INTERVIEW: Stars Of The Lid | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Despite forming nearly a quarter of a century ago, Stars Of The Lid’s working practices are as unhurried as their music, with the duo – who’ve somehow become figureheads of the minimalist/drone scene that followed in their wake – taking their own sweet time about things. Indeed, there’s been no new SOTL music for nearly a decade. But a re-energised SOTL are touring this autumn – bringing their show to Sage Gateshead on Friday 7th October – in what promises to be a powerful incarnation, as Adam Wiltzie explained.

“This is a bit of a collection of people from my artistic life, past and present. Paul Smith formerly from Blast First/Mute Records getting a hold of these historic, antique Moogs and finding people that wanted to take them out on tour to experiment with them was the catalyst that started the dominos falling. That also brings me to Bobby Donne from Labradford, who is playing on stage with me, as Paul used to put out their records when I toured Europe with them back in the mid 90’s. Then we have Francesco Donadello, who is trying to keep this Moog 55 system from exploding on stage. He is also the gentleman who introduced me and Dustin O’Halloran way back when, and helps with all the A Winged Victory For The Sullen recordings. Then for our string section it’s the Echo Collective from Brussels, also the same string section as AWVFTS. And please don’t forget Brian McBride, of course on drones across from me. And I have not even gotten to mention the light show that is gonna take place. We have MFO with us for the first time, who works with Ben Frost and Tim Hecker.”

I suppose there is a charm in the caveman way those early releases were captured on those little cassette recorders we used to use

Whilst evasive on the issue on any new material (“only the shadow knows” is Wiltzie’s cryptic response), he’s more talkative on coming to terms with the continuing appeal of SOTL and their veteran status. “A wise man once said ‘never underestimate the powerful force of mass delusion’. Have I felt quite incredulous looking back in reverence about this body of work? I suppose there is a charm in the caveman way those early releases were captured on those little cassette recorders we used to use. It was a dark time in my life…wait, who am I kidding? The life of an ambient composer is always dark. I apologise, these kind of questions are so painful, and require too much self-contemplation. One thing I struggle with is reflecting about music I have created.”

Wiltzie has been the most noticeably creative of the duo outside SOTL, working with Christina Vantzou and Dustin O’Halloran in The Dead Texan and A Winged Victory For The Sullen respectively, but doesn’t place undue emphasis on the influence those projects might have had on the SOTL sound, AWVFTS’s increased use of strings in particular. “For me, essentially there is not much difference, they are all these time capsules of little children you give birth to in a sense. My whole life, everything that happens, fuels the work. Even a good taco can be inspiring sometimes.”

Stars Of The Lid play Sage Gateshead on Friday 7th October.

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