The first of several new releases coming from The A.M. Experiment, Emerging From the Underground is a twenty track voyage through several styles of electronic music.
“A selection of tracks initially conceived for a live event at The Incubator. The songs developed into a fully fledged EP in it’s own right as a consistency of sound and vision began to form during post event recording sessions and arrangement.”
All Night Song and the Remix in detail
All Night Song is the last track on my 2011 release Digerati. The song itself was probably written somewhere around 2006. It was only the second song that I had tried to write combining the elements of jazz, electronica, and industrial, and I was at the very beginning stages of feeling my way through this new concept. The song is a little over 8 minutes long, and the way in which the listener experiences the song is in two broad gestures. The first 5 minutes is the body of the song, and the last 3 minutes is a kind of extended outro. The way Devin and I were working at this particular time I was that I would play all the instruments on the track (drum programming, bass, keyboards, guitar), as well as orchestrate and arrange until I felt the track was complete. Then Devin would mix and add additional production and sound design. Because this is such an early collaborative effort, his fingerprint is especially prevalent on this composition. It is also noteworthy to mention that Devin also plays electric bass on the track. All Night Song was not my favorite song in this early group of compositions. However, one of the things that I really like about it is when it goes into the last three minutes of outro and the overdriven guitar and keyboard are involved in an extended question and answer conversation. The song really goes off into space. Devin did all the cool production that is happening under that conversation. I noticed that, like some of my favorite music, this was the only part of Digerati where I could put on the headphones and the music took me to imaginary places. You know, where you’re creating an imaginary story to someone else’s music and it becomes yours. The kind of thing that is so easy to do with a band …say like…Pink Floyd. That was really cool. I think it is because Devin was so involved in that particular section of the song, that I was able to distance myself from it, and listen to it differently. That is also why when I asked Devin what tune he liked best on Digerati, he would always say All Night Song. So five years or so later when I brought up the idea of remixing a tune from Digerati, I didn’t really need to ask which song he wanted to do.
All Night Song the Remix
The All Night Song Remix is an epic Drum N’ Bass style reinterpretation of the original composition. The most notable differences being the more uptempo style, and new bass line propel the song forward and establish a nice groove for Devin to intersperse many of his signature production techniques. These techniques include, the original drum part is subject to all kinds of glitch, reverse, and stop time effects. Drops punctuate the song and at several times bring the composition to a grinding halt just to quickly accelerate right back to it’s frenetic pace. Both harmonic and melodic elements are subject to extensive stutter edits.The endings of harmonic and melodic phrases are treated with long swoops and swashes that trail off into oblivion and break apart in as many ways as you could possibly imagine. The original keyboard solo remains intact and is propelled ahead nicely with the new uptempo treatment. The dreamy distorted guitar gestures are still featured towards the end of the piece, although they bend and morph like stretched metal as they fade and break apart. There is much to like about this remix. It’s energy, creativity, special effects, and all the motion in the stereo field give the listener an experience that is especially fun in an isolated headspace. So plug in, put on some headphones on, and enjoy the ride.
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.
Devin Gaylord and the Eastside studio years
In the early 2000’s Devin Gaylord and I found ourselves teaching music at the same studio on the east side of Seattle. He came over to my studio one day lamenting the fact that he couldn’t find any collaborators. Since I am always looking for action, I said “ I’ll collaborate with you”… and that began several years of us working together pretty regularly. At the time, I was listening to a lot of ambient music. The list included some of my favorite soundtracks, such as, Birdy and The Last Temptation of Christ by Peter Gabriel, Solaris, and Traffic by Cliff Martinez, Brian Eno….always Brian Eno. And then one day another friend of mine came into that same music studio and played something in the glitch style for me. It was an original piece. I was taken aback, confused and intrigued. VERY INTRIGUED. I thought to myself, “if Picasso worked with audio it would sound like THIS”. I had recently seen a film that Ryuichi Sakamoto had scored called “Original Child Bomb”and I heard a lot of these same types of sounds and concepts..so,at least now, I had a name to put with the style that had caught my ear.
At Devin’s Studio
Devin already had a pretty well equipped studio at that time. It included a Mac tower, some good quality outboard gear, analog synths (both desk top and some Dave Smith Keyboards), and several of the most popular DAWS. I was using, and continue to use, Ableton Live and Reason. We ended up collaborating on three early songs. They were my compositions and Devin would create additional production, sound design and mix. I was transitioning from a composer and performer who mainly wrote for the ensembles that he played in, to one who used those skills to put together a really good track. They are two different things, with a lot of overlap. Devin was honing his mixing and production skills and both of us were learning fast.
The first piece we did was a jazz-rock fusion composition titled Thing One. Although I really wasn’t playing in this style much, and hadn’t for a long time, this one appeared. To this day, the melody is still a favorite of mine. Recording this first piece was an eye opening process in that all the skills that had made me feel a little disjointed as a musician, (playing, composing, arranging, classical, sound design, and electronic music) all came together in a way that I had never been able to do before I began working on a laptop. I spent a lot of time listening to, and examining some of the sonic concepts of my favorite tracks and I felt like I was able to apply them successfully, in my own way, on that track. It was exhilarating, and I have been addicted ever since. Devin provided studio guidance, sound design, played bass, and mixed. We we’re both pleased with the results.[Part 2 coming October 11, 2015]
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