Big fans of Dan’s Phylum album from 2019 round these parts, so naturally the bandcamp notification landing in the inbox was greeted with a small cheer 🎉.
Known for his involvement with the Monome company (especially their Norns music computer) and surrounding community, Mirrored Heart takes excerpts of a recent live set performed entirely on a script he developed for the Norns platform.
More beat-orientated than Phylum, the release serves as short (but sweet) taster of coming works, as well as the potentials of an upcoming script (Hills), which as a combination of FM and audio recorders, you can colour us excited!
We caught up with Vermont-based producer and record shop owner Greg Davis, for a chat on his sublime new record, upcoming on the greyfade label. ‘New Primes’ is based on a bespoke max/msp patch, to translate prime number sequences into a web of pure microtonal sine waves and Greg gives us some insights on his compositional and technical process.
Tell us a bit on how this record came to light.
Joe Branciforte, owner of greyfade, emailed me back in 2016 because he had discovered my Primes CD (released on my own Autumn Records label in 2009) and was really into it. The conversation started with a back and forth about how i made that music & geeking out about the max/MSP patch i built for it but after awhile Joe encouraged me to make a newer, updated version of my software system & try to develop some new music from it. in 2018, he was starting to launch greyfade and asked me to make a record for his new label. i kept working on my patch and rebuilding it for an 8 channel performance at the Fridman Gallery in 2019. then from 2019-2021 i worked on finalizing the current patch and recording many different prime number set outputs from it. in 2020, i spent a couple of days with Joe at his studio mixing a bunch of pieces intended for the record. then we worked on selecting, editing, and sequencing the 6 pieces you hear on the record. New Primes is a distinct evolution from Primes but still retains a similar soundworld and tuning relationships.
Which came first, composition or software (for you)?
For this specific New Primes music, the idea of using prime number sets as a way to determine frequency and tuning relationships came about in 2008 when i was invited by Duane Pitre to compose something for a compilation of music in Just Intonation for Important Records. i wanted to find a unique and personal way to approach JI and this is what i came up with. once i landed on the idea of using prime number sets to set the parameters for all aspects of this generative music then i set about building a max/MSP patch to realize the ideas. I think that when i was first starting with max/MSP i did alot more experimentation, breaking apart existing patches, messing with stuff, building things up from basic tutorial patches, just seeing what specific objects could and discovering cool sounds and things that way, but now, since ive been programming with max/MSP for over 20 years now, i usually start with an idea and build a patch to realize it. as you know though, there is always exapnsion and exploration whenever you build something, it starts as one thing but keeps growing and evolving over time, especially the more you use it.
Any tips you can share on your patching process? How does a session begin for you on max/msp?
my patching process is always a bit different, but usually it is in service of a musical idea that i want to create. once i build up some basic parts of what im trying to do then it grows and develops from there as i try to refine it and use it make whatever music im trying to make. a patching session can begin in a bunch of different ways for me, sometimes i like to experiment and play around with different sets of objects and their tutorial patches, ripping and pulling bits of patches from different places as i start to put things together. but usually i just start with the blank page! which is one of the most beautiful things about max/MSP. in the end, my patching is always guided by my ear and trying to achieve something that im trying to do sonically / musically. experiments & messing around with patches are good starting points but i always try to refine them to create some sort of sounds that im really resonating with or discover some new sounds that really turns me on or something that im imagining ahead of time for a certain piece of music.
What’s next? Any plans to perform this material live?
as for this Primes material, i think this is my final statement with this software system and music. it feels like a good resting place for it after the initial ideas sprouted almost 15 years ago now. its cool to take a longer arc of time on something and watch it develop over many years and im really happy with the results of New Primes. i would like to perform this music live a bit after the record comes out. my time and energy for touring and playing shows is super limited these days (i have a family and i own a record shop here in Vermont) but id like to get out there a bit and present this music in different spaces and contexts.
‘New Primes’ is available to pre-order on vinyl/digital at greyfade and their Bandcamp
If you had to try and pigeonhole, their releases tend to lean toward ‘experimental’ sounds, often existing outside traditional western scales and conventional rhythmic structures.
With their 33rd release, Duelling Ants kicks of a mini series of four endless loop cassettes (+ TEA!), one for each of the year’s seasons. ‘Section of Summer’, apt for the barmy weather we’re currently experiencing here in the flatlands, captures the heat and sizzle in 4 phrases.
“My project is inspired by the cross section as a representational tool and the release is constructed as imaginary cross sections through summer.”
I’ve set my iTunes (other, superior playback software is available) to loop and letting these lovely pieces drift as I go about my daily biz.
In their own words:
Each tape is released in an edition of 8 Each tape contains 2 minutes of audio The native Sami musical expression is called a Yoik A Yoik has no beginning or end Inspired by the idea of a story with no beginning or end, the tapes (and thus the music contained on the tape) have no beginning nor end They’ll play in an endless loop, for as long as the listener wants to.
There will also be tea Loose leaf tea Representing nature and the changing of seasons To brew and enjoy while listening to the cassette.
Nice minimal piece popped up on Soundcloud from Easel-maestro Todd Barton. Analogue FM tones give way to plucky Buchla percussion, which subsequently descend into stereo chaos. Always a pleasure to experience a wide sonic range wrung out of one instrument in real-time.
Clean n crispy electro in from the Censor Music base. Tasty premiere of the forward driving remix here from LUZ1E, who takes the bass-weighty F.R.B title track and gives it a more spacious landing pad. Production on this is top-notch, check it on some decent speakers!
‘Exploding Upwards’ is taken from the the new Szun Waves album, Earth Patterns (coming 19th August 2022). As well as the unsurprisingly lovely track, the accompanying visuals by Dom Harwood are really something else!
A strange and beguiling collection of (very) heavily processed, lo-fi field recordings made daily throughout January. Moments of reality blur with occasional splutters of acid, guitars and ground loops, all consumed by an enormous fog of delay and reverb, which gives the collection a proper disorientated dementia vibe. Well, I enjoyed it anyway!
This one’s been in the pipeline for a minute and has been a staple in our radio shows over the past few months. Worried acid lines battle with hefty synth wonk, in this 4-track record from London’s Neil Keating.
His experience as long standing underground DJ Controlled Weirdness is instantly apparent, with an individual riff-based approach to composition and is also testament to Cultivated’s on-point curation, selecting these dark tunes for release. Wicked stuff.
This was originally streamed as a live improv on Bandcamp Live. In hindsight, I think it’s an OK set, with range of moods and timbres. My fave sections are the looser unpredictable bits (mostly phonogene-related weirdness) and in the future will try to focus in more on these techniques. Maybe a bit overkill on the pentatonics, but there we go…
Make Noise Shared System (with older phonogene module)
A bit late to the party with this one, but still worthy of a mention. The debut release from Swedish musician/composer Egil Kalman, who plays modular synth and double bass.
A strong record, which balances rich and interesting beeps and FX, with engaging melodic motifs over thick drones and arpeggiated backing. The sound quality of the Synthi 100 really shines through with some great playing throughout.
‘Kingdom of Bells Egil Kalman plays the Synthi 100’ is his debut album as a solo artist.