STEP INSIDE THE EXPERIMENTAL WORLD OF TIMEGHOST
I can honestly say Timeghost has become a friend.
When I first met Adam Morosky, he was performing his live set at Bob Bellerue’s annual EndeTymes Noise Fest at Silent Barn. I was volunteering on-staff and helping w/ promo and media for the event.
The thing that struck me most about Timeghost‘s set was his combination of dynamic range, melody, visual art and experimentation within the lawlessness of the noise ethos he had created. I had never quite experienced anything like it, and as a experimental producer myself I was immediately inspired.
Adam and I ended up connecting, and since then we’ve visited each other’s studios and communities, learning from each other sonically, visually, approach and technique wise. We even gained some priceless tips from a guy next to us at a bar, learning the best angle of light one should take when taking a group picture. Like I said… priceless.
Below is Part I from my initial 2 hour hang/interview with Timeghost during my first studio visit to his production space in Bushwick, Brooklyn. From tour to technical routing, we covered the gamet of process and inspiration, and ultimately Timeghost’s unique expression of all of it.
The 83rd: You were on tour with Suzy (Pod Blotz) right?
Timeghost: That’s right. I just basically got off tour and relocated to New York for the time-being. I’m going to be here all summer, but I’ve been living and working in Providence for about 12 years. I still maintain a studio there but most of the things I care about are in this room right now.
83: What’s the trajectory of different elements that have influenced you? To me there was a stark difference between your rig, modular synths, the way its built, you’re use of melodies, than anyone else I saw at the Fest.
TG: : Everyone has their own workflow. For me, designing the workflow is the design of my instrument. I’m inspired by composers and performers who build their own instruments. I am not an electrical engineer though, so my stuff is more in the strategy of how I combine these different devices that I’ve come across. Some of them I buy, some of them I find, some of them I build from kits and others are re-purposed to change their functions. I try to put effort into how the different elements of the synthesizer are arranged and composed. It’s not just in terms of audio function either. It’s also how the instruments look. And not only how observers see it as an object, I need to look at it. I need to make my way around it and I need to find things in the dark, you know? Over time as I go on tour my rig changes. It morphs like some kind of living organism that grows and changes. Some things fall off and a new appendage grows. I like that! I need to find it attractive in order to be inspired by it. I want to feel good about the instrument I’m playing. Every time I feel like I create a sort of machine.
83: I can see it! It looks like a robot, it really does.
TG: Yea its sorta robot-like. I guess it’s got a head and some legs. I don’t really think of it in a literal sense like that, but I do sit back and look at it sometimes and think: Wow, it accidentally does ‘look’ like a robot. It’s like a totem of electronics.
83: What piece is quintessential to your workflow setup?
TG: I’d say the heart of the system is my mixer. It’s a Mackie CR 1604, this is the 90’s version. It’s an all analog mixer, but its not necessarily the analog part that I like the best about it.. it’s the configuration of it. The reason why I like the 1604 is that the inputs can face down in a rack, but you can also flip it out like a tabletop unit. I use it in a rack mounted configuration. Same mixer, two different modes. The way I have it arranged right now utilizes a patch bay. The primary purpose of the patch bay is to allow easy routing for my modular synth. With this, I can take a more improvisational approach to patching. Honestly, I wish that a mixer company would approach me to design a custom mixer! hahahaaa
83: Haha right?! You know you’d make it lit too man.
TG: Yes! I like the architecture of the 1604, but companies make much much better preamps for compact live mixers nowadays…whether it’s Soundcraft, Allen & Heath, Midas… Those units have much nicer preamps for a live mixer. It would be really cool if any of those companies would make a versatile live mixer with plenty of aux sends, getting the best of a hybrid studio/live console, really. A lot of the time, when manufacturers do compact mixers, they don’t have the expansive versatility you’d find in a studio console …and that’s what the 1604 has that keeps me using it after all these years. When most people play live they don’t require as much as I need. I like a lot of different features on my mixer that are analog, just in terms of routing. If a company put me to work on a project, it would have 1/8″ jack inputs for each channel, and more strategies for modular synth performers that improvise like Dub Reggae/Dancehall producers. I haven’t even begun talking to you about all the aux sends I use on that thing! I have 7 independent auxiliary sends on each channel and I DEFINITELY use them all.
83: That’s fuckin fire. I’m sure there’s other people who are into more modular setups and sound design, like myself, who would love that accessibility in a live show, cause you’re not bringing an 80 series Neve console anywhere.
83: Tell me a little more about this thing, this Nebulae …is it a sampler?
TG: Yes, in some ways it is a sampler yes. You can also reconfigure it so that it’s an oscillator. You can granulate a sample and make it function an oscillator too. So you load the sound onto a USB stick, transfer your own samples, field recordings – whatever, plug it in and you have independent control of speed and pitch. It works in a granular kind of world. It duplicates certain clips like little grains of sound. In order to stretch a sound out, it can take a resample of that sound and duplicate it. It sounds very very digital. You can create a waveform out of a person speaking. If you take little slices and duplicate them over and over and over again…that becomes a waveform. It can become a sawtooth or sine wave or whatever. Then you can tune it with the pitch control. It maps at 1 volt per octave so you can play it with a keyboard.
83: AHHHH! Omg you don’t even know! Dude! You don’t understand, a lot of my expression is played through keys, polyphonically…church chords really really aggressively. But then I’d see the modular stuff, the pedals, and literally for over a year I’ve been going to friends of mine in the noise scene and been like ‘Why can’t we have a self oscillating sound and hook up the keys up to that and play that sound thru the keyboard?’ My first day at Silent Barn, I asked a guy and he looked at my like my face was blue or something.
TG: Haha. Well this is monophonic so you wouldn’t be able to play chords, but you could get a sample of chords and play that.
83: Cool, I can still get some runs in.
(Part II premieres 6.8.17)