As someone born in the beige area between gen x and millennial, we had no internet until our later teens. Something to pass the time would be casually browsing my local video shop basement, sticky carpet and dank smells galore. All the new releases stayed upstairs, but the horror, soft porn, b-movies and kung fu vids were downstairs and rarely, if ever, seemed to get updated. Over time I got to know the plots and synopsis of many films, by reading the covers and staring at the pics, as I was way too young to actually rent them. Drunken Master was in the Kung Fu section and the images of inebriated Jackie Chan fighting on the back cover stuck in my head. Later on, I developed a musical obsession with Sly & Robbie (still do tbh) and loved the General Echo tune of the same name, which I think is a sort of loose homage to the film, toasting over the ‘My Woman’s Love’ riddim.
Now, 30 years later, another namecheck in the form of some amazingly gritty techno and electro courtesy of RGLN on Don’t Recordings. It’s got a call-to-arms urgency about it, along with some serious dry heave distortion, that manages to reside in the borderlands of industrial, new wave and techno.
It’s relation to the film I have no idea, I’ve still not actually seen it.
10 track album and super limited vinyl available at their bandcamp now.
Woodford Halse and Polypores are two musical entities that encompass the term prolific, as label and artist both outputting a shit ton of great music and with impressive regularity. Seeing Polypores’ upcoming return to the label with new album ‘Infinite Interiors’ felt like a good opportunity to give a taste of the sounds, as well as some exclusive insights from the artist himself.
So, this is by no means your first rodeo, how did Infinite Interiors come into being?
Like most of my albums in recent years, it wasn’t something I thought about too much, it was just sort of spewed out from the mysterious and perhaps mystical source from which all my music comes. I just had to create the environment (and the synth patches) to allow it to happen. It was kind of a dark time for me, there was a somewhat difficult personal situation which had been going on for some time, which I’d sort of dipped my toe into trying to process. And I think that fed into the music a fair bit, there’s a sort of darkness to the album. And a distinct lack of control. I think I perhaps made something that sounded vast and maybe a bit intimidating in places, which reflected the idea that I was processing stuff that I’d perhaps been in denial about.
So it’s kind of a subconscious exploration where a few internal barriers are broken down. I was reading “Piranesi” by Suzanna Clarke at the time, which I think influenced it to some extent. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone but a lot of the same themes are there. And perhaps the vast halls in that story were an influence on the deep, cavernous sound I was going for too.
Are you using a particular or unique approach to this cassette, compared to whats come before?
Well obviously it’s a lot more personal than most other Polypores records. Or at least it came from a place that I’m less comfortable sharing with people. Mining a different seam, so to speak. I fought it at first, because I generally like to make music that’s ultimately uplifting, or at least leaves a fairly pleasant taste in the mouth. Whilst this isn’t totally depressing, there are darker elements that I wouldn’t have included in previous albums. But it turned out to be quite cathartic by the end, the process of finishing it. The second half is a bit more uplifting, and eventually there’s a resolution to it. It’s not like obviously so, but I think that sort of confusion works for it. It’s like anything in the subsconscious – it can be both beautiful and frightening.
Technique – wise it was my first use of the Soma Pipe, which is a very weird voice synthesizer (like a psychedelic space kazoo) that ended up on a couple of tracks. So technically it’s the first Polypores album to feature my own voice too. It was also my first album using the Make Noise DPO as a primary oscillator, so it’s got a sort of raw, dirty sound to it. The two albums I’d recorded previously (Hyperincandescent and Crystal Shop) was very clean and bright sounding. Most albums I record tend to be a sort of sonic opposite to the previous one and I think this is no exception. It’s also got a track called The Flux which is 19 minutes long and was recorded on the afternoon of Christmas Day, which was my 40th birthday. I thought I’d give myself a present, and that present was that I got to record a massive big drifty 19 minute track. I didn’t worry about length, I just sat there in a nice wine/food haze and made this massive soundscape, which I think really is the heart of the album.
Does your recent foray into live synth practice, influence your studio work (and visa versa?)
