. A dynamic underscore, fusing Shinjuku Thief's requisitely epic cinematic flair with timbral edge and microstructural rupture, supports the interaction of 8 posessed dancers, 30 german robots and film. Taking musical influences from gothic, industrial, noise, electroacoustics, postrock, postclassical, doom, and electronica, Devolution confronts, thrills and seduces by turn. The work premiered at the Adelaide Festival this year and will tour the world in 2007. Limited to 500 copies.
Shinjuku Thief - Devolution (flac 220mb)
01 Mutation 6:43
02 Predation 4:32
03 Senescence 2:48
04 Herding 3:42
05 Mutualism 3:19
06 Territoriality 5:01
07 Ritual Aggression (After Black Ice) 5:30
08 Parasitism 6:34
09 Evolution 4:43
10 Carnality (After Medea) 10:49
11 Commensalism 2:11
Shinjuku Thief - Devolution (ogg 107mb)
xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx