Music from the Vault: Brooklyn 1999

Lately I've been moving old recordings from their fragile CD-Rom masters over to hard drive. And as the title implies, here's a selection of music I just dug up, recorded while living in a tiny apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn between May and October of 1999.

These compositions used no computer software, no arrangement, and no multitrack audio recording. The central brain was the Alesis MMT-8  midi sequencer, a masterpiece of minimal design. Eight buttons represent eight tracks; press a button to turn the track on, press it again to turn it off. A red LED below each button tells you if the track is on or off. I kept a notebook with patch assignments for each instrument and a diagram to describe which part was on which sequencer channel.

The MMT-8 signals were sent out to full-size keyboards. Using an estimated 200 feet of midi and audio cables, I synced it up to my Moog Source (with midi retrofit), Chroma Polaris, Roland JP-8000, Ensoniq EPS, Novation Drumstation and a couple of rack mount effects. I went straight from the audio mixer to digital audio tape, improvising the songs by switching sequencer tracks, playing the lead melodies and sweeping the filters in real time. 

I haven't heard most of this in over a decade, and it sounds pretty foreign to me. I don't make this sort of music anymore at all, but I don't listen to Orbital anymore either. Influences and styles change. It's a crossing point between the boring, robotic techno-industrial music I was making in the 90's and the improvisational jazzy stuff I got into later, and some of it is catchy. There's something to be said for the precision of quantized rhythms and arpeggiators. I avoid that stuff now, but it works with the right kind of music.

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