ALAN FREEMAN / HISTORY
Alongside Alto Stratus & ZBB I also worked on solo recordings in the days before Ultima Thule, firstly in electroacoustic music, then honing my talents as a synthesist (which proved useful when I was asked to join Shapeshifter). Since then, alongside being a member of Endgame and various other band projects, I have also furthered my exploration as a soloist. MELTING PHASE is a 2001 release that documents solo work over the previous 4 years, largely synthesizer based but not normal synth music, it explores a unique surreal realm with notable nods to Asmus Tietchens and Conrad Schnitzler. CAPTURED FLUX is a guitar album - notably a little Frippertronic inspired, but also in a world of its own. I've long been fascinated by the experimental guitar album, and even more so by the idea of creating an album using only guitar that in fact sounds like a whole orchestra of different instruments. Although not being a guitarist the possibilities of the sound crafting tools I have (revealed during explorations in Endgame sessions) made it possible. With CAPTURED FLUX I did just that. In treating the guitar as a sonic "paint brush" creating patterns, blurry images, progressions, drifts and glides, the effect is a surreal and elusive music that shows its influences, but is distinctly my own creation, and a compliment to the synthesizer based album MELTING PHASE. Since then I accidentally created what Iike to call "my new-age album" ELEMENTAL MEDITATION, and also two albums exploring sonic creation in the manner of computer music and musique-concrete: TOPOLOGY OF A PHANTOM CITY and ELECTROACOUSTIC WORKS.
Cover notes from the "Xylem" CD...
Writing about oneself is not so easy to be totally honest, but I'll try! First, I'll have to admit that my first involvements in music were as a bongo player when at Stonehill High School in a pop band called Argam, and drums in a jazz band that played a few benefits, winning a recording session at Phoenix studios. I can't remember what came out of that, though my heart wasn't really in it, especially when I broke a borrowed drum-set tom and never had any money to replace it.
Moving forward several years, I started to work on sound experiments with my brother Steve. We'd found a common interest in experimental music, and were eager to try things for ourselves. During the later days of working as Vrije (1983) I recorded a number of experimental solo works. I would secrete myself away, experiment for hours and hours on end with headphones on, pillaging texts from films and radio, experimenting with real-time audio splicing, making cassette loops and trying all manner of bizarre techniques in sound manipulation. Teaching myself meant that I entered a unique world of sonic exploration: Industrial music, sound poetry, and particularly "classical" avant-garde. I really tried hard to conjure up the dense sound-fabrics of Stockhausen's "Hymnen, Region 4" for instance, by layering orchestral records into dense slabs of swirling sound. Also, a broken hand-held cassette deck made a wonderful vocal modulation device, enabling me to create bizarre sound poetry. I must admit that I was also inspired by Steve's solo experiments. Whilst I did a week's jury service he advanced in directions different to myself, he recorded under the name Scorpio, also working with sound layering of classical records and much more in the realms of borrowed text collage.
At this time I worked under the name Xylem (plant tissue that conducts water from the roots of a plant to its branches, leaves, etc.) as an enigmatic nom-de-plume. All this was in parallel to work with my brother Steve in Vrije and Alto Stratus, and Zircon & The Burning Brains with the ever enthusiastic and eager to listen Nigel Harris. I brought what I learned solo into those projects and vice versa. Increasingly, I learned of a different way of working, moving more towards a dark atmospheric synthesizer based music, first revealed on the tape "Elephants Pursued By Flying Men", the enigmatic "Dark Corridors" (which unfortunately is much too hissy and muddy to be cleaned-up successfully, therefore only one track is included here) and ultimately with "Mezzosphere" (available as a separate CDR release).
Establishing Audion Magazine, the growth of the Auricle cassette
label, and then establishing Ultima Thule meant a total shift of priorities,
and for years very little was recorded, as the Tachyon Studio lay idle in the
corner of my bedroom draped in plastic sheeting. Occasionally Steve and I
would go into the studio, but little happened for years. After numerous
invitations to join Maureen Anderson's Shapeshifter, I eventually plucked up
the courage to join in the recording of "Unwrapping The Familiar"
dusting-off the synthesizers only a couple of days earlier attempting for a
sound reminiscent of Tim Blake with Gong. It was the start of a 2½ year trip
with weekly sessions and numerous gigs (occasionally I would perform a solo
introduction under the guise of Xylem) always learning new techniques and how
to work in a group setting. Later Shapeshifter member Jim Tetlow and I found
a rapport that shifted the band to a more improvisational focus, whereas
other new members had ideas to go in another direction. First I left, then
Jim, and with Steve we established the new ongoing and highly prolific
A.C.F.: TIME SHIFT - MC Musiques Nouvelles MN 010 (1983)
unique Alan Freeman tracks on various artists releases...
Alan Freeman also features on the following Endgame live discs...
lots of duo/trio, etc. collaboration work at Quadelectronic, including one
Alan Freeman reviews in Audion - #10/31, #44/32, #46/29
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