Category Archives: experimental music

Synths for Lunch: Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer (Boiler Room in Stereo)

Happy 2018! I hope you have a long lunch break or better yet, the day off, because this is a long one. Totally worth the time though. Use headphones and immerse yourself in the studio with these guys, the audio is in stereo. This is an excellent piece of dark ambient from 2015, created with a load of vintage and modern gear including old Roland drums and a Buchla synth.

Here’s some text from the video description:

“The release notes for their recent collaborative album, A.R.T, perhaps unfairly characterises Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer’s foray into dark ambient as “genre tourism.” The heady experimentalism of concept-driven recorded work from the duo’s inception in the early 2000s has seen them tackle reductionist technoid minimalism for Cadenza, craft an album of pieces composed solely with drum machines, and produce the longplayer NSI. Plays Non Standards which featured minimalist drones at the intersection of modern acoustic piano (played by Loderbauer) and electronic abstraction (as manipulated by Freund). Their acclaimed, yet infrequent, live sets have regularly skewed towards the organic and tonal qualities of the ambient aesthetic, functioning as a counterweight to the defined parameters of their celebrated output for Sähkö Recordings and Freund’s own Non Standard Productions. The relative rarity of their live performances can be attributed to the sheer amount of analog gear required to realise the specificity of their sound design, as witnessed in this live capture: a fascinating mind trip through layers of deep submersion, simmering otherworldly eeriness and industrial pulses.”

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Dialectical Imagination (Free Jazz duo)

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I’m no authority on Free-Jazz, and though I enjoy listening, I’ve never deigned to write about it. It contains many elements, and  being improvisational in nature, is wide open to interpretation, so do take a listen and explore these worlds from your perspective, recieve your own impressions.

Dialectical Imagination are a duo that consists of Eli Wallace and Rob Pumpelly. Rob also runs the label Atma Nadi and has studied under some notable artists such as Pauline Oliveros and Fred Frith while at Mills College. Eli has an MM in Jazz Composition from The New England Music Conservatory in Boston. He has also performed at the Outsound New Music Summit. Both have ties to the Bay Area, Rob being located in Oakland and Eli having grown up in El Cerrito. They have also both performed with Bay Area Free Jazzer Rent Romus.

The duo were kind enough to send me a hard copy of the latest release “The Angel and The Brute Sing Songs of Wrath” which comes as a cleverly designed usb stick housed in a cassette shell. The instrumentation consists of piano and drums/percussion. The music is top notch and expertly executed, there is obvious musicianship in this.  Themes drift from chaotic and driving frenetic rhythms, and dissonance, to light and ethereal piano guided interludes. Both musicians take turns to shine while maintaining a musical dialog. This would fit right in with any of the Free-jazz or ‘Black Classical’ music of that era. Highly enjoyable and not too challenging for those who might normally be put off by this sort of abstractness, there is an inherent flow to this.

The duo will be performing in the Bay Area, in Oakland, at The Octopus Literary Salon on Dec 26th.

Here’s an excellent set from Seattle 2016:


 

 

 

 

Simply Saucer (live at Entropy Studios 2016)

Simply Saucer are a legendary proto-punk band from Hamilton, Ontario. Lo-fi Garage and Krautrock influences are prevalent in their unique sound, which they very much make their own. If you’ve never heard or heard of them, check out the 1989 release Cyborgs Revisited which contains material from 1974 and some live stuff from 1975, though it sounds like it’s from another time.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable set to watch. At least 2 of the original members are playing in the current line up, featuring Edgar Breau, and I’m glad to say, it looks as if they’ve been quite active as of late. It’s cool to see these weird toons kept alive and I’d love to see them if they ever make it out of the Rust Belt.

For some further exploration, check out this recent interview with Jesse Locke (he also plays drums in the above set) who wrote a bio on the band called “Heavy Metalloid Music: The Story of Simply Saucer.


 

Nor Cal Synth Meet 2017

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I actually had a free Saturday afternoon for once and was really excited to be able to attend the 15th annual Nor Cal Synth Meet, held at Robotspeak with performances next door at Vinyl Dreams in The Lower Haight SF.  This event was hosted by Binary Society.

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This was the first time I attended the meet and actually the first time I’ve ever stepped foot into Robotspeak. I’ve had a love of synth music for a long time and this place is where it’s at! They have been the local go to spot for anything synth related, and especially now with Eurorack and modular synths hitting new levels of exposure, I’m sure they will continue to grow. I’m sure to be a patron as I slowly develop a system of my own over time.

Here’s a list of the companies represented:

Elektron (Sweden) – The much anticipated Octatrack MKII, Analog 4 MKII, Analog Heat, and Digitakt.
Moog Music (N. Carolina) – Mother 32 Rig, Model 15, Minimoog Model D
Dreadbox (Athens, Greece) – Abyss, NYX, and Erebus desktop synths and couple of White Line Eurorack Modules.
Dave Smith Instruments (SF)
SOMA (Russia) – Lyra-8 Analog Synthesizer
Expressivee – TOUCHÉ controller

+MODULAR+

WMD – Chimera and Arpitecht as well as a prototype of the Trigger Sequencer.
Pittsburgh Modular
Make Noise Music (N. Carolina) – Check out their latest modules: the Morphagene, Contour, and DynaMix
Noise Engineering (LA) – the soon-to-be-released Manis Iteritas and Integra Solum and the recently released Loquelic Iteritas Percido and Cursus Iteritas.
1010music (LA) – The new SynthBox will be on hand.
Zetaohm (SF) – FLXS1 Sequencer
Analogue Solutions (UK) – FuseBox

I met up with a friend who has been studying and building modular set ups for awhile now, so it was nice to have a bit of a guide through the myriad bits of gear and their functions. I learned a lot just listening. In the video posted below there is a solid 5 minutes or so of the Pittsburgh Modular rep demoing the Trigger Sequencer prototype.

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Pittsburgh Modular Trigger Sequencer Prototype

I got my hands on some of the WMD stuff and really liked the sounds coming out of those, there is nothing like interacting with the gear after having seen many demos in videos.

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Checking out WMD gear
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Haptic Synapses

Everyone bounced back and forth between Robotspeak and Vinyl Dreams which are side by side in The Lower Haight. There were live sets going on all day so if you needed a break from the cacophony of multiple synths being tested and tweaked, you could go next door for a more focused sound experience. I’m not sure who I saw performing earlier in the day but there was everything from banging Techno to Drones to abstract sounds represented throughout the day. I caught some of Haptic Synapses set, and took some guerrilla video of Normalien, who I had the pleasure to finally meet in person after having been Instagram buddies for awhile.

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I had a really good time, met some excellent folks, and everyone was really into it. The guys at Vinyl Dreams were really nice, and being a vinyl junkie, I look forward to going back there as well.

Enjoy the videos!