Updates on my own projects have been piling up over the last few weeks. So this edition of Blinking Lights is selfishly all about me.
The biggest news is definitely this split release with Benjamin Mauch. I’m a big fan of his work, and have interviewed him some time ago for the Chosen Waves series. The mini-album is part of a series by Swedish imprint Purlieu Records called “Ambient Nuggets”.
The idea behind “Ambient Nuggests” is – as Purlieu’s Linus Schrab puts it – to publish a collection of tracks that can push the listener to press “repeat 1” on their playback device. Tracks that can run in a loop for sime time, without loosing their interest.
While we are talking about Purlieu, do check out this album by Ljudvägg https://purlieurecordings.bandcamp.com/album/transformation which they released in 2020. It navigates the thin line between acoustic and electronic in a wonderful way.
I’ve been working on a number of collaborative pices with a friend who makes music under the moniker knobalchemist. The collaborations take place over the internet and to make these both possible and interesting we have a number of techniques we experiment with.
Our latest collaboration was made using a technique which we call “patchwork” (not the most original name, I know!).
It works like this: first of all we define some musical parameters like for example the tempo, a key or a set of notes. Then we define a number of parts, like bass, percussions, melody or texture and sections like intro, verses, bridges, interludes, variations.
We randomly pick the parts/section that we will work on. From there we work in isolation until we are done with our part(s). In the end we put everything together. Part of this process is to accept whatever comes out in the end, so we only allow ourselves to do minor edits once everything comes together.
This “patchwork” track came out as part of a compilation by Italian synth facebook group Synth Cafè.
Last but not least here’s a little mix I had made for the radio programme Sonic Sound Synthesis on The Neon Hospice. The above is the complete episode, including modular sets by Drift of Signifieds and Extractor Fan.
2 days I also released it “standalone” on our kvsu Bandcamp.
As a sidenote: feel free to just enter “zero” and download it for free if you like it. I don’t have to make a living from my music and in general, I think I’m in the lucky position of being relatively well. There’s a lot of people who need money much more than I do and organisations who do great work, who can put money to good use.
So, if you want to give money to somebody, maybe instead give it to them.
Three years ago we decided to move to the countryside. Over these three years, we moved three times, dwelling in three different houses, one of which we renovated and made what we currently call home. I’ve never understood why people collect things. But to a certain degree, I probably do as well, but instead of physical objects, I prefer to collect sounds. Sometimes these sounds originate from nature Other times from humans and human artefacts like cars, household appliances and synthesizers. This set is a diary of random moments, a collection of fragments, from these three years.”
A slighly longer text about how and why I did this.
All of the audio in this track has – one way or the other – been spontaneously collected along the way. I often make recordings, when I hear something that I find interesting, or I’m in a situation that I somehow want to preserve a sonic memory of. Sometimes I have a proper portable recorder with me, other times I just use the phone.
My use of the modular in recent years has often been directly related to the design projects I have worked on. Most of the material I have recorded was born out the need to test a specific module. Sometimes though, I also use the synths to just wind down after a long day of work, or to help me with sleep.
Rarely the musical materials that come out of these sessions are deliberate compositions. Rather they are serendipitous, sometimes aimless explorations. Occasionally these erratic sonic wanderings bear fruit and the modular starts to make sounds I find interesting. In these cases I take a quick recording, much in the same fashion as when doing field recording.
All of these materials form a body of sonic snippets that get catalogued and archived on my hard drive, in the hope that they might one day be turned into something else.
The piece formed slowly over the course of these 3 years. Occasionally I would sit down and attempt to create a track out of the various modular snippets. Over time an idea took shape: to stitch them all together into something bigger and include field recordings as well. Then when Drift of Signifieds asked me if I wanted to make something for Sonic Sound Synthesis, I knew that it was the perfect outlet for this endeavour of mine.
First of all, to my family. This is dedicated to them. Not only because they appear with their voices and with their sonic presence in many parts of this piece.
Big thanks to Drift of Signifieds not sure I would ever have ever finished this without this very concrete goal in front of me.
I would also like to thank Matthias Puech and John Mitchell (aka Midcentury Modular) I interviewed both for this blog and some of the things they told me in these interviews where kind of eye-openers to me. The kind where you think: “that’s so in line with what I want to do, just that I didn’t know it yet!”.
The idea to treat synthesised sounds as raw sonic material and later combine/mangle/layer it into something else, totally comes from these two musicians.
Two further inspirations have been Herbert Distel’s Travelogue and Kate Carr’s I Ended Out Moving To Brixton 3. Mostly for their subtle, abstract narrative quality, and because both pieces really manage to take me on a sonic journey as few others do.
The cover photo was made by my wife Elizabeth, and features a small speaker, built by me (with my father’s help) and painted by Elizabeth.