Vactrol Park explora la física del sonido y no está pensado para soportes y tiempos de escucha rápida como son cada vez mas frecuentes en nuestras vidas. Es música compuesta de infinidad de elementos generados por sintetizadores modulares construidos por ellos mismos, grabaciones de campo, cajas de ritmo, etc. que se despliegan por el espacio que los contiene afectándolo drásticamente, como ocurrió en su actuación para Disco not Disco en el club 20/44 de Belgrado donde el público no podía dejar sus bebidas ni un momento en la mesa porque los vasos acababan cayendo y rompiéndose por las vibraciones del bajo.
Ellos son Guido Zen y Kyle Martin, viven en Londres aunque vienen de Italia y Escocia respectivamente, y forman parte de una escena formada por multitud de bandas y proyectos que comparten y alternan. Arcade Audio Assault System, Brain Machine, Exciter, Gamers In Exile, My Selfish Desire, Potter Natalizia Zen, Land Of Light, Spectral Empire, Spirit Bear Mezcal Ensemble, Cassini Division, presentes, pasados y futuros.
La sesión que han hecho para Casi Baile está fuertemente influenciada por el estilo inicial de los mixes Ninja Tune Solid Steel de DJ Food mezclando tres o cuatro canciones al mismo tiempo y añadiendo grabaciones de campo y ritmos propios para generar el ambiente profundo, suave y psicodélico de sus producciones.
Ha sido una de esas experiencias interesantes que surgen de lo inesperado, ya que es algo que no habían hecho antes juntos y Guido ni siquiera pinchaba.
El resultado nos parece realmente sugestivo e "inmersivo" y os invitamos a disponer de tiempo y conectarlo a un buen sistema de sonido o auriculares.
El futuro próximo de Vactrol Park es en el estudio y continuar trabajando en próximas publicaciones aún sin fecha prevista, aunque ahora mismo puedes disfrutar de su ultimo LP para Malka Tuti titulado Music From The Luminous Void.
Esta vez hemos querido incluir la entrevista que les hicimos al completo porque, pese a nuestras preguntas aburridas, Kyle y Guido hacen un recorrido muy esclarecedor a través de su trabajo y procesos, en un tono muy cercano y honesto que nos ha conquistado.
Sigue leyendo la entrevista completa aquí.
Muchas gracias Vactrol Park!
La imagen es un detalle de Light Drawing I de la artista transgenero Jonah Groeneboer.
Vactrol Park explores the physics of sound and is not intended for a fast listening in small sound systems or laptops, something that is becoming more frequent in our lives. This music is made up of an infinity of elements generated by DIY modular synthesizers, field recordings, drum machines, etc. that are deployed through the container space, affecting it drastically as it happened in their live performance for Disco not Disco at 20/44 club in Belgrade where public couldn't put their drinks down because the bass knocked all the glasses over.
They are Guido Zen and Kyle Martin, they live in London although they come from Italy and Scotland respectively, and are part of a scene plenty of bands and projects that they share and alternate. Arcade Audio Assault System, Brain Machine, Exciter, Gamers In Exile, My Selfish Desire, Potter Natalizia Zen, Land Of Light, Spectral Empire, Spirit Bear Mezcal Ensemble, Cassini Division, present, past and future.
This mix for Casi Baile is strongly influenced by the early style of Ninja Tune Solid Steel mixes running three or four tracks at the same time and adding some field recordings and extra beats to retain the smooth flow and deep trippy style of his productions.
It has been one of those interesting experiences that emerge from the unexpected, as it's something that they hadn't done before together, particularly Guido who doesn't play records as a DJ.
We find the result really suggestive and immersive so we propose you to take your time and use a good sound system or headphones.
What's next for Vactrol Park is being cooped up in the studio to keep working on forthcoming productions with no publication dates, although now you can enjoy his latest LP for Malka Tuti titled Music From The Luminous Void.
This time we wanted to include the complete interview with them because, despite our boring questions, Kyle and Guido make a very enlightening journey through their work and processes, in a very close and honest tone that has conquered us.
Check the full interview here.
Thank you so much Guido and Kyle!
The image is a detail of Light Drawing I by transgender artist Jan Groeneboer.
