Hello Lines friends, today I’ve released my new album “Jungleways of the Cascadian Archipelago”. While my last few albums have been pulled from material I recorded during Jamuary, this one is made up of tracks done throughout March of this year. Jamuary got me into a very quick workflow of patch creation, recording an improvised performance video in (ideally) one take, and then pulling the audio from the video for minimal post-processing in the DAW; I continued that approach on Jungleways, with each track going from inception to finished piece over the course of a few hours. To me, this flow really embodies where I’m at with my modular process – starting with a few exploratory patch ideas, opening myself up to dialog with the instrument, creating a recording as a snapshot of a moment in time, and pulling the patch apart to start fresh next time.
My modular explorations at present focus heavily on textural, timbral, and contrapuntal movement and evolution, with less emphasis on actually writing the melodic lines vs developing how they appear, present, and interact. As such, all the melodies on the album are generated by Pam’s New Workout; I prefer to let the machine speak for itself on this front, and let it inform the direction of the piece. Chance operations play heavily in events like envelope triggering, etc., and while most everything is clocked via Pam’s, there’s a healthy dose of randomness injected. In general, my practice and process has been strongly informed by an interview with Caterina Barbieri I read in Patch & Tweak just as I was getting into synthesis, in which she describes the balance between machine and composer:
“The composer actively interrogates the machine and uses hints coming out from this ritual process as material to further elaborate and build their unique practice. Modulars are a bit like chess, a game where our intelligence and creativity is constantly challenged, and, for me, the machines are like modern oracles; we interrogate them to find inspiration and clues that can push us forward in our personal, unique path. But it’s always an active, biunivocal, shared experience.”
This approach also manifested in the direction of the album as a whole; after recording the first few tracks and feeling a vibe that seemed to speak to the solitary, occluded, ominous beauty of a jungle night, I consciously tried to develop that feeling and meld it with my more familiar home environment of the Olympic peninsula. What emerged felt something like a glimpse at my pacific northwest stomping grounds refracted into a tropical archipelago, tinged with a portentous flavor. Animal themes are ever-present in my track names and that’s no exception here, with birds, moths, and jungle cats represented, alongside inspiration from my steady diet of wuxia films and cosmic horror / weird lit stories. I’m quite happy with the result!
The album is available on bandcamp, below, and many of the original performances of these tracks are on my youtube channel. Thanks for reading this far, and please let me know what you think if you check it out!