Sonic Explorations is a collaboration that was born out of Sonic Router and Electronic Explorations approaching the same artist for an exclusive mixtape; again. Let’s just say it’s something that has happened a lot over the last six years. We decided to join forces on a collaborative project for 2015. This doesn’t mean the end for either party, at this point it just makes sense to pool resources with Sonic Router providing the editorial context for the Sonic Explorations podcasts that will be hosted on Electronic Explorations. #crosspollination
Life isn’t really supposed to be a competition. A lot of the time it just ends up that way.
More often than not though, it’s the truly committed people that win out. The casual dabblers and the people snatching at moments and indulging their whims for a couple hours at a time here and there will always find it hard to conclude and follow through because they’re not giving all of themselves to the creative process. Much like this new breed of people who can’t seem to even go for a pint with a friend without checking the touch screen device tucked in their shirt pocket – they’re not involved in the moment, their attention is trapped somewhere between feeds in a cybernetic cage of quite interesting factoids, rolling news and other people’s useless opinions. But the devoted? They’re the ones who’s commitment to the cause will constantly yield results. The creatives who suffer and toil for their art, the weirdos who shirk convention [and conversation] and spend hours tweaking their own parameters and testing… they’re the fucking interesting people. And they’re the ones you can learn something from about artistic process. After all the proper creation of anything requires a level of gestation that you can’t just dip in and out of.
Or to phrase it another way, that’s why preset music will always be preset music and it’s why producers who feed solely off the influence of their immediate peers make disposable, throwaway things that seldom connect – even with themselves. So what happens when you have a much more finite period of time to work in? Does that then affect the process or start to dictate the outcome? And how do these self imposed boundaries and a sense of restriction allow proper exploration?
Well, I’d love to be able to state that to find out we sent an established and talented Italian producer into a institute studio in Stockholm to lock himself in a room for seven days with nothing but a notepad and two elaborate modular synthesizers, but we didn’t. It turns out that Andrea Taeggi is the type of person who does that all for himself. And his recently released Type album Mama Matrix Most Mysterious is the document of precisely that. Made on the Swedish Elektonmusikstudion’s Buchla and Serge synthesizers and restricted only by his lack of knowledge of the machine’s processes and his week long tenure the album, somewhat predictably, when you considering the tools, maintains a fantastic cohesion.
“I didn’t really plan to restrain myself,” Taeggi reveals in his typically self-effacing manner. “I didn’t have any expectation about succeeding there, in fact the possibility of me just wasting everybody’s time was a very viable option.”
“The only actual experience I had on modular systems dated back to my work with Koenraad Ecker (as Lumisokea), with whom I spent quite a few weeks at STEIM and WORM in Holland, during the years I lived there. I understand the basics of how analog synthesizers work, but I had no real first-hand knowledge on the Buchla and Serge available at EMS, specifically, I just cursorily went through the manuals before I got there…”
SR: And how does that sort of approach affect you creatively?
Andrea Taeggi: The idea of restraining myself wasn’t planned, like I said, it was in effect due to a sense of satisfaction fuelled by the beauty, richness and sheer high sound quality coming out of the instruments. In the past I’ve dealt with sound sources which weren’t particularly satisfactory nor exciting in and of themselves, which always obliged me to do a lot of processing to get them to some place I liked or to even stack several layers of sounds on top of one another to mask their initial weakness. Working with very high quality instruments makes you realize that if you are busy finding workarounds, patches or high-end plugins to make an OK instrument sound great, you might as well be wasting your time.
What I enjoyed so much of the Buchla and Serge was the ‘self-sufficiency’ of simple combinations of sounds, whether they’d be very snappy, almost wooden percussion-like or almost buried-six-feet-under kick drums, whose sub-harmonic content was more like a thrust of compressed air, that you could only feel in your chest (I’m referring to the track ‘Hiraeth’). I think that the tangibility and the sculptural touch of many of the sounds I recorded are what touched me the most, like those melodic bleeps in ‘Berdreymin’ or those snappy, tight, transient-heavy clicky-juggling balls of ‘Silicon Consciousness’.
And what made you choose the Buchla and the Serge? Were they complicated machines that challenged you? If so what did you take from that experience?
Those were the instruments available at EMS, which I had never worked on before; it was another reason to go and try them out. I knew they both are extremely deep instruments (whose complete spectrum of possibilities can’t be foreseen even by their inventors) which gave me hope and curiosity (it still does). What I thought after being finished with my residency was that I just started to scrape the first 1% in terms of potential for sound creation; there’s a whole lot to still dig in there I think. What I was surprised of was how focussed and determined I was, since I had a limited amount of time (1 week) and the only reason for me to be in Stockholm was to take the most out of this chance I had generously been given; I was working very long hours, which is something I only remember doing during my time at the Conservatory. It made me realize I could be like that every day if I really wanted to, which has been a very inspiring and motivating thought up to these days. These are the advantages of breaking your daily routine and displacing yourself out of your comfort zone.
1. Keith Fullerton Whitman – Generators 2 [Root Strata]
2. Andrea Taeggi – Silicon Consciousness [Type]
3. Alva Noto – Module 4 [Raster Noton]
4. Andrea Taeggi – Merry go Raum [Type]
5. Martin Neukom – 18.9 [Domizil]
6. Andrea Taeggi – Berdreymin [Type]
7. Robert Hood – Minus – Internal Empire [Tresor]
8. Andrea Taeggi – Mama Matrix Most Mysterious [Type]
9. Stray Dogs – Phaeton [unreleased]
10. Andrea Taeggi – Hiraeth[Type]
11. Andrea Taeggi – Adumbration [Type]