Efdemin introduces his new Modular Organ project
German DJ and producer Efdemin is perhaps best known for a series of records released by Dial, Carten Jost and Lawrence's pioneering deep house and ambient label. Even amongst esteemed company, Efdemin's three albums and plethora of EPs for Dial still stand out as timeless paragons of the house and techno form, containing a classy, delicate aesthetic that extends to his DJ sets for home club Berghain, where Efdemin is a longtime resident.
Yet Efdemin, aka Berlin native Phillip Sollmann, is more than just a DJ and producer. He is also a classically trained musician, enthusiast of Japanese culture, and more latterly, a collaborator in an avant-garde new musical project. Together with Konrad Sprenger, he has created a Modular Organ system, that repurposes cast-offs from old Church organs into a new three-part electronic instrument. Phillip was kind enough to tell us a bit more about his new instrument and sent us some beautiful photos of the project taken by Volker Crone.
Can you tell us about your organ project - is it true you built the organ yourself?
Yes, this project is a collaboration between Konrad Sprenger and me. We have been working on this for some months.
We were collecting Parts of used and abandoned church organs all over Germany and used them in a new assembly. In the end, we came up with this prototype of our modular organ system which consists of three sections. Every single pipe can be controlled via midi from our computers. The sounds range from Wagnerian Drone to Mills-like Synth Arpeggios.
We're interested in how this new project fits in with your musical aesthetic as Efdemin. Do you see this as a whole new side to your music repertoire? Or as something that fits seamlessly with your club music?
I don't really know yet. For me, it makes total sense. Someone who plays on huge PA Systems every week for more than ten years now becomes more and more interested in music that works without amplification and loudspeakers.
It is a very overwhelming experience to listen to the direct mechanical production of sound. It doesn't matter if it is a string, a pipe or a siren. It is a good balance to the club world on the one hand, on the other hand, the organ is totally capable of playing technoid stuff and might end up in the club world one day!
Are you classically trained as a musician? How much learning on the job was required as part of your organ project?
I do have some musical knowledge, but in this case, we had to get some carpenter skills as well as soldering and programming the midi part of it. It was so much fun to build this thing! The musical part is mainly tuning which is very important as the organ is very sensitive to change of temperature and humidity.
It seems like much of your artwork/aesthetics is influenced by your love for Japan. Did that play a role in your formation of the concept?
Some musical patterns and concepts in the composition we are working on now are informed by Japanese concepts like Gaga or Shomyo: music that uses the SHO, a mouth organ.
We are sad to miss your concert at Matthew Gallery tomorrow. Do you have plans to bring to tour the project in future?
We are totally open to present this organ prototype in different locations and contexts but it's a mess in terms of transport. Let's see where it goes.
Efdemin is part of an all-star house and techno lineup at Oval Space on Friday evening, alongside Margaret Dygas and Nicolas Lutz