As radiate sky, I started with a roland tr808: not a bad place to begin! I bought it from my next door neighbor, an accordion repairman that said as he handed it to me “This machine sounds like your brain.” It did. It had outs for every drum part, so I bought guitar pedals to process them all. I needed to mix them, so a mixer was added. That was that.
More toys were added. The miracle of sampling brought a whole new palate of sounds with strange origins. I twiddled and tweaked and read every manual ten times over.
Countless hours inside my headphones.
More than anything, my sounds were sculpted from modulations and building beats out of discarded sounds and oddities. I love effects pedals, and have switched to playing them more than any of my instruments. Then I discovered I enjoyed processing other musician’s sounds so much that I forgot about instruments all together.
I hadn’t made an album since 2004, since I started playing out with various incarnations and earning my stripes in various bars. Time passed much too fast, and then I got to 2011, and realized that it had been far too long. I changed my name to coloringpad as a new start, but radiate sky is always in there whenever the beat thumps, no doubt.
in the open
this album was intended for headphones, mixed together from start to finish from fifteen different pieces flowing, crossfading or plowing into each other. a flurry of scribbling with audio and sampling unfamiliar objects. it was my last complete album as radiate sky. it was my best album as radiate sky.
animalia: the opening track of this album is made almost entirely of bird calls and dolphins, with some catfish and short splashes of water mixed in. most of the more synthy type sounds are just animals slowed down, speeded up, reversed or sliced.
dream cycle: my tiniest piece. loved the pitter patter and distant crushing distortion.
auditorium: impossible. I hadn’t listened to this one In a while… definitely a must with the headphones. so small a start… made almost entirely from kalimba and bells at first. a nod to a techno foundation, the liquid sky song “nitrous oxide,” appears midway. the later samples came from some sampling I did at my school of the kids playing vibes in the auditorium, hence the name. my favorite sample here comes from a kid practicing his trumpet, horribly, so of course I chopped it up into pieces and featured it as the mid-climax (10:44.) fun.
open house: wow. wanted this on vinyl… kinda groovaliscious.
doon doon: more adventurous juxtapositions. maybe my favorite piece ever at 8:00. just everywhere and nowhere, the listener subjected to audio adventure.
fern: ambient, then drums, then ambient. dream, then day, then dream.
future transit: almost like taking the monorail. singing bowl in there somewhere at the end, so I had to go tribal.
oh: love this one, on the brink of the craziest piece I have ever done. three parts to this one… part one is a two minute bit crushing drum sequence having nothing to do with what is to follow, mainly because I wanted the rest of this 15 minute track to seep in if you didn’t realize the song was still playing. part two and three are crossfaded together over nearly ten minutes, from two separate live 3am jams. part three is actually constructed from one sharp sliced sample through four delays and eight other pedals, which appears out of the haze (don’t fastforward!) at 12:45 oh. then, splashes. 808 thump. soft snare. the distortion is pure feedback and me tweaking a knob to play notes. out of my mind. oh.
…why in the open? I was taking this gear into the forest, plopping it down in some ferns, and playing unnatural music in lush natural spaces. snails and mushrooms and moss and rotting tree stumps and dank and moving in shadows: that is my ambient. birds are my synths, dolphins my drums.
on sky (in stereo):
sky (in stereo)
this album was entirely meant for headphones. hyper-programmed, made almost exclusively with an electribe es-1, attempting elaborate shifts and ambient moodiness. crappy cover… forest was the best track, in retrospect.
opening: here is my light, airy ambient opening, setting the mood for sky (in stereo). delayed sounds (setting the drums aside) are all from the same sample produced in different pitches from the electribe… the drums are 770… loved this song at 2:57 and 4:53 and 5:48 and 8:04 and 8:44 and even 10:10 and…
into now: thats e. e. cummings you hear, from five nonlectures… cannot summarize his influence and impact on me here. he deserves a sonnet or five from me to explain, but still my gesture would be too small. really programmed that electribe to its fullest for this one… 2:53 peaks the first part… but i really wanted this piece to have three parts, and 3:50 begins my first serious attempt at the type of positive ambient i was feeling at the time. of course everything goes on too long… but im not going to pound 4/4 without anticipation and justification. 13:20 and i am ready for a return to the endless beat.
