exclusiveOr follows up their 2013 duo album, Archaea, with MODULES, a 40-minute tour-de-force ensemble work, bringing together three formidable powerhouses in experimental music: new-music stars International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), bassoon-viola duo Architeuthis Walks on Land (AWOL – Katherine Young and Amy Cimini), and Pluta and Snyder, known for their extensive work as the electronic duo exclusiveOr. The result is an intense album-length work featuring virtuosic performances that seamlessly combine composed forms, electro-acoustic improvisation, noise, and lush harmonies.
“Estampie”, featuring the great, subtle percussion of Ross Karre with Jeff Snyder’s tight, spinning electronics, is extraordinary. The electronics here often have an older, more analogue sound which works well with other more acoustic instruments. The final piece, “Alman’, sounds like an elegy for our troubled world, with prayer like horns floating and a distant (siren-like) drone. I would hope that this disc wins some awards and gets some of the recognition it rightly deserves. Superb, on all levels. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
For those that need some kind of categorization I would put “modules” under the banner of “creative music”; in that the sound worlds that the composers and improvisers create, freely explore many different contemporary and historical musical ideas without any allegiance or deference to any of the “school’s” associated with these ideas. This is a trend that has been growing for quite some time and I think the composers and improvisers on “modules” are among the best of a new generation of musicians continuing this exploration. Highly recommended! - Chris De Chiara, Avant Music News
It's not often that a contemporary work presents such a seamless integration of so many elements in such an inspired fashion.... Some of the pieces are quite evidently compositions, as they exhibit a thorough mapping of contrapuntal melody rhythm and harmony through noise, as well as notes, and employ minimalist grids as well as lyrical movement. The connective tissue, however, is improvisation, as the compositions are heavily laced with it, giving the purely improvised sections a kind of springboard for their own attention to the character of the music. This is a compliment to both the compositional as well as the improvisational talents of all involved. In terms of the feel, one could just as easily be walking in busy downtown traffic, fixing the plumbing or attending a meth-fuelled bebop gig or a wobbly microtonal classical concert. Wherever it may take you, it does so with panache, rigour and a really high degree of virtuosity. - Nilan Perera, Exclaim
Concerning the Nature of Things is a striking collection of Snyder’s concert music, performed by internationally-renowned musicians. The album is a bold statement of Snyder’s unconventional artistic voice, blending influences from medieval polyphony, algorithmically-generated Brazilian rhythms, and experimental noise music into a singular musical vision. Four of the five pieces feature unusual electronic instruments invented and built by Snyder, many of which produce sound through acoustic resonators instead of speakers, and are designed to encourage nuanced expression from the performers, creating a visceral and corporeal quality of tone.
Combining seemingly discordant elements is central to Snyder’s style. His new album draws inspiration from a wide array of sources: Brazilian rhythms, medieval polyphony, and contemporary experimental music, to name just a few. It also features electronic instruments that Snyder invented and built himself. “Substratum” begins with each instrument contributing one sustained note at a time, sometimes leaving pockets of suspenseful silence, and other times overlapping to create unsettling harmonies and unexpected timbral combinations. When the piece gains energy, the instruments unleash eerie melodies that clash and intertwine. The result is a creepy, but rich and captivating flurry of sound. - Gabriella Tedechi, Second Inversion
Owen Lake and the Tragic Loves’ “electro-country” sound is both freshly nostalgic and startlingly unique. Hard-driving synthesizer licks meet tight three-part vocal harmonies, buttery bloops and bleeps, crying pedal steel, and pounding electronic beats in the band’s first full-length record, “The Best of Your Lies.”
For some country purists, The Best of Your Lies probably sounds like a blasphemous assault on tradition; for the more adventurous, this might just be the album that points to the future of country music. There was certainly no other country music album like it released in 2018. This is space-age country, as Lake and his bandmates twist and loop tradition around electronic sounds, warping the classics into a retro-futuristic cocktail. Classic songs from George Jones, the Carter Family, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, and Johnny Paycheck are transmogrified into electro-honky-tonk dance-club tracks. The record qualifies as a great Americana album because there is nothing more American than taking an already established form, breaking it, and blending choice fragments with the broken shards of other influences to craft something new. On The Best or Your Lies, Owen Lake has forged a new path for country music that will surprise many, infuriate some, and, more important, inspire others to follow bravely beyond the pulsing horizon. - Ed Whitelock, PopMatters (20 Best Americana Recordings of 2018)
After years of appearances on compilations and as a group member, composer and improvisor Jeff Snyder has released his debut album, Sunspots, on Carrier Records. 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.
