Strange Electronic Sounds

I dabbled with samplers, loops, and audio software, making some weird-ass music along the way.

I have been obsessed with music since I was a kid, and it’s been an integral part of my life for nearly as long. I played in rock bands in Portland in the early nineties as well as more recently. I also managed bands for awhile, mixed bands live and in the studio, booked a nightclub for over five years, and wrote about music for nearly a decade.

I have, however, always been interested in the sound of the music more than the melody or lyrics. This has led me to explore the extremes of experimental electronic music. I tend to prefer material that has at least some rhythmic component. But other than that, the weirder and noisier, the better.

I played around with hardware samplers for years, but gave them all up after computers got powerful enough. I mostly mess with mutilating loops: chopping, stretching and slathering them in effects. I also tend to simply play with sounds without ever finishing a whole “song.” I guess my audio endeavors would be best suited to creating aural atmospheres. And actually, I have dabbled in film sound.

Yukster

I bought my first sampler – an Ensonic EPS – with some money my parents gave me in 1989. Even though I was heavily involved in the Portland indie rock scene at the time, I had always had a love for manipulating, massaging, and messing with the fabric of sound.

I never did do much with that EPS, though my drummer in Thrillhamer and I put together a few shitty tracks and presented them at a Satyricon Sunday Cabaret, much to the amusement of the handful of people there. The EPS sat around until I sold it when I needed money.

But I decided to take another stab at electronic music in the late nineties. I got a Roland SP-808 and an Ensonic ARS-10 (which I’m told was heavily favored by Autechre). I pushed myself to keep at it and managed to finish some “songs” (if you can call them that) in early 2001. I called myself “Yukster” because of the Mr. Yuk (poison control symbol) tattoo that I’ve had since 1991.

I only did a few songs with that gear before discovering the PC looping program called Sonic Foundry Acid. I fell in love with that program (and even used it on some of my film sound work). Using Acid, I slowly produced several more tracks that I could more or less call “finished.”

Then later, I discovered Ableton Live, which is an amazing piece of software. It’s the perfect sound creation tool for me. That being said, in the intervening years I have futzed around with my strange sound manipulation habit in fits and gasps, rarely sticking with it enough to call something done. At this point, I haven’t touched any of it in years.

In any case, below are most of my Yukster tracks ranging from 2001 to 2008. I’ve tried to put them in roughly chronological order, but I really can’t remember anymore. The earlier stuff is more dance oriented – me trying to be a Big Beat producer. I gradually got into weirder and weirder stuff. I’m just more of a sound collage maker than a composer. Anyway, not sure when or if I’ll ever get around to doing some more.

INTP

In the early 2000’s, around the time that I was getting into esoteric “glitch” music, I decided I wanted to make some more cerebral music, rather than what, up to then, had been more beat-oriented (though very weird) material. I had taken the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator “personality test” many years before and found out that I am an “INTP.” You can read all about that type on the above site, but suffice it to say that INTP stands for “Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Perceiving,” which aptly describes me. I figured that would be a great name for this composing persona.

My first batch of compositions under the INTP moniker were the Stretches. These were created by taking a short sample and applying a fixed series of processing steps to it. My original intention was to treat these as something of an exercise or a “stretch.” I’ve long had the tendency to lose interest in a song before I get it to a point at which I would call it “done.” So, with the Stretches, I took a sample (most of them being very recognizable bits from very recognizable songs) and put it through a series of torturous processing steps. Having this set sequence of steps kept me from getting bogged down in indecision and gave me a definite point at which to call it done.

Now because that I lack discipline, I did vary my treatments a little. You could say that my artistic instincts overrode my intellectual intentions. In any case, I found myself hypnotized by the “random” drones that resulted. (Are they random or are they dictated by the pattern of the source sample?) I did fifteen Stretches in all. Here are three of them to check out.

I never did make any other music as INTP, but I still enjoy listening to these once in a while. I suppose my Yukster material got weirder and weirder, so you could say that the two interests merged.

I am on Soundcloud as yukster.


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