Arrhythmia

Background

Arrhythmia is a suite of recorded improvizations for drum kits and analogue synths. The project is based on recording a drum-kit performance in the studio, than another one on top in response to the first. These 'rhythmic palettes' are then responded to first with a Buchla improvization, then with a Roland S-1 System improvization.

Credits

Drums & synths, production & mix - Philip Brophy
Recording engineer for drums - Louis Kennedy
Thanks - Robin Fox at MESS, Melbourne

2016

Recording & mix, Melbourne

Overview

Arrhythmia plays with the idea of expanded synchronization, wherein multiple tempos, pulses, BPMs and time signatures can co-exist as a series of parallel temporal entities. While the notion of "arrhythmia" medically refers to unstable fluctuations in the heart's regular performance, here the concept is extended into the idea of a 'meta-body' capable of carrying wildly fluctuating energies without collapsing.

The drumming for Arrhythmia is based on two interlocking drum-kit recordings, the second a direct and spontaneous response to the former. A click pulse indicated a tempo, but the meshing of the two drum kit recordings is predicated on creating a mirage or appearance of a network of counter-rhythms. The synthesizer improvizations extend this by being recorded with no MIDI locking or any BPM guidance. The idea is to make the drums perform like machines and the synthesizers - with their own internal clocks - perform like a body responding to the machinic drums.

Technical

Drums

Arrhythmia extends the drum-centric studio performance recordings Philip developed with Ph2's score for Ian Haig's Some Thing sculptural installation and featured in his collaborative projects Turret Truck and Doumany/Brophy. As with those projects, Arrhythmia features prepared drum kits. For each piece, an entirely different kit is configured with specific materials. Sometimes the kit is played as a whole; other times a few select items are played. Microphone placement was drastically altered for each performance and recording, as sometimes the drums were played loud and other times played extremely quietly. Post production EQ, gating, compression and reverb - all as unnatural as possible - are employed in the final mix.

Synths

The first synth recordings for Arrhythmia were done on a Buchla at MESS studios in Melbourne. Restricted melodic patterns were set-up with a range of internal-clock parameters affecting changes in tone, etc. All the passes of the Buchla were done with no keyboard interaction, and performed live while listening to the drum mix in headphones. An additional layer of synthesis was done for each track on a Roland System 100, this time using restricted melodic patterns, riffs or drones manually performed on the keyboard. In both cases of synth operation, the focus is more on the patch created than the performance.