Residency Evol Duo
Ràdio Web MACBA initiated a residency programme in collaboration with INA GRM, which allowed EVOL, the duo of Roc Jiménez de Cisneros and Stephen Sharp to spend a week at the legendary INA GRM studios to compose library music materials to be used in the forthcoming podcasts of Ràdio Web MACBA. They recorded no less than 4 CD’s, entitled GRM Trax (2019) with materials using a Serge Modular Music System.
Here, Roc and Stephen talk about their experience:
‘This was our first time working with an analogue modular system of this sort, which means we were both excited about the prospect and also relatively concerned that it may not totally fit our way of working, and out approach to music making. Luckily, it did. It was really gratifying to see some of the ideas we usually work with or work around, applied to such a different system, yielding results that were very familiar to us in terms of feel and aesthetics. Yet they were also refreshingly new.
‘Out of the three synthesizers at GRM’s Studio B – the Serge Modular Music System, the very rare Coupigny and the more well known EMS Synthi A – we focused on the Serge. The Coupigny and the Synthi turned out to be less suited to our process. Our first approach was to control the Serge from an outside source, either one of our synths via control voltage, or our software via MIDI, but we quickly discovered better ways of doing that from within the Serge system, which was a nice surprise.
‘From there on, we worked in two different directions, though both kept feeding ideas into the other. One the one hand, we used the Serge on its own to create and record a large number of very static pieces that somehow are the continuation of a couple of albums we recorded a few years ago. (The first of which was Proper Headshrinker on Editions Mego, 2012). These are extremely repetitive, cyclical tracks, with no variations in structure or timbre other than subtle phase deviations, which give the pieces a rather trippy feeling. On the other hand, we used the Serge in combination with GRM’s suite of powerful VST plug-ins to manipulate the source and to create as many miniatures as we could to be used as background music in the RWM podcasts. These vary from piece to piece, but they strongly gravitate towards spectral processing and granular clouds.
‘Most of our productions have been strongly rooted in the idea of restrictive sound sources, either limiting ourselves to one instrument at a time, or sticking to instruments or systems that impose clear restrictions (and exploring those). So this experience with the Serge Modular Music System was very interesting. Not only it is based on totally different procedures to the ones we are accustomed to, but the layout of the particular Serge at GRM’s Studio B (which belonged to the late composer, theremin player and improviser Laurent Dailleau) is rather peculiar in its own way. Though this is pure speculation, we guess this particular configuration of modules may have suited Dailleau’s needs and intentions, so taking that as our own starting point was already weird somehow, though in a good way.’
Roc Jiménez de Cisneros and Stephen Sharp, 2019
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