Library #15

Dane Patterson – Wellness Center

New release for the library is radical electronic noise collage-work from the Brooklyn visual artist Dane Patterson.

Two sides of harrowing, hallucinating, spatially globular readymades for late night wide-awake insomnia. You can set your clocks to these jams and make life that much more interesting as it melts and slows down and fires you across altering planes while you try to focus on anything else and then fight for sleep. In better days, this was the good kind of tripping. This is monstrous material, and it floored me when he sent it along.

I think Dane’s visual artist brain has wires that get crossed with his guerrilla sampling/cut-up techniques when he puts the musical pen to 4-track paper and that pushes some of the decision-making into unbelievable psychedelic-tinged existential structuralism. Designs emerge in responsive balance: stark, loud, emotional bursts segue into droning, machinist living forms, gentle and mischievous and impermanent.

The album is called Wellness Center and it quite literally helps explain and soundtrack some of the thinking/feeling Dane’s conscious/unconscious of, and his melted take on electronic mind-fuck therapy has helped him carry the personal-blues along in such a creative fashion that you start to forget about the heaviness, but my advice is to let it breathe and be heavy, be a full-on undertaking, play it loud and throw the large sounds, shrinking and shrieking, at our own anxieties. Sometimes we’re able to channel something, some kind of power comes from somewhere else that’s slightly foreign to our everyday, either its from deep within or from outside us altogether in that spirit-way we have no idea of, but for a few seconds to a half of an hour, we’re in control and we’re flying.

I sent a few questions his way via email and here are his responses:

hey dane, thanks for doing this man, appreciate it! i was really blown away by yr record when you sent it to me, wasn’t totally sure what i was hearing and how it all got there. what sort of sounds were you initially after, and how did you go about getting that down? you mentioned to me that you were cutting up live drums and using a sampler, were you mixing analogue and digital means together for this? 4-track and computer? do you see this as straight up electronic music (whatever that can mean) or do you see it as more noise-based or lower-fi concrete type work? or does it matter?

Hey, I’m glad to do it. Thank you. I definitely didn’t have a particular sound in mind when I started this project. I’d just moved to a new place in Brooklyn after a long-term relationship came to an end. Sound recording was a way for me to escape for a bit and work through things. I think that’s where the title Wellness Center stems from. At that time recording became a bit of a retreat for me.

I started by just recording short bits and pieces and organizing the sound fragments. These didn’t necessarily relate in any way to one another. I recorded sections of detuned acoustic guitar, padded mallets on tin cylinders, sequenced bits from inexpensive korg analogue synths, and sounds from hitting kitchen utensils together. I also had some prior recordings of sounds I dug into, including some I’d attempted with violin. I just started making folders and sorting sound types initially. This portion of the process was chopped up via computer and saved to my sp404 sampler as loops or singular hits. I think it started to take shape when I hooked up my Vdrum set to the sampler and used that to trigger sounds along with the drum hits. Once I found a way to work with the parts I would record these bits of arrangement to 4-track cassette. It was a way to save the ideas, and it also changed the quality of the sounds. Later these tapes were recorded back into Abelton live where I refined the looped patterns and multi-tracked over top. It’s definitely electronic music as it was generated with computer and electronics, though I think the character is different than what that genre might call to mind.

did you have a master plan all along or were you fitting pieces together and sort of improvising with the collection of source material you had? how or when did you know you were getting something special? was there ever a moment where you were able to objectively step back and say, alright, this is turning into something here? were all the tracks finalized or mixed in similar ways?

I’d recorded a number of arrangements before anything really clicked. It was like a puzzle. I was sorting elements that fit together to maintain a flow that worked as a whole. There are times in the album where quiet drones or different instruments follow a crescendo of harsh sounds. I like to develop a feeling in a track and then undermine it.

so both sides of the tape are flowing collages of continuous themes or motifs, were you working around certain sections, like say a filmmaker might, in that you knew it had to get to this particular spot, but editing and cutting away would help reveal that and get it there? that’s interesting to me, i know that yr a visual artist and work in multi/mixed media ways and have been doing video-work of late as well, was that part of the process at all? were you seeing or visualizing anything art-wise when you were making this album? i think film-styled editing can be an underrated aspect to record production, having themes and narratives taking shape and knowing when to move things around sequence-wise, etc., does that make sense to you too?

