“Sunspots,” on Carrier Records, will be released on Friday, January 26, 2018.
After years of appearances on compilations and as a group member, Director of Electronic Music composer and improvisor Jeff Snyder releases his debut album, Sunspots. Much like the actual phenomena of sunspots – cyclical, chaotic, and powerful – Snyder’s album invokes the sense that there are underlying forces at work which do not easily conform to human expectation or yield to human analysis. This is pure electronic music, meant for loudspeakers.
Drawing on his love of great synthesis albums of the 20th Century, Snyder created Sunspots using a 1970s Buchla synthesizer at ElektronMusikStudion in Stockholm. He improvised each of the four 18-minute tracks, controlling the Buchla with one of his own creations, the Snyderphonics JD-1 keyboard/sequencer. Organic, mysterious and inscrutable, Sunspots is nonetheless purely human, as the record’s audible honesty and vulnerability draw the listener closer.
Sunspots will be available as a digital download in both stereo and quadraphonic mixes, and as a stereo vinyl dual LP. The two pieces on first record are a patchwork of textures, recalling Morton Subotnik’s Silver Apples of the Moon (also recorded with a Buchla synth) or Bernard Parmegiani’s De Natura Sonorum, but filtered through Snyder’s grittier modern language. The second disc abandons this frenetic melange and settles into a pair of static drones, alternately punishing and ethereal, Merzbow versus Radigue. Yet throughout the music is at ease: perfectly refined timbres given fragile placement in time, at once focused yet depicting large spaces and magnificent structures.
Sunspots also exists as more than an album. Snyder has also created a website that functions as an immersive “virtual installation,” combining music with arresting visuals. Three generative web-art pieces allow the listener to virtually travel inside a space inspired by the sonic world of the record. In the installation, fixed forms don’t apply – the listener creates their own visual and aural trajectory in collaboration with the algorithms that continuously permutate the material.