Tristes Tropiques' – named after & dealing with Claude Lévi-Strauss' landmark ethnographic writing of the same name – is an album of "synthetic exotica & pseudo-ethnographic music". Sounding like the field recording from an imaginary landscape, Tristes Tropiques deals with the meaning of Exotica & ethnographic recordings (without using them) as well as with cultural categories like "Otherness". As smart as it is, it's also totally stunning, free-floating music, RIYL Dolphins Into The Future or Jan Jelinek. Faitiche welcomes back Andrew Pekler, the musical director of the 2011 album Sonne = Blackbox featuring Ursula Bogner. Andrew Pekler's Tristes Tropiques is an album of synthetic exotica, pseudo-ethnographic music and unreal field recordings. Jan Jelinek interviews Andrew Pekler about Tristes Tropiques:
JJ: You've titled your album Tristes Tropiques - a reference to Claude Lévi-Strauss's famous account of his travels among native peoples in the Mato Grosso. If I remember correctly, the book can be read in two ways: as an ethnographic study of indigenous Brazilian tribes, and as a critique of anthropological methods. What exactly about Tristes Tropiques inspired you? The melancholy travelogue, or the formation of a new, critical school of thought?
AP: Both. Lévi-Strauss's constant reflection on the purpose of his work and the often melancholy tone of his writing constitute an internal tension which runs throughout the whole book. Tristes Tropiques is many things; autobiography, traveler's tale, ethnographic report, philosophical treatise, colonial history. But ultimately, it's the author's attempt to synthesize meaning from fragments of his own and other cultures that resonated most strongly with me - and led me to a new perspective on how I hear and make music.
JJ: Listening to Tristes Tropiques I noticed a certain oscillation between references, which is what I really like about it. Obviously, your music alludes to the beloved fairytale kitsch of exotica, but it also repeatedly shifts to a mode of ethno-poetic meditation music that seems to have no beginning or end. Where do you yourself locate the tracks gathered here?
AP: As a listener and as a musician, exotica music of the 1950s and '60s has always been a constant reference point and inspiration. And perhaps my listening has been "ruined" by exotica, but as I have dug deeper into ethnographic archives of "traditional" music, I've come to the realization that all recordings that evoke, allude to, or ostensibly document other musical forms have a similar effect on my imagination: I am most intrigued when I perceive some coincidentally familiar element within the foreign (a tuned percussion recital from Malawi that immediately brings to mind Steve Reichian minimalism, or the Burundian female vocal duet that sounds uncannily like a cut-up tape experiment, etc.). I suppose this album is an attempt to recreate the same kind of listening experience as what I've described, just with the electronic means that I have at hand.