I've made music in different forms and configurations for years, both collaboratively and on my own. The results of this have shown up in installations, in film, on various recorded media, and live performance. Check it out at onezero music.
Most recent active projects:
The 2016 Weekly Beats run has come to an end (and I did do 52 pieces, plus others for a total of 83 tracks this year totaling 9 hours and 21 minutes). Some people from that community and elsewhere have picked up for 2017 with a commitment on Streak Club, a site that helps people track regular commitments for production or self-improvement. It's a cool idea. Our streak is here, and I have one up already (as onezero).
A couple of months of intensive composition work went into the soundtrack for this healthcare-themed dance piece by Mita Ghosal, with a sculpture-based set by Jonathan Shapiro, and it was equally rewarding--I got to work in a number of styles and genres, and got to flex aesthetic and emotional muscles, and got to stretch a bit. Excellent work by Mita, Jonathan, and the dancers. While it seems like a lot of work for one night (I was up very late several nights tracking, editing, and mixing), I'm planning on putting out this EP-length collection. Stay tuned.
A year to the day after last playing here, I played again, in and among various local modular synth musicians. Wonderful stuff, though my set suffered from an experiment with my own handheld speaker (from Boombotix), which...issued some horrible squealing, piercing feedback that was difficult to work with artistically. That said, there were some compelling parts of the set...though unfortunately an interaction between macOS Sierra click rejection (anticipating the new MacBook Pro), and a sluggishness between the OS and good old Pd Extended meant that my "start recording" click didn't register. So nothing got saved, sadly. Time to redevelop the patch in Pd Vanilla, I think. Or Max/MSP, which I keep meaning to do.
Duluth's own Tim Kaiser was on tour, and came through the 'burgh, and local noise-bending genius Echo Lightwave Unspeakable was able to set him up with a show at the Black Forge, so we did an evening of all three of us. My set was a struggle against one or two persistent frequencies with the PA; Jonathan's set was brilliant and concise, and Tim's unfolded hypnotically with his compelling consistency. Great stuff. (My set's out as Interstellar Radio.)
I opened up this show of several dark ambient and improv musicians from around Pittsburgh, Denver, and Chicago, and it was a good evening. My set involved a struggle to keep generating feedback with the mics (my sense was that the sound system was kept a bit low because of the potential for runaway feedback loops), but it ended up a bit ambient in a good way. Locals White Reeves and Shy Kennedy (of the mighty Horehound) were really impressive atmosphere builders, as were bassist CJ Boyd and Sister Grotto. Great stuff.
The year is off to a musical start with a show at this excellent coffeehouse in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh. I set up facing the PA, on the floor, and the result was good--I got a variety of sounds, even though I wasn't able to get quite the range of the house show back in November. Great coffee and a fine sound system here, too.
Once again, I managed to do 52 compositions in a year (posted to SoundCloud), and many of them are pretty good. In April, I finished my Res-O-Glas guitar build, and started using it. Mid-summer, I bought a wah pedal, and then started turning out funk tracks. Some of these might even be worth releasing. Stay tuned.
(Actually, due to a one-week break before Weekly Beats 2016 picks up again...I'm doing a 53rd piece this weekend. Total weekly output so far: 105 pieces.)
After the recent snwv show, I was ready to do another...until showtime, when I mistakenly killed my input with a bad filter setting, and then couldn't figure out what I did. I burned way more time than I should have, and while the end result (with an older version of the Pd patch) wasn't bad, my episode of user-failure was disappointing. Still, the result may be worth listening to.
Over a year since my last live show...I haven't been idle, what with the weekly composition practice, but...it's not quite the same as walking the tightrope of live performance. This particular house show was a great way to ease back in--friendly setting and audience, lots of different noise acts (some from NY, Buffalo, some local), ranging from a guy standing on an amplified metal box and screaming, to the exquisite work of VWLS from Buffalo, whose varispeed cassette works were phenomenally impressive. My set (taking advantage of our host's handheld Bose speaker) landed on the more ambient side of the spectrum, and was so good that I put it out. Would play again!
My practice of doing one piece of music per week has, I think, paid off: I have 52 pieces of music now that wouldn't have existed if I wasn't doing this. Some, particularly during the first six months, weren't so good. Others after that had a kind of charm and character, and some were authentically good. It's gratifying.
At the end of the year, for a few minutes, it looked like the Weekly Beats site was going to accept more submissions, but then that got corrected. My response was...disappointment. So I'm going to keep going on Soundcloud--look for my stuff there.
The first snwv show in a while--and since I'd spent a lot of time at the Deep Listening conference fighting mic feedback, I decided to embrace feedback for the show. The only input was two microphones, and it worked really well--I got lots of different frequencies shifting all over the place, ranging from swoops to noise. It was so good that I put it out, in both real-time and 1/4-speed versions.
