June 2nd Performance Recap

Scott Goodwin

After an intense 24 hour lead up to the show, attempting to secure 2 additional speakers for the Arun Chandra’s 8-channel piece, the evening began with gorgeous reddish-orange light from the sunset bleeding into Scott Goodwin’s polyrhythmic midi-driven modular set.  Einstein-on-the-beach sounding arpeggiations articulated with Goodwin’s techno sensibilities, were layered with lush pads and granular vocal samples. After a couple years of inactivity in the live domain, and possibly longer within a sit-down/listening  venue environment, it was a treat to really focus on listening to him perform live.

Arun Chandra

Arun Chandra presented three works including “Lament” for recorded voice and 2-channel output, “smear pulse no sneer” for 2-channel output and “A Refugee in the Mediterranean” for 8-channel output. Each work of ‘fixed media’ was presented in traditional academic fashion, with introductions informing the audience about the compositional ideas informing the pieces. A common thread between the works was how they related to his interest in the perception of time. Each piece was utterly engaging, with extreme dynamics and unusual timbres. One of my favorite aspects of the work presented was his use of very raw waveforms that would sounding fairly spare and harsh as individual waveforms, and but would become very full and pleasing to the ear as they multiplied. Two of his works also incorporated human voice, which, when paired with sounds of such abstract textures, there is a sort of jarring leap from one sound space to another, from alien to known/familiar – particularly when one’s ear becomes accustomed to the abstract sound space first. Chandra also explained some of his thinking with regard to the experience of time being different between one’s listening to voice versus music in “Lament”, with musical passages needing more time to seem equal to fragments of voice. I feel very fortunate to have been able to present Chandra’s work!!

Extra special thanks to my volunteers Robert [RM] Francis and Ian Halloran for helping me run the show. And special thanks to Steve Peters, Vance Galloway, Walter of Cafe Walter, Mita Mahato, David Golightly and Emily Pothast.

Pop Surgery Synth show 7/29: Stacian, Stella Haze…

seattle july 29 2011

Upcoming Seattle show featuring Milwaukee-based  synth popper Stacian and other locals, including Gift Tapes’ Stella Haze, Acinonyx, and Jabon. The night is curated by local Medical Records’ Pop Surgery Synth (see last week’s Stranger article).  Still haven’t met the guy behind this label, but I’ll be sure to say what’s up that night— seems like he’s on his game, especially considering his efforts in trying to re-release Novels for the Moon by Axxess!  I’ve checked out some of the jams by each of the artists and it’s looking to be an excellent night, so be sure to put this on your calendar.

Friday, July 29th //  The Rendezvous // 2322 2nd Ave // 9 PM

NEW Gift Tapes – FALL 2009

Gift Tapes - Fall 2009


Freshly returning from the mountain forests of Eastern Oregon…I wanted to put the word out there that the new Gift Tapes releases are out now.  I couldn’t be more happy about this new batch of cassettes from Pulse Emitter, Matt Carlson and The North Sea.  This time around the tapes have been pro-dubbed in editions of 100.  These tapes will go super fast, so be sure to order soon.

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Pulse Emitter - Grass
Pulse Emitter - grass - C30

Fellow NW-based Pulse Emitter, the solo project of modular synth mastermind Daryl Groetsch, has created a beautiful work, half of which is reminiscent of his self-released Meditative Music series, while the other half delves into the weirdo world of sub-earth root structures crawling with insects.  Grass is one of my favorites from his recent discography and Gift Tapes is extremely honored to present one of his works.

Matt Carlson - stereo face
Matt Carlson - stereo face - C40

Matt Carlson‘s recent solo efforts venture into the sounds of early electronics pioneers.  As a member of the minimal noise drone trio Bonus & former member of the Parenthetical Girls, Carlson’s efforts have included pop music, noise, free improv and performance art.  His new work, Stereo Face, is modular synth wizardry all over the stereo field and steeped in science fiction themes that nod at the 1960’s while simultaneously hyper-driving towards the future.