This is a near-flawless testament to the power of electronic music, and proof of much finesse and innate creativity is required to craft albums worth placing in the genre’s pantheon of essential releases. Sunspots admittedly offers a challenging display of cerebral synthetic dexterity, and the roughly hour-long runtime might be a deterrent for some. But Snyder’s poise and mastery of his instruments produce a truly engrossing listen from start to finish, and by the time the final track concludes, the only thought on listeners’ minds will be deep self-inquiry about what just transpired. This is electronic music to lose oneself in; a timeless ode to the power of effective sonic exploration. -Scott Murphy, Heavy Blog is Heavy (Editor’s Pick)
Fans of Pan Sonic, Matmos, and Merzbow should investigate. A major work. Grade = A
- The Vinyl District
By turns mischievous, sinister, and soulful, Sunspots is a reminder that the synthesizer’s possibilities are endless ...somehow obscene — feels so hideously wrong that, ultimately, it’s marvelously right. –Raymond Cummings, Bandcamp Daily – Album of the Day
"In some ways 20th and 21st century chamber music, free improvisation / free jazz / avant-garde jazz (for want of better terms), and other musical genres, perhaps even unconsciously perceived, multiversal, both inner and outer, musical influences, might be thought of as models or precedents for the Listening Group, but one would have to ask each person in the group what she or he thinks might have inspired the Listening Group into being born. Each of us has her/his musical view, philosophy, way of playing, personality, and thus, makes her/his unique contribution to the overall alloy/alchemy/sound of the Listening Group, but we all most probably would agree that the Listening Group is majorly about listening, playing in such a way that each and every player can be clearly heard by each and every other player, notwithstanding the fact that some instruments in the ensemble are capable of playing much louder than others. The Listening Group mind, heart, body, soul, spirit, character, is brought into being by the mind, heart, body, soul, spirit, character, of each of its players. " - Daniel Carter
The result is a genre-defying album that holds the middle between a classical ensemble, romantic music, modern composition and jazz ... and then more... The music is ambitious, and amazing: it creates a semi-dense and warm sonic universe in which instruments ebb and flow into a common pool of sound, in which individual voices are still identifiable, yet are irrelevant on their own. The atmosphere is open, neither dark nor optimistic, and brings to mind images of organic growth in nature, in which a wild yet seemingly organised whole comes into existence out of strangely unrelated and unpredictable components. The only thing that keeps them together is the listening. All instruments grow into a collective landscape. - Stef Gijssels, The Free Jazz Collective
Jeff Snyder and Federico Ughi have been collaborating and improvising together for nearly a decade, honing a unique conversational dynamic. Their explosive debut album, DUO, captures the two musicians fusing the electronic sound spectrum of Snyder’s self-made analog synthesizer with Ughi's acoustic drums. The pieces range in tone from delicate and sensitive to wild and raging, always exhibiting the pair's finely tuned psychomusical connection. On DUO, Snyder's buzzing, visceral, electronics performance tightly intertwines with the liquid, exquisitely shaded sound of Ughi's drumset playing. The two navigate textural, rhythmic, and melodic shifts with an unlikely combination of nimble grace and punk energy.
A fascinating mix of brutal beats and abstract synth explorations - The Guardian
Snyder’s a composer, improviser, instrument-designer, and teacher; back in January his solo synth 2LP Sunspots received a new release pick and an A grade in this very column. On this (currently CD-digital only) follow-up, he teams with regular playing partner Ughi for a synth-electronics-drums excursion that’s nearly as spiff. Much of Sunspots is reminiscent of the early days of academe-based electronic invention, but Ughi’s presence steers this toward a ’70s New Music meets Avant Jazz zone, with big hunks bringing to mind one of those Paul Bley synth albums (that featured Han Bennink), but a whole lot better. However, “Bad Bishop” and “Useful Interposition” reveal Snyder’s penchant for post-Industrial sonic disruption, and that’s just swell. A-
-The Vinyl District
Duo transforms the confines of a studio into a sprawling playground in which each can indulge his every whim, whether its splattering the walls with audio viscera or smearing them with slower, more restrained audio viscera. Ughi’s kit is the monkey bars. Snyder’s rig is the swing set. Maybe the slide.
