Berbel Nobodius – Then Emancipation
From Berbel Nobodius – Wanton But Windblown
Released on Hamster Records & Tapes, 1989, UK
For the third instalment in the Hamster Records And Tapes series we had the mysterious Melvyn Z Pad, a.k.a. Berbel Nobodius telling us about his solo album, the beautifully desolate Wanton But Windblown from 1989.
Hello, can you introduce yourself for our readers ?
MELVYN Z PAD: My name is Melvyn Z Pad, and I have been composing, playing and recording music since 1979. But at night when the light is dim, the wind is gently caressing the trees outside, and I can dream a while, I am BERBEL NOBODIOUS, super-kraut, carrying analogue synths under each arm.
What gave you the will and the desire to become a musician and to have your music released ?
MELVYN Z PAD: When I was a young child, my parents played opera and classical music. This did not interest me at the time, but subconsciously it did provide some sort of ‘musical indoctrination’. When I was 11 years old, ‘hard rock’ washed up on the TV. The first song to turn my head was ‘Black Knight’ by Deep Purple. This song released in me a massive set of emotions. Was it co-incidence I was turned onto music by a group of classically trained musicians, rather than blues (Led Zeppelin) or Black Sabbath (steel foundry noises!-).
I was not born into a musical family, therefore never learnt a musical instrument as a child. However, I did sing (badly) in the church choir from the age of 9.
When I went to university, I was surrounded by people who had learnt an instrument as a child, and furthermore were willing to lend me their instruments for me to practice on!-) From there I never looked back. I was inspired by the idea of multi-track recording, and the idea that you did not have to have your own band to hear the results of your multi-instrument compositions. By my final year, I had recorded my first multi-track song!-)
This was the time of the punk revolution, so rather than waiting to be ‘discovered’ by a major record company, many budding (over-confident?) artists took a short-cut to fame and fortune by releasing their material on their own record label. It was a crazy time, and I was up for it!
What were your main sources of inspiration ?
MELVYN Z PAD: For the Berbel album: Cluster. See answer (6).
Would you recognize yourself in such a tradition of electronic and avant-pop British music, as defined by Eno’s labels, Obscure and EG Records ?
MELVYN Z PAD: No! See answer (6)
I like music that has some originality to it. Music that challenges the listener in some way, and has some surprises in store. Hopefully revealing them on repeated listening.
Electronic and avant-pop British music, Eno, Obscure, etc all fall under this umbrella, so they are music I have been exposed to, and are therefore influenced by, either consciously or unconsciously. However I try not to follow traditions, and also I think many people would baulk if you told them I wrote pop music. I’m a music pauper, therefore not at all popular!-)
There’s something infinitely sad about the song « Then Emancipation », a ghostly quality. The name of the song makes me wonder whether you are, somehow, saying goodbye to something ? A part of your life ?
MELVYN Z PAD: My working method is …
Come up with a novel musical idea, or a different approach to someone else’s idea. Initially follow this quite strictly. Then once some emotion and/or excitement has been engendered in the piece, embellish and follow that wherever it leads. Then finally, to top it off, add a curveball!-), So to answer your question, I do not set out to write a ‘sad song’, it is just that the chords I find interesting, and have an ’emotional charge’ for me, quite often seem to lend themselves to a ‘sad song’.
As many records on the label, the name of the album and your moniker are quite cryptic… Would you mind to shed some light on them as well as on the conception of the album? (6)
MELVYN Z PAD: My concept for the album was quite simple … Plagiarism!
I wanted to attempt something similar to the German band Cluster on the album Cluster II: shifting textures rather than beats and melodies. As you can hear, I mainly failed in that attempt. Brushwood Epitaph probably coming closest to the original motivation. The guys in Cluster are called Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. In a poor parody, I decided to go under the name Berbel Nobodius for the project.
Around that time I was loaned another reel-to-reel recorder. In the days before digital looping, this allowed me to experiment with tape loops. So I alternated short sharp shots of tape loops with the longer more meditative pieces. Once all the pieces were written, I tried to sum up the overall mood of the album with the title ‘Wanton But Windblown’.
And there you have it, all my trade secrets laid bare!-)
You may be feeling a bit drowsy, maybe the light in the corner of your eye is going a little yellow.
That will be the poison beginning to do its work …
Enjoy these words while you can.
The original vinyl pressing of Wanton But Windblown is no longer available but a repressing is being planned – meanwhile the album is available digitally from Onoma Research (https://onomaresearch.bandcamp.com/album/wanton-but-windblown) or the usual download/streaming sites. You can read the two previous posts about the story of Hamster Records and Tapes here and here.