Exactly one year ago we were joined by NYC based clarinetist, composer, and electronic musician Gleb Kanasevich, who blew our minds with his experimental approach and ear-wrenching noise that echoed in our minds for days. His new album “If you want to be reborn, let yourself die” comes as a slow and crushing tour-de-force for the bass clarinet with help of guitar amps and lots of feedback work. With this disturbing offering, Gleb shows up for a heavy, lengthy noise exhibition with eerie textures, and sees this underground genius really cut loose.
“On “Grace” I’m just running through three guitar half stacks, “Mercy” and “Wealth” are more transparent, mostly filtering and stretching air noises.” – comments Gleb
The album will be released in two versions, a 46-minute cassette tape version, and a 58-minute download version, with a bonus track that’s in a bit of a different vein, but still related in that it’s one big single slab of noise. With “If you want to be reborn, let yourself die”, Gleb re-discovers an instrument that has been pioneered by different virtuosos before, and still present it as something entirely new. Today, we caught up with him to give you the full exclusive listen of the record, along with a track by track rundown, which opens a whole new perspective on these seemingly unbearable sounds.
Gleb Kanasevich is a clarinetist, composer, and experimental/electronic musician, based in the Bronx, NY. He works primarily with feedback, noise, modified instruments, and live digital electronics. He took his immersive ambient work Subtraction for clarinet and electronics to a number of contemporary music series and festivals during the 2017/18 touring circuit. Subtraction was released in January 14, 2019 via Flag Day Recordings https://flagdayrecordings.bandcamp.com/ The blackened noise album Asleep came out on January 15, 2019 through Unknown Tapes https://unknwn3.bandcamp.com/album/asleep While Gleb has created a media storm with his clarinet death metal covers in 2013/14, Heavy Blog is Heavy hailed him as an “incredible musician” with a “criminally overlooked” original output. Asleep has been hailed as “amazing,” “brutal,” “not for the faint of heart,” “cicada scream of textural horror,” and many more creative descriptors. In January and February, 2019 he toured “Asleep” with Guillermo Pizarro and Victoria Cheah on the East Coast of the United States, and also appeared solo in Lisbon and Castelo Branco, Portugal in March, 2019.
Credits: Gleb Kanasevich – bass clarinet, electric guitars, amps, feedback manipulations. The bass clarinet is played through Crate and Behringer solid state amplifiers for maximum density and consistent feedback phenomena when using instrument condenser mics. Artwork: photograph of stripped paint textures by Gleb Kanasevich. Recording: recorded and mastered in an undisclosed attic in the Bronx, New York by Gleb Kanasevich. The recordings were single take live improvisation sessions, later mixed with minimal structural edits. Cassette tape pressing: Cryptic Carousel
I wanted this album to make a huge and almost impenetrable opening statement. The recording process, although also largely improvisational, was much more visceral: I surrounded myself in a huge concrete basement with a variety of out-of-fashion lower tier solid state guitar half stacks and slowly made my way around the space, seeing how the amps with react, how the feedback will evolve, and what combination tones I will be able to extract from this oversaturated environment. I found so many interesting harmonic phenomena, which helped me learn more not just about distortion, natural reverberation, and guitar amps, but also just about the bass clarinet. I was puffing my cheeks in strange ways to increase the size of my mouth cavity, almost gagging on my tongue (for the same reason), just to make the vibrations of the reed resonate more inside my mouth and extract crazy overtone collections. As a result, the extreme flattening by the solid state distortion actually brought out some colors and pitches that I wouldn’t even imagine really clearly hearing inside my own sound. Some really interesting, almost bluesy, harmonica-like sonorities started emerging, and I think that made me shape the track in a very melancholy direction, despite the overall sound’s volume and density.
My head also went through a series of strange physical states that just made me really feel like I was putting myself through some inexplicable, fanatic, religious ritual, while bopping my head violently, swinging my body around, playing my guts out at the walls and the floor. Somewhere around the 17:30 mark I’m almost certain I was somewhere close to vomiting, passing out, or possibly both. This track was cathartic in a way that reflected the almost apocalyptic recording setting: I’m alone in a concrete room with an archaic instrument and powerful, almost hostile electronic devices. It’s almost a yelling battle with machines, except my emotions are not being engaged with and it really drives me to the brink. This track is absolutely about being alone, unnoticed, unheard, and just trying to make it through the day.
Somewhat of an odd track. I had a decision to make: either I dive straight into Wealth and just make a contrasting binary with a lush but stark canvas of ambience, or I create a little bump along the way. I didn’t just want to do two monolithic sides, so Mercy was a brief and a bit of an unfocused debrief moment after the total bodily experience that was Grace. I actually pick up a thin stick and slowly alternate between briefly bowing the lowest and the highest strings of a seven-string guitar that is going through a neat little spectral filter/delay tool by Michael Norris called Dronemaker. Basically, I’m continuing with a similarly blind, repetitive behavior of Grace, just more withdrawn and fatigued. It’s a moment of apathy before the next step reveals itself.
It’s a reward. Whether we’ve reached the material or physical reacher, or this is simply the afterlife, everything finally settles. The first 12 minutes of this track or so are total stillness. I’m just gently breathing into the bass clarinet while the electric guitar is steadily droning, totally untouched. This track is what it is. I just think this was a real moment of beauty I accidentally discovered during an improv session, and I decided to make it last unadulterated for quite some time (to be honest, I could probably just listen to this for 40 minutes or so, but I just wanted to say something else with this record, haha). It’s like the unknown contents of Jules’ suitcase in Pulp Fiction. It’s just deep and fucking beautiful.
4) Happiness for Sale (bonus track)
I added this single as a bonus because it was a cool little live document I had from a garage show I played in Pittsburgh in the autumn of 2019. I was fighting a sound system that night, trying to perform Grace, and the right feedback just was not happening, so in total fury I just played the opening couple measures of “#5” by Arab on Radar from Soak the Saddle album, looped only the right channel (it mostly just has the drums in it and a little bit of low guitar droning), and made this “gross slab of rhythmic noise”, as one of my friends called it. Arab on Radar was a hugely important noise rock band for me back in my teens, and StS definitely changed the way I heard music. After seeing them on one of their wild tours in the early 2000s, they were pretty much synonymous with “cocaine” for me from their being and simply because… well… they were mostly high and seemed totally out of their minds, haha. Hence, “Happiness for Sale”. This is a bonus track and not really a part of the album, because there really isn’t much of a concept or philosophy behind making it — it was a real instinctive aggro moment, and I just wanted to turn into a hurricane and destroy my immediate surroundings. I don’t think I destroyed anything, but just ended up lying on and sniffing the garage floor in exhaustion…
Supporting tour dates:
January 15, 2019 – Greenpoint Recording Collective
61 Greenpoint Ave #112, Brooklyn, NY 11222
with Victoria Cheah https://soundcloud.com/cheahv
February 11, 2019 – University of New Mexico
February 13, 2019 – Oakland, CA venue TBA
with Hallie Smith, Dan Meye O’Keeffe, and Michelle Lou
February 14, 2019 – Radius Gallery
1050 River St #127, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
with Dan Meyer O’Keeffe and Michelle Lou
February 15, 2019 – Los Angeles, CA venue TBA
with Dan Meye O’Keeffe and more TBA
March 2, 2019 – Midway Cafe (Boston)
3496 Washington St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
with Niffin https://niffin.bandcamp.com/ and more TBA