Staying on the bus…

More experiment than completed track – this jam is a live exploration of both the Hyakken Max For Live sequencer Seqtron and routing software synths through the Nord Modular to roughen them up.  The Seqtron sends out sequences on two channels to the Nord and one to the Nova. In this case I’m using the QuNexus to manually play a quirky pad (reminiscent of Liquid Sky) on the Melda MPower synth which is running through a parallel filter patch on the Nord into the LoopStation.  Thru-put is open, input FX are sometimes added and loops can be recorded.   All done live in Live 9 using the Launch Control XL and Launchpad S combo to manage track sequencing / arming and routing.

Seqtron +
Seqtron +

Now I frequently mistake humility for low self esteem but my problem with this track is that it feels like little more than a demo of a process and that seems to be a consistent problem with all the stuff I’ve done over the last little while.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be a problem – I’m quite inspired by the work of Benge, particularly the way he uses simple, methodical approaches to really pull the character and essence out of his synths.  He has a lot of synths though and many years experience tweaking them.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Chris Herbert over email about time-poor electronic musicians and their approaches. His “Constants” album has been a beautiful shimmering soundtrack to the increasingly unseasonal heat here in the BellBower. Here is a recent video of his to assist in contextualisation.

In the discussion he reminded me of the Helsinki Bus Station theory. For those that want the synopsis – the basic metaphor is a system of bus routes that only diverge after a certain number of stops.  If you keep hopping off the bus and returning to the terminal you will always be retracing the same paths and compared / compare yourself with others and never develop an individual artistic vision.  The point is to persist, stay on the bus, own the entire route.

I’ve come across this before and interestingly I think it compares and contrasts with Flow theory which i’ve been more consistently engaging with through working towards appropriate workflow balance.  Building and dismantling to maintain challenge and advancement while trying to avoid boredom or overly difficult and finicky setups.  The irony is that i’ve been doing little other than that for some time.  Maybe I keep getting off the bus?  I keep thinking I should stick to one setup and then I have an idea for another one – get excited about testing it – and spend my time working towards flow only to change it again.

Flow diagram
Flow diagram

Something else I think is problematic is a lack of clear motivation or concept.  I’ve always worked towards a concept or iterated on a process.  To take some recent examples: Makro-Hetlev is an improvised duet with quite specific restraints and a unique sound – even more so as we move away from computer based synthesis.  Inner Visions was a nostalgic reminiscence of my teen pagan awakening and one of the authors that opened the door to that.

By comparison what i’m demonstrating in recent tracks via process is not unique and i’ve not had a thematic goal since last year. I have been offered an avenue for greater distribution however so i’m trying to work towards that.  There is also a Cosmic Amanuensis release slowly taking shape and a work with Joe Musgrove that we are chewing on right now.  Collaborations are all good but the solo muse is lacking.

For now my inspiration is the Helsinki Bus Station and i’m dumping my half-formed wibbles there in the hope that maybe some time in the not too distant future a theme will emerge.


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