Although Duo (Carrier Records) marks the duo’s debut release together, the record is actually the fruit of 10 years of collaboration. So I’m not kidding when I say the interplay is as psychic as a DOUBLE SPOCK MIND MELD. Think about that and all that entails — two Spocks, each with his hand strategically placed on the other’s head, sharing experiences and moments, proceeding forward as one. Now imagine both Spocks doing that while swinging in unison, or hanging upside down by their feet in unison.
Or playing analog synthesizer and drums in unison.
DOUBLE SPOCK MIND MELD SYNTH DRUM JAZZ IMPROV, EVERYBODY! Dig it.
- Ryan Masteller, Tiny Mix Tapes
This recording is the culmination of a wide array of cross collaborations. Daniel Carter and Federico Ughi are known in NYC’s avant-garde music scene for their prolific musical partnership that began when they met in 2000. Leila Adu and Jeff Snyder have a shared connection to Princeton University and have been collaborating on musical projects since when they were both based there. Federico Ughi and Jeff Snyder have played together in numerous groups including Federico Ughi’s own band and latest album Heart Talk (577 Records, 2016). Jeff Henderson and Leila Adu are both from New Zealand and have been affiliated for many years. The final product of this joint effort, featuring Daniel Carter’s sublime playing intertwined with Leila Adu’s lullaby voice and piano ostinatos, Jeff Snyder’s unpredictable electronics and the abstract grooves supplied by Federico Ughi, is a recording that is a symphony for our 2016 ears.
Album of music written by Federico Ughi for the Federico Ughi Quartet.
David Schnug -tenor saxophone
Mike Irwin -trumpet
Jeff Snyder -electronics
Federico Ughi -drums
Complete Control of Your Vehicle is chopped and screwed primordial pop set within a future wasteland.
Complete Control of Your Vehicle was recorded as live improvisations in Snyder’s mad scientist lair, Snyderphonics Studios, with final editing and mixing conducted at the Princeton University Electronic Music Studios. Snyder plays a homemade analog modular synthesizer: the Snyderphonics “Jesus Keys” controller (officially called the JD-1). Collins uses a turntable, running it through analog delays and distortion. Adu sings punchy improvized political vocals mixed with ballads, while layering effects and out-of-time loops on top along with distorted drum pads. This improvising and studio editing as compositional process locates The Miz’Ries within the same musical lineages as CAN and Miles Davis.
The debut EP from electro-kraut digital hardcore supergroup, The Miz'ries. uber-americo noise nerd Quinn Collins plays broken records on a turntable with crazy effects, mad genius inventor Jeff Snyder plays his own analog synth creation whilst Neuseelander songstress Leila Adu sings and plays electronic drum pads. The Miz’Ries have been described as "a noise band that plays 3-minute pop songs", and as "the music that plays in the club the bad guys hang out in."
Archaea is six ornately monolithic and delightfully carcinogenic excursions from exclusiveOr, a duo of analog synthesizer and laptop. The lithe, supple sonic explorations of exclusiveOr weave an aggressive and fluid web of sound that evokes images of other worlds. Titled after a strange class of single-celled organisms that have adapted to extreme environments, this new release provides a mysteriously articulate window into imaginary landscapes.
