For the experimental music world, Brooklyn label RVNG Intl's FRKWYS series is a real treat. That's because the label pairs up a contemporary artist with one of their musical forebears, and the collaborator choices are always really interesting. The latest in the series is We Know Each Other Somehow, due out April 14th, which brings together contemporary modular synth musician and vocal improviser Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe with French-born musician Ariel Kalma. A former studio staff member at musique concréte studio Groupe de Researches Musicales, Kalma has worked with music and meditation institute Arica and released an array of fiercely sought-after solo works. Luckily for us, their collaboration also yielded a full-length documentary entitled Sunshine Soup, directed by Australian artists Misha Hollenbach and Johann Rashid, which will provides welcome insight into the album's creation. Check out an exclusive bonus clip from the film above, in which the duo jams live, and read an interview with Lowe and Kalma below.
Based off the titles of your album and accompanying documentary—We Know Each Other Somehow and Sunshine Soup, respectively—it seems like you two got along really well together. What made your collaboration work so well? ARIEL: Robert and I both work with subtle variations in music so careful listening is important to us. Naturally, when we work together we then have a propensity to listen to each other! ROBERT: Ariel and I work in differing ways to achieve similar goals. I think ultimately what makes the collaboration work is the willingness on both of our behalves to jump into this void and trust that intuition can be a guide. We could take a step back and let things reveal themselves for a time and then we could take the reins. The end result is a responsiveness to each other.
There seems to be a strong element of spirituality in your work together. Can you talk a little about that? ARIEL: There are worldly matters and matters of spirit. When I play a certain type music I feel elevated in a realm of intangible bliss. And in French, "inspiration" comes from "breath" and "spirit." So I am inspired when I create an atmosphere of peace. ROBERT: Trance is probably the most apparent tie. Subtlety of repetition can lead to the richest of tapestries once you begin to peel back the layers. Being aware of the unconscious, an abstraction that would eventually lead to the concrete, you tend to live within the spirit.
You recorded the album in Mullumbimby in Australia. What was special about that? ARIEL: Quiet nature. ROBERT: The moment of being there is what makes it special. Stretching your legs in a foreign space is a wonderful feeling for me. Determining a context for uncharted territory.
What is it about improvised music that appeals to both of you? ARIEL: A constant boundless renewal where I have the freedom to imagine and create what I feel inside at that moment. ROBERT: Improvisation can lead to discovery, which has the potential for sheer magic. Improvisation is not necessarily problem solving, it is not making a racket for the sake of making a racket. Listening is the key to improvisation. We both have the tendency to listen. For me, I want to be able to trust in others. I think that because the want is there it is simply so.