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Restless new music chameleon Kyle Bruckmann (best known as an improvising oboist mining the intersection of free jazz, noise rock and contemporary classical) offers his first fully electronic solo release.
Sourced primarily from vintage analog synthesis, this double-album diptych anachronistically evokes, from a sardonic post-techno vantage point, both late 60s and late 70s experimentation. Attempted minimalisms chafe at their own restraints, bursting at the seams to comprise “a suite of weighted blankets for an intracranial dancefloor.” By turns hypnotic, immersive and bludgeoning, "Mesmerics/Hindsight" charts an unlikely Venn diagram linking the Day-Glo legacy of the San Francisco Tape Music Center with proto-Industrial’s bleak, gray throb.
While the influences of those two seminal electronic music eras map roughly onto the two albums respectively, echoes of each reverberate throughout. "Mesmerics/Hindsight A," on balance, prioritizes space; "Mesmerics/Hindsight B," periodicity. The limited-edition 90-minute cassette contains both albums; purchases of the physical edition include digital downloads of both.
Throughout the quarantined conditions of 2020-21, Bruckmann sought a stop-gap for his preferred creative modes of highly collaborative, real-time interactivity by indulging in a hermetic practice of solo electronic explorations. Between his home studio and the electronic music labs of two colleges where he teaches, he exploited access to an instrumentation featuring classic Buchla, Moog and E-mu gear alongside more contemporary Eurorack modules.
"The physically and psychosocially distanced circumstances of 2020-21 have found me driven further into my own head and deeper into solo work and circuitry. Offered here are selected research findings from that at times harrowing journey: a suite of weighted blankets for an intracranial dancefloor.
A parallel dimension of hindsight: as I hurtle through middle age and devote an ever larger portion of my career to teaching, I’m confronted with the inevitability of my aesthetics growing ever more ossified, anachronistic, irrelevant. To my students and younger colleagues, I suspect I have become the equivalent (vis-à-vis Ohio in the mid-70s, the Lower East Side in the early 80s, Chicago in the late 90s, etc. etc.) of the boomer who won’t shut up about Woodstock.
One possible response? Double down, as they say; make that central to the creative exercise. This is, in part, an interleaved love letter to two volatile junctures (both especially salient in the history of the synthesizer) on which I’ve remained perennially fixated: the heady intersection of 'art music' experimentalism with 'popular' psychedelia as the 60s skidded through the Altamont Pass into the 70s, and the gag reflex of post-punk and industrial as the 70s gave way to the Anglo-American neocon hellscape of the 80s.
I particularly acknowledge indebtedness to a West Coast electronic music legacy with roots in the San Francisco Tape Music Center, but that also encompasses the likes of the League of Automatic Music Composers, the Residents, Screamers, and the ongoing Brutal Sound FX empire. (Rest in power, Mills College CCM.)
Track-specific notes are due only to A Perforated Kakemono for Henri Michaux, the earliest completed of these pieces (premiered in February 2020 at SF’s Center for New Music in 8-channel diffusion, thanks to Chris Brown’s curation). It is a souvenir from a New Year’s ritual with loved ones – an auspicious transition into what became a most inauspicious year. In tethering it to literary baggage, I must thank Matt Shears, who leant me Thousand Times Broken: Three Books, translated from the French by Gillian Conoley (City Lights, 2014). From Michaux’s introduction to Peace in the Breaking (1959):
“This vibratile carpet, which had something in common with electrical discharges with ramified sparks, as well as with magnetic spectra, a certain something that trembled, that burned, that tingled, like spasms turned into nerves, this tree with fine branches, that could also be lateral bursts, that tempestuous fluid, contractile, shaken, effervescent, but elastically held and kept from overflowing through some sort of surface tension, that nervous projection screen, even more enigmatic than the visions that arose on it, I don’t know, I will never know how to talk about it properly.” (p. 43)
released October 12, 2021
Tools include Buchla 200 (thanks to UOP), E-mu Modular (thanks to UCSC), Minimoog Model D, Wurlitzer 200A, VCV Rack, a small metal sculpture (thanks to Stella Tran), and various modules and devices purchased, salvaged, gifted and borrowed (thanks to Lance Grabmiller, Scott Goff, Ernst Karel, Travis Johns/VauxFlores, and Stephen Holland-Chang).
No double reeds were harmed in the making of this music.
Mastered by Myles Boisen at Headless Buddha Mastering Labs, Oakland, June 2021
Photos: kb; burned trees, Camp Jack Hazard CA, Aug 2020
Oakland, CA-based composer/performer Kyle Bruckmann’s work extends from a classical foundation into genre-bending gray areas
encompassing free jazz, electronic music and post-punk rock. From 1996-2003, he was a fixture in Chicago’s musical underground; long-term affiliations include the electro-acoustic duo EKG, the art-punk monstrosity Lozenge, and the Creative Music quintet Wrack....more
The definitive document of a critical juncture in improvised music. A heartening instance of peers eloquently asserting their place in the Grand Narrative by, well, writing it themselves. Kyle Bruckmann