1. Bhob Rainey - When you Talk, You Hear From The Other Side - When you Talk, You Hear From The Other Side - 3P - 2013 - buy
2. Coil - Everything Keeps Dissolving - Coil Presents Time Machines - Eskaton - 2000 - buy
3. 33.10.3402 - 33.10.3402 - 33.10.3402 - KUNSTKOPF - info
4. Desmond Leslie - (Sound Effects and Samples) - Music Of The Future - Trunk Records - 2005 - buy
5. Edanticonf - Forest Echo - Forest Echo - Silent Season - 2012 - buy
6. Voices From The Lake - 01.12 N. - Voices From The Lake - Prologue - 2012 - buy
7. Laurie Spiegel - Drums - The Expanding Universe - Unseen Worlds - 2012 - buy
8. Tangerine Dream - Sequent C - Tangerine Dream '70 - '80 - Virgin - 1980 - buy
9. Pauline Oliveros / Stuart Dempster / Panaiotis - Lear - Deep Listening - New Albion - 1989 - buy
10. Robert Rich - Untitled (Recorded live in Monterey, California, September 15, 1983.) - Live - Psychout Productions - 1984 - buy
11. Ryuichi Sakamoto - Life, Life - Async - Milan - 2017 - buy
+Various Field Recordings
CB - Where are you from and where are you based now?
Kyle - I am originally from Scotland but live in London.
Guido - I grew up in a small town called Grottaferrata, very close to Rome, but I also live in London now.
CB - These are some of the projects you have been involved into:
* Guido: Arcade Audio Assault System, Brain Machine, Exciter, Gamers In Exile, My Selfish Desire, Potter Natalizia Zen, Vactrol Park
* Kyle: Brain Machine, Land Of Light, Spectral Empire, Spirit Bear Mezcal Ensemble
Anything you want to add to this large list?
Kyle - Yes, it's a few I suppose! Maybe I can add Cassini Division which I've released a few remixes under that monicker, there's one that just came out that I did for my friend Phil Banks at Forgotten Corner (it’s available on their Bandcamp page). Also I'll add Vactrol Park to the list, haha!
Guido - Well, I think you actually listed them all!
CB - Are you guys still working in some of these projects besides Vactrol Park?
Guido - At the moment I am involved in Potter Natalizia Zen, with Colin Potter and Alessio Natalizia and Brain Machine where Kyle is involved as well.
Kyle - Yes, all my projects are still active except the Spirit Bear Mezcal one maybe as that was a recording of a one-off live improvised gig. There is also a Spectral Empire release coming next month, on Malka Tuti!
CB - Did your paths cross for the first time with Brain Machine?
Kyle - Spectral Empire and Brain Machine were on the same label back in the day when Brain Machine was just Guido and Juan so our friendship and ultimately collaborations came about because of BM. However, the friendship came before working together!
Guido - in 2009 Kyle’s group Spectral Empire did a remix of a Brain Machine track in 2009 but we met at a pub in London only a couple of years later when we started talking about synthesisers. In fact the day after I went to his house and bought a Moog from him! When I moved to London in 2013 we started playing in the studio where I brought the new modular synth I had and we got hooked to the jam sessions.
CB - How did it all started?
Kyle - Guido moving to London was how it all started really. We just started working on stuff and it turned into Vactrol Park . After this we worked on the Brain Machine second album, Peaks. This was developed from some really old sessions that Guido and Juan had worked on.
Guido - Yes, we started jamming and recording in the studio and the sounds that came out slowly became Vactrol Park. I guess it was a way of trying things that were a bit different from our other projects but at the beginning was also to have fun and to try new tools we had at our disposal.
CB - We love the work of Black Merlin (George Thompson), Kyle, you worked with him as Spectral Empire and you did remixes for Brain Machine. Are you guys still collaborating with him in some way?
Kyle - Yes, George has great vision and it's a privilege to work with him and he’s a close friend! I mentioned above there is a new Spectral Empire release coming. There are also sessions we did with George, Guido and I on the hard drive. Maybe one day we will get round to finishing those!! We are just all friends, when most people meet their friends they go to the bar or whatever, when we meet up, often we go to the studio!
CB - Do you currently collaborate with other artists?
Guido - Apart from my projects you mentioned I sometimes work with Seahawks and Wrangler. They are old friends of mine and I occasionally help out with some of their productions.
Kyle - Well one day Jonny Nash and I will finish some more Land Of Light stuff! There's lots started but nothing finished yet... I'm excited to finish it though and we’ve revisited it recently!
