Author: Ben Shepherd
Sunday, 1 January 1995
Pieter Bourke is one of those artists who is extremely prominent in an extremely elusive manner. He an artist often identified with a brand of electronic music that has 'leftward leanings' to say the least! Communicating a subversive/dark/socio-political ambience throughout much of his work, particularly when working alongside Soma partner David Thrussle, Pieter Bourke is nothing short of an urban terrorist! Suffice to say, when it comes down to the predictable record company questions, Pieter curtails himself somewhat, I mean there are Soma tracks about the situation "There are a whole lot of record company views on selling music that I don't agree with, the idea of backing up albums with huge tours for the soul purpose of making money. Sometimes it does work, often it doesn't make a huge difference. Radio play is what matters, your going to sell a lot more through radio than through touring you know....if you want to think of it like that.......The whole idea of mass producing stuff like this is that CD chops up the spectrum, Vinyl is cleaner, but now, with CD burners available for anyone with a PC, then it seems that this is the best thing for people with small bedroom studios to release music of their own backs, without having to deal with production studios. I guy I know is setting up an order form for distributing home pressed CD's over the net, all you have to do is do your artwork, burn the CD and they take care of it from there, you get all the money.....soon we'll just be sending them the data over the net, trying to cut out record company distribution and find alternative avenues to reach people so that you can make an income....10% on a CD is the industry average. This amounts to $3 for the artist through the record company channels. Through the alternative channels, $16 can be made per CD." This makes a lot of sense for record companies, and goes 100% of the way to explain the ego-propping of major labels as opposed to the DIY of the emerging channels. In underground/abstract electronic music, the artist does not care about whether their are nationally identifiable figures, the same surely cannot be said about the precious egos rock in the world of supermarket rock and pop. It all comes down to the almighty $$$.
The bridge between the worlds of electronic and 'organic' music is always reached by those with enough sense to realise the equality of both forms of music. If one thing Pieter is eclectic, he has just completed a recording with Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance, which is interesting to say the least, and in no means electronic. Yet, it is, Bourke played me a track he'd composed in his studio that sounded like a 30 piece orchestra, yet he is also capable of delivering biting techno with his work in Soma. Pieter agrees that squarepushing or sampling other drums is often no substitute for getting a drum kit and really bashing something out yourself. For instance, DJ Shadow samples live drums, not his own, because drum machines often cannot provide the same punch and bite of a real kit "This is something I like to point out in interviews though, electronic instruments are no different to a drum or a guitar.. you get on a drum kit for the first time and you'll be pretty crap...you gotta learn how to play...you don't want any delay between the time you get the idea and when you lay it down, the quicker it is, the better you get across your idea."
The great thing about electronic music is that 21 year olds can release absolutely brilliant music that can only get better and better as they get more familiar with writing music with instruments rather than a guitar or drums. While your Hansons pop up here and there making disgusting throwaway cheese, artists like Squarepusher and Aphex Twin were releasing abstract, mature and technically brilliant music by the time they were 18, and no novelty value was attached to the age factor. They were taken seriously on the basis of their music, nothing else