Consonant Pursuits

Posted by on Jan 22, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off

What’s a life without passions? Beats me…I’ve never had a shortage. They’re usually creative pursuits, but I’ve yet to determine if it’s the end result or the creative process which is most compelling. It’s a gestaltic thing I guess.Lemme tell you about ‘Me and Music’…My mother played and taught piano her entire life. Of course I became a drummer. Wonderfully visceral means of expression, the gear is satisfyingly mechanical and sculptural, and you really couldn’t ask for a better cardio workout than playing in a fusion band. The people you get to play with are cool too, although I never *really* understood guitar players.

Along the way I taught myself a few more instruments, then gradually learned how the audio recording process worked. Magnetic tape is more fun, what with the chicanery you can get up to with multiple recording decks, spare capstan rollers and 60 foot tape loops, but making the transition from analog to digital recording was surprisingly painless…I don’t miss physically splicing recording tape even a little, and there are signal processing options available today that were unheard of 10 years ago. Somewhere between Black Sabbath and King Crimson (which would be my early teens, if you’re paying attention) I stumbled across Musique Concrete. Cripes…talk about a match made in heaven…music, technological hooliganism and instruments you build yourself. I’ve never really been the same since.

30 years of experimentation later, and not withstanding all the *other* genres I embraced during the time, I’ve managed to warp Pierre Schaefer’s originally brilliant concept into a non-Euclidian blend of noise, ambience and industrial/tribal percussion. This is NOT easy listening music. 6 out of 10 listeners, however, agree that it is in fact music of *some* form or another, just not music as they themselves know it.

It’s likely another one of those parallel universe things.

I accomplish alla this polyphonic cacophony via an outlandishly complicated drum kit, and a laptop running Native Instruments Battery 3 and Ableton Live 7.  Thanks to the efforts and benevolence of Joey The Gear Broker, I’ve recently upgraded the ‘acoustic’ side of the formula from my humble but much loved Mapex M-Birch stalwarts to a startlingly powerful and timbrally rich Tama Starclassic Maple 5 piece with a 24″ kick drum that aids digestion 12 healthy ways, a 14″ x 5 ” DW brass snare with a criminal record for assault with intent to deafen and a Pearl 13″ x 3″. brass piccolo snare I like to call ‘The Icepick’. It’s augmented with 11 V-Drum pads (plus a trigger on the acoustic kick drum). The pads run into a Roland TD-8 brain, which midis into the laptops’ USB port through a MidiPort 1×1 interface.There’s a ridiculous number of cymbals, 90% of which came from various scrapyards @ +/- $2.25/lb commodity metal price. Cymbal highpoints include 16″ and 18″ flat rides, a 20″ K Custom dry ride, 17″, 18″ and 19″ HH crashes, 16″ and 18″ K chinas, and a full octave of gong plates. Pulling off ambient/noise material via a percussion UI takes a bit of prior programming to get the right samples loaded into the pads; once that’s done it’s a remarkably flexible performance instrument, with the only real drawback being the uncomfortable number of pedals and foot switches I need to dance around on.

Setup and teardown are character building experiences, and the very idea of a drumkit this size seems to offend 99% of the other musicians I hang out with.

Guitarists…harummmphhh.

I’m available for weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs.

 

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