Click on an image below to download a high-resolution version. All photos by Kim Indresano.


Jeff Snyder: Twisting Traditions and Turning Out Tunes
Cover story for the Princeton Echo, by Richard D. Smith. April 2, 2019.

Wave Fanfare Provides Musical Riff on Architecture for Lewis Center Opening
Interview in U.S.1 newspaper about the "Wave Fanfare" premiere, by Ross Amico. October 4, 2017.

Composer, Improviser, And Electronic Instrument-Designer Jeff Snyder At Modfest 2020
Radio Interview on WAMC before talk/performance at Modfest 2020, by Sarah Laduke. January 27, 2020.

Acoustic Resonators by Jeff Snyder
Jeff Snyder interviewed by author and composer Cathy van Eck for her "Between Air and Electricity" series.

Sunspots by Jeff Snyder and Drew Wallace
Jeff Snyder and Drew Wallace interviewed by SciArt magazine about the Sunspots virtual installation. By Julia Buntaine, February 2018.

Jeff Snyder — On Acoustic Resonators and Careful Listeners
Jeff Snyder interviewed by Till Bovermann for TAI Studio. November 6, 2017.

From The Machine
Jeff Snyder interviewed along with Dan Tepfer, Kenneth Kirschner, and Florent Ghys. By Joseph Branciforte, October 30, 2017.

Laptop Orchestra Panel Discussion
For the SEAMUS newsletter. August 31, 2015.

Music in a New Dimension
Princeton Magazine interview about PLOrk with Jeff Snyder and Rebecca Fiebrink. By Nancy Plum, Feburary 2013.

Jeff Snyder on Electronic Music and Instrument Design
Jeff Snyder interviewed on "These Vibes Are Too Cosmic" radio show, WPRB. By Brian Krause and Stevie Bergman, April 26, 2016.

Album Reviews:

Reviews of Sunspots:
By turns mischievous, sinister, and soulful, Sunspots is a reminder that the synthesizer’s possibilities are endless. Recorded in Stockholm on a vintage Buchla, the double-LP debut from Jeff Snyder has a clever structure: Disc 1 lures the listener in with wigged-out, funhouse roughage before Disc 2 prescribes intensive, cranial massage therapy.

At the outset, the Princeton, NJ-based musician’s homemade sequencer eagerly twists and crimps the Buchla’s golden tones. “Sunspots IV” resembles an out-sound survey course, its Autechre-esque pocks, pops, and swoops next door to astringent, three-dimensional tonalities and bloodshot, klaxon chords. Blearier and more crepuscular, “Sunspots V” corrals its movements into a collective, minimalist simmer.

On Sunspots’s back-end, Snyder marshals his improvisational powers. “Sunspots VIII” is broiling psychedelia, the ringing pitch it builds to suggest hula-hoops circulating like insects in slow motion. Meanwhile, closer “Sunspots IX” layers bass chords to discordant distraction; the elongated result—a generative, thrumming brownout drone, restless, endless, somehow obscene—feels so hideously wrong that, ultimately, it’s marvelously right.
–Raymond Cummings, Bandcamp Daily – Album of the Day
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)
Composer, improviser, instrument-designer, holder of a Music Composition doctorate from Columbia, and Director of Electronic Music at Princeton, Snyder has worked in a variety of groups, and after numerous appearances on comps this is his debut album, offered on 2LP in a gatefold sleeve and as a digital DL in both stereo and quadrophonic versions. Using a 1970s Buchla synth controlled by his Snyderphonics JD-1 keyboard/sequencer, the four side-long 18-minute pieces recall the heyday of avant-garde electronic music, but without the bleep-and-bloop that sometimes dates those perfectly fine records. Instead, there’s a congruence to later experimental electronic stuff, so fans of Pan Sonic, Matmos, and Merzbow should investigate. A major work. Grade = A
- The Vinyl District
Jeff Snyder recorded this lengthy album of Buchla improvisations at ElektronMusikStudion in Stockholm, using a self-created controller. The first half sounds like classic eerie synth music (Subotnick, The Forbidden Planet, et al), all slowly moving shapes, colors, and phases, acidic burbles, and lengthy ominous pauses. “Sunspots IV” gets a bit hyperactive towards its midsection, with some heavy growls around the third movement and some more rapidly flashing, panic-warnings around the fifth. “Sunspots V” has moments of dread akin to Wolf Eyes (especially their recent work), and lots of suspense. Very slow moving, very creepy. The last two pieces are 18-minute drones; no sudden stops or explosions, just constant waves which sometimes seem to interact and produce chemical reactions. “Sunspots IX” is far more singular, and would be calming if it didn’t seem somewhat distressed. Listen from a distance or a low volume and it might just sound like two or three keys being pressed over and over again. However, listen closely and there’s plenty of subtle, sublime trickery going on.
- The Answer is in the Beat
Reviews of Concerning the Nature of Things:
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
“Ghost Line” is a thoroughly compelling audio-video performance by Sideband (Lainie Fefferman, Jascha Narveson, Seth Cluett, and Mika Godbole) of music by Jeff Snyder, from Snyder’s forthcoming album, Concerning the Nature of Things. The album is due on November 9th on the Carrier Records label, with one preview track, the title cut, already up on Snyder’s Bandcamp page. But the real way to experience “Ghost Line” arguably isn’t the audio on its own; it’s the audio as a component of the video (on In most music videos, the video part of the equation is either a complement (whether a narrative or just associative imagery) or a document (of the performance, whether simulated or live). In the case of “Ghost Line,” the 12-minute video is, quite literally, both performance and score. And while the images may tend toward abstraction, those abstractions directly inform the music we hear.
In Snyder’s creation, each of the members of Sideband creates sound by adjusting aspects of one of four parallel frames. Each individual is seen within their frame, sometimes rendered as through x-ray specs, sometimes as if colored in during one of Andy Warhol’s more flamboyant phases (say, circa his album covers for Billy Squier and the Rolling Stones). At times the figures disappear entirely, replaced by raster concoctions straight out of a Ryoji Ikeda installation. Throughout, the music is heard to draw directly from the consequences of those images: alternately strident and subtle, buzzy and tonal.
- Mark Weidenbaum, Disquiet
Reviews of Modules:
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 & 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. There is an ever increasing amount of musicians who play electronics nowadays, I must admit that the person I find to be the most consistently fascinating is Sam Pluta. I’ve heard Mr. Pluta as a member of Evan Parker’s NY Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, in duo with Peter Evans and with different versions of ICE (International Creative Ensemble). It is Mr. Pluta who organized, recorded and mixed this extraordinary new disc.