Another immensely rewarding Deep Listening conference at RPI--excellent speakers, informative and immersive sessions, and great to reconnect with other Deep Listeners. I did an installation in the hallway outside of one of the studios, in which I had a couple microphones going into a Pd patch I'd written, which dynamically changed the pitch, delay, and quad-panned position of each sound. Anything you'd put into it would come back changed, unpredictably. Since I set it up in the hallway, anyone going through could interact with it--it was pretty cool. It behaved reliably, but only freaked out once: when Pauline and Ione were making sounds to interact with it. That was interesting--they were definitely bringing another level of energy to this, and it was a great thing to witness.
I've been a bit quiet on the public performance front apart from two snwv installations in 2013 and one performance (guitar and Pure Data), but I've been active in composition and recording. Now it's time to be more public about it, and at the end of 2013, I heard about Weeklybeats, a voluntary commitment to write and record a new original song each week during the year. So I'm doing it!
My pieces can be found at weeklybeats.com/#/onezero, so go over and listen. This first one, "Beach Lab," is named that for its tropical feel (it's winter here; wishful thinking) and the hovering presence of Stereolab. It started as a little sketch in Ableton Live as a simple beat in Impulse with the trusty TR-606 samples, and then adding some Ableton Electric instrument over the top. Since I've also picked up the Lemur app, I thought I'd play with one of the algorithmic controllers, and added some randomized Electric playing an enigmatic scale. I let that sit for a day or so, and started adding more rhythms in other Impulse instances (808, K3M, percussion, MK1), more melodic Electric parts, and finally some guitar.
I tried a bunch of these snippets against each other, found some that worked, grabbed subsections of things that went on too long, figured out the best combinations, added some variations, and used Live to record the different ones I triggered. A few editing sessions brought it down from a too-repetitive 10 minutes to just over 7, and here we are. Let me know what you think.
I had two snwv installations during the First International Conference on Deep Listening July 12-14, at EMPAC at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, organized by Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Institute. This one was a bit of a challenge--the pieces were scheduled for installation in a mastering studio, which was well designed to prevent obvious resonant frequencies through angled windows, sound absorption material, and the like. Even so, I was able to find enough resonance to make the pieces work. The first version uses the resonances of the longer dimension of the room; the second uses the shorter.
The 2013 First International Conference on Deep Listening was for me a transformative event. Many events involving music and sound (concerts, performances, installations) proceed with the understanding that listening will take place, but this conference was subtly yet crucially different, inviting us to turn our attention to the act of listening itself.
Bunita Marcus's composition workshop, in which the act of composition was an act of guided imaginative listening. We were encouraged to accept what we imagine, without "correcting" it. Several people offered their results, and in combination, it was beautiful. It was a ratification of intuitive ways of working, and an invitation to participate in a liberation of the mind's ear.
I found Seth Horowitz's keynote on the neurological phenomenons of sound, to be immensely valuable, explaining how we experience the world's sounds neurologically, the speed with which we process it, and how fundamental hearing is to us as living beings.
It was rewarding to be able to meet similarly inclined music and sound practitioners and to experience their work. Jay Kreimer's work with sensors and software was entertaining and surprising, and Ted Krueger's work with steel plates as resonators was not only conceptually compelling but also fascinating listening.
Tom Bickley's participatory instruction-based score 7 Hums 7 Times created a vast, quiet vocal cluster that was phenomenally beautiful, and combining it with everyone's slow convergence in the auditorium made the experience profoundly moving.
Eager as I was to hear Anne Warde's presentation, the way she handed a PowerPoint crash was emblematic of the quiet, accepting resilience of the conference, in which we were asked to disperse and walk around the space, just listening and moving, being aware of being in our bodies. As someone who's played in clubs, I think it's rare for an audience to be participating through listening instead of talking. Tomie Hahn's banding workshop was similar, grounding us in our bodies, an immensely important practice for those of us (myself included) who live primarily in our heads.
At breakfast one morning, someone noticed that the table was vibrating, and a bunch of us put our ears to it to hear it and identify the note. (It was a C, as it turns out.)
Impulse, an interactive piece at the third NOISE event in Pittsburgh on April 7, 2013. The piece was installed in a room covered in bubble wrap. I used four room mics into a Pure Data patch that processed each mic with a pitch shifter, panning algorithm (in quad), and two time delays. All parameters (transposition, chunk size, pitch shift delay, pan, 2-bus delay, regeneration, delay level) were set randomly by the system, at intervals that were themselves updated randomly. At times, the system would tip into oscillation. Here's an interview in which I discuss the piece.
