Leider is an ensemble that plays songs by Rishin Singh and hails from the city of Berlin. a fog like liars loving, their debut album, is fragile and delicate music that reflects the darker side of urban living – themes of addiction, alienation, casual cruelty, and paranoia are present throughout – while maintaining an understated gallows humor. Though difficult to categorize, they can reference the textures of Musique Concrète or the structures of Wandelweiser. They can also devolve into cascades of no-wave inspired noise and are almost always just at the edge of falling apart.
These eight songs extend a patient hand to the listener, playing with chance and human idiosyncracy: exposed instrumental playing where the hairs scraping across strings and the air required to produce a note are as important as the notes themselves. Hardly ever truly in tune or in time with one another, yet fully in conversation. Hardly a note that isn’t broken or damaged in some way – both antidote and mirror to the disintegration of sedentary life.
“Led by composer Rishin Singh, this sublime ensemble fits neatly into the complex of Berlin musicians devoted to alternate tunings. Blending exquisite, enveloping long tones, the measured singing of Annie Gårlid and Stine Sterne, and stately, slowly unfolding melodies, Leider is an art-song combo that finds the commonalities in John Dowland, the Velvet Underground, and La Monte Young.” – Peter Margasak
1. He is calling and throwing his arms up in the air / And no one is there
2. Two steps forward / Six steps back
3. I’ve seen you a couple of times / Guess I’ve seen you three times
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Language, comparative mythology, environmental sound, literature, human interactions.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
European classical piano, trombone, and theory studies as a child; experiments with tapes, radios, and feedback devices as a teenager; conservatory training; Sydney experimental scene un-training; Berlin Wandelweiser Und So Weiter/Reductionist scene aural cleanse…
At which point in time I got into making music, I don’t know.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
An impossible question. Instead, here are all the records that I own which are about, or refer to, trains:
Johnny Cash – Riding The Rails (CBS), 1976
Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks (Columbia), 1975
Bob Dylan – Slow Train Coming (Columbia), 1979
Rusty Evans – ¡Let-‘Er-Roll! Ballads Of The Railroads (Mount Vernon Music), year unknown
Seymour F. Johnson (Engineer) – Steam Locomotive Rail Sounds – A Farewell To Steam (HiFi Records), 1958
Brad Miller – Steel Rails Under Thundering Skys (Bainbridge Records), 1972
Sun Ra – Monorails and Satellites (Saturn Research), 1973
Pete Seeger – Freight Train (Capitol Records), 1964
Hank Snow & Jimmie Rodgers – All About Trains (RCA), 1975
Chris Watson – El Tren Fantasma (Touch), 2011
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Berliner Schnauze, foxes, home.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
The Flakturm at Humboldthain.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Listen to the birds.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
The Still – Got it (Seriés Aphōnos), 2021
A Berlin minimalist trance groove quartet featuring Derek Shirley (Leider’s cello/percussion player) on double bass.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
The Necks at The Basement in Sydney, 2011. Or maybe it was 2012.. I’ve seen them many times, but this concert remains my favourite.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
I keep notes, ideas, impressions with a pen in a paper note book. Some of these develop into musical material with which I play around in my mind’s ear. Eventually I compose at the keyboard, again with pen and paper.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have an older sister. I don’t know how she feels about my work, we’ve never really talked about it.
Photo © Philip Nuerneberger