martin küchen - the lie & the orphanage

mathka 2010

1. named by an unnamed source   2. the testimony of marie neumann (for alfred-maurice de zayas) 3. warszawa 4. the orphanage 5. plausible lies   6. other losses (for james bacque) 7. an eye for an eye / congolese women (for john sack) 8. killing the houses, killing the trees (multitracked version)   


It could be a walrus. Some very large, ungainly, semi-aquatic creature expelling air through a hole layered with tissue and fat and hairs. But then multiple apertures open at once and the creature just spouts information, chaotic from one angle, streamlined from another. Effluvia momentarily expelled, the beast lies down and breathes in short, percolating gasps, quiet but insistent. The pressure builds, however, surging in near-regular waves, causing the organ-walls to quiver, liquid to shudder, wind-drying them, forcing them to grind to a stuttering halt. Gasping again, more desperate and asthmatic, the inhaler partially blocked by fibers, the meager air whistling as it's sucked in, exhaled. At last, the whole bubbling, churning, motoric organism shifts into gear, half-beast, half-machine, navigating through viscous fluid, eating, excreting, copulating as it makes its way from pool to pool.

These were my initial thoughts on hearing Martin Küchen's solo album, before seeing the cover image! I was pleased that my imagery at least resided in the proper class, mammalia. Küchen's work had always connoted something extremely organic to me, combined with a strong sense of ground, of dirt and well-trodden floors. On "The Lie & The Orphanage", he evokes both of those sensations in spades, grinding, wheezing, gutturally rumbling with extreme corporeality and determination, eliciting sounds that, even in this age of post-saxophonic exploration, are startlingly new. Much more importantly, they read as true, as deeply felt expostulations, all building to the astonishingly visceral, multi-tracked finale. Strong, vital work.

written by Brian Olewnick

Michal Libera: One of the reasons for forgetting could be the guilt generated by the winners, no? This is one of the ways of turning official history into most intimate memories. Can you guess when has it started?

Martin Küchen: My father came to Sweden first time in 1949 - since his grandmother and grandfather and his aunts already were living here - as some Jews in exile. Regardless how rarely he has expressed himself over these matters he said he tried immediately to suppress his German heritage; later it expressed itself as that he didn't speak German to us at home. So we didn't learn, me and my brother; that motherlanguage is forever lost with us. so - yes - guilt he has, but mostly suppressed, not really acknowledged by him or his family later on... And the more lies we are surrounded by - even though they are not acknowledged as lies, but as truth, it affect us in such a bad way - only therefore the lies has to be confronted; cause it is physical.

Michal Libera: You said lies need to be confronted - you didn't say we need to replace them with truth…

Martin Küchen: I don't know if we can overcome anything, but to be able to confront official, established versions of events is crucial for our well-being. But who knows the truth? But since I believe lies are somehow (meta)physical, we can see them, if we are allowed, and the mere act of seeing what then obviously has to be false - is the revelation. And in today's society we are actually not allowed to discuss freely and we are fed with deliberate disinformation, disguised as truth.

an excerpt from Michal Libera's interview with Martin Küchen


Music played by
Martin Küchen (STIM/NcB) on baritone and alto saxophones and pocket radio. On track 8 also tenorsaxophone was used.

Recorded at Vallkärra Kyrka, Sweden, on the 23rd of March 2009 by
Jakob Riis.
Mixed and mastered by
Jakob Riis and Martin Küchen.

Cover photograph: James, from the series James & Other Apes by
James Mollison.

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