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A 4 hour 24 minute 19 second long piece compiling synthesizer sequences created between 1995 and 2001 (though some were written as far back as 1992).


A few years ago, I was tinkering with another collage album along the lines of Summa de Nada, and Everything Will Make Sense Given Time. I created a few tracks that I wasn’t really satisfied with and eventually scrapped the project.

These collage albums re-contextualized the music I was making (1992-2001) both as a rock musician and later during my transition to experimentalism and “New Music”. Many of my older rock songs were re-used as proving grounds for my experiments, even prior to creating my collages. These recordings largely centered round my synthesizer sequences, often with live vocals, guitars, and other instruments (including live synthesizers) overdubbed.

As I was working on the aborted collage album, I started transferring some of these synthesizer sequences to computer because most of them were saved as raw MIDI data on floppy disks and then recorded on digital tape. I found I took a surprising degree of pleasure in listening to them on their own, without all the overdubs that made them real “songs”. I also liked hearing the alternate versions, scraps of ideas, failed experiments and other unreleased sequences, including a few I actually have no memories of creating. I decided to record all of them onto my computer and do something with them.

I began to conceptualize the collection of sequences as a single piece but it took me a few years to decide how I wanted to present them. I could edit them to varying degrees, trim excessive repetition, collage them, mix them like a DJ, arrange them into multiple movements or albums, or add effects processing. I called the piece Unintended Consequences of Having Left a Record, which I later shortened to Consequences of Leaving a Record. The reason I chose this title is that I never thought of using most of these sequences in any of these ways when I first created them.

In November 2012, I decided on a radically simple approach. One of my favorite aspects of Consequences is the order of pieces which emerged when I began re-recording my synthesizer sequences. My sequences were saved on numbered floppy disks, each containing 10 or fewer pieces. I preserved the disk and sequence numberings when I recorded them on the computer and each disk became a new playlist. I had grown very familiar over the years with hearing this music with the track order I chose when I released earlier albums. This was a refreshing new playlist for me. I decided that playlists, ascending from Disk 1 Sequence 1, were the piece and I would keep additional edits to a minimum. I would present it as one piece in one movement as one really long track.

Another reason these playlists were so new and refreshing to me is that the floppy disks and the sequences they contained were not really in chronological order. I often worked on several pieces on different disks at once. Each disk contained data for a different collection of sounds so sequences were grouped on disks partially based on the sounds I wanted to utilize. Within the disks, the songs are probably in order based on when they were begun. However, I may have started writing a piece on piano or guitar and only sequenced it years later. The order of sequences also has no correlation to when pieces were finished or recorded. Some took a few hours or days, others were reworked innumerable times over years. For me, Consequences jumps through time like one of those annoying but critically acclaimed novels where you can’t figure out if you are in the past, present, or future in any given chapter.

As I mentioned before, it took me a long time to figure out how to present this piece partially because I was considering trimming a lot of repetition. In many cases, the sequences were only part of a piece with vocals, guitars, and other instruments playing additional roles. As a result sometimes the synth parts would repeat for a while as the vocals or other instruments did more interesting things, such as playing a solo. I worried that without these other layers, the repetition would be really boring or even sound stupid. And to my ears, there were enough missteps in my early work without adding another layer of stupidity! Slowly I realized, however, that those missteps and the new unintended layer of boring repetition sort of got smoothed over and less striking when listening to a multi-hour piece that when listening to a 3 minute song. Also some sequences are presented in multiple versions, creating references to things you’ve already heard (perhaps hours ago), if not some abstract sense of musical form. These are the connections to my other recent work, which has nothing to do with my rock music past but also explore a large sense of scale particularly inspired by the very long late works of Morton Feldman (though I doubt you’ll hear much else that is Feldman-esque in Consequences).

Another odd listening experience I’ve had with Consequences, which others familiar with my past work might share, is that my imagination and memory fill in some of “missing” vocals and instrumental tracks which were present on my earlier albums. This imaginary ghostly counterpoint in my head doesn’t happen all the time, even though I remember all the music, and I’m never sure what will trigger its starts and stops.

Finally, I feel I should point out that it doesn’t matter to me if you listen to all of Consequences in a single sitting or even during a single day. Choosing how to fragment your listening is one of the advantages of listening to recorded music. For me, this expectation is just another facet of composing for the medium (but also part of why I made the piece a single track). My only listening requests are that you play enough at once and the entirety in a short enough period that the piece still feels unified (assuming it would in the first place). Enjoy!

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