More or less in the style of Mark Fell - out now on New York Haunted

Hello everyone! This is my debut album and it is just out now on New York Haunted:

First off, big thanks to @glia, who in this thread suggested me to contact NYH when I was looking for a label, so it has /////////'s DNA in it!

This album is the result of a few years obsessing about understanding how the music of some artists manages to grasp attention and produce meaning despite having an irregular/broken and complicated rhythmic structure, especially Mark Fell’s. It is then an investigation of his methods and derivations from it, taking them closer to what my ears were craving for while mangling with similar logic in Max/MSP and FM synthesis.

Fell’s music makes a clear reference to the house music of his youth, and extends on that. In my understanding, he replaces the regularity and direct repetition of the “binary” dancefloor rhythms (as in those heavily reliant of the 4/4 grid and the powers of two) with algorithmic contraptions that produce some non-human but clear logic organizing things. Meanwhile, the FM sounds he uses reference house staples, but he employs an even more reductionistic sound palette as to make room for other, more complex and/or subtle variation in the music. In my case, I reference the experimental electronic music I’ve been listening to for so long, especially his music, so that’s the starting point from which I am building on, often taking it far from its origins.

I would love to have feedback on it!

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Hey dude, this is really really great! I really dig a lot of Mark Fell’s work as well and I think your response to it is really in a voice that is your own.

I’m about to pop down to my laptop so I can buy the digital record and have it for my morning walk tomorrow.

This is definitely a record that is making me want to drop everything and go work on some music now. Thanks for that!

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Hey, thanks a LOT for your nice words and support! :slight_smile:

I dig what Mark does, and this is great!

Care to elaborate on the process? Where did the FM come from? Did you extend on Mark’s patches or build up from the beginning?

Acid in the style of Mark Fell :wink:

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amazing!

i’m so glad your misic found a home with NYH

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Thanks! :slight_smile:

It was a continuum: I started by analyzing and searching for patterns and reverse-engineering some of Gabor Lazar’s early tracks and some Fell tracks, mainly from the Multistability album. Like setting up a track on Sonic Visualizer, slowing things down and counting stuff, until I’d find wannabe patterns. This led me to some interesting but not very usable sequencing patches, initially using Max FM abstractions, then Dexed, then finally NI FM8. From FM8 it was easy to find loads of classic FM sounds and explore them, it was also very easy to tweak them in a more or less intuitive way, and to get them to respond nicely to duration/velocity/mod changes I was generating with Max and sending via MIDI.

Then I watched Richard Sides’ Don’t blow it on the vector (https://vimeo.com/107943337) through which I managed to understand much better Fell’s pattern generating logic – many sequencers in the album are crude and sometimes botched attempts at reproducing the things shown there. And then finally I found Fell’s PhD thesis, in which he discusses some algorithms and patches (and I use variations of the same SolidBass and JazzOrg patches he based his stuff on). The most different-from-Fell tracks are the ones in which I knew less about his processes, to a great extent.

I also learned in an interview or somewhere that Fell does a lot of hours-long jamming while recording MIDI for editing later. I was totally obsessing about getting THE right patch/algorithm for each track, which was really holding me back. After I found that out, I started recording lots of MIDI using Studio One and finished/mixed tracks there. I also tried Ableton before that, but I felt it was constraining me to the grid in a very uncomfortable way. Some are direct stereo recording of me jamming with Max, though, no MIDI out of Max.

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Niiice @sfotpoc

Im super interested in emulation copying of other music. I was only talking to my partner yesterday about how the 2015 Richie Hawtin album From My Mind To Yours | Various Artists | Richie Hawtin attempting to emulate/find that earlier sound from his 90’s work sounded lesser in some ways when compared to Syn303. Music | Syn303

It’s almost like one captured the essence of what was forward thinking music and one attempted to go back to a sound they had already created. Syn303 brought with them their own sound through those little balance differences, slight sequence differences etc Richie Hawtins revisit, even with shaved head, original artists names and I understand a studio with identical dinensions, all just felt a bit meh.

I know Mark Fells stuff your referencing very well, even spent sometime myself recreating and unpicking it. I believe Calum Gunn did the same, actually partially how we originally connected over his album that did a similar thing (not sure if that ever come out? Come with Supercollider patches I believe). I listened through your release and oddly something i was surprised about, although makes sense, was even the feel from track to track, chord changes definitely but also where it’s stripped back and not, really similar to what I remember feeling with Mark Fells stuff. Super interesting. I wonder if intentionally unpicking and recreating or perhaps as can happen when listening to someone or something so much you can only really hear it that way, it almost becomes part of your DNA.