Each side of the tape had a couple of sections that I knew I wanted to include. A lot of the editing became about figuring out how to build up to them or accent them. I’m a visual artist as well, and making the music definitely called up imagery as I worked. There is video involved with the audio now, but it was only created after the recording was complete.

can you tell us a little about yr history working as an artist and how yr development has changed or taken on new stronger forms? is there any particular media that yr more comfortable working in? and since you work with different materials and software, are there choices that you make that are tactile or decision-based in yr music-making that would more emulate working in other fields, like in video or in installation or drawing or paper collage? do you like when the differing forms interact and blend together? ‘how do i make that drum tom sound like a withered rope fall through a window’ thing going on? visualizing components both imaginary or in ways that will actually take artistic form?

The basis for my visual art has always been drawing. It’s definitely what I’m most comfortable with as a medium. It translates nicely into some of the video work I’ve done. A lot of my more recent drawings have started as photo collages these days. Mock-ups that I make in Photoshop are then rendered with pencil. I think that way of working stems from the collage method of music making I’ve been doing. Working from photographs has been a big part of my drawing projects since around 2003 or so. It used to be very important to me that I worked from photographs that I’d totally staged myself. Today I will work from photographs I’ve taken and collaged bits from Google image for example. I’m not a purist about that at all anymore.

As for sound work, I don’t think too much about visual narrative as I work. I did do some short one-minute animations where I made the audio and animation at the same time. I really like the idea of sound accompanying visual elements. It’s new for me still.

so you used to run the plant migration record label, was that new york-based? what made you want to get that going? you issued many formats on that label as well, cassettes, cdrs, seven-inches, three-inch cdrs, even lp, why no wax cylinder or microcassette? kidding. what made you make those moves with the formats and did you let the specific material dictate what direction you wanted to go in? and i’m assuming you wanted to spend time on other artforms and life things, so it just naturally went to the back-burner? any thoughts on getting that back going? did you do the art and layout for the label?

Yes, Plant Migration was a label I ran for a few years starting in 2007 I believe. I was in New York at the time and was really inspired by a lot of the small tape labels in the city. I also really wanted to design album art and that was a quick way to do it. The various formats I released really came down to what raw elements I had on hand. I’d been buying lots of blank media and cases and just wanted to use them and make designs for projects. I did the majority of the artwork and the layout for the label. I had the chance to have Dennis Tyfus of Ultra Eczema do a 7” cover for Rust Worship. That was really exciting. I ended up getting to work with a lot of artists that I really admire and am inspired by; Andrew Pekler, Rust Worship (Paul Haney), Jaap Blonk, Eliza and Parry (Cammisa Buerhuas), and Cindy Cindy (Cindy Daignault) for example. I think that was easily the best part about releasing music as a label, getting to be a small part of helping out artists who were inspiring to me. It’s an incredible amount of work, and financially difficult to maintain. Eventually it just made sense to move on to other projects. I wouldn’t rule out starting it up again, but it won’t be soon.

how has yr work specifically changed over time with this new release versus say yr older circle circle square material? and what prompted using yr own name for the record? i can really dig that, i think about that all the time dropping the artist names and just going right to it. there’s more honesty there when you present, though sometimes it’s good to hide behind a layer a little bit, like pessoa used to riff on, the many-personed idea. do you have any other projects on the go as well besides this solo material?

Circle Circle Square was a drone project I started for fun. I was using 1 min looped cassettes and pedal based noise strategies. I wanted it to be slow moving and similar to the mediation practice I had started at the time. Those early recordings were done in one take per side and with little editing. Today I like to work with more complex structures in my music. I’m interested in percussion changes, and with more variety to the sounds. I’m also working in more of a sound collage style now.

I started using my name on my recordings shortly after that. I had been doing a lot of shows of my visual artwork and it just made sense to me that both should just be under my name. As for upcoming projects, I have some elements for some new music I’m playing with. However, I’m switching gears back to a new drawing series.

back to the art side of things, when did this gloopy/colour palette/psychedelia take shape? there’s colours and patterns and rotating globs of objects/readymades, things slowly turn and things are confidently blurred and abstracted even when presented in perfect realistic ways, is there a philosophy at all that is attached to some of the work? i detect an autobiographical vibe and also a heavy surrealistic element to having two or three or four disparate ideas or shapes morph into one new idea, maybe there’s an absurdist dada thread there where meaning is thrown out the window in favour of finding new ways to look or think about things? it’s not primitive and you don’t work against yr strengths by doing ‘sloppier’ technique, you really want to present it as it takes form in yr head and imagination, what the hell is going on there?

