Through the late ‘90’s, I experienced a renaissance period in my life that was a confluence of desire, hope, mystery and luck. I’ve always been one to relegate career and life achievement to the realm of speculative powers of prediction coupled with surrender. I find it best to just not think too much of such things.
So I found myself immersed in a world of new technology. Digital ones and zeros grinding across magnets and pixels…tendons and muscles responding with unforeseen vigor to the rigors of a mental state that demanded attendance. The mind sowed patterns and the hands and feet acted accordingly. And then there were all the books. Technologies dedicated to shaping a universe with a tool forged from Love and Will.
What a blessing, this world provides! Surrounded by so many faces and hearts. All dedicated to creation. To exploration. And of course…achievement. These people honored me with their attention and commitment. So I dug into the task.
Mudvayne was young. Only a couple years old. But we were hungry. And we were motivated. Endless energy and not at a loss for new ideas, the songs flowed. One after another. The band had recorded and released “Kill, I Oughtta”. We had sold out our local theater. And now we were closing in on completing our first real album. This was the next stage of development and we knew we were taking our craft to a new level. In the back of my mind, mainly in the unconscious, I believe I had started to envision molding all my various interests into a gestalt of work. Mudvayne’s album could be the vehicle for a whole new way of looking at what constitutes a work of art. The serious work grows in secrecy and silence. I started to let these ideas take shape and spent many many hours in front of my computer.
Maybe there was hope for a larger future. I’m not really sure, looking back now. But there was definitely a desire to be part of a larger vision. To stand up to the potential for bigger things. To take these tools and make the reflecting model as large as the landscape it mapped.
I had begun, during this period, two projects: “Frequency Response” and “L.D.50”. I can’t say which came first and it was in starts and stutters. I had for a while, been immersed in 20th century painters and cinema directors. This mixed with a good dose of fascination with drugs and serial killers and the mind became a fertile playground. Time became an elastic plaything. I believed it to be simultaneous. How to explain that to myself?
From early on, I was having a hard time separating the 808 and 303 geometric polypatterns that were evolving as Frequency Response – from the sampling and field recording that was becoming L.D.50. Recordings of Tibetan bowls, Baoding balls, shuttle bay doors, filtered breath and the screams of hominids all cascaded into something “other”. Chance had supplied me with these miraculous new tools which could invoke angels or build golems on computers. I lost all sense of perspective and proportion as these constructs took on their own lives.
Layers accumulated on top of each other in L.D.50…Frequency Response folded and multiplied. Time wrapped, warped and wove. The brushstrokes I learned programming synths in one track informed the misuse of a digital compressor in the other. If time was the plaything of massive floating objects, then space could fold back on itself as the warp and weft of a sequence of songs.
I really can’t remember how long all this took. Maybe upwards of a year. Felt like moments. Just playing. And no one to answer to. Finally I set about the task of mapping that demo album of songs we had written in Mudvayne. It would be to a framework carved out of these electronic agents. Relativity of simultaneity destabilizing the truth of the moment wed to Entangled sonic molecules. The shape had suggested itself – an Ouroboros over and over. I had never initially intended the dissection of L.D.50 and its eventual dismemberment to become a skeleton for a Mudvayne narrative. I actually and honestly don’t know what I was thinking. Somebody else had been doing the heavy lifting for me, and they had a serious head start on me.
But there it was. A history of a time to come. And now a history of a time past. Mudvayne went on to record and release L.D.50. I had never thought the original long-form electronic piece would ever see the light of day. What a great joy it was, to be able to release L.D.50 in wholecloth on “The Beginning Of All Things To End”. Maybe it says too much, as I’m a firm believer in the magic of ambiguity; but to see it released alongside remixes by Rhys Fulber is still to this day one of my most proud accomplishments.
Frequency Response became a model for my future electronic work as well. Each of my releases, as mjdawn, are triptych formats based on the formula of that early work. I recorded “Numerical Alchemy” on a computer set up in a vocal booth at the studio where Mudvayne wrote “The End Of All Things To Come”. Later, in a Texas studio, “gridstackblack” was conceived on a computer sitting in my room on the grounds that we lived on while recording “The New Game”. And just this past year, I produced “Pion” based on the same formula of the Three-Fold Nature.
To the backdrop of Mudvayne’s success, Frequency Response took on a hallowed place for me. I cherished it like a diploma. It’s hard to say where the cards would have fallen without it. I can say my life pivoted on that work. And the world would have a very different first release from Mudvayne without it.