As the global collective grows to understand methods of production in club and experimental sound design, a deeper respect amidst those savvy to modular and analog produced music continues to please its cultural following. At the foothill of Canadian techno aesthetic is Montréal based duo Pulses. Active as solo artists for decades, Patrice Tremblay and Dominic Martin have been carving a continuous uprise towards expression and experimentation in the motherland sub culture. In an ongoing effort to explore singular aspects of live recording, Pulses presents the latest from the catalogue of sound installations.
“Stellaris” a seven track enigma, is a pleasing collection of experimental/ambient one take studio recordings captured over a period of seven months. Inspired by latest discoveries in deep space science and exploration, the album was created mainly with a Moog Sub-37, Korg MS-20 mini, Moog Model 15 App, Kilpatrick Phenol and Max for live effects and instruments.
HOLISTOCRAT: Tell us about the inception of Pulses, how did the two of you come together musically?
PATRICE: We got introduce by some mutual friends about ten years ago in Montreal, I think it was during Mutek festival. After that, for a couple of years we kept chatting here and there during various shows and events and of course every time the main subject was music production. At that time, I was getting back into the music production so Dom invited me to his studio, just to jam for fun and see what we could do by blending each other ideas and musical background. After a first track, we did another, and another until we finally got a 1h live show to present at Piknic Électronik in 2012.
DOMINIC: We met through mutual friends years ago and at some point we decided to make a track together to see what we could do and after finishing the track we were satisfied so we decided to continue.
HOLISTOCRAT: Why did you choose experimental/ambient sound as a means for artistic expression? What is it about the specific esthetic and its methodology that is the attractive feature for you?
PATRICE: The main thing I like about experimental music is the fact that, at a very early stage of a project, it sets your mind free to create without any boundaries, except the ones you decide. Giving yourself the opportunity to create without worrying about a dancefloor reaction or labels expectations is a gift a producer must offer to himself once in a while. As for the ambient part, which is a totally distinct aspect, I like the space floating sensation and foggy vaporous texture it brings into music and sound design.
DOMINIC: I’ve been making music for 17 years and atmospheric/ambient elements have always been a part of my sonic palette. I believe that ambient stuff doesn’t require musical structure which is great.
HOLISTOCRAT: Who were some music heads that have been influential in your earlier years of music listening?
PATRICE: God I hate that question! There is so many!!! Of course it’s gonna sound cliché, but my Mom and Dad’s vinyl collection surely helped me to develop a taste for non-commercial or mainstream music. It was mainly psychedelic rock, some New wave and Post-punk stuff. One thing that for sure had a big influence on my path towards percussions and beat music, is the fact that my Dad was often bringing me to his jams. Every time before starting, I would jumping like crazy on the drum! He may have regretted it at some point, when I started to listen to oldscool rap and hip-hop. But if we want to speak more specifically about what drove my interest into electronic music, I would say, obviously my first mid 90’s raves, early Ninja tunes releases, Amon Tobin, Bjork, Autechre, Monolake, Boards of Canada, Downhill, Deadbeat, Extrawelt.
DOMINIC: I’m mostly a classic rock guy but in electronic music i’m really into Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards Of Canada, Flying Lotus, etc. Surprisingly I don’t listen to techno that much at home but I really like it in parties. When the music is good I love to dance.
HOLISTOCRAT: Your latest LP just hit Band Camp last week. “Stellaris” is a seven tracker of shimmering and purely hypnotic soundscapes. Tell us about the making of the album. How did you go about recording, what sort of approach was taken?
PATRICE: It is our third album. We’ve previously released “Pulsations” in 2014 and “Lost Odyssey” in 2015. For “Stellaris”, the main ideas that led to this result was our desire to do something different, not dancefloor oriented and mostly with hardware. After this, we started to explore some new ways to use our machines, to combine them together and with digital sequencing & processing. After a few jam sessions we realized that it would also be nice to do the final track writing differently, by recording some one- take live jams instead of the usual Ableton timeline programming. That was the logical and most natural way to go. An extension of free creation mindstate is what we wanted to keep and push forward for that project.
DOMINIC: We decided last summer to work on some non techno stuff to make something different and to see where it could go. One thing that we did for that album is to make one take recordings for each track to capture moments instead of programming the structures of the tracks. I have to say that I am really proud of it. I will always remember the day we made the track with our friend Federico (aka J.Sintax) it was a wonderful day and we had a lot of fun.
HOLISTOCRAT: What are your favorite pieces of hardware to work with currently?
PATRICE: Korg MS-20mini + Moogerfooger MF-101 + Sureal Machines Reverb & Delay Plug-ins. That’s a killer combo with infinite possibilities and the MS-20 is the first analog synth I’ve worked with back in the days, with my high school band and I’m still in love with that machine.
DOMINIC: Definitely my Moog Sub 37! I own it for more than 2 years and I will die with it. You can go really experimental with it and that’s what I like most.
HOLISTOCRAT: More and more these days artists are choosing to release independently as opposed to going through a record label. Pulses “Stellaris” LP is independently released on Band Camp. Why did you decide to go that route?
PATRICE: Well to be honest, due to the nature of the project, it was clear for both of us that we would release it by ourselves. As mentioned previously, doing it that way will avoid us to put any kind of unwanted artistic limitations due to external expectations. We also thought it was good timing to release something on our Bandcamp because the platform has gained in popularity lately, but it is still the artists who gets the most of out it.
DOMINIC: Let’s face it: it’s harder and harder to find a record label and Bandcamp is a great platform to release your own music without thinking about stuff like “is the label gonna like it?”. It also gives the money directly to the artist. I believe Bandcamp is the future of music distribution.
HOLISTOCRAT: I was researching famous quotes on discovery and came across this, which I thought was interesting. It’s a quote by Brian May who of course was the lead guitarist for Queen. He also studied astronomy. He says, “I think music is about our internal life. It’s part of the way people touch each other. And astronomy is, in a sense, the very opposite thing. Instead of looking inwards you are looking out, to things beyond our grasp”. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think we have reached a time in music history where we no longer look inwards, but perhaps outwards?
PATRICE: I don’t think so. A creation that will reach and touch listeners needs to come from a genuine source of inspiration, this will create a true dialogue potential. Yes you can be inspired by far away landscapes, imaginary, fiction or the outer space, but at the end there is still need to be a part of you, reflecting feelings that emerge inside you when inspired by these external stimulations. Otherwise, the piece of art will just be a sort of plastic execution, an empty shell carrying no life if you may.
DOMINIC: I believe music is the most powerful form of art and it projects emotion like nothing else. To me the real reasons to make music is to make yourself happy and to express yourself so it’s about internal life first and about sharing it after. Basically it has to be inward first.
HOLISTOCRAT: What inspires your experimentation?
PATRICE: The will to create something I’ve never done before in hopes that the result will be something unique.
DOMINIC: I have only a short answer for that: to hear something I haven’t before.
HOLISTOCRAT: You are playing a Format event in Toronto April 7, 2017 that will be at Populous in Toronto. What do you have planned for that, you are playing live?
PATRICE: Yes it will be a live set and considering the venue and our set time, I think we’re gonna go with all of our latest techno stuff released on Alhena, Oddsine and Cerebelo which is more dancefloor oriented while still being pretty deep and weird! Can’t wait to be back in Toronto!
DOMINIC: Creating a special atmosphere for you Toronto peeps!