Modular Synthesis as Psychic Weaponry

“What do you play?, “Can I dance to it?”, “what else does it sound like?” are all things I’ve been asked recently and in the interest of trying to define quite what it is I do as Erstlaub, I’ve been doing a little bit of self-analysis which I thought might be interesting to record, it seems to have turned into part vanity writing/part manifesto/part pseudo-scifi-magic-psychotic conjecture.

Sound as a hypersigil

The pieces I make as Erstlaub are generally created as a response to real world ideas and emotions but the space that exists between this inspiration and the final output is more than just a straight “musical” process. Elements of musical theory, physics, maths play a part, as do the deeper concepts of chaos/pop magic, dimensionality within the omniverse and non-linear time. Most of the time, Erstlaub is a creative force from within, usually a focussing of a certain type of psychological energy, sometimes there is a less cogent process which is more akin to channelling an alternate reality persona rather than a conscious sequence of decision making.

The creative process involves taking an idea, feeling or element of will or intent and translating into sound by means of taking individual modular elements and focussing, refining and condensing them into self contained, autonomous systems, usually with an inbuilt “fail” system removing the technical purity and adding a more organic edge.¬†Larger pieces are then constructed out of a series of these small systems and again, several of these will be combined in sequence to create a narrative in the same way that sigils are formed and sequenced into more complex hypersigils.

As with all good chaos magic practice, there are rules within the system on which to base open excursions;

  • Sounds are only ever built from scratch using modular synthesis – no samples or field recordings should be used
  • No additional outboard processing should take place – bar the use of delay loops to mask audio dropouts on loading a new environment
  • There should be no midi sequencing or synchronisation
  • Pieces should be performed and recorded in one continuous take with no post editing (trimming ends and final mastering excepted)

The real power lies in the charging of these hypersigil constructs, when performed, this series of slightly chaotic systems, each built with very specific intent, start to resonate with the others, waves stack or phase, things start to beat against each other or harmonise. The construct becomes one solid, vibrating, continuous piece of energy – there are ebbs and flows, things come into focus before pulling away again, fire, water, earth and air elements shift against each other, ghosts, memories, feelings, secrets, doubts, all hang there in space, imprinted onto time, burning, a perpetual motion engine of pure crystalised will.

Pretty nuts eh? Come and see me play at Hidden Door on Sunday, 31st January downstairs in the Engine Room in the Bowery (due on at 4.40pm). I’ll be performing the brand new piece Sleepwalking Into The Underworld along with a 40 minute projection to accompany it. There’s a sneak preview in the previous post if you haven’t already seen it.

There’s some exciting news yet to post regarding¬†Sleepwalking but I’ll let you know once details are all firmed up.


Sleepwalking Into The Underworld

I’m escaping out into the real world to subject members of the human race to a completely new set of bleeps and rumbles in a few weeks time. I’m playing in the afternoon of Sunday 31st January at the Hidden Door festival in Edinburgh (my first Edinburgh show actually).

The set and accompanying visuals were largely constructed in a pique of bleak mid-winterness so expect an even higher than normal noise/grumbling ratio. Here is a little preview to give you an idea of what to expect.

Please do come, it looks like it’s going to be a really interesting event, if you do, be nice to me eh?


2009: A Stream of Consciousness

<2009>Ghost Frequencies, Duncan of Jordanstone, Artschool, Belonging, Nikon D90, finishing seeing all of Tarkovsky’s films, being totally proud of my friends making babies/being pregnant, making more friends than I ever have before, Comicbooks/Graphic Novels, Kick-Ass, Knightfall, Infinite Crisis, Countdown to / Final Crisis, Battle for the Cowl, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Pop Magic, Sigils, Tarot, yet more Cycles of David Lynch, DCA in Dundee, Antichrist, Where the Wild Things Are, Alphaville, Le Mepris, Citizen Kane, Once Upon a Time in the West, La Jetee/Sans Solei, Dead Man, Watchmen, insomnia, Coil, Broadcast vs The Focus Group, Natural Snow Buildings, The XX, William Basinksi, Tim Hecker, Fennesz, PJ Harvey, Martial Canterel / Xeno and Oaklander, seeing Stars of the Lid live, letting go of some things, Macbook breaking, Xbox breaking, spending WAY too much money on the Warp 100 Box Set, Microkorg, Abandoned Buildings, decay, ruin, hospitals, castles, dark tunnels, Sailor Jerry, self doubt, The Art Bar, Gavin Bryars – Jesus Blood Never Failed Me, Final Cut, Pro-Tools, Meeting Sleazy/Seeing Threshold House Boys’ Choir live, Keeping a Google Calendar of all the Films I’ve Watched, Updating to Leopard, Lars Von Trier’s Riget (Kingdom), Being 30, Fife, Dundee, Glasgow, Hating every single idea I have about 3 weeks into the execution of it, getting lost in the woods, capturing time in three directions at once, magic realism, the fourth dimension, psychogeography, situationist international, feeling like you are about to burst into flames on a regular basis, The Moon and Serpernt, staying up til 6am drinking rum, dichotomies, being single, accrual of good karma, Psychoville, The Thick of It, Adam and joe, brain static, Wiretap, Perseid Meteors, Marvelling at The Universe. </2009>