It's almost 11:00 pm in Raymond's London home, and evidently the wine that he's been drinking with his pizza is beginning to have a rather bad effect. A leper? How mistaken can he be? In reality, Raymond has worked with some of the biggest names in the industrial genre. Back in the early 80's, he started making his name with Psychic TV, cutting loops, working on their more experimental sounds, and running their live sound.
But the British musical scene was fairly stagnant back then, Germany was where the really exciting electronic music was being made. Thus, Raymond relocated first to Hamburg, and then to Berlin, hooking up with industrial superpower Einsturzende Neubauten, engineering and working their live sound. Around this same time, he joined forces with Sascha Konietzco and En Esch, founded KMFDM, and remained with the band for their first two seminal albums.
There was a stint with Jim Thirwell (aka Foetus) early on, and some intriguing projects in Japan, while recently he returned to KMFDM for the Nihil album and a tour. And then there's his own project, Pig, which has released five albums. If that career history doesn't epitomize industrial superstar, I don't know what does. Raymond snorts his disbelief, "I can't get noticed by people in the local supermarket when I want to ask the price of something!"
All right then, at least you've had an interesting career!
"No, it's really pointless. It feels really, really futile, pointless, unrewarding, lonely and horrible!"
Well, it's no wonder really.
When the never ending party that was Berlin finally skittered to a halt with the fall of the Wall, Raymond returned to the wasteland of London. Still in the grips of techno fever and Britpop madness, England doesn't have much use for industrial giants. His fanbase resides in Japan, the States, and Europe, in fact Pig doesn't even have a British label, although it's found a home with Trent Reznor's label, Nothing, here, as well as an abode in Japan. So, it's inevitable, perhaps, that Raymond feels cut off from everything.
No, it's actually a bit more than that.
"It's not like I've had one label that has stuck by me for years and years. I always feel like every record's going to be with a different home, I've never felt that there's one place with people who really understand what's going on or that I've felt really at home with. It's like I'm kind of squatting; every label I'm with is always a short thing. When Jim [the late Jim Nash, head of Wax Trax!] got the next tapes [for Pig's second album], they were completely different from the last album. Bless his heart, he said he really liked this one track, but the other four were completely different. It's always like that. I've never felt that people have an understanding, and want to live it for than one or two releases."
And that, too, is sadly understandable, for Pig is not your typical electronic project. Not only has each of the five albums been very different stylewise from each other, the music itself is virtually undefinable by genre. That's its beauty, but also its downfall, at least in terms of record labels. How do you work a project that's truly unique, so changeable, and so difficult to get a handle, never mind a label, on.
"Pig's a reaction against the things I've done. 'This is getting a bit boring working with these people within these confines,' so with Pig I take different elements, thrust them together and see if they work. I'm really reacting against a lot of the stuff I do; I like doing something and then immediately doing the opposite.
With KMFDM, although I've really enjoyed the things we've done, I've always had to go away and do something that's much more anarchic, much more experimental, that's what Pig is. I wanted to do things which were more adventurous, whatever, try different things, which turned into the first Pig album."
That was back in the mid 80's. And every time that Raymond hooked up with another band, afterwards there'd always be a new Pig album. The latest is Sinsation, in some ways, Pig's most accessible work to date. Previously, Raymond had concentrated on colliding electronics with elements of metal, big band, classical, and more. The results were always exhilarating, even when the experiment failed. But this time, Raymond seems to have concentrated more on atmospheres and soundscapes, then blending in different styles of guitars from coldwave assault through rock and on to the sexy, swamp feel of "Volcano."
There are tracks aimed at the industrial dance floor, others directed at the gothic batcave, and even a couple appropriate for rock radio stations.
Raymond laughs, "There are elements of turgid classic rock that I like, that I can get something out of and use elements of. I can find something useful and inspiring in an advert for bloody soapsuds. Whatever there is, I find something interesting in it; country, bluegrass, big band, orchestral stuff, whatever."
And it's that need to blend genres or smash down preconceived boundaries that remains Pig's forte; that, and Raymond's deft talent for programming. As with all electronic music, it's the sound layers that make or break the song, and few people can create more perfect sound tiers than the Pigman. With each listen, one becomes more aware of the different sounds, effects and nuances that comprise each track. Of equal importance, each of the sounds is there for a purpose, creating a whole much greater than the sum of its parts. It's that talent to include all that's needed, yet never more, that makes Sinsation nigh on perfect.
What's amazing is that the majority of the album, like virtually all the Pig records, was created in Raymond's spare bedroom with little equipment and a relatively small budget. Once again, Underworld's Karl Hyde puts in a guest appearance. The techno singer/axeman provided all the guitars for Pig's last album, The Swining, but this time around he also co-wrote one of the tracks. "Karl's fairly out there when it comes to certain things. I didn't know how pure tech Underworld were, but the thing about Karl was he's really into working in different kind of fields. He's got this really fertile creative quagmire in his head, I think that's what I found interesting in him."
And it was probably that same creative quagmire that drew Karl to Raymond.
"With Pig I can keep both hands on the steering wheel and drive it any cliff I want, and nobody is going to say, 'hang on, what about my guitar solo?' It's my little marching army, and nobody's going to get in the way."
And even if that army is marching to Raymond's own inner scream, it's that which makes Pig so exceptional and unique. Eventually and inevitably, the rest of the musical world will catch up.
© Gallery Of Sound