Happy New Year Alchemist friends! Our first release of the year came to us in a serendipitous fashion. It’s from a new project called Softoft Techech, which is the work of Paul Slocum who is something of a veteran at pushing the boundaries between musician, artist, programmer and tinkerer. His well received world touring band, Tree Wave, used self made hardware and software (including a dot matrix printer turned percussion synth and an atari 2600 synth) to make music not normally associated with such gear. Instead of quaint little video game Chiptunes, Treewave made fuzzed out Shoegazey kind of stuff with depth and a range of emotions and feels. The new EP we’re putting out, self titled Softoft Techech, represents a continuation of his focus on making music from the ground up, this time relying mainly on his own sample sequencing software “Looper”. The resulting work explores earthy fuzzed out post-dance sketches with layer upon layer of rhythms, voices and tones swirling and stomping all covered in unknown warmth and intrigue. It is a unique sound that seems somehow futuristic like some kind of weird funk you’d hear in a sci-fi film scene of a disco on another planet yet at the same time seems very primal and ancient like ritualistic music from a jungle tribe’s ceremony. This is a case where process is important and the resulting work carries unique watermarks of is creation and makes it an inviting listening experience. The Softoft Techech EP will be out on Feb. 27th on tape and digital. We’ll have the album art and traclist up soon.
In addition to his musical output check out his artwork, gallery, programming/hardware and his software/app development which incidentally bears the same name as this music venture. We asked Paul some questions about this EP and some of his other work and here are the results.
So there seems to be some remnants of your previous project Tree Wave in these tracks. Am I hearing that correctly?
Yes. Plentyc is an abstract remix of a Tree Wave song, and there are other Tree Wave samples scattered around. But also, some of the songs have samples from other bands that sound like they could be Tree Wave.
Did you use some of the same instruments and processes to make these tracks as you did in Tree Wave (ie dot matrix printer, 2600 etc)?
I wanted to try something different, so this album actually doesn’t use much of the old gear. A couple of tracks include my Commodore 64 synthesizer, but I think that’s about it. Sonic Tooth and Exp were made entirely with a Windows-based sample sequencer that I wrote called Looper. The other songs were made with a combination of Looper and general MIDI softsynths.
There’s definitely a techno and rave element to these tracks. On your site you’ve got some of your early Techno tapes is that something you’ve kept an interest in and carried through to these new tracks?
Yes. Although my overall approach was different with the old house and techno stuff, it definitely has a lot of similarity to this new set of songs, and I am reviving some of my old house production techniques.
Did you start with a concept of what kind of sounds and things you wanted to do with these tracks or did they just evolve over time with messing around?
My goals were to use Looper a lot, and to try making music without vocals or lyrics again. Other than that, it was a lot of experimentation.
I like the idea that Softoft Techech is a software/app company but also puts out experimental beat music. How do you see the correlation between the apps and this set of music?
I hadn’t finished the apps when I made these songs so the apps are not used on this album, but the Softoft Techech name seemed to fit the music, and it made sense because most of the music I’ve ever made has featured my own software.
Are you at liberty to say what other projects you have in the works and what things might be on the horizon for Softoft Techech?
I’m currently using a Roland drum machine as a MIDI sequencer for my sampler app, Sir Sampleton, and I expect my next music release will make use of this setup. Software-wise, this year I will probably release some new features for the Sir Sampleton app, and I’d like to eventually port my Looper program from Windows to iPhone and iPad. It takes a long time to write apps and I have to do freelance development sometimes to pay the bills, but in a few years I hope to have a pretty good catalog of music apps that are tailored to the way I like to make music. And hopefully others will find them useful too. :)