Throughout Rising/Falling Daze Maxim (real name Marcus S. Manowski) manages to explore a broad range of intensity, asking questions of conventional song structure and drawing on influences from the jazz sphere as much as from the club world he occupies. Calling on instrumental collaborators as well as his conventional electronic set up it's a decidedly impressive work and you can't help but feel when listening to it that Maxim’s achieved a body of work that holds a certain poise, elevating him far beyond the four four realm he’s long been associated with. Ahead of his forthcoming set in Room One this Saturday night, we spoke to him calling on him to detail the inspirations and working processes of the release and his approach to realising the record live on stage.
It's been 15 years since your last album, why did you feel that it was a good time for you to work on another long player?
Daze Maxim: I've wanted to produce this album for some time already, but then I kept partitioning into single pieces again and again. Some of my EPs [during this time] originated from those fragments.
Also, creating an album is simply an ambition for musicians - the peak to be achieved by studio work. Since I have great respect for the album format, which is strongly bound to physical audio carriers and also high demands on myself and the label work, I intended to create a new oeuvre rather than to release an elaborate compilation. In regard to this, I am pretty patient and could wait for the right moment, for me.
It's touched on in the promotional material for the release, but just how much did the meditation you were beginning at the time of conception feed into the album making process?
Initially, and even throughout the entire development process of the Rising/Falling LP, I have not made a direct connection to mediation but I used it to reduce my stress level, to find the calm needed to ultimately focus on the project.
The clear connection was actually only made once I realised how hard it was for me to find a title for the album even though the track names and the artwork existed already. So at some point I asked myself what it was all about and where the connection between me and the music lies. It felt like the musical content of the album was embedded in my intention to do music, which is the ‘rising’ part, or the tension. The final realisation, when the music got materialised, is the ‘falling’ part, the release so to speak. This ‘release’ part became clear to me by practising meditation. The idea that nothing is constant but in flux rather, gave me the necessary kick to let it go and to stop thinking too much.
"I intended to create a new oeuvre rather than to release an elaborate compilation."
Rhythmically speaking, the album seems to draw from the unconventional world of jazz – is that fair to say that is a musical sphere that you engage with?
Let’s say, I've been flirting with it a bit. In my early days, I took part in a lot of sessions and went to the studio with jazz musicians and for the future I would like to steer further into this direction production wise. After putting down the saxophone, I just started to study piano with a jazz pianist in Berlin.
How did your state of mind making this album compare to when you conceived Same Place The Bot Got Smashed?
Well, my debut album I produced in 10 days. I was 22 at that time and still possessed this naiveté to simply take things on, without much ado. Naturally, this is not so easy anymore. Today one deals with one’s own experiences, expectations, also setbacks and with 'creative holes' most of all. Such things did not exist for me at the age of 22. But maybe that is also the reason why you grow musically, because you are willing to expose yourself to the fact that over time it becomes more difficult to keep a certain level of creativity.
There is a lot of live instrumentation used, can you tell us a bit about the musicians you worked with? Was this a new approach for you?
There are two jazz musicians, who participated on two tracks. One is bassist Yonatan Levi from New York and the other trumpeter Adam 'Sloth' Burrell from Sydney.
The third collaboration on the album is with Bruno Pronsato, who introduced Yonatan and me. In 2014, we performed an improvised session together on the occasion of the exhibition of my artworks and then decided to make a few studio recordings. Yonatan also plays the bass in Bruno's project Archangel (published on Foom music - other artists, Peter Gordon) for example.
Sloth is a trumpeter but essentially a multi-instrumentalist and producer with a great fondness for old synths as well. We planned to go to the studio together for some time, but it never worked out. On the day of his return to Sidney from Berlin, the LPs opener ‘Diachronic' was created. This form of collaboration is actually not new to me. I experimented a lot with jazz musicians in the studio previously.
What other production methods, gear and instrumentation were employed during the recording process?
For 'Diachronic' I wanted a completely improvised piece. We had no default, neither key nor time signature, and I was able to realise it together with Sloth. It consists of only two audio tracks. Adam played trumpet with an analog delay, while I played keys with this Rhodes-like sound. No post, no edits. Even the ‘cracking' that occurred during the recording I left in. This method to leave everything as it was recorded was a new approach, at least for me.
In 'Happy Collapse' a modular system is used, the same goes for recording 'Anomaly Of A Poetry’ with Yonatan. First, I built the harmonious backbone of the track, the signal from Yonatan's bass ran through the modular system and then we improvised. All other tracks were created more or less conventionally with computers and synths. I have, however, changed the set up for each track to give each piece its individual sound character. I felt the usually homogeneous flow of an album was boring and decided to rather achieve the greatest diversity possible without the album disintegrating into single pieces. This is the guiding principle of this album.
Let’s talk a bit about your live set as you’ll be performing here very soon – how are you preparing to reimagine the album as part of your live set?
I will remix the tracks from the album live and also perform with a modular system live for the first time. Since all tracks were created individually and in often very different ways, the live performance is a challenge for me. I don't want to complicate it on stage, something that can happen very easily if you try to perform tracks that are so different in a way that stays most close to the original. So instead I came up with the remix idea, which means I can apply one method to all tracks of the live set. It also makes more sense to work this way with the instrumental parts of the album, like the trumpet, the double bass, or the piano.
On stage you can expect to see a modular system, drum machines, synths, mixers and a computer.
What do you think the album says about where you are at as an artist now? Do you feel it marks a phase where you are looking more away from the dancefloor for example? Or does the club space still holds a big importance to you?
If you are asking, what it tells me about where I stand at the moment, I would say that the album is not driving me away from anything but rather expands me in everything, and that I feel things will happen from here more than ever. I have found it difficult to lump electronic club music/dance music together with pieces with a more conceptual or compositional approach before. As I have succeeded in combining both with Rising/Falling, naturally, I want to go further and elaborate on it even more.