Monthly Archives: June 2008

on making emusic

i am in fact a multi-instrumentalist. i play bass as a lead instrument, specialize in percussion electronic, ethnic and allsorts, and love to play with awkward instruments like the birembau, having a special fondness for things i can put in my mouth or gargle into, such as didjeridoo.

but above all, i am an electronic musician. i am one those people who *plays* synthesizers to make idiomatic music. i was the one who stood in front of the console moog and understood that the processes which its modules instantiated, and the control surfaces which it offered (knobs and sliders and switches and ribbons and things that looked like musical keys but really were just triggers and selectors in arrayed black and white) were the body of a new performance paradigm and another kind of music. not that this was any great revelation, since by the time i actually stood in front of that instrument, i had been listening to tangerine dream, klaus schulze, tomita, vangelis, larry fast, wendy carlos, etc for years beforehand.

my basic style was initially shaped by these influences, but has become more and more idiosyncratic over the years as i’ve tinkered and dabbled in the velveteen sedans of lounge music, the fluorescent concrete of pure freeform experimentation, the sweaty darkness of industrial, and so on. i have a tendency toward longform, an addiction to loops and arpeggios, and a trope for the drone.

i have never been an analog fascist… nor a digital one, for that matter. i buy instruments for their quirkiness, their particularity of sound, and the access of control. one of my main criteria has always been that there should not be a distance of more than two knob twists between the lamest factory preset and utter flatulent chaos. i’ve broken the rule very infrequently… most notably in the case of the emu morpheus, which has the same stupid “programming by periscope” interface that all emus do, but whose dynamic z-plane filter thingy is just too whacked-out to pass up on. i also gleefully employ software of many varities, mooshing together granular synthesis engines and oddball midi processors and drumulators (i love rebirth) with happy abandon. and i happen to be an expert on FM synthesis.

unfortunately, my most intensive period of creativity was several years ago, at the cusp of my nervous breakdown. since then i have put in a few of those lovely, long, scotch-soaked nights wrapped in my headphones… but they’ve been few indeed and very far between. most of my prior work is on DAT and minidisc, and those pieces which i had encoded in realaudio and put up on the web under my old name are now gone along with the remnants of a fading version of what was once me.

but the music… the music is me, and always has been, and has always been the truest. like my writing, it can be offputting or dull or opaque… but what you see or hear is my art, and the best i can do toward saying who i am.

-sigh-. i have been planning for some time, not only to get this equipment wired back up, but to remount the back catalog in MP3. when i do (soon, soon, i promise… this is more important to me than you might believe), you will be the first to know.

[originally written about five and a half years ago]