In 1978 a small band pop from Akron, Ohio asked the question, "Are we not men?" The answer was, of course, "We are Devo!" The inside joke was that their version of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," performed as if the band were robots, was more humanoid than the cartoons that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had become by that time. But then, humans have been making machine music since the Italian futurists predicted machines would take over that chore in 1910. Enter Sam Pluta and Jeff Snyder, the duo known as exclusiveOr. Their machine music, delivered via Pluta's laptop (and custom built software) and Snyder's analog modular synthesizer build upon the futurist tradition of mechanized music. Pluta has collaborated with trumpeter Peter Evans on Ghosts (More Is More, 2011) and Sum And Difference (Carrier, 2011), and he performs with Rocket Science made up of Evan Parker, Craig Taborn, and Evans. Snyder can be heard with Federico Ughi's Quartet, the noise trio The Mizries, and laptop ensemble Sideband. Their collaboration, although it renounces anthropomorphic tendencies, bounces along by switch-via-switch and electronic bleep-and-spurt, cannot eschew its humanity. It does try. The pair deliver as much noise as a Merzbow recording, but without the Hurricane force distortion. The music is at once old school computer low-fi and modern de-evolution.
- Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
First recording of music by the Wet Ink Ensemble.
To Nowhere from Nowhere - Alex Mincek
Shiverer - Eric Wubbels
American Tokyo Daydream IV (data structures/monoliths) - Sam Pluta
Traceries - Jeff Snyder
Door - Kate Soper
Includes a performance of "Endings", written by Jeff Snyder
This year, at the start of 2010, I have fallen in love with Cougar’s Patriot, a 2009 instrumental rock odyssey that organically blends electronica, post-rock, math rock, and much more. - Sputnik Music
Cougar know how to have fun: the NY/Chicago/Madison/Austin/Milwaukee collective would probably still rather be termed sonic artistes than post-rockers, but ‘Daunte V Armada’’s warm melancholy and the Battles-Lite ‘Pelourinho’ render any pompous attitude fine by us. - Matt Warwick, NME
When Cougar hits their mark, as they do with "Heavy into Jeff" and "Endings," the results are intense and stunning. - Jason Lymangrover, AllMusic
Most of all, Patriot is flat-out entertaining... This is a band that knows what it's doing, and succeeds at everything it tries. - PopMatters
Includes three pieces from the Sunspots series, by Jeff Snyder.
Released by Quiet Design Records in Austin, TX, this compilation is a forward-thinking treatise on a constantly evolving new music scene.
There is an immediacy and yearning to the music featured on this CD. The emotional content (which, of course, varies from piece to piece) is enhanced by the recording techniques used to create the myriad sound-worlds, an approach that is both startling and engaging. There is not one ounce of sonic sterility that one might find on pristinely recorded chamber music CDs.
Sunspots I, II, and III by Jeff Snyder are sequenced as support columns for the flow of the CD (tracks 2, 5, and 9, respectively). For Buchla synthesizer and resonating chambers, Snyder manages to pull off more than just the audio equivalent of palate cleansers. The synth gurgles, whirs, hums, purrs and squelches, often very quietly, and usually with a humorous tilt. In a medium where many composers can tend to overwhelm the listener with sound, Snyder tempts and teases with a subdued nature. These pieces are fun, quirky, humane, comforting, and deceptively deep in their processes. Not to mention, they provide an excellent narrative component to the CD in its entirety.
If you haven’t already guessed, I really love this CD. Not only does it contain music by very creative, capable people, it represents a possible sea change for young composers everywhere. - Jeremy Podgursky, Sequenza 21
First album by exclusiveOr, the duo of Jeff Snyder and Sam Pluta.
They take back speed and brutality in favor of sounds at a more lower volume, create loops, place sounds left/right and per piece actually try to compose, a task in which they succeed well. Maybe some of the pieces are a bit long, but it also arrives at a cut 'n paste prototype techno piece as '1011-0011'. Great release. - Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
First album by Owen Lake and the Tragic Loves
Country spirit within a dream-pop setting... - kleineKultur
Single by Twin Thousands, includes a remix by Jeff Snyder (as Scattershot)
Single by A Million Billion, includes a remix by Jeff Snyder (as Scattershot)
Remix collection by experimental group TV Pow, includes a remix by Jeff Snyder.
Recording of original arrangements for rock band of theme music from classic video games. Jeff Snyder on synthesizer and electric guitar and all arrangements.
Includes a remix of “The B-Side Wins Again” by Jeff Snyder and Ryan Ross Smith.
Self-released recording of original electro-funk under the pseudonym Scattershot.