Sound Study Project w/ Devin Sarno

Quick quiz for my readers. Which modern music legend has gotten the most article mentions on this site?

  1. Kronos Quartet
  2. John Adams
  3. Phillip Glass
  4. Devin Sarno

If you have clicked around the article section you know that the answer is (4). With this third enthusiastic article about the unique musical contribs from this explorer of sonic possibilities with a Fender Precision Bass and abstract electronics, Devin wins in a rout.

Part of the enthusiasm this time is from my own involvement in the latest of his intriguing projects. In February Devin and I collaborated on an ambient music project in his Sound Study series. The latest release, Sound Study #14 on Sarno’s Perceived Sound label, is #14 in the series and went live today.

A review of the release was published by Destroy//Exist this weekend – check it out here:

Destroy//Exist: Devin Sarno / Sound Study 14 (featuring S.Fairbank)

The results highlight the contrasts between our two styles. In this entry Devin plays his P-bass and I play a quartet of analog synthesizers. I plotted out some simple complimentary lines with the four different synths I use, the different lines attempting to take advantage of the strengths of each instrument. 

As many musicians know, synthesizers all have different personalities and it can be difficult to get them all playing together as a cohesive unit. I wanted to capture the recording spontaneously so I thought it best to have a production meeting with all four synths the day before I put down the performance to get everyone on the same page. 

The Model D was there early and was game for anything, always willing to eschew the spotlight providing the unglamorous role of a heavy backbone drone. A music director’s dream. 

The K-2 is rather no-drama player and always easy to assign a role to at the outset, but as soon as you agree on the plan it starts running down a litany of limitations that require workarounds given the strange unintuitive layout of its patch bay. A pain in the ass I didn’t need, TBH, but K-2 boasts an impressive body of work that is not easily dismissed as the result of nepotism – so one muddles through. 

By contrast, the Neutron always comes into a project on the first day with guns blazing ready to try anything and everything you want to throw at it, but often comes off the rails and you find yourself swigging the Maalox as showtime nears, never knowing what to expect when the curtain goes up.

Then the Minilogue XD, always something of a diva, showed up late and took over the meeting by loudly expressing what I considered rather neurotic concerns over connectivity and synchronization. I tried to calm the waters by reminding that it was just a raw live cast performance and yes, sweety, you’ll get top billing in any equipment list included in the credits. That and a dozen roses did the trick, and with the mighty bass of Sarno holding our Sound Study #14 together the quartet played together nicely with minimal incident. 

You can check out other Sound Study release series here: Perceived Sound