Task Horizon

Task Horizon Interview

Task Horizon have been making some pretty big waves in the world of D&B for some time now, seemingly effortlessly going from strength to strength, from their record label Evolution Chamber Recordings to their pair of upcoming releases due to drop later this month, we caught up with them for a good old fashioned chin wag.

First of all how has your festival season been and what have you got lined up for the rest of it?

We’re about to play the Sonnentanz-festival in a few days, headlining with Adam F, Optiv and others. But other than that, there hasn’t been much going on, we’re afraid to admit. Yes, we know –we need to play out more. Yes, everybody is asking us, begging us –and they are right. Have mercy with two insufferable studio geeks, dear friends. It’s going to change soon. 

For those who are being introduced to Task Horizon for the first time, how long have you been making sweet music professionally and how did Task Horizon start?

Task Horizon is Aaron von Schroeder and Tim Kleinert. Although Tim officially joined the project four years ago, we’ve been working together for roughly a decade now. Jonas Ullmann aka Uman was an original founding member, but left in 2008 in order to pursue a successful career in the UK by joining Bad Company.

We are quite different types of musicians: Aaron belongs to the new school of cutting-edge electronic producers while Tim is an accomplished jazz keyboardist, sound-designer and music professor. We actually perceive music quite differently and often contrarily to each other, and having to reconcile this often irritating dichotomy in a productive and creative way is what keeps us on our toes and probably gives us our edge. Without our friendship, assorted plastic toy aliens and a bottle of booze on the studio table, we’d probably be at each other’s throats constantly.

You seem to be developing a reputation for being innovators, melding influences together and breaking some rules along the way. Is this something you set out to do consciously, or is it more natural and simply a spontaneous incarnation of what is in your head?

It’s neither unfortunately. Innovation can never be a conscious goal. It’s the fundamental irony of all art and science that any deliberate attempt at being innovative is doomed to fail from the outset because it is guided by a prior conditioned assumptions about what innovation should be, thus leading to conditioned, non-innovative results. And on the other hand, it cannot be a spontaneous incarnation of what is in our heads either, because that too would be conditioned by our limited minds. So if anything, it’s perhaps a spontaneous response to what isn’t in our heads.

Or to quote Zen master Shunryu Suzuki: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s there are few.” Even with all the accumulated skill and knowledge that we seemingly possess, we still feel like absolute beginners every time we hit the studio –nowadays more than ever. Seeing through the fake props and false securities created by your own assumed level of competence and the apparent acceptance towards your work is scary, but sets you free. You don’t need anybody to tell you that it’s raining when you feel the drops your head. Or to quote jazz composer Duke Ellington: “If it sounds good, it is good.”

With this is mind who are your greatest influences and who do you admire as artists right now?

We could go on for pages enumerating all our influences. But what they all have in common is that timeless X-factor which occurs when an artist, having achieved complete technical mastery through years of hard work, is willing and able to let it all go and jump into the abyss of the Unknown in order to hopefully come up with truly new and truly great stuff.

In terms of current favorites, we’re almost ashamed to admit that we discovered the large body of work by David Tipper only just lately during one of our customary dinner-time YouTube surfing sessions. Many of his tracks perfectly exemplify that X-factor, and we haven’t heard such refreshing and inspiring electronic music in a long time.

Evolution Chamber are renowned for quality not quantity. Despite being a relatively new label why is this? Talk us through the selection process of your releases.

Our selection process is simple: Either it’s good enough, or it isn’t -period. For every track that survives and evolves in the harsh conditions of our musical ecosystem, there are about ten that don’t make it and die. “Evolution Chamber” thus isn’t just a hip name but brutally self-inflicted musical Darwinism.

The reason for these high standards towards ourselves is beautifully expressed by a famous Mahatma Gandhi quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Frankly, we are disgusted and saddened by the glut of mediocrity spawned by our digital culture under the battered flag of postmodern relativism, driven by a collective narcissism which itself is again fuelled by internet tech corporations luring people to give away any creative content for free in exchange for those illusory 15 minutes of fame which that crackpot Andy Warhol promised everybody 50 years ago. It’s our little way of saying “Fuck you!” to all that, in a nice way. You can even dance to it.

You have two upcoming releases, released at the same time on the same label, but separately. What is the thinking behind this dual release, is there a particular reason you have chosen to release in this unusual way?

With the two of us coming from very different musical backgrounds, we’ve always had to face the challenge of reconciling our strongly contrasting personalities into one contiguous whole. It’s a friction that has proven to be extremely valuable because it forces us out of the comfort zone of tried-and-tested musical approaches and thus hopefully facilitates achieving that X-factor more often. But as we keep on growing and embracing more stylistic avenues of expression, it’s becoming harder or even downright impossible to do justice to all those elements within one piece of music.

The tipping point was the track ‘Ocean Of Sound’ which we failed to finish for years because, caught in an outdated and stifling self-image of having to be dancefloor-oriented, we were always unsuccessfully trying to force it into being a high-energy banger tune. Once we gave that up and let it be the beautifully lyrical thing that it wanted to be, it bloomed instantly and effortlessly. That track has been a true teacher for us, showing us that our musical vision is way broader than we thought, eventually encompassing the whole range of Drum&Bass and quite possibly even beyond that in the future.

But because all this is potentially confusing to audiences with their justified need to categorize and label artists, we decided not to tiptoe around the problem but to confront it head-on by releasing two major works in two different styles simultaneously. Voilà the Organimatronics EP, which is a no-compromise hard-hitting dancefloor deal with the customary Task Horizon Easter eggs hidden in there, and the lush gentle Ocean Of Sound/Dharmakaya Light release, which, according to the unequivocally positive feedback we have received so far, is something nobody had expected from us or even thought we were capable of making. If this is confusing for you –well, fair is fair. Guess how we felt.

What is on the horizon for Task Horizon? What have we got to look forward to in the coming months in terms of releases and the development of Evolution Chamber?

The double release of the Organimatroics EP and Ocean Sound/Dharmakaya Light is a watershed for us, and we will be opening the floodgates of musical diversity even more in the future. There are quite a few projects waiting to be pursued. That being said, we also really need to get our sorry asses out of the studio and play out more. As mentioned in the beginning, that’s definitely also a priority at the moment.

Download Task Horizon’s exclusive Kmag mini-mix featuring all the tracks from the Organimatroics EP here.