Joining theconversation for this instalment of The Makeris Bristol-based musicians, sound artist and label co-runner of Liquid Library, Owen Chambers. Having steadily released music under the name of Tremolo Ghosts since 2013, Owen’s more recent project,Carnivorous Plants, has delivered more frequent releases as well as covering a wider range of instruments and found sound sources. Owen was penned for a release on RTR under the Carnivorous Plants name in late 2019 when the foundations for the second RTR live event was being planned, alongside a new album from A Home For Ghosts. The live event was postponed due to the pandemic, but the importance of new music remains. The album ‘Storm Ruler’ (RTR027) comes out alongside Stuart Bowditch’s ‘Songs for Wyatting’ (RTR028) on Monday, so what better time to find out about Owen’s creative process?
In this feature, Owen discusses heavy drone as a gateway into ambient and experimental music, field recordings as inspiration for creating new material, the flexibility of the tape medium, and shares a load of great new music recommendations.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
I think that was through Charlie who I run my label Liquid Library with. We lived together a few years back and they are super into heavy drone stuff so I would get back from work and hear stuff like Pauline Oliveros or Sunn O))) on the record player. I was super into punk at the time and it was just such a nice change of dimension. A completely new and unrestricted framework for creating music.
What inspires you to create a new body of work?
I get extremely restless when not creating art so I like to put pressure on myself. I’m not sure if that’s exactly a good thing or not? A lot of the time it’s a general sense of “can I do this?”. Like come up with a ludicrous idea for how to make an album or equally important – some grand idea of how to package a tape and build the music around that. If I come to no useful conclusions that way, I like to make field recordings of specific places and kinda listen to them until a thread emerges. I like to have a full world behind each album. Something that feels lived in.
How do you approach working on a new release?
It will depend completely on the release, I think. A lot of the time it will involve the aforementioned forward planning and world building and then just a lot of improv until the sound of the thing reveals itself. I’ve been trying to work in different ways through. I’m working on a big ensemble Carnivorous Plants album at the moment called ‘Smog Choie’ where I’m trying to take as long as I can with it. My aim is to get it out in spring so just let it sit and continue to change it.
Can you tell us about your favourite new release from the last 12 months?
I don’t think I have a favourite but I’ll list some stuff I’ve been super into this year. Ono – ‘Red Summer’, Natalia Beylis – ‘Love-In-A-Mist, Edible’, any of the hundreds of Territorial Gobbing releases from this year, and Kar Pouzi – ‘Red Sprite’. Argh there is so much more as well. It’s been an objectively terrible year, but the music has at least been good.
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: What attracts you to the cassette medium?
It was the ease of customisation that first got me interested. If you want to put out music that has a tangible corporeal vessel so to speak then records are too expensive to produce and with cd there seemed to be too many limitations at first. It’s this little rectangle case and you can put anything you like in there as a cover. When I first started making tape albums, I realised you can just fold a photo in and use that as the cover so I liked the ease at which you could create really evocative album art using essentially trash.
Carnivorous Plants – ‘Storm Ruler’ (RTR027) comes out tomorrow, Monday August 31st. Available on tape and digital, as well as part of a double album bundle alongside Bowditch – ‘Songs for Wyatting’ (RTR028).