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Ophibre

My first encounter with Ophibre came in the form of Puzzle Pieces, which arrived in my mailbox at WZBC. Its packaging was minimal and distinctive: a plain white CDr with a tiny specimen bag containing two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Other than that there was only a catalog number (Oph3) and the name Ophibre. The music was similarly enigmatic. It was grainy and raw; full of analog electronics, feedback, and field recordings.

Ophibre is Ben Rossignol, a musician based in Boston. Over the past year, Rossignol has self-published a series of these inventively packaged CDrs and cassettes. His most recent releases are a split cassette with conceptual sound artist Jarrod Fowler and a limited edition CDr called Red on the Expanding Electronic Diversity label. On Thursday, August 16, Ophibre will perform live on Rare Frequency. The following interview took place by email in the week prior to the show.

Listen to the podcast of Ophibre’s live set here:
Podcast Spec. Ed. 19: Ophibre Live on Rare Frequency

What is your background? How did you become interested in making music?

My father was a potter. When I visited him on the weekends, he sometimes would give me clay and we would make sculptures while listening to a field recordings series from the seventies called Environments. When I was four years old, we sat down and watched the movie 2001. The film had a profound effect on me, especially the sound. It was many years later that I even learned his name, but I was a György Ligeti fan very early on in my life. Another influential event was when my father bought me Laurie Anderson’s performance art computer game Puppet Motel.

When I was in pre-school, I sometimes would record the classroom ambiance with a Fisher Prince tape recorder when no one was looking.

I started writing poetry when I moved to Boston in 2004. It was through the act of writing that I began composing sound pieces.

What is the meaning and significance of the name Ophibre?

At a certain point, I began experiencing entirely sonic dreams. One night, the sound “o-fee-brah” occurred in a dream.

Could you talk a bit about the packaging of your releases and its relationship to the music itself?

My releases are concrete poems. I feel it is up to the listener to think about what the connections are between the sound and the object/s included. Ophibre is the texture of these thoughts.

What do you use (instrument and equipment-wise) to make your music? Do you have a fairly stable set-up, or is it more flexible?

My set-up is always changing. I tend to use feedback loops as a foundation and I build around that to create a feeling of relationship between incidental sounds and notions. Lately, I’ve been working with spring reverbs and free tape that I contact with tape heads in various ways.

Are there any artists/musicians who have particularly influenced what you do as Ophibre?

My ophibre influences include various movements, writers, composers, thoughts and mind users such as Light Comedy, Federico Garcia Lorca, Tony Conrad, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Fennesz, Andre Breton, Mike Shiflet, Edgard Varèse, Yoko Ono, Robert Anton Wilson, fluxus and krautrock.

What projects (recordings, shows, etc.) do you currently have in the works?

For recordings, I plan to self-release a piece entitled Two Cassettes. The release will include an audio cassette and a video cassette. On September 28th, I will be performing at Nom D’Artiste in Chinatown, Boston.

Susanna Bolle

 

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Comments

I’ve got a few of those Environments LPs, they’re pretty good— and loads of text on the backs! I first picked them up, being interested in the so-called “psychoacoustic” sounds they often promise…

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