I have always been just as curious about sound as I have been about music. In my teens I heard Song of the Youth by Karlheinz Stockhausen. I had no idea music could be like that, but I was completely receptive to it. I took a Contemporary Music Course in college and I was never the same. We listened to, and analyzed, classic twentieth century pieces, such as Einstein on the Beach by Phillip Glass, Music For Airports by Brian Eno, Black Angels by George Crumb, and although I was a dedicated student of jazz and improvised music, I loved this stuff! Improvisational music has always been my main focus, but I mention these experiences to illustrate how that language has been pushed and pulled and cross pollinated through the years. That being said, it had been a while since something had really turned my ear on its head, so to speak, as did contemporary electronica and it’s many offshoots. And it was about to happen again..
The Sounds of Industry
Devin and some of my other colleagues got me listening to industrial music. Specifically, the music of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. I had been listening to his catalogue, Pretty Hate Machine, The Fragile and all the classic stuff from early in his career, I liked it, but I was slow to catch on. Then in 2007 Nine Inch Nails released Year Zero. I was completely blown away! Several listens in headphones and my compositional voice was going to evolve to incorporate some of these darker, grittier, analogue noisescapes . Every artist has those moments in their creative life when they hear something and it is going become part of what they do…hopefully in their own way. This was the last time it happened for me. My jazz friends knew that I had wide listening habits, but I know that they didn’t quite get my fascination. Since Year Zero, Trent Reznor, has put out several critically acclaimed albums, game scores, film soundtracks and won an Academy Award. I think they now understand where I was coming from.
Because of my academic experience, I was given a good background in the history of electronic music. While a graduate student at Ohio State in the early 90‘s, I was actually using C-Sound on the NeXT computer, writing command lines to manipulate audio in ways that you can do any DAW and a mouse today. For those of you unfamiliar with the joy of command lines, let me enlighten you. C-sound was a computer programming language for sound. If you had an original sample loaded onto your computer and you want to perform an editing function such as stretch it, shrink it, or manipulate it in any number of ways, you had to write a series of letters and numbers that would command the machine to take that action. Now it was common for these “command lines” to be long and involved and if the resulting sound was not what you wanted you had to make adjustments the the original sample and try it again. With these early experiences in mind, the ease of manipulating audio in the contemporary computer music making environment is not lost on me. So here i was, this guys with a university music background, who had written and performed a lot of acoustic music with acoustic music ensembles..getting hardcore into a Ableton live and Propellerhead Reason on a Macbook Pro, and trying to to meld my love for jazz and New Music with a myriad of electronica styles and Industrial music. Over the next several years that is exactly what I did and in 2011 I released the EP Digerati.