What is most interesting here is that features different members of each unit in different combinations, including five duo improvs and ten other directed (?) pieces. “Module 1” is filled with suspense and sounds like tympani & other percussion and electronics. The sounds are most carefully utilized: distant muted trumpets, subtle orchestral percussion, some sort of floating horns, all unfolding slowly, their sounds cautiously stretched out. The combined horns have that Canterbury sound (Soft Machine ’Third’/Keith Tippett Group ‘Dedicated’/Hugh Hopper ’1984’), slightly twisted with a (buried) sense of humor. The overall piece is continuous, hence everything flows together just right. Although there are a series of duo improvs, the music is seamlessly woven. There are some unexpected delights like “Pavan”, which does have that slow, stately vibe. It is pretty rare to hear electronics that sounds as if it being conducted or directed, but this is what this sounds like. The percussion & electronics on “9 Lines” is again a seamless flow, a perfect blend of acoustic and electronic sounds. “Estampie” featuring the great, subtle percussion of Ross Karre with Jeff Snyder’s tight, spinning electronics, 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 win some awards and gets some of the recognition it rightly deserves. Superb, on all levels.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
Jeff Snyder and Sam Pluta have been working together since 2006 as the duo exclusiveOR. With Snyder performing on analog synthesizer and Pluta on live electronics. Their work explores the intersection of composition and improvisation with live electronics. For “modules” the duo is joined by some of today’s leading creative musicians: Architeuthis Walks on Land (AWOL) which is Amy Cimini – viola and Katherine Young – bassoon, and members of ICE – Peter Evans, Nate Wooley – trumpets, Ryan Muncy – saxophones, Weston Olencki – trombone and Ross Karre – percussion.

“modules” was commissioned in 2014 by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) as part of their ICELab Series. It is a concert length work that utilizes both improvisation and strictly notated material. The piece covers a lot of ground as it flows through its fifteen modules in which seemingly opposing materials (pitch, sound and noise) and methodologies (composition, improvisation and live electronics) seamlessly interact with one another to create a unified whole.

The fifteen “modules” are comprised of five composed by Pluta, five by Snyder and five improvisations from various small groupings of the ensemble. Each of these tracks or modules has its own distinct character, color and instrumentation. Pluta’s modules tend to be more aggressive and noisier, while Snyder’s are often more harmonically focused. The improvised sections are all sonically oriented and very original. Despite the contrasts within each module they really seem connected and many segments flow into one another in a conversational like manner.

Here is an earlier performance with brass quartet, analog synthesizer, live electronics, and percussion. It’s interesting to hear both of these versions because it makes clear the significant contributions that improvisers can bring to pieces like “modules”.

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. exclusiveOR (Sam Pluta and Jeff Snyder) collide their electronics with the acoustic interventions of the International Contemporary Ensemble (Peter Evans and Nate Wooley, trumpet; Ryan Muncy, saxophones; Weston Olencki. trombone; and Ross Karre, percussion) alongside Architeuthis Walks on Land's Amy Cimini (viola) and Katherine Young (bassoon).

The result is an album-length work of improvisation and composed music tracked in terms of pieces and improvisations. What is so satisfying and inspired about this work is how the different events coincide. 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
MODULES is a collaboration featuring three groups: exclusiveOr, the electronic duo of Jeff Snyder and Sam Pluta; Architeuthis Walks On Land, the duo of violist Amy Cimini and bassoonist Katherine Young; and the International Contemporary Ensemble, of whom trumpeters Peter Evans and Nate Wooley, saxophonist Ryan Muncy, trombonist Weston Olencki, and percussionist Ross Karre appear here. It’s a 42-minute piece broken into 15 sections, the longest of which runs nearly seven minutes and the shortest of which blips past in a mere 42 seconds.