CB - After Brain Machine how did you came with the idea of moving just both of you to Vactrol Park project and what are the key differences with your former works?
Kyle - Actually we collaborated together first on Vactrol Park. We decided to work on the Brain Machine album as we were working on lots of music in the studio anyway and on a roll. There are differences in all the projects musically. I mean if you take Vactrol Park and compare it to Land of Light, Spectral Empire and Brain Machine, they will sound like polar opposites. Sure, the collaborations play a big part in that and Guido is different to Jonny Nash and to George Thompson. However, if you pay attention, there is a theme and particular sound that runs through all of that work. It's there because I think probably because of the way I think about music. I've collected vinyl extensively for 30 years and you go through many phases and your taste develops over time so it just depends what I'm into that day. Tomorrow it’s probably gonna be different! However, I'd say that the main difference with Vactrol Park and the other projects was in the exploration of our modular synths. Guido had just built his first one when we started working on VP and it sounded so good that I soon followed suit and built mine so I think it was natural that this influenced the music.
Guido - I think my approach is always quite similar when I am in the studio, I do more or less the same things all the time! I only try to adapt them to the different styles and to the vibe of the room in that particular moment. Therefore, the people involved make the biggest differences between the projects. In most cases, there are jam sessions and dub treatments involved.
CB - Most of the names of your projects seem to be related with something spiritual, cosmic/psychedelic. What do you try to express with your music and how would you define your music if you can put it into words?
Guido - I think the titles are an additional layer and I need to feel that the sound of those particular words matches the music somehow. They might give a suggestion but they are not always directly linked to the music. In the case of “Grottaferrata” being my hometown it’s actually the place we recorded most of that song when Kyle came over a few years ago. In general, I really like hypnotic music, music that changes the atmosphere of the room you are hearing it in, and I try to pursue this idea for all my works. I also like music that is recognisable from the first few seconds, so I try to give it a special and unique sound.
Kyle - Names are always something that comes afterwards with us. Usually it's a panic to get some names before the records go into production and I find it difficult to remember which track is which as I know them by the working titles usually! It works both ways though because over time I come to know them as the names on the releases and when I try to find on my hard drive later it is not so easy. Maybe other producers have this issue? Anyway, the actual names come from a broad spectrum, there's some names that are very personal, like names of the towns we are from for example! Other names are so random, like 'Disturbed by the Possibility of Someone' from our first EP came from blind pointing to a line in a book that was sitting in the studio. For me the music isn't really linked to the names so much.
CB - How did you start to be interested in music, especially in electronic music?
Kyle - I was unwittingly listening to cassettes of the old Street Sounds Electro compilations and things like that when I was 10 years old. I'm pretty sure that had an impression on me as I rediscovered those records later on and really remembered them. Also, my father was an amazing musician so music was always around.
Guido - Strangely enough the TV series “Fame” where the character Bruno Martelli played synths instead of classical instruments probably got me into synths for the first time when I was in secondary school. Then I started playing in bands as a keyboard player and my dad kindly bought me a DX7IIFD. It’s such a great instrument and complex and spent countless hours programming new sounds copying the data from two books I bought. Later on, thanks to some close friends I got into a lot of different things that had an important electronic music element like Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Scorn, Nine Inch Nails, Kraftwerk, Ministry, Brian Eno’s ambient works, Aphex Twin, Coil and so on.
I also did a government founded computer music course back in 1992-93 and one of the teacher Luca Spagnoletti was particularly inspiring in his approach and that’s when I bought my Atari 1040 and a sampler.
I am very happy that we finally collaborated together on our new LP where he played flute on two tracks.
CB - We guess you work very close to hardware synthesizers and machines, listening to your productions they sound so fluent that it look you just jam with the machines and let them go waiting for some beautiful accidents to happen. What is the way you produce your music? Are computers, plugins, traditional instruments and other kind of recordings involved?
Kyle - You’re opening up a can of worms asking us technical stuff, we will bore your readers to death, haha! We use everything, hardware, plug ins, percussion, miked instruments, field recordings etc. There is a list on the back of the album you can see actually. But you could say that the focus is on the modular synth. Many of the devices we use we built ourselves and Guido has designed a lot of the plug-ins we use so this hopefully gives us a unique sound. We feel that the recent advent of solid connectivity between modular synths and computer is paramount to how we work, especially playing live.
