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Interview: "The perfect sonic sequence" Nucleus - Buenos Aires, Argentina - August 2005

Nucleus (link to original)

"The perfect sonic sequence"

Interview with the electronic/experimental musician Mingo

By Sergio Vilar

Thank you very much for your willingness to give an interview for Nucleus. First please tell me of yourself and your relations with music from the very beginning. Do you remember how you first got into music? As a child I took music lessons, but did not really get interested in music until my early teens. And I’m sure that’s a common story for many people. But what really turned me on was a radio station at the local university that featured electronic and experimental music. They played tracks from artists such as Kraftwerk and Jean Michel Jarre, as well as a lot of really obscure and experimental music that was coming out of the early 1980’s at that time. Then when I was in my mid teens, I received a small electronic keyboard as a gift. With that keyboard and a boom box I made my first recordings and eventually had a couple of my songs played on that radio station. I realized then that creating music was going to play a major role in my life.

Can you tell me what bands and musicians were your personal influences?

As I mentioned earlier, Jean Michel Jarre was an early influence. Other early influences were New Order and the Cocteau Twins, which I still listen to quite often. Basically, early on I was listening to and recording a lot of music that relied heavily on sequencers and orchestration. But then I discovered Steve Roach as well as other artists who could be classified as space musicians. That kind of free flowing, improvisational sound sent me into a different direction. And that’s where I find myself today.

Do you find composing or improvising more rewarding?

While composing and improvising are both used when I create a song, I find improvising more rewarding. It’s like going on a trip into uncharted territory. You know where you are starting, but are never certain where you’ll end up. For example, I know what synthesizers I’m going to use, effects processors and the first sounds I’m going to start out with. But as the session progresses, the sound constantly changes shape and takes unexpected turns. And because of this, I discover sonic textures that I may not have created had I not loosened the structure and removed the parameters that come with composing.

How would you describe your music? My music has been described as sometimes dreamy and uplifting to cold and melancholy. And I feel that is accurate. I don’t necessarily intend to do this – but I find that my sound does capture a dynamic range of emotions.

You would say that your last album, “The Once and Future World” was a lot more composed, a lot more structured that the previous material? As far as the CD as a whole, there is a common thread or structure throughout the recording. Where as my previous EP, “Strange Calibration” was more of a collection of tracks that had no relation to each other.

Could you briefly explain the process of composing and recording this album? I started out with an improvising session that spanned several days. The foundation of each song stems from that session. Some of the songs remained in their original improvised form. I may have added some effects or changed the way I mixed the sounds, but little else was touched. With most of the tracks, I added percussion or a melody in order to change the dynamic of the song.

Could you give me a brief description of each track? The first song, “Between the wave” – if fairly free flowing, with light drones and some staccato string sounds.

“Time turned new” has a heavy droning sound that stems from some of my earliest ambient performances. There is also a tribal drum line throughout the track. And it ends with a distorted synth melody.

“Hollow ascension” – I used a lot of reverb on this track to give the drums a large echo sound. There is a floating synth string sound throughout this track and there is a melody that sounds kind of like a piano, but I think it was actually a koto patch that I modified. I remember really enjoying making this track.

“The infinite deep” – This track is basically a lot of percussion with some synth string swells and short deep drone bursts throughout.

“Complex refraction” – Some have described the synth swells on this track as sounding similar to that of a whale’s song, which I think is a good description. There are also some light but deep drones throughout this track as well as a deep morphing staccato pattern.

“Once and future world” – This is the most improvised song on the CD. It mainly consists of drones and layered textures blending throughout the track. It is also the longest song on the CD. While the other tracks are about 5 to 7 minutes in length, this is 15 minutes long. I find it easy to get lost into this song while listening to it and that was certainly the case while I was recording it. I felt it was important to keep this track at or near its original length, otherwise it would be like being awaken from a dream to soon.

What non-musical things influence your musical style? Where I live very much influences my music. I live in downtown Denver, Colorado which is located near the mountains. When I look out my window I have a view of both the chaos of the city and the serenity of the mountains - this strange dichotomy. The city is constantly morphing, something is always being built or torn down and there’s all this unpredictability. Then there is this calm just before sunrise where the city seems to be in sync with the more natural outlying areas. The energy of my surroundings is certainly captured in many of my recordings.

Is there any kind of “concept” behind your records?

I’m fascinated by the fact that the earth occasionally wipes itself clean and essentially life on this planet has to start over. And it’s never quite the same as the cycle that came before it. And I try to put that thought into the context of how does that relate to human civilization. We think we’ve come a long way over our existence, but whatever kind of inventions we create, humanity hasn’t really changed. We face the same problems as our predecessors. And whatever we do while we’re on this planet, it’s inevitable that we too will face the end of the cycle before the planet gets cleansed once again. And I just wonder what may possibly come after us. Anyway, those kind of thoughts were on my mind while recording “The once and future world”. And I’m sure that’s a concept I’ll revisit on future recordings.

Do you think your music has influenced someone?

I know that there are people who use my CD to meditate to. And I have received comments from listeners that my music has had an effect on their mood, hopefully a positive one. So, I don’t know how much of an influence my music has, but it’s nice to know that my music has a place in people’s life.

Are you involved in any other band or project? Occasionally I do collaborations with other musicians and hope to do more of that in the future. And apart from space music, I have created more experimental recordings, but have no immediate plans to release any of those tracks.

What kind of role has the Internet regarding music these days? How do you think the internet has affected the ambient/space music scene? As with all genres of music, the internet has allowed more accessibility to recordings and the artists. But I feel this is even more so the case with ambient music. When I first started listening to this music, it was difficult to find any recordings and it’s still rare to find a lot of ambient and space music on the record store shelves, where this is not so much the case with rock or hip hop for example.

Which musical style, direction, composer, band is important for you at present? As far as ambient/space, I find myself seeking out music from Red Shift as well as another Denver artist, Numina. And I wouldn’t necessarily classify this as ambient, but I really enjoy the recent Brian Eno release “Another day on earth”. I think he still pushes the boundaries.

Also I’ve been listening to a lot of Felix Da Housecat. There’s this whole electro revival thing that’s been going on and he’s sort of been on the forefront of it. He’s venturing into some strange musical territory and I’m curious to find out where it’s all going.

In closing, we'd like to thank you for this interview. Do you have any final words or requests? It’s actually been awhile since I wrapped up production on Once and future world and have already been working on new material that should be available in the fall of 2006.

 



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