In late 2008, my wife and I were in London for work and decided to spend one of our days off at the Tate Modern. For whatever reason, we hadn’t really done any research ahead of time, but had planned on simply enjoying the visit to the museum in general, which is quite impressive in its own right. When we arrived, we noticed that there was a Mark Rothko exhibit highlighted as one of the featured exhibits at that time. Rothko, in my mind, conjured up images of cheaply framed college dorm posters, sitting along side a variety of band posters of The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen. Rothko had achieved a level of fame that most artists will not achieve in their lifetime, he had become a household name for most. He was one of a few artists who broke through into the mainstream, making his work easily recognizable by most. Consequently, I didn’t think much about the exhibit since I felt that I had probably seen most of his work in some form or another, but do remember thinking that it might be nice to see the paintings in person since we were there. We made our […]
Matmos is most widely known for their musique concrète approach to electronic pop music. Their albums are highly conceptual and they are regarded as the crème de la crème of experimental electronic pop music. With that being said, I was extremely honored to be invited up to SnowGhost studio to take on a very undefined role in helping them gather and record sounds for their upcoming album. An ‘undefined role’ because working with Matmos is an extremely fluid process that is steeped in experimentation. You simply design scenarios that create an environment for something to happen, all within the boundaries of an overarching theme. We picked up Martin and Drew at the Kalispell Airport and immediately headed out to go record sounds at a conceptually relevant location. They instinctually navigated their surroundings for new sounds. Each sound is potentially part of a larger composition, or conversely, can be melodic and rhythmic on its own. The week was chalked full of magical moments, some misfires, intentional brilliance, some happy accidents, many late nights, an entire spectrum of emotions and finally ended with a high school marching band. Without knowing what to expect, it is exactly what I had expected.
Having lived in Nashville myself for 11 years, I am acutely aware of the benefits and trappings of ‘Music City’. Nashville is an industry town, and while there are some benefits to being close to where things are happening, it can sometimes have an adverse effect on creativity, where the business can often overshadow the creative process. Such being the case with Nashville country duo ‘Towne’. For the reasons mentioned above, Towne decided to take a trip to Montana to write and record new material. SnowGhost was hired to produce something completely different than what they were accustomed to writing or recording. Nowadays it is rare for a band to be sent on a writing trip with no expectation of outcome. What transpired, on day one, was a late night candle-lit writing session in a remote off-the-grid cabin which produced the song that was recorded the following morning. The song was recorded live using analog modular synths and programmed drums – there were no guitars. What emerged was a beautifully hypnotic 8 minute ambient electronic pop song about yearning for something real to happen. The song was an audio representation of what can happen when you intentionally let something unfold.
There has been so much music over the course of human history – I am positive that every rhythm and every melody has been explored in one way or another. So what makes music original? Think about how many times we have heard the plagal cadence, or blues and rock chord progressions, and said to ourselves, “wow, this is really original”. The answer is, all of the time! The truth is that it has nothing to do with the notes, and everything to do with the way those notes are being played and captured. Played and captured? What plays, and what captures? People, and sometimes machines play, instruments capture – and they all have a remarkably unique way of doing that. They all sound different, and all have different ways of conducting themselves. Whether it be a human voice, or a violin, or a totally new form, like sampling and granular synthesis, what is so cool about this concept, that all of these instruments require a different mindset and approach. This is what promotes and manifests new musical ideas. That is why I am always looking for new ways to play and capture the melodies I hear in my head.
I’m a big fan having the ability to audition different spectral perspectives on acoustic guitars – they are so ubiquitous, but also very personal for each player. Having quick A/B access to smooth ribbons and clear condensers allows me to record any guitar with minimal fuss. Here, the Telefunken C12s and Royer 122Vs are in a, Grace Design Spacebar meets Enhanced Audio M600, mid-side stereo array, with a short hop over to our lovely LaChapell 992EGs. What a sound!
It was great talking to Clare Menzel of the Flathead Beacon about the new MUST 115 class as FVCC. I’m really excited to share many of my experiences with FVCC students, and learn more about how people are using technology to improve the music experience, whether that be creating it or listening to it. This is a great way to get us all in a room talking about how we innovate in Montana with music and technology.