This weekend, Maria W Horn will be playing at the second installment of Intonal; a four-day festival curated by Inkonst, Unsound, CTM, EMS and IAC. When I asked about her impending performance, she gave me full disclosure. “You can expect synthetic doom, trashy distortion, processed machine-gun-stroboscope amplified with electromagnets and sci-fi Super 8 films.” It came as no surprise then, that Horn describes herself as an ‘audio-visual’ producer, since her live set consists of drones and sound-design experiments accompanying live-manipulated film.
But music and composition has always been her central focus, and this spring will see a purely musical release for her, out on Holodisc. ‘Diverted Units’ is a composition originally created for audio-visual consumption. As Horn tells me, “[Diverted Units] has so far been presented and performed as an audiovisual piece, but the audio was composed prior to adding the visual component and I think it works well as a stand-alone musical piece. I’m curious about presenting the music on its own.”
In this sense, her meticulous approach to recorded music may seem somewhat at odds with her freeform visual work, but the two work together in tandem for Horn. “During one period I felt some kind of prestige in not preparing my live sets, only doing free improvisation and live generated synthesis. After a while I realized that approach was most fun as a challenge for myself, I never felt particularly proud about the outcome. As a reaction to that method I started pre-composing parts of the audio for my performances.” This in turn seems to have triggered her desire to improvise her visual performances. “After a while I started feeling bored with just wiggling knobs on a mixing desk behind my laptop, so I wanted to contrast my live set with something visual, physical. Super-8 projectors, video feedback, light and optical objects became a great complement”.
Horn also has a distinct knack for collaboration, including involvement with the legendary Fylkingen art collective that began in the 1930s. “When I first moved to Stockholm from my hometown, a small village in the north of Sweden, I heard that Fylkingen was a meeting place for people doing experimental music. I was terrified when I first visited the venue: everyone was dressed in black and that particular night they hosted a weird Fluxus performance. Since then, Fylkingen has become like a second home for me and during the last years it has been an amazing place to experiment and develop new material.”
She has also become involved with the nascent ‘Stockholm Drone Society’, a group that describe themselves as “a group of composers with a shared interest in slowly evolving timbral music”. The group is decidedly forward-thinking, and thus Horn ought to feel right at home within it. “Since drone music is often rejected from standard concert programs and conflicts with how music is generally presented (mainly due to its occupation of time) we decided in 2013 to form a group organizing events premiering this extended format”, she tells me. “Since then we have, among other things, held 12-hour concerts in an underground nuclear reactor hall and all night showcases in an abandoned mine at Norberg Festival.”
Horn also shows no signs of stopping after Intonal, with many other projects on the horizon. “I am looking forward to spending some time in my hometown Härnösand this summer, researching material for an upcoming electroacoustic piece about the shootings of Ådalen, a series of events in and around the sawmill district of Ådalen in may 1931. Last fall I initiated a project together with producer Sara Fors on the topic of Satanic Feminism. We are a group building a practice using satanism and sectarianism as political and artistic strategies. Some aspects of the work includes creating ceremonies, rituals and counter-readings of patriarchal texts.” Ahead of her performance at Intonal, listen below to Maria W Horn’s contribution to our podcast series.
Aero intro - TMRW [Ambitious Tapes]
Castrati Stack - Tim Hecker [4AD]
Scare Rotor - Maria w Horn - GhostPrint remix [Unreleased]
Ephemeris - David Granström [Upcoming XKatedral Release]
Bound Universe - Abul Mogard [Ecstatic]
Quick Botta - Punctum [Unreleased]
Deserted but not Uninhabited - Maria w Horn [Unreleased]
FM Keeps its promises - Daniel M Karlsson [Unreleased]
Silwex - Kali Malone [Oma333]
Vanishing Membranes - Mats Erlandsson [Posh Isolation]
The Voyage Out - Marie Davidsson [Total Black]
Evil Ball - Sinoia Caves [Brah Records]
V - Erik Enocksson [Release The Bats]
Wrap around me - Waves of light [Unreleased]
Lamé - Isak Edberg [XKatedral 2016]