forest: dark. really dark forest. originally named moving clouds. storm breaks at 5;35, pure sun at 7:08.
endless: should i explain? hyper sample programming. squared.
sky #8: monks at 4:55 should justify the existence of this song. funky. i think i crammed every sound i loved into this song. the broken sounds and off kilter beats midway through were the best part.
it is ok to cry: never thought the song would make you cry: im not that arrogant. just an affirmation of my acceptance of tears in moments of realization.
… why sky (in stereo)? emphasizing the need for good stereo headphones, i guess. was transitioning from radiate to radiate sky when i realized there was already some crappy band named radiate, guess i cant get enough of sky references. cant believe i put together such a poor cover.
this album primary featured the boss dr770, a nice little blue drum machine that i maxed out the memory on. the dr770 sound parameters were often pushed to the limit, and i would make entire kits out of whistles, or detuned kick drums, or scaled high hats. i also had a couple vocoders and would push sound through those… my first handmade electronic device also appears here. when mixing this album, i wanted it to appear continuous, so i added some very borrowed sounds from ambient albums between some tracks… embarrassingly amateur, but then again, i still considered myself a dj at the time. i am very proud of some of the more intricate drum programming here, as well as where i placed the sounds within the stereo field. mixed on headphones, and meant for them as well. enjoy!
all hands on deck: 770 all the way, four note bell sound meant to indicated “all hands on deck” to the dancefloor.
whistles: made entirely of whistles from the dr770… do you know why a raver uses a whistle? i do. how about white gloves?
pishh: same pattern as the whistles, with hissy tweaked out high hats and big kicks.
cla ack: this is where i “broke” the dr770. the cla ack sound is a ripping sound the drum machine started to make when the pattern repeated as i filled it (it appears here in the wood blocks). i kept it in with pride and featured it. it meant i was pushing limits, which is good. it also meant i needed to get rid of that drum machine.
welcoming/transition one: vocoders and my oscillator and delays…
skypuppy: made me feel immensely positive, so i named it after the album. oscillators remain…
open air ritual: would’ve loved to hear this with real drums played by thirty people. one of my favorite programmed pieces. i worked hard on this one.
machina: my 808 makes an appearance here through a wah pedal… almost felt like i needed to take a break and let people listen to more minimal drums. a bit long.
subrav: watch out… i’m building something here. oh wait, maybe, um…
the dance: this song was made in thirty minutes for my friend Joyce, who needed a song to create a very mechanical dance for some college choreography course she was taking. she came to my place, described the scene and the timing, and I made this up on the 808 on the spot with a few delays and a paul horn record in the background. it was recorded on a tape, which i then recorded onto another tape so i could have a copy (i love the distorted tape feel here, but trust me, it was just cheap equipment.) ironically, i never got to see the dance… wonder what it looked like? you wonder too.
and here it begins: my hardest rave piece appears last here… 808, 505, casio sk1 and lots of pedals blazing. watch out from 6:06 on. The fade out that appears here wasn’t a fadeout… because the tape i was recording on ended. i don’t know why it doesn’t just snap out like it used to… which always shocked me and anyone not paying attention to the passing of time, which meant they were lost somewhere inside the song.
