By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Stone credits Jim Smith, captain of the Smell (“a magical place”) as the man with “the only place in L.A. that would do performances like [mine]. The thanks I have for Jim — an Aries, of course — for allowing the kids to experiment, and to learn how to connect with people while experimenting ... if it weren’t for Jim, it’d be the Silversun Pickups representing L.A. music.”
When his number of guitar effects grew unwieldy, Stone attached the pedals to a music stand. From there, “it seemed like a natural progression for someone who liked to make sounds that weren’t always harmonic in a song sense but mixed well in a band” to build his own modular synthesizer.
Dissonant feedback and that synth comprise the three tracks on Stone’s latest 7-inch, When I Had Your Love I Had the World (on the L.A.-based Teardrops label). With an homage to Japanese noise artist Masonna (“Masonna Is Playing at My House”), a forlorn, darkly nautical “Theme” and the noisy, vexatious title track, Stone’s work employs machinery that on the surface seems terribly antiquated sitting next to a laptop — especially the modular synthesizer.
A modular synthesizer is an electronic instrument — looking more like a phone operator’s switchboard than a piano — that was used in the early days of electronic music, long before manufacturers like Moog mass-marketed keyboard synths as viable instruments. The user plugged patch cords into the various parts of the synthesizer’s “modules,” lending itself, as Stone notes, “to a deeper exploration of sounds and sonic accidents.
“Lots of people have never seen one, so I think it’s important to play out with it,” he explains. “Some nights, I bring people up to play it while I have a patch running, and they freak out. It’s amazing watching people who have never been onstage before patching in cables and making crazy new sounds ... it’s exciting for me to watch and fun for everyone.
“You have to get used to the fact that you may not ever make the same sound/patch again. In some ways, it’s meditation for me because it keeps me present and in the moment — it’s calming. I have a 7 VCO system with another seven different types of filters ... getting those mixed up with all the modulators, event sequencers, frequency shifters, et cetera — you have to be in the moment.”
Why the googolplex of potential sounds? Why the democratic stance? Stone answers simply, “I want to make experimental music that affects all the senses.”
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