The music was commissioned by the ICE and composed by Snyder and Pluta, but a full third of the tracks are (mostly brief) designated zones for duo improvisation. exclusiveOr go first, followed by Muncy and Evans, Cimini and Snyder, AWOL, and finally Wooley and Olencki.

The opening piece, “Module 1,” is the longest track on the disc at 6:51, and it sets the stage for all that follows. Rumbling electronic drones are flanked and interrupted by eerie zaps and skittering noises, tiny rattles and clicks, and disruptive shimmering waves of static. Intermittent, tentative ripples from Evans and Wooley, and soft figures from Cimini, add a human element to the otherwise otherworldly sounds, as though the crew of a self-disassembling spaceship had decided to play themselves off like the band on the Titanic. “Module 2,” which follows directly (all the tracks flow seamlessly into one another), is shorter, more staccato and more generally aggressive/entropic.

Because of the continuous nature of the piece, the paired improvisations don’t draw attention to themselves until they’re midway through or almost over, but they are frequently fascinating. The combination of Snyder’s electronics and Cimini’s harsh, grinding violin is a particularly evocative three-minute passage that recalls Thomas Köner‘s Arctic ambient tracks, made with closely mic’ed, bowed cymbals. It leads directly into “Pavan,” a mournful multi-horn chorale that’s like a fanfare played at half speed.

In its second half, the piece becomes substantially more energetic, and even threatening. Beginning with “Galliard,” percussion comes to the fore and horn lines flex aggressively. The five-minute “Estampie” is a sustained outburst of clatter and boom, stabbing horns, and reality-warping electronics; it’s like a jazz track remixed by Skinny Puppy, and could soundtrack the scene in a horror movie about a murderous 1970s cult where the members are stalking the Final Girl through their bunker/temple/compound at midnight.

MODULES is a fantastically creative piece of music, performed expertly by everyone involved. It sounds like nothing else, and is absolutely worth any adventurous listener’s time.
— Phil Freeman
Reviews of Owen Lake and the Tragic Loves - 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, included as one of the 20 best Americana albums of the year
What is a succesful genre mash-up? When the lovers of the involved genres immediately love it, or when the artists who attempt it actually involve all the characteristics, archetypes if you wish of those genres, exposing both their strong and weak points?

With The Best of Your Lies, the debut album by Owen Lake and The Tragic Loves (they released an EP way back in 2009), there will be no immediate lovers among those who love the old-fashioned country, modern dance beats or those who like the sound of dream pop style guitars. That is exactly what Mr. Lake and his cohorts are trying to combine here, but taking some classic country tunes (everything from George Jones to Lefty Frizzell) and a few of his own with some ‘standard’ club beats (voice modulation like on “When You Miss Me When I’m Gone” included) and often jangling or crashing guitar sounds. Of course, pedal steel is everywhere. Crazy? Certainly! But is it any good?

I guess when he came up with the title track Lake, possibly with a good part of his tongue in cheek, wanted to see if certain genre stereotypes will mesh well and come up with something that would sound good. One thing is certain though, neither pure country or club beats lovers will jump for joy over this one. They most probably want their stuff pure and unadulterated. Personally, I love this stuff and think Lake is onto something.

To be able to do so, you really need to have all these styles in your small fingers, and Lake and the players, pianist Pascal Le Boeuf of Le Boeuf Brothers, Caroline Shaw who played with Kanye West, and two pedal steel players, Rich Hinman who shares these duties for Rosanne Cash and Neko Case and Susan Alcorn who plays with modern jazz experimentalist Mary Halvorson, among others, certainly do.

What they are able to do is make some standard lines fit together as if they were always supposed to do so, with the interjection of some dream pop guitar lines, like on “Always Always”. The country licks leave enough space for the electronics, while those in no way overpower the original feel of the songs, like on the “Long Black Veil”, or the crazy combination of double fiddles and electronics of “Texas Crapshooter” that actually might end up on a dance floor somewhere.

Who knows, maybe at some point Owen Lake and The Tragic Loves will pass that line from instantly rejected to trailblazers. - Ljubinko Zivkovic, SoundBlab
Reviews of Jeff Snyder and Federico Ughi - Duo:
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
A fascinating mix of brutal beats and abstract synth explorations.
- The Guardian
The idea of a free jazz record utilizing the building blocks of analog synthesizer and drums might sound slightly oxymoronic at first — don’t analog synthesizers have so many cords that you have to set up and plug in first? And don’t they get more tangled than my 50-foot outdoor extension cord does when I’m trimming the bushes? Analog synthesizer — the least spontaneous instrument I can think of besides the tuba. (Drums are OK — you can do pretty much anything with drums.)

But before you start adding a tuba section to all your jazz ensembles, check out Jeff Snyder’s take on the analog synthesizer as improvisational element. Together with drummer Federico Ughi, the Duo (see what I did there?) 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 (get it now?) 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.

- Ryan Masteller, Tiny Mix Tapes