A Portrait of Ether^ra

It’s impossible to listen at ether^ra compositions without being surrounded by visions // His synthesis is deep ,elegant and sophisticated // Sometimes a kick sound scans and divides the frequencies to put a focus on a sound picture made of textures ,noises and hits // Far away voice transmissions appears to maintain a minimal contact with planet earth during the listener trip in ethe^ra experimental Noise-Sense //We asked him about his workflow ,his creative approach to synthesis and his passion for modular.

DSCN1957// Ether^ra is…a few words about who you are //your likes //dislikes
ether^ra is a sound/noise project by J. Potter. I am a visual artist who believes in the compelling expressive potential of electronic sound, the sound of unfettered electricity. The noise that I create in collaboration with my “instruments” are an  extension of my visual art experiences; moreover, they are informed by a belief in Modernism, that is, the distillation of  sonic/visual sensory data to abstract “essences.”

I want to be challenged, so visual art or music that is easily understood and does not make demands on the viewer/listener does  not interest me. I believe in the richness of aesthetic experience, one that is layered with meaning, but one that is the result of  active participation by the viewer/listener. I remember my first listen to Captain Beefheart’s album Lick My Decals Off Baby. My  initial reaction was one of shock and disbelief-what was this?? After some time and many listens, it suddenly, like a slap in the  face, made sense…an epiphany I will never forget.

//Approach…tell us how did you get into modular synthesizers and how they changed your way of makin’ sounds .
I slowly got into modulars after being a guitarist for quite some time. A small Buchla 200e systems opened up vast sonic vistas, allowing me a whole new sonic paradigm, one that allowed me endless sonic mutation and morphing. Modulars demand participation, patching and knob tweaking. Small gesture can create big changes. As in the evolving creation of visual art, frustration is always part of the process, but the rewards are immense.

//Formats …you do work with different formats ( Buchla ,Serge ,Eurorack ……. ),tell us how do you  let different formats communicate between each other and what kind of difficulties did you encountered .
I’m lucky enough to own Buchla, Serge and Eurorack systems. Each offers a different sonic signature; each offers the potential for epiphany and frustration. The Buchla 200e seems very intuitive once you wrap your head around it. While it is a digital/analogue hybrid of sorts I find it invitingly organic. I am always amazed that it needs to be touched, like a lover, to bring it to life. My Serge system, comprised of an Animal with a Creature/Seq A panel is daunting in its dense multi-functionality. I can make little sense of it; everything I produce with it is pure accident, a product of my ignorance. My Eurorack system is just pure fun. The modules are relatively inexpensive so I can purchase them without selling my body parts!

I rarely mix formats when I record, reasoning that each specific format should be allowed absolute hegemony in the mix. I never use software of any sort.

DSCN1961 //Comps …Something about the comps that you post on Soundcloud .
My comps are the result of multi-tracking and the process of a kind of composition/performance. Milton Babbitt wisely stated that “…performance and composition(in electronic music) are an indissoluble act.” My comps are the result of compositional exploration that negotiate chance and determined process.

//Voices …There’s a frequently use of voices in your works , tell us how does voices interact with your machines and how do you process them.
The “found” voices that populate my comps reflect my love of Cabaret Voltaire and William Burroughs’ Cut-Ups. Sometimes they make a meaningful statement; other times they function as pure sound, just another sound in the mix.

//Stolen From thieves vol. 2…something about your release under Game of life .
My Game of Life release Stolen From Thieves Vol. 2 represents my continued exploration of electricity as sound, Duchampian “frequency paintings” that hopefully challenge the listener to discern minute sonic events.

 //Future …Your plans //your to do list .
I am presently working on a new project, w/o VERTICES. This project will, in most cases, be limited to the use of the Buchla 200e. Limitation leads to creativity. Also, I will be collaborating with my twin brother, This Second Sleep, a maker of beautiful dystopian noise.
//Self made question…Do yourself a question and give yourself an answer.
I always ask myself the same question ultimately-How can I creatively negotiate the opportunity and the absolute horror of the blank canvas? How can I start the process of making a piece of music? When the painter Francis Bacon was at a creative stand-still, he simply threw a handful of white paint at the canvas hoping to grasp a new direction as a result. Perhaps I should simply un-patch…?

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