WORM talks to Harold Schellinx

Harold Schellinx (aka Har$) is an independent musician, composer, artist, writer and theorist. He was born in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Avant-rock musician based in Amsterdam (1975-1985). Editor and London correspondent of Dutch ‘modern music magazine’ Vinyl (1981-1983). We have talked to him in our WORM Sound Studio.

Please introduce your work! 

That is a tough question, it merits a tough answer … 

‘COMPOSED RANDOMNESS’, in whatever sense you might want to interpret such a thing, is the main focus of the music & sound projects that I have been working on these past twenty years. They reflect our universe and lives, which basically are random acts. Here are four examples: 

_the ‘Found Tapes Exhibition’ (http://foundtapes.soundblog.net) and the corresponding ‘Très Grand Collage’ (TGC), which is a 14 hour chronological chain of sound bits salvaged from 710 (seven hundred and ten) distinct magnetic audio tapes, some of them still more or less intact, but most of them reduced to clods, knots and wads, that, between 2002 and 2012 I picked up from the shoulders of highways, from pavements and lawns, that I fished out of gutters, covered in dust, mud and dog’s shit, that I untied from branches in bushes and trees, where once they got caught, trapped, shredded and torn, where they were worn, warped and wasted by rain, wind, sand and pollution. The work is unfinished as I still have another ten years of collected analog tape trash that remains to be restored, indexed and included in the TGC.

_DIKTAT is an international quartet, currently consisting in me, Rinus van Alebeek and Emmanuel Ferrand, manipulating cassette tapes in analog cassette players, and Shih-wen Lee on double bass. Diktat, other than being a band, should rather be seen as a composition that is initiated in another version or another part with each performance of the quartet.

_b.ookoi is the labyrinthian and encyclopedic printed-on-paper book_work_2_b that Peter Mertens and myself, together forming the Amsterdam based media duo ookoi, currently are composing, writing, editing, covering all of their acts, works and proceedings from the very early 1980’s onwards, in 1024 numbered paragraphs that, however, will not be listed in the approximate chronological order corresponding to their enumeration upwards from 1, but distributed over 1024 pages divided into 4 volumes of 256 pages each, according to one, contingent, listing of the first 1024 = 210 natural numbers. You find more about the ookoi’s thinking in the recent ‘Towards an unhearable music. Conceptualism in the ookoi’s art’, in eContact! 21.2, online journal of the Canadian Electroacoustic Community, and in the upcoming ‘Green-tainted hyperbole, quailish quirks and summer-flies: the inscrutable genius of the ookoi’, to appear in ‘Annual’, a selection of new music / art articles to be published this autumn (2023) by Korm Plastics.

_unPublic is an ongoing series of free electroacoustic improvisation concerts done without audience, in each of which (with but few exceptions) both me and Emmanuel Rébus are performing, and each of which is documented as a Bandcamp digital album, that contains the recordings of the unPublic concert, always edited, mastered, and post-produced by me. At the time of this writing there have been 98 of these published unPublic performances, with an overall participation of 250 artists, of 32 different nationalities, summing up to a total of 533 tracks with a playing time of near to 100 hours. The recommended listening strategy in this case is to consider unPublic as a single, but variable, piece of music, made up of the 533 tracks played back in random order, though always starting with track 1 (uP_1) and ending always with the latest track in the collection.

What did you want to make at WORM Sound Studios, and were you “successful” in that?

I came to the WORM Sound Studios to discover the studio and its equipment, as well as to use it as the ‘venue’ for an unPublic concert, and to continue  the collaborative recordings that I am currently undertaking with the Dutch collective ‘De Fabriek’. And yes, it was pretty ‘successful’. On Wednesday September 6, with Peter Mertens and Tim Benjamin (who in the old days of ULTRA were together with me in the band The Young Lions, and with both of whom I continued to collaborate also after the Lions’ Big Sleep), we performed unPublicly in the WORM studio, using only equipment present. This, officially, was the 99th edition of unPublic, and the documentary recordings will be available soon

I worked part of the time on the collaboration with ‘De Fabriek’, which generated several fun ideas; I recorded a number of vocal tracks, including one backed by and based on a ‘field recording’ that one of the evenings I made at the WORM’s neighbors, V2, being invited to come in, and see the Summer Lab’s show, when passing there in the Eendrachtstraat on my way to the station to catch a train back to Amsterdam.

Apart from these, I recorded a lot of material for later use. Quite a few of these will surely pop-up in the building of the radiophonic piece that Lukas invited me to make for Dr. Klangendum.

Other recordings were specifically done for use in a number of new ‘sudoku solution’ tracks; that is again another story, for which some initial enlightenment  can be found in the sound blog writings on ‘music from sudoku solutions’.

Any particular equipment you had your eye on at WORM?

I discovered, and liked, the Enner, the analogue touch plate synth ; had a lot of fun with the Optigan ; and used the ARP 2600 a lot, as well as the occasional other synth, and the Hammond organ.

How do you approach making sounds?

For me there is really only one possible approach, hence a sole possible answer: to makes sounds, you need to listen

What do you think of Rotterdam?

During all of  these seven days, starting on Monday 6th and ending Sunday 11th I have been commuting back and forth from Amsterdam, coming with the earliest ‘Daluren’ intercity, and leaving again around 20h … which makes for long and quite tiring days (especially given the tropical temperatures, inside and outside the Studio). So I did not see much of Rotterdam these seven days other than the pretty straight paths that lead from Centraal Station to WORM and back again (and the  busy dining and drinking in the Witte de With Straat ). It unfortunately also implied that I did not have the energy to stay a bit longer some of the evenings and experience more of WORM’s activities … I’ll have to keep that for next time.

Any plans for the future, if we can look past current events?

On the 18th of October at La Générale Nord-Ouest in Paris XIV, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of unPublic; a feast that itself will be an unPublic edition, including the performance of ‘Blast’, a piece consisting basically (but not only) in the evening’s participants blowing up and popping the paper bags that I have been, collecting for just this occasion, accompanied on piano by Yoko Miura, the Japanese master free improviser that also participated in the verify first unPublic edition, on October 18th 2013 (and maybe other instruments, depending on who is there and who brings what). On that same occasion, the 10th anniversary of unPublic, radio Pi-Node will broadcast the full 100+ hours of unPublic tracks, in random order, starting with the first one, uP 1, on October 16th, and ending with the (at that time) latest one, on October 20th.

I am excited to continue the writing and (later this autumn) start the recording of a selection of ‘Sudoku Solutions’ for traditional classical instruments: violin, double bass, piano, woodwinds. Maybe even perform them live, we’ll have to see.

Also in the not too far away future, I hope to find the space, time and money to complete the Found Tapes Exhibition, by adding the past ten years tape trash finds. Diktat will perform here and there. And the ookoi continue writing their b.ookoi

When will it all end ???