Not Applicable is a group of musicians, composers, visual artists and filmmakers collaboratively developing and openly prototyping new approaches to their respective artistic pursuits. Not Applicable is an open-ended framework which encompasses both the realisation and documentation of these collaborations in the form of performances, installations, CDs, DVDs and on the web.
Not Applicable started in 2002 when the electronic duo Icarus (Ollie Bown and Sam Britton) decided to temporarily take on the complete production and release of their own music, enabling themselves to draw a line as freely as possible under periods of musical experimentation by producing a publicly available document. Not Applicable served as a platform independent of industry dictated procedures, where it was possible to publish work simply and distribute it locally.
The first releases (2002’s ‘Misfits’, ‘Soviet Igloo’ and ‘8 minutes’) were predominantly experimental in nature and attempted different solutions at packaging in order to reduce overall costs. With the limited coverage they received, owing to vastly scaled down distribution and publicity, these releases could safely be described as underground, aiming primarily at delivering a form of continuity in Icarus’s constantly evolving sound world. The internet proved a useful ally to the cause and ‘Misfits’ gained a degree of classic status in electronic music circles, which ultimately resulted in the duo signing to the Leaf Label in 2003. Post ‘I Tweet The Birdy Electric’ (Leaf 2004) and its associated accolades, the Not Applicable theme was picked up again to present further sonic evolutions in the form of 2005’s ‘Carnivalesque’, whose packaging consisted of recycling discarded album art from old promo CDs.
Not Applicable’s list of cohorts has since expanded, fueled by Icarus’s desire to explore more wide ranging experimental avenues. 2006 saw the duo working their way from the underground, independent, commercial music world in which they started working, into improvised, academic and research circles, offering different points of view on music and culture. The result of this exposure has led to a set of innovative electro-acoustic collaborations who’s documentation started with the Tom Arthurs and Ollie Bown ‘Electric Duo’ EP and has continued with ‘Five Loose Plans’ and ‘Nowhere’, releases which combined Isambard Khroustaliov with Maurizio Ravalico and Lothar Ohlmeier. Filmmakers Martin Hampton and Britt Hatzius also began working with Not Applicable on visual accompaniments to their performances and on a series of experimental short films exploring the combined possibilities of sound and image.
With the help of PRSF funding, 2007 saw the touring of the Not Applicable Artists as a whole group and the beginning of a residency showcasing new collaborations; Appliances. The results of all this activity are documented on the compilation ‘N/A – An Intorduction to Not Applicable’ which was released in September 2008 as a free download.
With the reloacation of Ollie Bown to Australia in 2007 and Tom Arthurs and Lothar Ohlmeier to Berlin in 2008, new facets and connections have developed with other similar organisations and artists internationally. Most significantly, the enigma that is Rudi Fischerlehner joined the Not Applicable think-tank through his involvment with both Tom and Lothar in various projects in Berlin. His playing graces the first documentation of these new connections; A Further Insight Into Not Applicable and has been expanded upon in a number of concerts, the most recent of which are documented in the soundtrack to Martin Hampton’s film Flat Home.
Maurizio Ravalico and Tom Arthurs have both released dedicated records that document various experimental collaborations in the form of In Thunder Rise and Three Improvisations. Meanwhile, in Melbourne, Ollie Bown has been developing a duo with bass clarinettist Brigid Burke and pineering autonomous software performance experiments in a series of nights entitled Hands Free. Following a brief Icarus tour of Australia and Isambard Khroustaliov‘s involvment in Hands Free, the idea of autonomous software and imporvisation was showcased in Europe in the form of a project entitled Long Division which saw the combined forces of Ohlmeier, Khroustaliov, Bown and Arthurs harnessed to produce a concert length series of pieces that were premiered at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam.
2010 also saw the inaugural Not Applicable Artists Festival take place in Berlin in September, collating a large number of friends and colleagues and taking over venues all over the city, an occurence that will hopefully be repeated in 2011 in London.