George Chua’s “Evidence of Things Not Seen” has personally been a favorite album of mine for about a decade. In 2006 the title was self released by the Singapore based artist on a limited run of CDR’s and made available for direct download on his website, which is how I obtained it. I remember there was something immediately unique about the 4 pieces; specifically off the first take “Gloria”, that it felt more like the document of a living organism, rather than a piece of music. As you accrue more listens of course your pattern recognition starts to formulate and separate the musical signatures; but the piece still maintains that effervescent living form that moves without you but wills you to follow it. This past year I felt compelled to link friends into the album, however, I couldn’t find any digital copy online, and moreover hardly any information on it. This startled me a bit and I got to work- By way of Social Media I was able to get in contact with George (Thanks to friends at Kitchen Label) and he happily agreed to present the album digitally with Anòmia, thus making it accessible to those who missed it the first time around. To hopefully contextualize the album a bit more I inquired further with George on his background, process, conceptualization and what he’s up to now…
So first off, How did you get into making electronic music?
I started experimenting with sounds around the mid 90s. When I found a phrase sampler I can afford in a music instrument shop and then I went on to buy groove boxes and drum machines as I save more money. Did an album called: Freedom Cannot Be Organised in the late 90s. Thats my first foray into creating albums.
Do you primarily create in an isolated environment or do you often present work in a more communal way?
There are times when I do work other musicians with improvisations or create music for film and theater. Those are the more communal expressions of my music. My solo works are all created in an isolated environment. I have a strong need for a fiercely personal vision of music making.
Can you elaborate on the process and development of “Evidence Of Things Not Seen” a bit? Was there any sort experimentation involved in its creation, or do you consider it to be a pretty absolute, calculated work?
EOTNS was created with a computer between 2003–2004 using the Plogue Bidule software. It begins with a collection of sounds and experimenting with them, but as time went on it became a calculated and cruel removal of restlessness in the music.
One of the things I find very Striking about the 4 pieces is the sureness. It seems like a very confident group of songs. It presents itself as the “Evidence..”. To me it is saying here it is, this is the “Evidence of Things Not Seen”. It is here if you want it, (ha!). It doesn’t seem to yearn to know but it seems to already know something and I think you can hear this in the music. The music also seems to have a direct lineage to the metaphysical and translating experience with phenomena. There is a clear spiritual element. Would you care to elaborate on this, maybe the kind of ideas that inspired “Evidence..” in this regard and if and how they continue to inform your work today or have changed?
Your reading of it is definitely accurate in that it was spiritual as it was intended to be devotional music. A pursuit of devotion to God. A reflection on redemption. During that period of time, I was reading a lot of writings from early Christian Mystics. I was inspired by their encounters with God and God Himself. My faith in God continue to inform every area of my life. Though the theme and the form of music may change.
When I first heard “Evidence..” I was taken by synesthesia. I felt I was hearing complex living organisms, as if the vague existential feelings of the human condition could ball themselves up into orbs and float around a room. Does this resonate with any conceptions you had in developing the work? Was there a consideration of maybe the physicality of the sounds, or how they could be perceived visually or emotionally?
Haha! That definitely resonate. At that point I was obsessed with making certain loops modulate and shift with every repetition. To make a loop come alive, sounding like it is trying to wriggle out of death to life. The Butoh dance of Kazuo Ohno’s weathered body confronting death with life was also a big inspiration. The physicality of sound is one of the key concerns of my work regardless of the form or genre it may take.
What are you up to these days, have there been any drastic changes in your work? Any revelations along the way? Any plans for the near future?
After a hiatus I have only started making music again the last few years. Drastic changes are a constant in the way I create music. I am unable to develop an interest to craft a musical style. I can see how that can make people successful but I need to be honest with my need for explorations and challenges. Rather than a careerist approach to music. I am in the process of finishing an album informed by strategies of war called Smokescreen. It is scheduled for release in the second half of 2018 if everything go as planned.