Black Forest interviewed the Spanish Electronic Legends who released their latest LP ‘Ultraphoon’ last year on Geometrik records, peforming currently as the duo of founder member ARTURO LANZ and SAVERIO EVANGELISTA…
Where and When did Esplendor Geometrico form?
AL:Esplendor Geométrico was born in Madrid in 1980. At the beginning we were three: Me (Arturo Lanz), Juan Carlos Sastre and Gabriel Riaza. All of us belonged to a previous group, El Aviador Dro y sus Obreros Especializados, that I funded with Servando Carballar in 1978. After few time Juan Carlos left the group and for nearly ten years EG was formed by two members until Saverio joined the group at the beginning of the nineties. Now we are two since when Gabriel decided to leave the group.
What was your main inspiration? Was EG’s sound ultimately a product of the environment you were in at the time?
AL:At the beginning, but just at the beginning, our main inspiration was TG. I found their very first LP in a record shop in Zurich. Our music was completely different from the music that you could listen to in Spain at that time, so we cannot consider ourself as a product of the environment.
The music of EG can be harsh and sombre, yet meditative and deeply immersive, how would you yourselves describe your sound?
AL:Yes, you can find in our music all the aspects that you described in your question. Since the beginning, our music was considered “industrial”, and perhaps at the beginning was correct. But very soon we begun to change. We don’t know, but probably we could define our music “tribal” or even “ethnic” but we don’t know exactly from which continent…
What music do you listen to when you are at home?
AL:A lot of years ago I stopped listening to electronic music. Except traditional Asian music, usually I don’t listen music at home: I prefer to compose my music.
SE: There is a lot of different genres of music that I like to listen to at my home: electronic, contemporary, dance music, etc.
The earlier works of EG feature extremely controversial and uncompromising themes -were these personal obsessions or shock tactics to attack a social or political mindset inherent in Spain?
AL:We did’t have any political strategy: just till the first album we liked to provoke because we hated the “movida” scene in Madrid. That scene was a sort of spanish new wave and we considered it a “pose”. As a result EG was isolated from spanish musical scene during these years.
Tell us about the Spanish music scene at that time, were you unique in your vision and aesthetic or were there any other groups perhaps languishing in obscurity now you could shed light upon?
AL:To be honest, at that time, EG was the only group in that kind of music but after short time new projects appeared like La Otra Cara de un Jardin, Francisco López, Comando Bruno, Diseño Corbusier, Orfeon Gagarin, Melodinamika Sensor, etc.
In the middle of the eighties in Spain there was a lesser known underground electronic scene but very well connected with the international network created by cassette labels. That scene disappeared at the end of the eighties and just few of them projects survived.
What was the initial reaction to your music in the Spanish music press?
AL:We didn’t exist for Spanish musical magazines until the end of eighties. Curiously the most important Spanish newspaper, El Pais, since the beginning, talked about us reviewing our releases and our performances.
How long did it take to achieve recognition outside of your homeland?
AL:The compilation Fix Planet released in Germany in 1981 by Der Plan helped us a lot to diffuse our name outside of Spain. Since then we began to establish good contacts with the international scene (Masami Akita, Graeme Revell (SPK), Maurizio Bianchi, Nocturnal Emissions, etc)
By the end of the late nineties ex-TG members were remixing EG tracks, were you in contact with TG and the orig indust movement in the late 70’s/early 80’s or did this acquaintanceship come later?
AL: Since 1980 we was in contact with the industrial scene of that moment, especially with Graeme Revell from SPK, Maurizio Bianchi (MB), Masami Akita (Merzbow), Nocturnal Emissions, Jordi Valls (Vagina Dentata Orga), Hunting Lodge, Ramleh, etc…We exchanged vinyls and tapes. After I stopped to listen any kind of music except Esplendor. Years later, when I was in Beijing, I contacted Chris Carter : I liked a lot the remix that Chris & Cosey made for Japanese CD En-Co-D (1997)
You have built up a huge body of work with EG, did you ever think you music would be considered so influential and regarded as an important part in the development of modern electronic music?
AL: I never thought if our music was important for electronic music scene. We enjoy composing music and that’s all. We don’t even take care about our releases. There is someone to take care of it: our friend Andrés Noarbe (the manager of Geometrik label).
Sometimes it happens that groups or artists which we play together with in a festival, told us that in some way we were an influence for them.
Having pioneered a repetitive hypnotic sound before the onset of rave culture and seemingly anticipating it, what did you think to the techno/house explosion of the mid to late eighties? Was EG’s music embraced by the emergent rave culture?
AL: I abandoned listening to electronic music (except ours) since the middle of the eighties so I don’t have an opinion about it. Only few months ago I played alone, without Saverio, in a techno club with some techno artists. At the same time I felt that kind of music was boring for me but good for dancing.
What is your most interesting experience you have had being in EG?Any interesting stories you would like to perhaps share?
AL:As you can imagine, in more than 30 years there are a lot curious things to tell. Perhaps the most funny is when, in the eighties, I played to an audience of spanish military officers. All of them wearing dress uniforms. They invited me because, at that time, I was a lieutenant, but obviously they didn’t know what kind of music we were doing! It was really crazy!
In November we went to Japan again, for the fourth time. Playing there is ever really interesting: the people is so nice and sound is perfect.
What are your interests outside of music? Are there any authors or artists you are a fan of?
AL: My family, meditation, running, swimming and cycling. I’m not a fan of any artist.
SE: My daughters, maths. As I told you before, I still enjoy to listen music and while nowadays I’m not a fan but in the past I remember I was a fan of Kraftwerk for example (and before I joined Them, I was a big fan of Esplendor!).
Saverio, in your solo career you have worked with avant noise legend Maurizio Bianchi, how did that come about and how would you describe your sound outside of EG?
SE:I met Maurizio Bianchi a lot of years ago, when he abandoned music for the first time, I bought from him his legendaries Roland rhythm machine and analog Teisco delay. Some years ago, Satoshi Morita, the boss of Gift Records, proposed to both a collaboration and then we released “Micromal Sonorities”. Now I’m working to the second chapter of this collaboration that I hope will be soon finished. My sound outside EG is probably much more abstract: I don’t want to replicate things that I already make with Esplendor.
Arturo,what motivated your relocation to Beijing, and are there any Beijing based artists you could recommend?
AL: I went to Beijing because of my work. I went back to Madrid in 2012, but probably in few years I’ll be back again to China. I don’t know very well the scene in China but I had the opportunity to listen to some groups like the “No New York” scene and I liked them. But to be honest I don’t remember their names.
Lastly,what are you both currently working on or planning at the moment?What does the future hold for EG? What direction are you taking?
AL:Few months ago we released our album Ultraphoon, so now we are beginning to work at new tracks for a new album. Our direction is ever the same: we will follow to create our music and enjoy while doing it. This is our receipt.