Although Waskerley Way has been a familiar name in the region for some time, the last couple of years have seen a remarkable surge of new releases and live performances from this experimental auteur. With his latest tape Cast Prominence receiving its debut at Cluny 2 on Friday 3rd February, we caught up with the man behind the Wask, Michael Bridgewater, to talk about cosmic inspiration and self-imposed limitations.
Asked about the thematic concept behind Cast Prominence, Bridgewater explains: “The sun can be understood as an agent for order in how it governs orbits and marks time for us, and an agent for chaos in how it will eventually destroy the earth, assuming we don’t manage it first. It’s something that I think has a parallel in all music composition – establishing a balance between gratifying yourself by exercising your agency and just setting something away by itself to see what will happen. Also, with the sun thing, some of the most striking music of the last century has been put together by people fascinated by celestial bodies – Sun Ra being a fairly obvious one – so I thought I’d have a go!”
Following hot on the heels of Junk Playground and Nexialism, the seven tracks that make up Cast Prominence tape was written “between summer and autumn last year, when it often seemed like the Western world was turning sour in terms of mainstream politics and current events”, with Bridgewater using the circumstances of its birth as a possible explanation for this release’s “more acerbic prevailing sound”.
It’s something like ‘banging tunes, without the tunes’, but that probably just makes things even more confusing…
Alongside ventures into Blake-ian verse and ultra-distorted vocal processing, Cast Prominence still displays Bridgewater’s talent for synthesising dream pop melody to hip-hop rhythms via the unlikely medium of old-school technology. Discussing his love for early video game music, Bridgewater notes: “A lot of jobbing video game music composers of the eighties and nineties who used sound chips didn’t really get the credit they deserved, so part of my use of these sounds is like a little ongoing salute to that generation of musicians. In terms of the practice itself, it’s just another way of intentionally limiting myself to a certain set of affordances in order to foster a sort of resourcefulness. There are plenty of games console and home computer sounds on this new tape, stuff from systems like the Commodore 64 and Sega Mega Drive. I love it!”
Bridgewater remains keen to balance out the intellectual with the visceral in his work however. Asked on how he would explain his work to a newcomer, he dryly comments, “Hopefully it can inspire some dancing too, but I’m not all that big on writing hooks and melodies these days. It’s something like ‘banging tunes, without the tunes’, but that probably just makes things even more confusing…”
Asked about future plans for Waskerley Way, Bridgewater simply states that: “I’ll probably get to work on another batch of tracks at some point. As long as I feel like I’m making some kind of contribution to the music that’s coming out of Newcastle, which I feel is getting bolder and more exciting all the time, the machine will trundle on.” Let’s hope that Waskerley Way’s beautiful chaos remains part of the machine for a long time to come.