Max Clouth on his collective’s new name Ragawerk, and the live music scene in Europe
During his multi-city Indian tour last December, German guitarist Max Clouth talked to Indulge about how sounds of the east influenced his jazz outfit Max Clouth Clan, featuring Winfried Rimbach-Sator and Martin Standke. Just a few weeks later the band announced on Facebook that it’s streamlining its focus towards a symbiosis of Indian and Western elements, electronic music and Krautrock and changing the band's name to Ragawerk.
“The switch to Ragawerk mirrors our musical influences from both Germany and India - ragas and the German word ‘werk’ meaning work or factory. Back in 2012, when I had returned to Germany having spent four years in Mumbai training in Indian classical music, I formed a band with Frankfurt-based drummer Martin Standke. Together, we set out to realise my vision for a sound that transcends European and Indian music. With the new name we wanted to emphasise on ourselves as a collective, to better reflect our musical inspirations,” Clouth tells us.
Ragawerk has recently resumed live gigs in Europe, albeit amid strict healthcare regulations. The band has also just released a new jazz-fusion track titled Face In The Sky which was recorded in New Delhi and Kolkata during their 2019 tour. We caught up with Clouth to explore his plans further:
Tell us about Face In The Sky, what are the elements you've focused on?
Face In The Sky is inspired by a dream, Jazz, ragas and electronic sounds merge into music like a road trip inside our minds, resembling the soundtrack of a film, which only exists in imagination. Why move in just one world when you can be at home in many? Western and Indian influences merge into a characteristic sound, while we combine sophisticated structures with expressive improvisations, cinematic soundscapes and stirring rhythms.
Face In The Sky’s video, shot by filmmaker Niklas Doka, opens with a quote from Paramahansa Yogananda. Episodes are shot on the roads between Germany and India and the video highlights how perspectives change. Kolkata-based artiste Abhishek Mallick joined us on the sitar. The incorporation of sitar lends to a unique West-East merging, a heady transfer and fusion of sounds occurs, characteristic of our musical vision.
How would you define Ragawerk's sound?
Our music is defined by a high level of dense energy - an ongoing exploration of special sounds and new ways of expression, driven by our fascination with Indian culture. We play with hymnic melodies, cinematic sounds and atmospheric themes. Jazz as interpreted by Ragawerk is richly layered and influenced by a multitude of styles that ultimately escapes categorization.
Each of our songs' diverse repertoire is injected with the soul of a well-established style or genre and then further inspired with new life. The result of which is a deep awareness that life is but a wild current of melodies; foreign at first and then strikingly familiar – ever moving with no repetitions.
You've just resumed live gigs in Germany. What do you think is the future for live music?
The current health emergency has completely ensnared all our lives, pausing plans and altering the flow of things. It definitely put a damper in terms of where the future lies, but also gave us a lot of time to reflect as artistes and as a collective. We are definitely going to see concerts taking place again, but obviously with strict rules and regulations, and controlled/ limited amounts of attendees. We are extremely thankful to be able to play again, and I think people, too, are looking forward to getting out, and attending events.