I had a show of drawings and paintings in Paris this year at Kogan Gallery called “Object Studies”. This is really where I started combining types of objects together in my drawings. In that show there were a lot of depictions of expensive designer furniture being mistreated for example. There is a lot of comedy in that for me and I think that’s an important part of it. In my drawings I could show things that would not have been easily possible with sculpture and ready-mades. I think the idea is delivered in a drawing well. I like the control I have in a drawing over how the viewer sees them.

can you tell me a bit about the video you did as a small trailer for the release? we talked before about how you wanted a representation of a place, the ‘wellness center’ i take it, and the camera and viewer moves through the rooms seeing all of these wild objects and ideas splattered inside, what are some of those things that you wanted to show? there’s faces, posters, media, things from yr past i’m guessing and then there’s these weirdo art pieces all moving around free in these rooms, what are we looking at? it’s super great man, it makes me laugh but it also carries this extra emotional weight to it, how did you go about finding the right balance of absurd vs real life, real feeling?

The video trailer for the release was started after the completion of the tape. I’d done some drawings in the past of rooms that I had trashed and photographed. I thought that it could be interesting to do an animation moving through a space like that. As I worked the idea turned more into having elements in the space arranged in almost sculptural formations: a combination of found objects from a house and just random combinations of junk and various materials. I wanted the visuals to mirror the sounds in a way. I tried to do this by having sort of horrific or unnerving shapes that are neutralized by more comical or lighter elements. There is a shot with two gross faces cut out and stuck on a pile of materials that are set on a wooden kitchen chair. To balance that out I had the shot reveal a framed image next to it depicting a bag of Funyuns. Really random stuff, but I like that one diffuses the other somehow. I guess that was the game for this video… Taking pleasant things like get-well flowers and nice furniture and rearranging them and pairing them with things that make them less so.

what artists/artwork or personal experiences have influenced or helped shape yr work? do you think about art in that way, being inspired by? or is it more of an accumulation of seeing and experiencing great art that helps us look back on our work with fresh perspective? and that doesn’t even need to be ‘great art’ even, just things happening with friends and travels, where it all sort of helps push us forward with our own thoughts and work. is there anything you’ve been into or have been checking out of late, what have you been digging on?

I definitely think of art that way. There are a lot of people who inspire the things that I make. I’m really into Luciernaga, and the stuff that has been coming out on Fabrica Records. I’m also really into the drum projects by Ted Byrnes. There are tons of tape labels that have inspired me as well. Baked Tapes, Hausu Mountain, 905 tapes, Obsolete Units, Hanson Records, Cryptic Carousel…

I listen to a lot of noise music. When I draw I like the Rita, Sewer Election, and harsh noise for some reason. I’m still obsessed with Hanatarash recordings and Boredoms. John Zorn of course, and more intense free jazz like Peter Brotzmann.

do you go through phases of things, where you only listen to certain sounds or read certain books, etc? and does any of this relate to when you were working on this album? does yr listening/reading/viewing habits change at all when you are in the middle of a big project, whatever that art form is?

I tend to not listen to any music at all when I am in a recording phase these days. I do find that books really inform the next phase of my visual artwork as I go. I really enjoy books on Philosophy. Short stories have been informative as well. There is a short story by SAKI called The Unrest Cure. It’s about a man stuck in a rut in life. His friend comes in and trashes his home in an effort to break him out of his rut. This was definitely the point when I decided to make the room arrangement drawings. This was the series with trashed spaces, which I’d drawn photo-realistically.

I tend to work in phases. I spend the majority of my time with drawing and visual art, then as a breather in between shows or series I focus on music. It’s a nice balance that keeps me moving forward, and by the time I’m finished with a project I’m always eager to jump back to the other.

thanks man, think i’ll leave it there. thank you for being into this! what’s coming up for you? anything else you want to share about this particular record or new year that’s about to happen?

