A lot of people talk about the necessity of narrative in music, particularly of the instrumental variety. While this way be true, as far as the ability of most normal music listeners' ability to tune in and relate, it also raises a few interesting questions, particularly in regards to electronic music.
Electronic music is a mixture of functionality, ideas, and expression. First, and foremost (to most people's minds, anyway), electronic music's main purpose is to move bodies on the dancefloor, which is the narrative itself. Electronic musicians and producers endlessly tweak about with their machines, searching for the perfect groove or the unexpected sound. And while mainstream electronic music takes those experiments and then condenses them into easily digestible albums, which are dance music's version on Taylor Swift or Mariah Carey. This reliance on the pop album format creates a weighted tendency towards spectacle, ironing out the wrinkles and weird assymetrical edges that often comes from listening to machines do their thing. The difference, to borrow a visual analogy, is like the difference between a glossy Hollywood blockbuster, and an abstract mumblecore oddity.
Station Sound is the first album from Gregory Reeves under the name Round Trip Light Time, that is equal parts future beat tape and retro library synth record. Gregory Reeves has had a long and storied career, remixing Bob Marley, touring with the Dead Kennedys, and making incidental music for films, documentaries, and television. Station Sound contains elements of each of these phases of his career: headnodding, spliffing grooves, punk rock weirdness, and imaginative, futuristic sound design.
Reeves describes Station Sound as "raw, off the grid future music - deconstructed and unpredictable." It is definitely all of these things. The overall feel is similar to the MAX/MSP digital dithering glitch of academic sound alchemists, starting from the late '90s until the late '00s: artists like Oval and Markus Popp, Mouse On Mars, Pan Sonic and Vladislav Delay. Station Sound was conceived using a mixture of generative techniques, which involve creating complex machine feedback lines, similar to a living, evolving ecosystem, and real-time processing with MAX/MSP, an experimental musical programming language, favored by theoriticians and innovative DJs alike.
You don't hear as much of this distinctive RAM buffering hypnosis, perhaps due to the sound quality being equated with the era, which is both a good and bad thing. That digital glitch, of short segments of samples being triggered repetitively, has a tendency to sound sandpaper rough on the ears, smacking of the Uncanny Valley, but on the other hand, I have always found that grinding, digital repetition to be one of the closest sonic equivalents to obsessive thoughts running through the mind.
This is just one example of the surreal mental journeys I experienced listening to Station Sound. I also blasted in zero-gravity, to shoot up some asteroid belts ("Dome"), and watched Klaus Schulze duet with Bach and Daniel Lopatin, with glowsticks and lightning shooting from his fingers ("Salvo").
Much of Art History could be viewed as an opening of the gates of what kind of stories we can tell. It was all politics and mythology, at the start, and as more and more people became educated and literate, the postmodern hordes were unleashed, and we began to consider every individual's viewpoint, and billions of subjective, strange mental worlds were constructed.
There's been a disturbing tendency, with the proliferation of information and the omnipresence of media, to backpedal, moving back towards the heroic, epic narratives, and overlooking the personal, slice-of-life microdramas that come with experimentation. This is a mistake, a mis-step, and must be stemmed, lest we be left with only Aerosmiths and U2s.
If you've ever wondered what microscopic life, proliferating in a petri dish might sound like, or you'd like to know what Smurfs dance to, tune in to Station Sound. Round Trip Light Time belongs to both the experimental, avant-garde LA hip-hop beat scene of Brainfeeder, Stones Throw, and Leaving Records, as well as serious, intellectual, academic sound design records, and has something for fans of both.
For people who like to think, as well as dance, or just like to listen to Pong, check it out!
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