As I tend to do, I went off the edge of the cliff with this one: first full-length hometown yoctonaut set, first gig with the iPad, first gig with the Moog guitar, first gig approaching Kraftwerk as subject matter. Add in little time for rehearsal and no rehearsal with the other people on the guitary one I wanted to do, and it probably shouldn't have worked at all. And yet...it did. A benevolence looks out for fools and for musicians who make things difficult for themselves as a kind of reflex.
The yoctonaut set went well enough--some miscues, but no one in the audience is going to know the intended cues, so no harm. The inspired-by-Kraftwerk pieces were maybe more dance-oriented than the audience, but it was impossible to see them to gauge reaction. People applauded between numbers, so I must have done all right, but I had doubts about my track selection, thinking one minute in to most songs that I should have picked another. Typical yoctonaut gig. One thing I hadn't counted on was the accentuated high end of the stage monitors, which had snare and hi-hat digging into my ears. Alien Verbs is working out well, and I pulled out yMotorik, appropriately. Summer Db might not have been the best choice--now it seems to me to need a B section, and I should have gone with either a promising older piece I'm updating, or one of the Trailer Space ones.
Last tune, I did "Heavy Metal Kids," asking for assistance from Steve (Raised by Machines), Paul (Raised by Machines, Universal Beat Union), and Eric (Universal Beat Union)--a good move, since I ended up holding down the simple riff, and it would have been a bit thin if it had been just me. It was occasionally difficult to detect the Moog guitar in the monitors, and by the end I couldn't hear it at all--just 60Hz hum. It turns out I turned the filter resonance all the way down, and the subtlety of the filter got lost in the fuzz. There may have also been a loose cable involved. Freaked me out the next morning trying to figure out why things were still not working, until I identified that. But people seemed to dig it.
Raised By Machines was great, and the standout for me was Steve's solo improv on the Voyager, with heavy use of the expression pad and ring modulator. That was a fine section indeed. Fantastic.
Universal Beat Union was good, psychedelic, and triply, kind of like Maserati with keyboards and without Jerry Fuchs (RIP). Unfortunately, by that point it was late at night and I was entirely exhausted. But it was a great show with an appreciative audience, which is always a victory.
I thought I'd try a new approach with this one: no guitar, and two synths as the sound generators. So I wasn't completely on new ground I figured I'd do the Bureau of Nonstandards working method and remix on the fly in Ableton Live. I've been listening to a lot of beat-oriented stuff, and considering how abstract the synth can get, it seemed like a good idea to have some strong beats to drop in, but some preliminary tests sounded like they wanted a kind of post-human broken-machine-talking-to-itself fractured beat--the kind of thing that makes sense after some repetition, or after it's heard against some other context. So I worked up four or five channels of different drum machine sounds (secret weapon: Kawai K3M bass drum) and broke the patterns apart, across channels. I could mix and match fragments, have them at different lengths and sounds for variety, and have something for the audience to grab onto. Synths: Bleep Labs Nebulophone (mostly in Hypernoise mode) and Moog Filtatron.
The set itself seemed like a swimming upstream: In the event, the synths we doing different things than I had done in rehearsal, and I had to roll with that but it held together. It was great hearing the massive bass drums through the club's subwoofers. And apart from one screwup (I hit the timeline and stopped the Live set in the middle), it worked. People dug it. I fixed that mess up in post, extending that piece.
Now I've put it out: http://mauricerickard.bandcamp.com/. Give it a listen.
Developing drones in Pure Data for a new set of projects.
Looking for an unforgettable Valentine's Day night out? It's an evening of circuit-bent electronic music, featuring Sydney Australia's Toydeath, the strategic chaotic assault of Half Nelson, your local bending conglomerate The Bureau of Nonstandards, and performance electronics from CMU's Robot Cowboy.
Expect radically repurposed toys: Speak and Spells, Barbie dolls, toy telephones, bullhorns, voice changers, all kinds of things. Don't just sit at home--come on out and hear the Furbies singing, each to each. Perhaps they will even sing to you. All ages, $7.
Monday February 14. 8PM. $7. All ages. Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA.
BoN set: seemed successful, a balance of noise, structure, and technical difficulty.
Robot Cowboy: *quite* a show. Glad I didn't go on after him. One to watch.
Half-Nelson: the jazz soundtrack for a Demerol overdose in an abandoned factory.
Toy Death were great fun--good bends on the instruments, costumes, choreographed moves. Apparently they do shows for kids, and they go over quite well.
Last night: rehearsal/planning for 2011 gigs with belly dancers. Now: Kids' play date. Tonight: neighbors' family-friendly party. 2010's going out on a fun note. Here's to a great 2011 for everyone!