Notes for my track, Forever.
This time last year I had just left port for an incredible adventure out at sea. I spent 3 months living on a ship in Antarctica, working as a documentary/field producer on Sea Shepherd’s 11th Southern Ocean anti-whaling campaign. So for me to be reflecting upon my time at sea, that I can’t believe was this time a year ago already, I’m having a lot of nostalgia about the experience as a whole (which was incredibly difficult yet overwhelmingly beautiful). I wrote this piece using these thoughts, feelings, memories and some images that I had captured as inspiration.
This ties in very interestingly for me for a solstice submission. The summer solstice that I experienced this time last year was out at sea in Antarctica, which had this bizarre contrast of blaring sunlight (that doesn’t quite fully set unless you’re further north) and harsh cold. I had a summer solstice with ice and snow. A placeless sort of feeling, in between two worlds yet a completely different world.
The track title is meant to reflect an idea of the endlessness of time and depths of the ocean. Out at sea with nothing but the horizon in every direction does create a sense of the foreverness of space. Further, seeing the continent of Antarctica was this incredible feeling of timelessness, the end of the world, like it’s something that has and will be there forever, oblivious to the human world, which is ironic because it’s literally melting as a result of the human world, changing, like the thousands of icebergs that were a part of the continent for millennia but have broken away to slowly melt away at sea. Even my time spent down there felt eternal, yet it was already a year ago. This all very much ties in with a metaphysical idea of placelessness, of humanity experiencing time. Our experience of time is measured by rotation of the earth and the sun, yet out at sea in Antarctica this time of year, constantly on the move across the globe, the notion of time experienced becomes abstract, only kept through our clocks which served strictly human purposes (shifts, meal times, etc.). Being in that part of this planet in such extreme isolation brings a deep reminder of the indifference of the natural world towards human existence.
For the track itself, it was a single patch on my modular system with a single recorded take (after some practice). I tried a couple of different performances, some with Digitakt drums/percussion, and my end goal was to figure out the piece through performance then record each voice and part separately so that I could produce a track in detail with a more coherent and deliberate/controlled structure. After spending half a day working on that, I decided that it was losing the energy that my live performances had, and that I actually liked one of the performances enough to use it (the first one, funnily enough). It’s not perfect, but I like its energy and feeling. It was also full enough not to need to add anything extra.
I have been playing around with this idea of using my modular system as a type of electronic chamber orchestra. Restricting the number of voices that each have a place in the sound spectrum without making any of them too complex in timbre, and having interplayed, polymetric melodies between them. This tied in well with the melodic theme of this compilation project.
I used two Mangroves in the space where woodwinds and violin/viola would take up, Akemie’s Castle taking the mid range cello type spectrum, and Dr. Octature II oscillator mode for silky sinewave bass, and some percussion from Akemie’s Taiko. The whole lot is running through a Space Echo.
I wrote three different patterns in Kria that I switched between while performing to create sections, bringing different voices in and out to create dynamic and movement while still retaining the general themes/motifs of the composition.
The sinewave bass running through an Optomix was to create a foundation of movement and chord changes, the sequence playing at a division of 4 within Kria, while the rest would be bouncing around polyrhythmically in shorter loops, using polymeter as a way of having somewhat repetitive and minimal melodies without it feeling monotonous and keeping it compelling.
I had two outs from Pamela’s New Workout going through Cold Mac’s logic inputs, which were triggering the Akemie’s Taiko. One pattern was a straight x1 gate with a Euclidean setting as 8 beats long 6 steps gated, rotating on two bars. The idea with this is to create a pulsing drum pattern with a more alive and improvised feel. The other output going into the Taiko was at a x2.6 division to give it more of a swinging feel, but not too much. As I performed the piece, I incrementally increased the clock division of each of these outputs to build the sense of momentum and crescendo. There was also another output giving an envelope to one of the release inputs to give it an occasional ringing kind of accent.
At the end of the performance I used a Beast’s Chalkboard to do some octave changes on the Mangroves to create a sense of finality and closure.