Also made me smile when you mentioned jamming versus not. I listened to the older SND stuff loads back in the early 2000’s and was really thrown when first hearing Marks stuff, actually wasn’t into it as it felt really jammed and less repetitive like the early SND stuff. It took me a few listens before I accepted it. I definitely prefer the earlier stuff though but undoubtedly much like the early stuff, the later stuff and Marks own stuff is yet another new sound, pushing it.

I’m curious as you unpicked and discovered techniques, did you ever deviate and create something less like Marks sound and if you did or didn’t was there a moment you remember allowing yourself to do so or correcting your course?

Also I’m curious to learn about your position on copying someones sound and being so open about it? Copying can get a bad response, which is understandable although it’s largely flawed. It’s nuanced though obviously.

Super keen to learn more about your views and experiences around this, no rush though obviously. Enjoy the fact your debut is out, also we are label buddies so there is that :nerd_face:

I wonder where to next? Congrats again.

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Got a sneaky preview of this from Vince a few weeks back, has been on constant rotation - lovely stuff

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Hey @pokk, nice to know we’re label pals :slight_smile:

Thanks for bringing up these issues, there’s a LOT to it, and it is great to find someone to discuss this. First off, I think we’re mimmicking things we like all the time and I see no problem either, it comes down to what ethical issues are involved. I think first and foremost it is necessary to be as open about it as possible after you cross a given line, and that’s why I made direct references in every track name, it also becomes kind of a joke (and Fell sometimes names his tracks as [genre] in the style of [someone] as @sonoptik pointed, so it is a bit of an inception here).

Learning is what brought me to make it: I have absolutely no interest in being a more accessible copy – as in “Behringer Fark Mell” – or building a persona on top of that. On the other hand I love this music and I decided to learn from scratch how to make some nice algorithmic music, and I think there’s no better way than trying to understand and emulate what you really like. So it took me a lot of work to come to this and I learned A TON in the process. At a given point I decided this should be an album, not loose tracks or a few bandcamp EPs, and I started to put more effort in finishing and polishing tracks, and adding and removing tracks because sometimes they sounded too similar to Fell. At the same time I wanted them to sound as good and cohesive as Multistability, and I felt some of the more Fell-esque things were appropriate, down to track order etc., for an album, but then I caught myself thinking “come on, this is just too similar”.

All in all I ended up with a bunch of tracks sounding in a way that I absolutely love and that took me over a year to produce, and I was seating on top of them, almost a finished album, and I was unsure about ever releasing it because there were things that sounded too close to Fell and I didn’t want to be accused of ripping off the work I like so much, or from an artist I deeply respect. The solution came to me in the form of making this very open, and this was totally liberating for me. On the one hand, I have no debut with an original sound unique to me, but on the other hand, I am upfront about what I am doing and I feel great about that, making a clear compliment. And now I feel confident to experiment much more! Besides, I love these sounds and it’s been about a decade since the last time Fell released sounds close to that, it feels a bit like modding and releasing Atari 2600 ROMs or DX7 factory patches. It is the music and the fun that really counts, isn’t it?

I believe Calum Gunn did the same, actually partially how we originally connected over his album that did a similar thing

I think Calum’s sounds are BRILLIANT, especially the more recent stuff! Never got to meet him, though. I remember listening to some of his older tracks (from a 2016 release I think, not a full Fell-like album) and thinking “WTF, this sounds really like Mark Fell…”, but his sounds are quite unique and wild now. This kind of validates my future expectations :slight_smile:

I wonder where to next?

I felt I had to write and tell Mark Fell before releasing this. At a given point, I thought of asking him to remix of one of the tracks – it would be really fun to have a “Pretty much in the style of Mark Fell (Mark Fell Mark Fell style remix)”, but I didn’t have the balls for asking that. I wrote anyway to show him a pre-release, and his answer was really nice but he said he was actually more interested in hearing what comes next that is not as close to his stuff. Which I can totally relate to, that’s my plan.

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I totally agree, transparency is key, in everything. I really appreciate your route with this.

The track titles are quite funny. I’ve seen this before and interestingly in the same area of music, which is quite interesting. Eva Justka comes to mind…love her stuff.

“Behringer Fark Mell” hahaha, that’s super hilarious. I have been loosely following the general feelings around Behringer and always find that area of emulation/copying, a kind of copying done with intentions of giving back or evolving, developing etc versus one that perhaps is done more with capitalising, or marginalising really probably the main difference. It feels to me it’s often down to the intentions, be them more self-serving or founded in respect. It’s clear you have a ton of respect. I guess the Behringer version of your release would have to be packaged to look the same, sound the same minute for minute, but be sold for less in some way and also provide questionable additions, coming from a more is better mentality. An extra distortion circuit for example haha.

