The electronica and techno producer talks about his new 4D project
WORDS: SAMUEL FRY DATE: SATURDAY 02 NOVEMBER 2013
Continued from Part One…
You have been working with Liine, who produce mixing software, on the Amiino project. How is that going?
I have done various projects with Liine. For example, in this 4D show I use the Liima: their touch screen controller. They worked with me and the 4D guys to design interactive templates that allow you to see the 4D space.
The Amiino is long running project. It ties back into me saying that I don’t specifically translate science into music. The idea behind the Amiino project is to take a lot of the data that I generated through my PhD and using that to drive a form in music. Nothing has come of that yet as we have all been too busy doing the things that you have to do to make a living. That project would be entirely experimental and non-commercially viable.
You are now creating a 4D experimental sound show. Could you explain what that involves and where the idea came from?
The creators of the system are three Dutch guys called Salvador Breed, Paul Oomen and Luc van Weelden. They are essentially music and technology academics. They have been developing a huge structure which consists of 16 columns. Each column contains a number of speakers at different heights in a 4×4 grid which you can walk within.
Each speaker is non-directional. Normal speakers are concave, so the sound is directed towards a point. Whereas these are convex speakers so the sound comes out in all directions. This allows you to play sounds anywhere within a 3D environment, but it also allows you to manipulate the way that those sounds move.
They call it 4D as, within the space, the sound moves across time. For instance, you could start with the sound of someone playing guitar on the roof, but then that sound flies down to your feet and hangs around there for a while. They call it 4D to drive home the fact that the time dimension is under your control as well.
Technically, that is it in a nutshell. But experientially, you are stood inside this big system where sounds come from all directions. It is like clouds of sound are crossing the room. Different sounds then interact in different ways throughout the space. It is a totally immersive sound environment where each piece of music turns into a physical entity. Each piece of music has its own shape. Each piece of music becomes a physical thing that you can explore as you walk around the room.
How did you come across this system in the first place? Did they find you?
Actually, the contact came through Liine. The 4D guys had got in contact with Liine to use their controllers and they hooked me up via that. Then I went to see the system and loved it. So I started working on it and made the first show.
I think that it is fantastic. So you did the first show in Amsterdam around a month ago. How did that go?
It was very different to my usual club show where I go along and drink a bottle of whisky. This was much more carefully constructed. There is a lot of custom software being used, a lot of delicate things going on. It was really rewarding in terms of the artistic experience, but I needed to focus to make sure that everything was working correctly.
Did anything go wrong?
Funny enough, something did go wrong but we got really lucky. We had been having some issues throughout the week with Ableton crashing. There is so much going on that we kind of overloaded it. We were hopeful that it wouldn’t crash during the performance as it had only been crashing here and there. It did crash, but at the start of the last track of the set. So, essentially, no one noticed. We probably missed the last 30 seconds of the set, but it crashed perfectly in time with the build of the last track.
During your time working on this, what have you learnt the most?
It is such a different way of writing music. It has made me think about how I can write a new piece of music in a spatial manner. I have always put a lot of spatiality in my music, even with a simple stereo system, but this is different. As I mentioned earlier, it starts to make you consider each piece of music as a physical entity. You think, “If this piece of music was placed in reality, what would it be and how would it behave?”
The show that I did was taking my old music and figuring out what shape each sound should be. This system has taught me that I need to build new pieces of music from the start.
This spatiality is a fundamentally different and new element of music. When you look on Wikipedia for the definition of music, it will give you a list of different things like tonality, timbre, rhythm, dynamic – the traditional ideas of what music is. This is fundamentally a new axiom of what music is.