The Monthly interviews New Zealand Wordcore outfit, Moebius Orchestra – Part 1 – The Music

What is Moebius Orchestra?

Poet 1

Moebius was a French cartoonist who I discovered when I was reading Heavy Metal magazines that I probably shouldn’t’ve been reading as a young child. Apart from his cartoons, he also worked on the film, Jodorowsky’s Dune. So, Moebius is a science fiction based Wordcore band and just to add to the mystique, because we play multiple instruments we decided to call the group an orchestra.

Is the writing science fiction based?

Yes, in a general sense it is. It is poetry which looks to science fiction for inspiration. We did want to situate ourselves in the Dune universe but everything we write is able to stand alone and is independent from the specific connection to Dune.

What about the music?

Musician 1

We use ethnically based instruments from around the world; they are not standard western instruments. The Jaw Harp is from South East Asia, the rare Gourd Flute is from China and we have a hybrid Banjo player as well. We don’t limit ourselves to ethnically based instruments; we use modern elements in our instrumentation as well. That means the instruments are not played necessarily in their original orientation and I play using extended playing techniques so I don’t use standard time signatures or even standard methods.

I use circular breathing techniques, I use Jazz articulation, I play in interesting time signatures and I also use the instruments differently from their traditional roles. I do however respect the instruments and the cultural background of the instruments, but I consider myself as having a modern approach to playing.

Is there any genre or artists you could compare your work to?

Musician 1

There really isn’t anything in western culture which would be similar to the music we are making, but there would be some connections to musicians in Eastern Europe like, fro example, people who play Balkan Flutes, and in Asia there might be people who would use similar intonations, although as I have said, there are modern elements to the playing techniques and that makes for quite a unique sound.

Do you use your instruments to produce melody or rhythm?

Musician 1

That is an interesting question and it would be tempting to say that there is a rhythmic quality to the instruments, in fact it would be reasonable to say that I often find the rhythmic element first but when I am playing I am always trying find a melodic structure to lay under the words that the writers are producing. I think the breathing patterns are often the point at which I am looking for rhythm and then from there you search for the melody.

Part two of this interview is here

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