It is interesting though because in principle, the idea of providing otherwise unreachable sounds and technology at a cheaper rate with the intention to better enable peoples creativity is a great thing to do. However, when you consider that aim and then consider what else could be done or what might be done around such a challenge, the fact this is not done with Behringer is telling of their real intent. Your music, given the fact Mark Fell can occupy that musical space so successfully, is due to him being around for so long with SND, that it’s clear it’s not just the music that propels him to the position he is in, it’s just a part of it. If anything emulation or copying in the way you have, shows more clearly what it is about Mark Fells music and his success for want for a better word.

I guess the concerns around being accused of ripping Mark off are arguably irrelevant. I think you already need to have the opinion that copying automatically means ripping someone off, and not something that only happens based on the intent really. Plagiarism, by definition, is already wrapped up in a load of bias views of right and wrong based largely around capitalistic ideologies. It immediately only becomes relevant if someone feels they are losing money, value or are maybe greedy and want to gain more money, or perhaps ideas of owning a sound. The more we can share, learn and evolve together openly the better really.

I also like the idea that someone who might have the opinion that what you have done is wrong, only to learn that Mark is already aware and supports it, might suddenly change their opinion. It’s telling really about that idea of right or wrong being wrapped up in generic and arguably flawed ideas about right and wrong.

Yeah, I find this super interesting.

Calums stuff is great. Super nice fella as well. I have the stuff he put on Github a while back using Supercollider somewhere. I remember that being very Mark Fell-esque. Happy to share that if you like? I pinged him a message pointing to your release by the way.

You totally should of asked for a remix, it would have been interesting to hear his response. I know he has asked others to perform for him at events he couldn’t make in person and sent them the patch with a few notes of guidance. I can imagine doing the same to him might have grabbed his attention. Might even be worth doing anyway, as you could pose it as “Mark Fell in the style of Mark Fell?” which creates some ambiguity around authorship and his involvement which could be a way of working both for you in terms of getting him involved and for him not feeling the need to be commercially connected, should that be a concern for whatever reason. I’d be well interested in hearing that.

Just bought it by the way.

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Hey, thanks a LOT for your support!

I am all for the discussion on authorship etc., but it wasn’t really my intention here, I think! Maybe because he’s also (despite very established) an experimental artist and not someone I imagine making a lot of money. I’d rather choose Beyoncé or something like that for that purpose…

I have the stuff he put on Github a while back using Supercollider somewhere.

I’d love to check this out! And thanks for pointing Calum to my stuff! I also want to learn a bit of SC, I think it might push me into different directions, this might be just perfect for that.

Yeah, a remix would be nice though I actually don’t really know if he was a bit upset but still being very polite. In retrospect, I think I expected him to acknowledge there were things being pushed into other directions, but apparently he focused on the things that were closer to his stuff. So I felt there wasn’t much room for asking for a remix, and if he wants someone that can handle stuff like his own, well, he knows where to find it anyway.

On the other hand, it would be amazing if a few people wanted to make Mark Fell-esque remixes of some of the tracks, I’d be more than happy to share the patches with them. Fancy making one? :slight_smile:

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No worries :slight_smile:

hahaha! I love this!

So it took some finding as on an old Macbook, and also it’s not quite how I remembered it, still, I have attached it anyway.
clap-mutations-master.zip (191.9 KB)

I guess it’s possible to be a challenge for any artist, but I can assume given the scene Mark grew up in, this was full of this sort of thing. I’m sure he’s fine.

Sure, thanks for offering :slight_smile:

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Thanks for sharing clap-mutations files ! Simple, effective SC code ! Inspiring !

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No worries. SC is great. I’d recommend Eli Fieldsteel as well for an easy way in. He has loads of tutorials on YouTube and i see some more recent ones as well.

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Hey, just jumping here to say I love the album. And happy it got released! Wish it were tape (I don’t buy CDs anymore as my collection is gathering dust in another country) but I’ll go ahead and support the release by buying the digital version.

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it’s really good - especially the numbers least in the style of Mark Fell

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@ParanormalPatroler thanks for your kind words and for your support!

@droptableuser thanks!!! and the fact that you prefer the less-fell-ones really warms up my heart, makes me feel like making many more! :slight_smile:

@sfotpoc thank you for sharing your approach and workflow, I very much enjoyed this.

Like Mark, I’m excited to hear what comes next.

Richard Sides’ Don’t blow it on the vector (https://vimeo.com/107943337 )

Also, thanks for bringing this to my attention, somehow I’d completely missed it, a great lofi documentary.

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Thanks for asking! I’ll post it here when I release something new!

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