The North Sea - daytona
The North Sea - daytona - C30

Daytona is an epic drone work formed of textured synthesizer and layered electronics.  The North Sea‘s (Brad Rose) high-density sound projects degraded memories that lead to abandoned tunnels and empty into sunset skies.  Both noisy and meditative, this gorgeous piece is the perfect compliment to lone autumn walks.  Definitely another exciting addition to the North Sea catalog.

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Tapes available here: Gift Tapes.

Meditating Eternity: The New Age CDs of Pulse Emitter

Meditative Music 1 & 2

Up until a couple weeks ago, I had only heard a few tracks by fellow NW-based experimental musician Pulse Emitter, but that was reason enough for us to send him our first gift (GT000).   Daryl Groetsch of Pulse Emitter generously mailed us both of his Meditative Music releases.  I haven’t reviewed anything on a digital format yet, but these leave me no choice.  This is my attempt to explain how insanely great these discs are…

Meditative Music 1 is a minimalist piece where flowing breezes of analog modular synth  are contrasted by slow moving waves of FM synthesis, rising and falling over glorious peaks of quiet mountainsides.  The patches are meticulously programmed and detailed in complexity, yet the music sounds as though a new form of plant life has emerged from the earth.  Natural and easing mellow vibrations paint an environment that serves as an escape from the chaos of our man made surroundings.  Its gentle and contemplative tones are steeped in sleepiness, rich with a resting thickness; this is hypnotic levitation at its best.

Daryl sent me a copy of something he posted on a forum about the first disc:

“while helping my girlfriend select ambient music to use while giving massages, i became interested in all the factors that ruled out certain releases. too ominous, too rhythmic, too schmaltzy… so i decided to record one myself. it’s one track, 60 minutes long. two oscillators on the analog modular tuned in fifths, slowly sweeping back and forth with the filter and across the stereo field in a repetitive yet unpredictable way, continuous warm shifting drone. then a slow four note motive is played in four permutations on a custom patched yamaha TX81Z FM synth, crystal pools of sound. yeah, it’s peaceful ambient music but it’s not overly positive or negative, very balanced in emotion and structure. good for sleeping, thinking, bathing, whatever. it’s not noise music but i’m posting it here anyway… it would probably be good to listen to after a noise show actually.”

Meditative Music 2 opens in windstorm, the listener tucked away in a shallow cave at the base of a ravine.  Heavy raindrops fall from the evergreens onto the  crumbling stone above.  The swift breeze rises and falls, giving way to brief glimpses of the sound of a passing stream.  On occasion a carefully woven synthesized melody will remind the listener that they are in fact listening to music.  These sounds have the affect of transforming humans into creatures of the woods, like an elk’s lone stray from the rest of the herd.

The sounds of the second disc are so natural sounding that I had to ask him if there were field recordings involved…  this was his answer:

“there are no field recordings, all synth. the second disc was inspired by a hike in the woods, listening to a stream.”

It makes me happy that Pulse Emitter is Portland-based.  You can find out more on his website: synthnoise.com.  Another thing I should mention that might interest any DIY Synthers… Daryl Groetsch has a degree in Electrical Engineering and he’s got a few schematics of things he’s designed on his website.  I also recommend taking a look at the picture of his crazy synth. And, if you’re in NYC in mid-May, be sure to check out his set at NO FUN.

Jean-Michel Jarre & the Gakken SX-150


I found out about this little synth fairly recently.  After looking at some youtubes… this seems to be the most annoying one.  I’d imagine it’d make a cool noise toy gift (gifts are good) to give to your most annoying relative’s kid – 50 bones and it’s analog.  Maybe they can work on playing a backing synth part to some Steven Halpern records… fill that shit in a little.  The other cool thing is you could be the geeky uncle that gives him his first electronic lessons – you gotta build it from a kit – check it out: Gakken SX-150.  My uncle Bill gave me my first calculator watch and it changed my life.  Anyone checked out that JM Jarre DVD?