Thanks! I’ve got a show of some drawings coming up in a fair called Illustrative that is happening in Beijing, China around March 2017. The work will be presented by the Berlin based Johanssen Gallery at the event. I’m also getting ideas together for a new drawing series, which should come together sometime soon.

Library #6

Talugung – Folded Spring

Ryan Waldron/Talugung interview for his new release Folded Spring (Power Moves Library #6) available now.

hey ryan, so i count this as number 9 for the talugung project, as you’ve had a number of tapes and cdrs put out by a few different labels, including housecraft and sloow tapes and a bunch of other good-ones, how did you approach this collection of pieces versus the other works earlier in yr history and how has yr set-up/process evolved?

For some of my albums, especially the early ones, I overdubbed parts in real time; actually playing the instruments. With this new album I only did a little bit of live playing, mostly I’m working with short samples. The one thing that links the albums is the use of some favourite sounds.

i know that we talked before a little about how yr working these days, which is more computer-based and with samples and with layering/collaging, what are some of the instruments that yr recording or how are you getting the more organic/acoustic-sounding material?

I recorded some things at home – bowed wood paint sticks, bowed gongs, wine glasses, autoharp, cello, drums, glockenspiel, toys etc. Besides my own recordings, I also sampled some acoustic sounds from records – trumpets, violins, metallophones, flutes, and birds. I kept a lot of untreated acoustic sound in the final mixes.

i also hear quite a few sounds and ideas peppering throughout the entirety of the work, does this collection feel like one giant composition or are the segments/fragments purposeful and distinct to you?

The material I assembled was a bit modular, in that I put all the samples into the same tuning so that anything could fit with anything and still be in tune, so in that sense everything is like a big piece. I also used similar approaches with some of the songs, like the use of scattered drum sounds – but once I got working on the individual tracks, I wanted to give them an individual character.

when did time and rhythm become essential to talugung? yr a guitar player too and have always been tripped out by odder rhythms, i know that we always talk about charley patton and robert pete williams and joseph spence as being particularly complex and funky, and i know that you love african music and did a short-lived radio show at cfbu in st catharines, what is it about those elements that wow you? and do you try to hit at those types of ideas/movements? how would you describe that upbeat rhythmic thing that yr after?

I’m drawn to stuff that has fast interlocking rhythms, but with this album I’m trying to fake that feeling somewhat in that things are happening fast but without really lining up. I’m trying to make the mess of things happening sound a bit less like a mess – I think you can get part of the way there because our brains seem to want to find order in a sequence of sounds. A listener can supply their own sense of pulse to events happening that aren’t in strict metrical rhythms. An image I like is rain drops falling on water – it’s both random but highly patterned at the same time.

continuing with time, yr new stuff is getting freer and freer, it’s almost an insane computer free jazz, when you think of these pieces beforehand (if you do) are you structuring it or seeing it play out this way? or do you want to get in and work on the computer and let the pieces sort of dictate what flow they should take?

Once I start testing out sounds with other sounds, I’m looking for little sequences that seem to click – it’s almost like finding a riff that can be varied and expanded. I search for different textures that work together and then trying to arrange them into combinations where they sound like they’re interacting with each other; sounds colliding in the air and bouncing around.

it seems that the complexities and aural bulk is key to making the work for you, but you’ll find a way to have one sole instrument or sound or scrape stand alone for a brief second, is that contradiction or push-pull something yr going for? having a busy music fade out into simpler, more minimalistic tones?

One of the interesting things that happens when you start overdubbing sounds is as soon you add a sound to another sound, you’re subtracting part of what made the original sound interesting when it was standing by itself. I made a conscious effort to have the music swing back and forth from stacked sounds to silence. Hopefully this adds some interest; and you can’t beat a well-timed pause –

the sounds that all of yr releases have share a commonality with just intonation-type ideas, really neat and strange tunings and alien island sounds and more of a made-up language and system, and then when you think about music concrete and acousmatic musics, and computer and analogue editing and looping and manipulations, how do you find working on the computer with tuning systems versus playing around with stringed instruments? what are some of the ideas that yr after with tuning? dissonance? open strings?