I have been playing synths live for a good 6 years or so now, but it did definitely (and still does continue to) influence my studio work. So when I first started out with Polypores it was purely a studio project. But then Joe from Concréte Tapes (who released my first proper album and is at least 75% responsible for any success I’ve had) kept asking me to play live, so I found a way to make it happen.
I was never happy with it at first – then i worked out that was because I was trying to replicate my studio tracks in a live environment, and putting too much pressure on myself. So I started writing pieces of music specifically to be performed live. That made the whole thing easier because I wasn’t trying to replicate any kind of multitracked perfection. But then I started to move increasingly towards just recording live, to a point where, for every album I’ve done since Azure, I just record totally live with no overdubs. Sure I have less control over the mixing etc, but it has that magic feel to it that you just can’t replicate with overdubbing, in my opinion. It’s like that excitement and energy that comes from a performance. My background was really always in rock music, playing guitar/drums in bands and stuff. I learned there that it’s better for me to get the energy of a live take, than pore over multtracking and overdubs. I just lose interest and it sounds too forced.I’m not interested in perfection, I’m interested in getting something down that has my heart and soul in it. And multitracking sucks my soul. Because it feels like work rather than play.
I’ve recently done a few gigs with the Lyra 8 synthesizer, which kind of takes that to another level because it’s somewhat unpredictable. But I sort of enjoy that. Even though I’m someone who very much needs certainty and routine in most areas of my life, when it comes to music, I like to be able to escape that a bit.
Gig wise I have plenty coming up, all which will be on my modular system rather than the Lyra, as I feel like I was abandoning it a bit. I’ll list them below. I have an album out later in the year for Castles In Space, which has been delayed big time due to all the vinyl manufacture problems, but it’s going to be a really special package and I can’t wait for you to hear it and see the gorgeous cover. I’ve also just recorded an album using the Lyra, which we’re finalising the cover for now. That should be out next year via Frequency Domain. That’s as far as I’m going into the future for now, but if I die or retire after answering this questions then there’s two more out there which are musically finished, and I’m confident that the labels will treat them with respect and donate a portion of the money to a suitable charity.
I’ve also got some more stuff planned for my sample-based side project ZENYA, and as always more niche treats for my subscribers on Bandcamp. I think it’s important to keep busy!
19/08 – Carnival Brewing Company, Liverpool
23/09 – The Ferret, Preston
01/10 – Just Dropped In, Coventry
20/11 – The Continental, Preston (supporting Zombie Zombie)
Recording situation: It is night, recently raining, and the air is filled with a cool, crisp atmosphere. Traffic passes to and fro on its way in and out of town. The sounds seep in through an open upstairs window.
Micro listening is the practice of deliberately focussing on elements of a sound environment that may pass unnoticed in everyday experience. Listening to sounds in this way can lead to a magnification of our experiences. The finer details of sound become magnified enabling us to notice the effects these may have on the psyche. Any sound can be the subject of a micro-listening, recorded sounds or real-life ambiences function equally as well. There is no preference for ‘natural’ or ‘artificial’ sounds as there is no ‘nature’ from which human beings are separate from, just one universe which acts upon and is acted upon by us. The point of a micro-listening is to remind the listener that they and the sound form part of the same acoustic environment.
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
Previously available as a cassette release, Onyx Pyramid has been reissued digitally everywhere, with fresh new artwork.
The combination of a worldwide shift to GM crops and rising global temperatures led to a series of global disasters, destroying many natural resources and a causing a permanent environmental imbalance. Earth’s leaders make the choice to outsource all food production to off-world corporately owned farm planets, known as ‘flatlands’.
These giant artificial orbs contain vast crop fields and are operated robotically. A handful of human ‘farmers’ are required to oversee operations and perform maintenance tasks. Although the environmental conditions are engineered to mimic 21st century Earth, there is no wildlife. Farmers have been reporting strange experiences of auditory hallucinations, nicknamed ‘flatland frequencies’, these are most likely a byproduct of the chemically engineered atmosphere combined with extreme isolation.
“On Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter the standard setting for videos is “mute”. More than 120 years after its invention silent cinema has become the default mode. Today’s practice is supposed to make video consumption smoother. But it could also make us think about the frightening power silence could only attain with the advent of cinematic sound. In muting we might hear something far more unsettling than what words and images can show.”
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!