VIERNULVIER launches record label
First release: 'The Shedding of Skin' by Use Knife
New name, new plans: VIERNULVIER Arts Centre is launching its own record label – VIERNULVIER Records – with a view to ramping up its in-house music production over the coming years. The first VIERNULVIER Records release is 'The Shedding of Skin' by the Belgian-Iraqi band Use Knife.
VIERNULVIER Records focuses on music that is unconventional, unafraid to go against the grain. A mix of local and international talent, always linked to visual arts or performances. VIERNULVIER Arts Centre translates this focus on experimental and idiosyncratic music into its musical programme, which is aimed at creation and support and will soon feature more residents.
First release: Use Knife – ‘The Shedding of Skin’
VIERNULVIER Records' first release will be 'The Shedding of Skin', the debut album from the Belgian-Iraqi Use Knife, set to be released on 30 September, 2022. You can PRE-ORDER the record starting from 12 noon on 22 June, 2022, via VIERNULVIER Records’ Bandcamp.
The first single from 'The Shedding of Skin' is 'Ptolemaic':
Use Knife is the music project of Stef Heeren, Kwinten Mordijck and Saif Al-Qaissy, in collaboration with multidisciplinary artist Youniss Ahamad. The project first emerged when Stef and Kwinten, both also active members of Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat, met Saif during auditions for a dance performance. The musical possibilities that presented themselves gave the gentlemen the drive to start the journey of uniting their Belgian and Iraqi musical backgrounds.
During a residency at VIERNULVIER Arts Centre, synthesiser sequences were tested, rhythms exchanged, samples recorded, tape loops cut and boundaries explored. The gents also thought about how music and text could be combined with video and artwork to create a unique collaboration.
The next step for the band was to approach multidisciplinary artist Youniss Ahamad. Taking inspiration from the artistic work of his Iraqi grandfather – a painter – he had a starting point from which to develop the visual side of things.
Next to come on board was Radwan Ghazi Moumneh of Jerusalem In My Heart.
“I was very intrigued and knew that the project in its creation nature was something quite unique and special.” So it was an immediate 'yes’ from Moumneh when asked to mix the album in the legendary Hotel2Tango studio in Montreal, where previously the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Vic Chesnutt and Arcade Fire had all come to play.
“Working on sculpting a sonic space for all these facets of the album proved quite challenging, as finding the exact place of where these elements can not only co-exist, but rather can illuminate paths to one another. Our process of ‘fine-tooth comb’ arranging mixes and refining every minute aspect of the sonics was in itself an illuminating experience. Kept finding myself discovering and re-discovering new ways of engaging with the tracks. It was as if the more the music aged, the more different its flavour was. We were in a constant re-evaluating process of where we were at with our mixes, which is a very engaging place to be in when deep in a mix.”
The song 'To Feed the Gentry’ – on which Radwan plays buzuk and synthesizers – sprang up out of the band members’ mutual respect and appreciation for each other's work.
The result of all their toil will be the first release on the brand new label VIERNULVIER Records.
The Shedding of Skin
The album’s title, 'The Shedding of Skin', refers to the human survival instinct, the desire to leave war and disaster behind and build a new life in a completely different environment.
In addition to making music and composing together, Saif, Kwinten and Stef had countless conversations in order to gain insight into each other's lives. These conversations are reflected in the song lyrics: for one of them, the worst is all behind them and they are focused on a brighter future, while the other is aware of all the privileges he has been given. The need to address this inequality is reflected in the combination of dreamy Arab songs with punky Dadaist touches.
For the recordings of the Arabic percussion, vocals and wind instruments, the band worked together with Joris Caluwaerts (Stuff., Lady Linn, Hydrogen Sea,...) in his Finster Studio. The mastering was done by Frederik Dejongh aka Jerboa Mastering. Youniss Ahamad provided the artwork, Farah Fayyad converted the English album title into Arabic script and Jef Cuypers and Chloé D'hauwe realised the graphic design of the cover.
Audiovisual live show
‘The Shedding of Skin' will be presented on 15 October, 2022, at VIERNULVIER Arts Centre with an audiovisual album-release show as part of the arts centre’s annual festival VIDEODROOM, organised in collaboration with Film Fest Gent.
The album-release show will feature live visuals by Youniss Ahamad, who was inspired by both the paintings of his Iraqi grandfather and by digital techniques.
‘'The fusion between an analogue technique such as painting and digital techniques such as video art reflects Use Knife's combination of synthesizers and traditional Arabic percussion.'' – Youniss Ahamad
The live show is a co-production of VIERNULVIER Arts Centre, Wilde Westen, STUK, AB, Trix and De Grote Post.