Photography by Georg Gatsas

Martina Lussi’s sound pieces diffuse her listener

While ‘Diffusion Is a Force’ is the second album released by Martina Lussi, this was the first time the Lucerne, Switzerland-based sound artist sat down with the intention of creating one. “With the first album, most of the tracks were already finished the day the label asked me to do a release. So I didn’t really think of what it meant to make an album. This time, it was clear that I will be making an album for Latency from the beginning.”

Whereas the pieces on her debut album ‘Selected Ambient’ echoed its title, Martina challenged herself to produce music in new ways for her second release. “When I started producing music I made extremely long pieces with a duration of 20 to 30 minutes, whereas now the pieces get shorter and shorter. This time I wanted to challenge myself to make pretty compact pieces. Also, if you think of how most people listen to music nowadays, I think it is interesting to match the short concentration span of the listener. I wondered how that changed my production process and I have to say it was pretty fun and fresh to produce like that.”

Martina also aimed to diversify her sonics on the album yet still remain true to her own sound. “One of the main questions I was dealing with during the writing process was where the point is, where I would lose my authorship. How diverse can this album sound and still be recognized as one of mine? What sound material is my material and what melodies are mine? Because to use melodies is always a kind of convention.”

Utilising a number of elements including field recordings, synthesis and live instrumentation, Martina explains that “finding the balance [between elements] was part of the concept behind the album. But as a producer, it’s always important to think within the pieces, how the different sounds correlate. So it’s always both [trying to strike a balance between elements and letting the pieces dictate it].”

Having begun production during her Bachelor-studies in Fine Arts, Martina’s first introduction to music was the guitar, an instrument she still uses to this day and which features on ‘Diffusion Is a Force’. “It’s an instrument I can make melodies with but also a lot of noise and its different from the computer because you have a lot of tactile feedback from a ‘real’ instrument while playing it and I think you react on it much faster than you can think. It’s more direct, in the moment, and that’s why it brings a balance for me in the working process.”

Aiming to elicit feelings of diffusion from her listeners, the pieces on the album, with their multiple layers, heavy textures and varied soundscapes achieve this feeling with a dreamlike beauty. And while the pieces are products of performances, performance is not the first consideration when producing them. “In each sound piece, you hear many performances. I perform every day in my studio, recording sounds and layering them. So my performance on stage can only be a part of the big picture. I try more and more to make pieces I know that might be interesting to perform live but some of the pieces are so pretty tightly structured that the performance of these pieces is a big question mark afterward. And that’s why there are pieces I may never perform live.”

In producing the album Martina had to find an answer to an interesting but difficult question. “How could I make an album that is about diffusion? Where do I start and where does it end?” With the album having been pressed to vinyl by Latency, it’s clear she did find an answer.

Listen to ‘Diffusion Is a Force’ here.

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