From our Bay to Norway - Page 3

A trip beyond space disco through the super sounds of Oslo and San Francisco
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Arp's Alexis Georgopoulos
Photo by Alexander Warnow

The summer sun happens to be setting outside the upper Guerrero living room window of Arp's Alexis Georgopoulos as he talks about this image (partly inspired by the melancholic found-film cosmograms of visual artist Tacita Dean) and how it relates to the music on the album, which will be released by the Oslo label Smalltown Supersound next month.

"An overwhelming number of people still tend to think of electronic music as being cold," Georgopoulos says while sitar notes from an LP quietly resonate through his and roommate Kathryn Anne Davis's blue-walled apartment, where a large chunk of coral rests on a clear Plexiglas coffee table. "I wanted to make something that was warm, that had human qualities, that was a little worn, and that — along with the imagery of the record — dealt with memory, the degradation of memory, and revisionist memory. I also wanted to make something that referenced landscape and light and natural things in a way that wasn't new age." I point to a fat tome about the proto–new age label ECM on a nearby bookcase, which Georgopoulos built. "Proto–new age music, if you select carefully, can be amazing," he responds. "Even the kernels of early sequencing in Ash Ra Tempel sound really radiant."

If a new age of electronic music spanning from San Francisco to Oslo is dawning (or setting), then Georgopoulos — a chief member of Tussle until just after the group recorded last year's Telescope Mind (Smalltown Supersound) — has taken it to the bridge and maybe even been the bridge. In 2002, after writing about the graphic design of Smalltown Supersound's Kim Hiorthøy for Tokion, Georgopoulos — who edits the music section of SOMA magazine and sometimes contributes to the Guardian — offered to put together a Bay Area showcase at Club Six for the label. "I don't think he had done anything like that before; he just wanted to have us over, which was very generous," label owner Joakim Hoaglund recalls via e-mail before turning to a discussion of his and Georgopoulos's latest collaboration. With Arp, "it's a relief [for me] to do a small personal project. Maybe it's just me, but I feel [In Light] has this great and unique mix of US West Coast art and culture with European avant-gardism and kraut rock. It's a very special album."

Clutter and clusters are on Georgopoulos's mind as we discuss music and its surroundings. "I was a huge stacker [of books and records]," he says when I mention his well-ordered home studio. "But I take after my mother — she's very neat and feels like she can't do the work she needs to do unless things are organized." The first-generation American child of parents from France and Greece, Georgopoulos has chosen the dreamy, maternal lull of a track titled "St. Tropez" to open In Light before "Potentialities" surges out of speakers (or from headphones) with a subtly rising force that's ultimately awesome to behold. Most of In Light's seven meditative tracks were first showcased in a 2006 group exhibition at New Langton Arts, where up to two listeners could climb into a feather bed enclosed in a small podlike space. "It wasn't cerebral. It wasn't about dissecting a suspended space," Georgopoulos says. "Though with a lot of [Arp]'s music, suspension is one of the effects I'm trying to create."

For Georgopoulos, Arp's state of suspension runs counter to different kinds of tension.

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