Long Beach, CA
Russia's Sputnik satellite symbolize two divergent ideas to Western world: a fear that weapons by foreign governments might be used against us, and the ability for technology to lead us to utopia. Both ideas lead to a race in arms and a race of our nations and to keep ourselves more technologically advanced than our neighbors in order to compete in the social and economic classes. N.Sputnik wants to, in part, remind you of this dichotomy when you hear his music or see his name.
The sound of N.Sputnik is a man alone with his thoughts about the world around him, revealing the sounds happening in the far off reaches of his mind. Diagnosed with ADHD as a child and prescribed methylphenidates (Ritalin) during his pre-teen years, he is perhaps stuck in a youthful bliss. Does he have ADHD, autism, or neither? At the age of 3 he was mimicking his father's organ playing by ear on his toy piano. An audio tape of this exists. He was later enrolled into piano lessons but dropped out because he found reading notation too difficult. This was more work, and not play when there were more sounds to be heard and intrigued by. Odd sounds he could make with everyday objects were waiting to be discovered. Experiments with cassette tape recording soon ensued.
Times and places gone by that can only be experienced again through media or memory. Since the inception of electric media, we have strived to create the most clean representation of audio, video, and photos. Have we finally reached a point where it is good enough and one cannot hear or see the difference in incremental linear improvements? Clean reproductions of sounds and motion are too easy to produce. And some would say not as interesting. Technologies artifacts give it it's character, but we don't appreciate them until years later, when the devices and instruments that can the ability to create them are in short supply, in disrepair, or there is not enough financial interest in doing things in a less efficient manner. Saturated tape magnetic tape sounds and their high noise floors. The faded and saturated colors of photo prints. The artifacts of plastic camera lenses. The leaking of light into imperfect film chambers. The dust and scratches in the groves of vinyl records. The warbled sound of warped vinyl, warped motion picture film with an audio track, or a deformed and aged rubber on the pinch roller of an audio tape playback machine. The soft distortion of tube circuitry. The brittle low but rate sound of the earliest digital audio playback devices and samplers. The sound a sidle projector used as a percussive instrument in the the Boards of Canada track "Kid for Today" captures both the medium for their memories and the longing for the simpler days of youth. These can all cause what I call the phenomenon "phonomemora." Mark Fisher is perhaps the authority on this subject known as hauntology or memoradelia. Memories, real or imagined, are like ghosts in our minds. Perhaps also connected is the peace some people have in hearing ambient music could possibly be related to subconscious memories of being in the womb. Or haunted bits of sounds heard during youth, when life was simpler. The awe and wonder of the world revealed solely through TV documentaries, sci-fi films, educational films, the inner worlds of early home video games and arcade games. The familiar TV sound that has not been heard in 20 years can cause us to feel safer, more childlike. It is possible for the generation who were children during the golden age of the super-8, video cameras, and cassette recorders. The ability for children to record their own voice and personal experiences; be they through media they consume or real-life interactions. And the hope and optimism that went along with so much of 80's consumerism, that tomorrow would be a better place. That technology would solve more problems than it would create, and for N.Sputnik new wave music would be the soundtrack.
The audio and visual senses of people today are assaulted with loud sounds, constant jump-cuts in a feeble attempt to keep us interested. Rather than a break from media altogether, one should indulge in media that presents the opposite: slowly evolving sound textures, films with long scenes with fewer edits, where it is more likely to immerse people deeper into the experience. To make them conscious of an environment without obvious elements; just picture and sound.
With physical media physically decaying and the right to preserve and share some media is controlled by ignorant corporate interests, aside from some amateur preservation efforts, all an artists can do is recreate these sounds using what they have available. Some times modern and sometimes vintage devices and mediums, and sometimes the ability to sample these recordings. N.Sputnik takes the listener to his childhood and many other in generation X: the sounds of new wave synths, educational videos viewed in school of bad film transfered to video or perhaps malfunctioning VCRs, the wonderment of the Space Shuttle's golden age, imagined worlds who's medium would be mass produced toys and cartoons taking place in outer space, other planets, and other dimensions. The fear of UFO's presented in TV documentaries. The innocent presentation of and appreciation of psychedelic experiences via every medium but the drugs themselves with the exception of prescribed pharmaceuticals. The wonder that audio cassette recorders could capture not only a song on the radio but also childhood experiences.
There have always been commercial interests in preserving mainstream music, film, and high art in order to package and sell it. This has kept parts of our culture alive. But what about more ephemeral media like PSA, educational programs, TV commercials and idents, radio programs, or software? These are part of culture too, but when we have them preserved it is out of sheer luck that someone decided that they were worthy enough to record, store, play back, and share digitally after so many years. When we hear and see this media is when we experience phonomemora.
The pre-millennium tension and energy burst of the 90's is seen in the underground music it created: acid, techno, trance, drum and bass, house, hardcore, breaks. We are now experiencing the post-rave hangover in the chill-out room. For those not already in the bliss and comfort of the chill-out room, dubstep is their purgatory. The millennium only brought more fear, loathing, and hopelessness that we had imagined. The melancholic downtempo ambient sounds of ephemeral audio that remind them of youth is the easy-listening music for some of generation X. This is true for N.Sputnik.
On his journey from industrial to techno to drum and bass, N.Sputnik is now more sure about his sound than ever, foraging is way into his own unique sound, without the need to fit music into any pre-defined genre structures. He borrows parts of his musical experiences he finds most intriguing.