e / s \ c is an acronym for electric / sonic \ council. This one-man, electronic music project from Minneapolis, Minnesota was started by composer and producer Jim Bjorklun. The story begins around 1995, when Bjorklun became enamored with electronic music from the U.K. He started collecting used synths, samplers and drum machines, and began exploring. These experiments developed into “jammy patterns” which eventually became songs, resulting in the debut Down To Earth. The album was recorded and mixed at Pearl Lake Sound recording studio in Kimball, Minnesota, and mastered by Bruce Templeton at Microphonic Mastering in Minneapolis. One of the ideas for the album was that each song could be a chapter in a mythical story or tale. Though this story existed only vaguely, it rallied Bjorklun to start sampling from various sources (including his wristwatch) and from various discussions and presentations on C-SPAN, along with random bits while scrolling through TV channels. He then set about adding these samples to the songs, until an album fell into place. Although the sounds all come from electronic sources, the songs are based on emotions and experience. Thematically, the album’s focus is about looking within to find counsel and insight, while navigating through life.
For those into old school electronic instruments, the sounds you’ll hear come from synthesizers, samplers and drum machines - all of which were produced in the 1980s and 1990s. These electronic instruments were recorded onto 16 tracks using (2) ADAT machines and mixed through a Mackie 3208 mixing board. A minimal number of effects processors were available during mix-down. These included a TL Audio tube compressor, a Lexicon Alex effects unit and an Ibanez DM2000 digital delay. In a couple cases, electric guitar pedals were employed for additional effects. In full traditional form, the songs were mixed in analog-style with no PC in sight. Bjorklun includes Orbital, Aphex Twin and the Orb as being the main musical influences for this album. “Jungle A” starts off the album with an electric, pulsating beat – very new wave-ish and very, very cool. Snippets of words, some undecipherable, weave their way in and out between synth tracks, blips, beeps and the “shhhtp” “shhtp” sound of electronic drums. “The OS” features a steady, hand-clapping rhythm with a cool, higher synth tone coming in and out, along with plenty of extra high- and low-end percussion beats. You’ll hear a man say, “And then bingo, something happened” – which sounded very familiar, but I couldn’t quite place who the actor/narrator was. So far, e/s\c’s style and arrangements seem jammy – in other words, the songs don’t sound like they are structured in a conventional verse/verse/chorus/verse kind of way. That said, this kind of songwriting leaves more possibility for surprises and experimentation, particularly with instrumental music.
Next is “Exit Planet M” and this one has a sci-fi story within it, taking bits of narration from some movie about a rocket in space exploring planet Mars. This one feels mysterious in the way e/s\c wrote it with its darker tones and edgier instrumentation. And in case you forget, anti-gravity goes up, while gravity goes down. “On the Earth” begins with a thumping techno beat and some great “squiggle” sounds from the synth (don’t know how else I would describe them). Along with that you’ll also hear some piano and spooky, spacey effects – something akin to a radar screen giving back a signal to a space crew. Speed this one up a few notches and you could be teleported right into a ‘90s rave. “Day 2.1” has a grand, soundscape quality to it with plenty of electronic percussion and spacious synth sounds. Some random piano playing accompanies two other synth parts with various narration snippets of voices. Next is “Say Ra!” – a fidgety tune with sporadic playing split between the keys, electronic drums and pulsating bass beats. A male narrator says – “Star I’m glad to see you” – while a female states, “You are the nucleus.” Overall, this one was trippy.
“Hypnosis” is one of the songs off the album that reminds me of the modern rave tunes that were big in the early to mid ’90s. The bass beat is faster, the main keyboard melody low and sultry, while another synth part is hypnotic and trippy. The song fades out in the end, which I liked a lot. The way “Mosaic” is arranged and written reminds me of what Steward Copeland did for the show “Equalizer” (no, not the new version starring Queen Latifah) but the original one from the ‘80s. Not sure if all the extra narration was in the original music, but I thought the other instrumentation had that crime/mystery – good guy/bad guy quality about them. “Sun City” features an interesting mix of two or three main synth parts, some golf show narration, what sounds like ocean bubbles surfacing, some violin (I think), some whistling and fits of stops and starts between various electronic drums and cymbals. There’s a lot going on with this tune for sure! The last track is “Summit Up” and to me, it felt like a happy, light tune. The main key it was played in sounded cheery and all the drum parts had a fun structure to them as well, not to mention all the bell/chime-like keyboard parts and the amusing narration, too. Overall, this was a fun song that I would recommend listening to, and, if you’re into said genres that have a more experimental songwriting approach with no words give Down to Earth a try.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook