Apr 21, 2021 • 59M

23: Ghost in the machine (w/ Gardnsound)

On DIY electronic music, Iannis Xenakis, and the fear of God

 
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Paul Bowers
On struggles, schooling, and raw concrete in the dirty dirty south. A companion podcast to the Brutal South newsletter.
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My guest is Gardnsound, an Atlanta-based electronic music composer who is also one of my oldest and truest friends.

I know him as Gardner. As long as I’ve known him, he has been a restless experimenter, from his classical training on the bass to his hard-partying dubstep phase to that time he wrote a song a day for an entire year.

Along the way, he taught me a few things about music theory and kept the rhythm in a string band we started called The Camellias. We played shows at our neighborhood bar and recorded a few albums together.

While we were playing straightforward Americana at our weekly living-room jam sessions, he was delving into trap music production and avant-garde modernist composition techniques. In the last two years, in the basement studio he built from scratch, he has gone all-in on ambient electronic music, composed and recorded the hard way with a jumble of synthesizers and patch cables.

I’ve watched him pull off live electronic performances on YouTube and Twitch this past year and come away stunned by the preparation and focus required. It’s a far cry from a dude in a nightclub hitting the play button on a Macbook and then waving his hands in the air (not that there’s anything wrong with that! he can do that move too).

Today on the podcast we’re discussing his new ambient electronic album Atmospheres, out April 20 on all major streaming platforms. It’s a followup to his 2019 album Ambiences, which has become one of my go-to writing jams. That last album referenced Philip Glass, John Adams, Brain Eno, and Tim Hecker in the liner notes, and you can hear those influences again on Atmospheres, with some new boundary-pushing experiments thrown in.

I’ve included samples from the new album throughout this episode, along with a short clip from Iannis Xenakis’ “La Legende d'Eer,” which Gardner cites as a major influence on his development as a musician. I encourage you to listen to Gardnsound’s whole album on Spotify, Bandcamp, or wherever you get music.

Thanks for listening. If you haven’t yet, please consider buying a subscription to the Brutal South newsletter at brutalsouth.substack.com/subscribe. $5 a month gets you access to exclusive newsletter issues and podcasts, and it helps me keep writing and making podcasts.

The episode art is from a page of Iannis Xenakis’ notebook from 1951.

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