I tuned instruments and samples to a simple just intonation scale that is pretty consonant but varies from standard tempered tuning. The computer allows you to pitch shift things around. Using a different pitch system makes the music sound different and creates different combinations of tones – everything vibrates differently. I like to use sliding pitches to add more variations as well. In the end, the just intonation ideas held up in some of the songs more than others. It’s hard not to get carried away in adding more noises and indeterminate pitches.

you’ve built several instruments over the years, can you tell me a bit about yr favourite ones and what kind of notions were at play for wanting to make them or create them? was it more of a function of finding different and newer raw sound? or did you want to make newer sounds with different tunings that you weren’t getting from the guitar, ideas in yr head that you weren’t able to get elsewhere?

One of my favourite sounds is bowed wood. It has a great vocal quality. If you use paint sticks cut to different lengths you can get a wobbly scale. Also bowed metal prongs have that similar vocal, moaning kind of sound. You can also bow metal things like coffee cans. One of the most interesting things I’ve done was adding stretched springs to an instrument to create a natural acoustic spring reverb that’s pretty similar to spring reverb in a guitar amp.

tying in with that, did you use any of the instruments you’ve built on this particular record? and what kind of instruments did you record/sample from yr stash and what kind of sounds were you looking for beyond yr collection/material?

I did use a few of my instruments I built on this album, mostly discussed in the questions above. For sampling other sounds, I tried to find some nice drum and synth sounds. I was favouring a pretty dry sound to keep everything defined and I didn’t worry about bass very much except I plunked bass drums here and there.

one theme i’m hearing on this tape and the one previous for power moves label proper, multiplying dead ends, is the use of children’s voices/cries? are you recording yr son and daughter?

Yes, my kids sing and vocalize on the tracks; just little snippets. It felt good to tie the music back to the specific time and place when it was created, plus my kids loved yelling into the microphone and then hearing the playback.

down the line, what kind of family band to you envision for the waldrons?

What’s the best example of a family-based band to aspire to? Maybe something like ESG?

what were some of the input sources that came along with the output recording and working on this record? what were you listening to/watching/reading/thinking about?

I’ve been taking out a lot of books from the library on 20th century artists. It’s interesting how my perception of artists has changed over the years – I think I appreciate everything more than I ever have but my taste is a bit different than when I was 20. I notice different things. For music, while I was making this album I was listening to some old and new electronic music. I was trying to tie this album into some of the ideas, approaches and sounds used in electronic music from the 50s and 60s and 70s.

I also can’t avoid a steady diet of West African music. I found out recently that the Syliphone Archive at the British Library is now available for streaming. There’s almost 8000 songs recorded in Guinea between the 50s and 90s; so much great music and with 8000 songs it feels almost endless.

yr art walks similar paths to yr music, do you view them as in parallel? does one reflect back on the other? are there ideas or themes that correlate?

I think with both drawing and music I want things to be a bit perplexing.

if you could have an ideal live gig or recording situation, what would be some of the tools that you would want for that? what are some of the dream instruments to play on? what are some of the historical computer or synthesizers or machines that you’d want a go at?

It might be interesting be able to play midi guitars where you can load your own samples and choose different non-tempered tunings. For historical stuff, Buchla Synths and mellotrons would be fun to have a look at.

and finally, back to this tape, do you let chance and randomness get involved in the work? and how much do you try to plan out or manage as yr recording and layering? meaning, do you have specific types of sounds or moves in mind when yr collaging and adding melody? and do you have specific outcomes or patterns that yr thinking about ahead of time or as yr going? how much improvisation plays a part?

There was a lot of initial work to set up a library of sounds for the whole album. Once that was ready to go, I just start putting things together to see what works. Once there are a few things working together, I’ll have ideas for additions and then slowly expand the time from a 10-20 second loop to something longer. Then I’ll change the different sections of things to try and find a balance between repetition and variation. These pieces don’t change that much from beginning to end except that the different sounds and motifs are playing in different combinations. For all the randomness, I was hoping I could stumble across some melody in a patchwork kind of way.

The Folded Spring tape is in a tiny edition of 17 copies, dubbed and assembled at home. Digital is available and free to download on Bandcamp and at the Free Music Archive.

From the both of us, we sincerely hope you give it a listen and we hope you dig it.

Talk soon, more to come,