A year or two ago I posted a message on Craig’s List looking for musician(s) to play new and interesting music that fused organic and electronic music. There were a handful of people that responded. Mainly nondescript musicians who were simply looking for a drummer to fill a void in their rock band. I wasn’t interested.
One guy who responded completely stood out. He listened to a lot of the same music I listened to. He also listened to a ton of music I had never hear of before. I apprehensively asked him to come by to play with me. We were both pretty timid as neither of us had done the online music dating thing before. Things actually worked out and after a few practices in the basement we had something going. To this day it’s been one of my favorite projects I’ve ever been involved with. Musically, creatively, sonicaly and emotionally.
We recorded pretty much most of every rehearsal we had. We, being David and I, dubbed this collective project, Betatron. And I’d like to offer up a few of my favorites.
- Cyclotron of Louvain la Neuve
This was completely live. David on synths and guitar. I played the Casio SK1 and the drum machine run through a ring modulator. Pretty ambient. And it was just the way our improvisation was intended to come through.
- Grand_Accelerateur National d’Ions Lourds
This was actually lined up with the song right before, but we split it up. And added a ton of reverb in post-production. The David’s guitar still haunts me and for some reason saddens me. I think the drum machine was going, but then David started doing this mantra that propelled me to the kit. And I remember there wasn’t even a mic on the kit. I took the mic that was on the amp for the drum machine and placed it in front of the kit. I was lucky it worked where it did. One mic is sometimes all you need.
- Aarhus Storage Ring in Denmark
With sadness always brings hope. This song always reminded me of what it would feel like to be in the eye of a tornado. David on guitar run through this crazy reverb box of his that could produce minutes of reverb. Yes minutes. And you can hear it here. The verbed sounds in the background was simply his guitar blended with a Casio keyboard. I love how there is no attack. You can hear the more appegiated guitar part he was playing toward the end. I think my favorite part is where the drums kick in half-time about middle-way through around 3.30.
- Amplitude Evaluation
At some point we added a bassist. I am not honestly sure why. Perhaps it was the next logical step. Gordon was first, but regretfully never made it on to a recording. Here is one of the few times we played with Chris. He really added another element but completely changed the band. And it definitely turned in to a band in this instance. This song was really long, but we really gelled. There are parts that reminded me of early Sonic Youth.
- Potassium Iodide
Perhaps the only song that actually had overdubs. The overdub being the bass that David layed down one rainy night in Takoma. Actually, come to think of it, this was also the only song we wrote. Everything else was completely improvised. Again, another song of hope. The drums were actually played live all the way through the intro, but I felt it took away from the beautiful verbed out circuit bent casio keyboard. The drums eventually come in as a rather slow fade a few minutes later and add some bombast. It was David’s idea for the syncopated delay on the drums at the end. It worked out nicely. I really love this song. It was a hit, at least in my head.
- Single Pole
Another song with me on a rhythm box with a ring modulator. I also played my Roland Jupiter 6. David on the circuit bened Casio. I always thought that ring modulators sounded like electronic sympathetic vibrations. And I guess in reality, that is sort of the principles involved. Sort of. I think this song was recorded out of sequence with Cyclotron. This was the material that really got us started.
We only played for a few months in the old house down 2nd Street. I wish there was more time to play more right now. However, once the studio is done we’ll be able to get in there and make the noises we both love to make. Just David and Me. Just Betatron. It will happen again!