About the project: nòstos

“nóstos” is a concept album, an ode, and a simulation. The listener is invited into a type of game – to live vicariously through dreams, memories, and reiteration. To live in the past might be ‘anti progress’, but to forget it entirely is inhuman. We are, inevitably, constituted by our memories. And so, we enact a return to the start in search of the end.

This work aims to produce a sonic and theatrical experience fit to describe, express, provoke, and soothe the fractured postpostmodern mind, while reflecting on themes of nostalgia. In creating our emotion radio, we rely heavily on personal as well as cultural background: the soviet and the yankee are superimposed into a blurry notion of ‘home’: the freedoms we enjoy, and the transgressions we miss. At the same time, global culture has allowed for a proliferation of media such that certain sonic moments transcend their locality, and become almost universally iconic. In this work we explore cliches as sonic references to home.

What drives us most of all is the question of sentimentality – its beauty and its consequences. Through song, text, music, and collage, we recognize an intimate and collective desire to return to a place that might no longer exist – and also to celebrate the contradictory nature of living in the present.

Interview with artists duo

What insight and knowledge do you want to gain from this residency? And what do you hope this residency will bring to the public? 

While both of us work with music and theater, neither of us are experienced with the more technical side of music production. We are accustomed to working with sound as something that interacts with image and action, often in a live staged context. (Actually, in addition, neither of us consider ourselves real composers – but I guess after this project we can add that to our multi-hyphenated titles?) In the WORM residency we set out to gain some skills in working with DAWs, recording techniques, composing electronic music, analog synths, etc. – as well as to communicate our theatrical ideas primarily using sound. At this later stage in the residency we’ve also had the immense fortune to meet the lovely artist and all around sound-genius Cartopol, who will be contributing sound design and mixing on the album, and lending technical expertise to help bring our ideas to life. 

We hope this sound piece will allow listeners to travel back in time and reflect on their own relationship to the past and nostalgia. We also hope it will be a banging-fun, or at least banging-strange, listening experience. 

What has challenged you the most during the process? 

Something we found extremely challenging (and actually are still finding very challenging…) is to limit the scope of the work. Both of us can turn quite rabid when suddenly struck with a mad idea. 

Another thing I would say is perfectionism. The fantastic thing about this residency was that we were given license to experiment, which allowed us to have an approach that neither of us are used to: one where we welcome mistakes and messiness, even in the “final product.” While it is true that everything you hear and see is ‘dramaturgically motivated’, I do think that our goal in making this work was to allow ourselves to be indulgent – to sometimes allow for artistic decisions just because they feel good, or because we think they would be hilarious. I think taking this mindset actually revealed a more “honest” process. 

The topic of nostalgia: why? 

Because it’s all that either of us think about. Haha. But also, because we think it’s a defining element of what it means to be alive – especially right now. Something we found, which also comes through in the “game-like” elements of the soundpiece and installation, was the fact that the existence of nostalgia always brings decisions and consequences. The past lives on, in our minds and in our bodies – and then you must decide what to do with it. You can feed it, starve it, relive it, try to banish it completely, or any other number of myriad choices. We’re trying to create a sound-journey that simulates these choices. 

What is the fractured post-postmodern mind? 

This was our favorite term in writing our concept, because we knew it would be controversial and/or unbearably nerdy, obtuse, pretentious, and what-have-you. 

For us, the fractured post postmodern mind is a mind that’s had to grapple with the absolute absence of a unifying metanarrative – which we see as a defining feature of the postmodern period (beginning around 1970s – late 1990s), and which has reached a fever pitch in the POST-postmodern period (which we see as starting around the time of the millennium crash 00s and stretching until now). 

The rise of Globalization ™ and the now-nearly-ubiquitous use of The Internet ™ has created a situation where people have access not only to their local cultures, but cultures everywhere. Multiple conflicting perspectives, identities, and paradigms are constantly at play – and therefore, it’s difficult to find meaning anywhere. 

Many of us have begun to look to the past to find meaning, and this is also where the question of nostalgia comes in. 

We are interested in the sound-worlds of these different time periods, and the associations that those references bring to us – what does nostalgia sound like? Each person’s internal sound-map is highly specific, and yet there are many references that we share, regardless of where we call home. Culture is viral, sounds are iconic, and the “fractured-ness” of the nostalgic internet-mind in the post postmodern hellscape is fertile ground for play. And meaning. 🙂