Rlung: In Focus
The second episode in our In Focus series invites an exciting new musician, Rlung, to come and perform at the Noise Kitchen space and synth shop in Vršovice, Prague.
Hailing from the Ural region, Rlung entered our circle of awareness thanks to her self-released 'Usti' EP, brought to our attention by the good people at Synth Library Prague. The EP, named after the city in the northern Czech Republic, brought breezy near-ambient atmospherics into close contact with fringe-club productions. At times light and organic, and at others weighty and almost-urban, we were impressed by the scope of sound, and so this session was born.
Despite performing with almost no hardware beyond a midi controller, Rlung's set is a perfect demonstration of how modular equipment can be deployed to achieve incredible music: by sampling sounds produced from the main rack at Noise Kitchen, and from Synth Library's collection of donated equipment, Rlung's set demonstrates how to effectively create arresting music using open-source and freely-available instruments within the city of Prague.
After becoming aware of her music via 'Usti' EP's experimental/ambient touches, we were blown away by the club-ready performance Rlung pieced together using her samples and Ableton. Heavyweight and incessant basslines make up the foreground, embellished by more delicate detail and shocks of altered rave sounds scattered throughout the pulse-racing 16-minute set.
Thank you so much for that set! Before we begin talking about that, can you tell us a little about your background?
I come from a place named Asbest in the middle of the Ural. I spent my first year in Czech Republic in Brno, moved to Usti afterwards. There I got a bachelor in UJEP university and have proceeded with my masters under Lukas Jasansky and Silvie Milkova at the Department of Photography. Approximately in the third grade I started to play, which at the beginning was improvisations with friends, who have played a significant role in my perception of music. We performed several times, and at the last of our joined sessions I had my very first live set.
What do you try to achieve with your music, at the moment?
Honestly, the reason behind my music is not yet clear for me.
How did you compose this set?
I started with a modular improvisation here in Noise Kitchen by recording long samples. They were mostly on the noise side, sometimes ambient. At home I proceeded to layer, cut and mix them, which laid the foundation of the set. Afterwards I added base and other details from the modulars at Synth Library. Some sounds fit, others didn’t. So after the final selection there was enough for several live sets. And of course I included VST for creating a more tangible atmosphere.
Did you find it easy to make the samples using the modular here in Noise Kitchen and at Synth Library?
Yes and no. I started playing modulars just a year ago. It isn’t difficult, but definitely time-consuming. At first watching tutorials took more time than actually playing. So I was a bit confused from all the various modules in Noise Kitchen and had troubles deciding, what to begin from. It was easy to get a sound, but difficult to get the exact sound I needed. Synth Library has a large selection of modules as well, however they are divided into cases. So I use mostly the same case, trying to explore all the options it can present, which makes it somewhat easier.
What are the inspirations behind the music you performed?
Actually the first sounds I ever recorded in Noise Kitchen constitute the basis of this set. As I mentioned before, the vibe I get from the start shapes the entire set. Several years ago I listened to an impressive live set of Yves Tumor. The music was powerful, though not only intellectually, but also by the sound itself, reaching the audience in a direct non-symbolic way, allowing people to enjoy the music physically as well. So I too was inspired to capture and hold the attention of my listeners by creating an intense musical and physical experience.
Who or what inspired you to create music in the first place?
Everything, really. Places, people, situations… But most and foremost music itself. When I listen to an amazing music, I can’t help but wanting to create something cool too. What is the most important piece in your setup? Definitely my PC. When it comes to hardware I enjoy the minimalist approach. I don’t own much besides my laptop, which goes not only for musical equipment, but also to the things I have in general. I can’t imagine myself enjoying carrying around a lot of devices. Plus buying a piece of hardware - which I may not even use a lot in the end, - and then selling it seems unnecessary to me. Therefore I really appreciate such places which give access to various equipment. I wish there would be more of such libraries. Nevertheless I admire musicians who play live sets almost entirely with hardware, which is fascinating to me.
What was your favourite module to record with and why?
[Xaoc Devices'] Belgrad was the one in Noise Kitchen. It’s hard to say anything except that I simply enjoyed the sound. 4ms Stereo Triggered Sampler combined with Malekko Voltage Block is my favourite pick in Synth Library, at least for now. Triggering different parameters of the 4ms STS with the help of the MVB, I enjoy the various sequences I get in result.
We were fond of your recent bandcamp release, Usti. It felt very different to this set though, with a more ambient touch. What was the inspiration there?
Yeah, it is very different. The five years spent in Usti mean a lot to me. The release is based on the field recordings from several places in town. The spots were picked simply for the reason that I and my friends often met there. So there I returned. This album was a tribute to the period in that place. It is so different from the set, because the vibe I get from the initial sounds influences the whole work.
Was that a live set also, or was it something you built at home just for being released?
It wasn’t a live set, but an EP. A couple of the tracks I played last September at Punctum, at the “Tigger Essentials” event.
Do you have anything else planned, release-wise?
Sure, I plan a new release with Biodiversità Records. It is based on the field recordings made in Japan. It contains tracks of different moods and stories, though together they constitute one whole narrative.
I saw some Instagram posts of you out in the wilderness with some machines in previous weeks. What were you doing there?
Actually that post is a piece of a track from the upcoming release. Honestly, I just like playing in nature, which is all the more enjoyable during the pandemic, when options to perform are limited. Besides, I listen to the surrounding area, responding to me with the different sounds, which for me is an exciting way to communicate with nature.
Interview + Words: Freddie Hudson
Videography: Matěj Kotoucek & Ester Grohová
Video Editing and Post-Production: Ester Grohová
Audio Mastering: David Herzig
Special thanks to Petr Racek.