Guido - Yes , we use everything at our disposal in that particular moment, but mostly it’s been the sound of modular synth and Kyle’s drum machine Acidlab Miami. There’s certainly a lot of improvisation in our music, but we also rework a lot of the early ideas transforming the sounds again and again with effects, putting it thought the modular synths and many plugins as well. We are not very purist in this sense and until we are satisfied we keep working on the sounds.
CB - How the idea of a song start, do these ideas follow any rules or requirements to be candidate for a vactrol park song?
VP - There’s no formula or rules but we usually start with some sort of jam and maybe run a few sequences, drum machine maybe. Then we go back and build up layers, recording effects or running sounds back through filters. All the while we will be mixing the sounds with plug ins and tweaking arrangements. A lot of consideration goes to how the tracks flow and as the sounds are mostly recorded as long takes there is usually a lot of deconstruction to do to arrangements taking stuff out. It takes a long time. Also, we work on several tracks at the same time which is good to give a bigger vision of where the project is going. I think what we usually try to convey is a hypnotic environment of sound that envelopes the listener, where hopefully sonically you feel something different. That's why our music might not work so well on laptop speakers to get the experience we want our listeners to have. Also, people tend to skip through tracks these days, listening to 10 second snips. This doesn't work for us and people who do this with our music might not get it. Linear listen on a good sound system or headphones should get you there!
CB - What are your favourite machines and why?
Kyle - Definitely the ones we built as we have a very personal connection to them. You earn them. Also, I haven’t built anything I’ve not really liked the sound of so they get used a lot.
Guido – Like Kyle, definitely the machines I have built which are the modular synth and a few different boxes like filters and effects I had built previously. Another favourite of mine is definitely the computer. I don’t think I’d be able to make music without it. I have been used to using it for the past 20 years and I like the fact that in one box you can do so many things.
CB - We’ve seen a video of a live performance you did in Belgrade for Disco not Disco and the show looked amazing, what can people find in one of your live performances?
VP - Yes, we really enjoyed that gig! What you couldn’t see on the video was apparently nobody could put drinks down at that gig as the bass knocked all the glasses over! The great thing about 20/44 is they have a really open-minded view to music in that place, it’s very special, testament to those guys in Belgrade! We come back really inspired after listening to (resident) Nebojsa dj.
Our live performances are quite improvised so it’s never the same twice and we try to play it how we feel it. So, sometimes a bit more drum machine driven, sometimes a bit deeper and stretched out. Sonically we try to push as much as we can. Our current set up uses modular, looper, drum machines, 303 and computer.
CB - Are they different depending on the place and the moment?
VP - I think something magic can happen sometimes
CB - Any coming shows?
VP - Back to the studio for now.
CB - Do you Dj often? If so, how do you enjoy live performance VS dj?
Kyle - I djed a lot in the past and I suppose I’m dipping my toe in again recently. I have quite a lot of vinyl.
Guido – I don’t! I am a terrible Dj and even if I did a few Dj gigs back in the late 90s I would rather not now. I also don’t have so many records and I don’t think I am so up to date with new music.
CB - Tell us something about this mix for Casi Baile?
VP - We are really influenced by the early Ninja Tune Solid Steel mixes by DJ Food. We have tried to capture some of the spirit of those mixes, to mix up everything like they did so we have like three of 4 tracks running at the same time with the addition of field samples and extra bits we have added with our synths. This mix was a collaboration so there are tracks chosen by both of us and whilst there is a lot of mayhem going on we have tried to retain the smooth flow and deep trippy style that we think signifies our productions.
CB - Your first two EP were released on ESP Institute. Why did you release these two EP in two parts and not like a LP?
VP - Actually this is an interesting question as it feels like it was a two part album. There is a very consistent sound between the two. We can’t really remember why we released it like that but the second ep wasn’t done when the first came out. I think it worked well with the same cover as it feels like a series, credit to Andrew Hogge and Mario Hugo there!
CB - Now you are releasing on Malka Tuti, How is the EP called and when will it see the light? Any other releases coming next?
Kyle - The self-titled EP is available now and the album ‘Music From The Luminous Void’ is out mid-June. Also you have the Cassini Division thing and Spectral Empire things I mentioned.
Guido – I don’t have any other releases planned for now, but we are working on some new Vactrol Park music at the moment so we will see how it goes. I also would love to start working on some new Brain Machine and PNZ stuff. Hopefully soon.