[Cover photo credit to Einar Snorri]
Kurt Uenala, also known as Null + Void, has shared the Manuscript EP featuring Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode and released via hfn music. He has also shared a video for “Cracks Are Showing,” directed by Snorribros. Uenala is known for his collaborations, already including Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Big Pink, and Shannon Funchess of Light Asylum.
Following years of work in Gahan’s NYC studio and traveling with Depeche Mode, Uenala became aware that sometimes Gahan would take out a notebook and pen and start writing. What he was writing remained a mystery. Luckily, Gahan ended up recording some of his poems and sent them to Uenala, ultimately resulting in this release.
Iceland-based Uenala and the city-dweller Gahan kept in touch during the pandemic, Uenala explains:
I always wondered what he was writing in the notebook, but I never pried. During one of our check-ins I eventually asked what he was scribbling down when he was off in some corner, or standing on his own, next to a studio window.
Gahan sent Uenala a recording of him reciting something from the journal. In his studio, a decommissioned hospital situated on an Icelandic fjörd, Uenala used a classic Oberheim synth to react to the recording. Songs started to take shape, through a modified form of call and response.
Both artists were pleased with the results, and agreed that the prose had more of an impact in concert with the music than it did merely existing, on paper, hidden in a notebook. Work continued, and produced a collection of recitations set to soundscapes.
I’m not sure why, or when, exactly, I wrote these short pieces. I knew they were never to be songs. I do know that they were written when I was alone. Sometimes in a hotel room. Where? I can’t recall. Sometimes standing by the ocean, or walking the beach in winter. Sometimes on the empty streets of New York City, during the lockdown. Always whilst feeling the beauty, power, and loneliness of a world beyond me.