…why skypuppy? because my dj name was “puppy,” so i invented this cartoon persona of positivity named Radiate Skypuppy, ready to pounce on any dancefloor and wag his tail, ready to play play PLAY!
this album was a mix of tracks i had made it 1999, and i was immensely proud of it at the time. i still love it for the naive simplicity of it. it was made almost exclusively with my roland tr808, tr505, a casio sk1 and 12 guitar pedals, and dubbed together from various tapes to one master track in a single edit. it was a flurry of fast forwarding and rewinding, and i’m pretty sure i used a numark blue dog mixer to crossfade between tracks, accentuating the authentic cheapness of the process. my liberal dj ways led me to believe it was perfectly ok to take sounds from environments records and entire poems from e.e. cummings. i meant no harm. e.e. cummings was used heavily by me as a dj, and it’s meaning was layered throughout my days anyway, so i featured the ones that punctuated how i felt about the moment i was attempting to create.
about 9:30 in i was really peaking… about 15 seconds later the name of this song should be very clear.
i am the casioskone, dig it:
an sk1 preset beat, delays, fun. i start muddy and let the preset appear unprocessed at the end.
detuned 808 sounds, delays
into the pretty ocean:
literally one swipe across a children’s xylophone though a few delays. (i had two dollars and i stopped at a random yard sale with my friend davis. i bought the xylophone for a dollar. i bought the aforementioned casio with the other dollar. great day for bargains.)
6 ½, 5th dot:
named so because the tempo knob on the 808 needed to be set in this position for the delay to work the way i wanted it to, because i could swipe the delay time knob back and forth and it would still stay in tempo.
too long, but full of distorted sounds i loved.
in no va taur? no, i sea!:
the name is inspired by the same word segmenting the art of noise used for their album in no sense? nonsense!, which i wore thin. all casio, preset jazz beat too. funny… always reminded me of the movie pete’s dragon. just my voice on the keys. too long (aren’t they all?) and totally fumbled, but i was laughing the entire time i was recording.
i wasn’t done. the ocean sounds were still playing. i turned on the 505 and let it fly. loved the toms on that thing.
tecno hardcore worldwide:
oh, i don’t care if it’s long… get over it. this is my favorite track. wish i could’ve had it on vinyl…
as a dj:
I can say from the outset that I was not successful as a dj. I spun at a couple raves, irritated customers in coffee shops and clubs, but mostly played for friends in our apartment. My name was puppy.
I think my record selection was pretty solid. I spun mostly german and belgian minimimalist tecno, connected with beatless drones and noise. I had fun. My first beatmatch was intoxicating: two records were married for a few minutes and played in unison, intertwining modulations in such a temporary, precarious way. My infatuation was that I was working with the timelessness, nameless art that is tecno, and had a few test pressings and rarities that baffled me with their intricacies and sounds. Sometimes my beats were so hard they were barely tolerable to me.
Mainly I raved. I was so enthralled in the undiscovered nature of electronic 4/4 that I felt it was more redeeming than anything else on the planet. The heart that went into these productions, with lights dripping and inconceivable subwoofers and throngs of smiling dancers, was inspiring. The ravers that left dripping and laughing in the morning alongside my friends and I made me feel elated that we had lived through some insane marathon. I danced the whole evening, from first beat to speaker unplug. Absolute love.
I watched as the scene died. I saw everyone collapse against walls and get dark and greedy for tranquilizers. I took my records to my room and never returned.
Amazing thing about that time: no cellphones, no one really took pictures. My old flyers were stolen, so there really is no document to that time… only my records. Some references to time and space that immediately come to mind: Primary Color Raves, Columns of Knowledge, Zoom on Tuesdays, Red Moon, Mission Control, Tec @ Front St, Lucky Frog, and that rave in the supermarket that I can’t remember the name of. Lots of friends I can’t recall the name of. I heard there was a video out there of me dancing at Green. Or maybe you have pictures of me: I’m the big guy with the beard, overalls, and pigtails. I am most likely smiling. Would love to see them.
I still love the delicacy of presenting music, really interesting music, to an audience. If you would like to listen, click below: I posted four long mixes of some amazing electronic music. I hope my transitions are so invisible that it feels like one big song.
(one times one)
(multiplied by infinity sans if)
(sin cos tan)
(a divided by r)