Salaryman: Salaryman (City Slang)
Salaryman play a self styled 'Basement rock', a genre invented before the press could manufacture it for them. It's an apt notion to latch onto as well, because as they artfully side-step their previous incarnation as dubiously ineffectual Creation po(o)psters The Poster Children (go on, count the number of bands Creation signed that you can't remember a record by), Salaryman emerge from their basement with a sound that bristles with dark late 90's rock fashion. Fusing influence from the shockingly rapidly assimilated Krautrock staples such as Can and Neu!, Salaryman add a dash of media sampling and deliver a sound which is forthright and intricate all at once. No mean feat. Given the failure of the Poster Children, it's probably as well that this time around the Salarymen play the anti-star idea. The sleeve of their debut LP is generic, and in performance they come on as black tied Devo-tees of the face-less pop in the vein of The Residents or Kraftwerk. And like Kraftwerk too, Salaryman groove. A groove as in the aforementioned Can. A groove as in the way you meander around your basement, avoiding the glare of the sun and the moon, messing your head with the TV on under the stereo, holding conversations in your head because you're scared to pick up a phone. And so the ambient ingredient of media has been played before, and the TV sets of Salaryman are played in the way Rimbaud plays his Scanner, but that it's not 'new' is irrelevant, because it's the way the instruments are fused, are abused that matters. Listening to Salaryman you figure that technology is regularly abused in their basement. Which, I figure, you have to applaud. It comes to it's peak on tracks like the excellently titled 'Voids and Superclusters', 'Burning at the stake' and the LP closing 'Hummous', and it's apparently taken to greater levels of noisy abuse in the live situation.
So then, Salaryman; a messy media manipulation of sound that rocks. And grooves. Which is just fine for now thank you very much.
Here's how The Salarymen answered some of the Tangents fatuous questions:
There seems to be a strong German influence in a lot of contemporary rock these days, and i sense a Can kind of groove going on in your record. Has the resurgence of interest in the Krautrock thing influenced you, and/or has it made it easier to get your music noticed?
Can is influential more in their philosophy than sound. The idea of four (or five) musicians contributing equally to create music through improvisation.
Faceless Rock... There's a lot of anonymity in your presentation, which is very non-Rock'n'Roll in the sense that it tends to suggest a denial of star status. How did this come about? Were you influenced by someone like, say The Residents, or Kraftwerk with their dummies? Or is it more like the 'faceless' non-star aesthetic of techno music?
Anytime personalities are involved in music they detract from the music itself.
The TV broadcasts, are they genuinely arbitrary components, or are their certain stations that you tend to stick with because you know they'll provide interesting sounds?
We choose stations with a lot of talking - news programmes in particular. Broadcasts with music tend to interfere.
Are you familiar with the work of Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner, who does something similar to your TV broadcast element by incorporating live scanning of mobile phone conversations into his performance? Do you think there could be more done in the realm of using contemporary technology which is not designed to be a musical instrument as a means of creating organized sound?
We're familiar with Scanner's work, and have actually used some scanning in our performances. Anything that creates or broadcasts noise can be an instrument. Technology should be used and abused.
Digital versus analogue. Your preferences and why?!
No preference here, we use whatever sounds good to us - and that can be either analogue or digital.
Okay, slightly off the beaten track now: If you were to try and pinpoint the moment when you realised that 'music' was important to your life, what would that moment be?
Howie: Me and a friend played 'Don't Bring Me Down' by ELO at the 6th Grade Talent Show; people went nuts and at that moment I knew...
©Alistair Fitchett. 1997.