Album Round-Up: Four Recent Solo Releases that Use Sensory Percussion
It’s been a busy season for Sensory Percussion users! Being stuck inside has given artists a chance to explore new avenues of creation and rethink the traditional process of writing, recording, and performing. Out of these extraordinary circumstances came four incredible solo albums from Eli Keszler, Josh Green, wh0wh0, and Kyle Harris.
Eli Keszler: Icons
If you’ve been following Sunhouse for the past few years, Eli should be a familiar name. We featured him on this blog after his performance at Moogfest 2019 using Sunhouse sensors on an acoustic kit. That performance was a reinterpretation of pieces from his album Stadium, which came out that same year. This June, he followed up with Icons, a challenging and immersive album filled with modern soundscapes evoking New York, his home city.
In live performances, Keszler would use his sensors to trigger long bell tones, over which he would play a flurry of textural patterns, making use of every part of the kit, including rims, stands, shells, etc. Because he incorporated bell samples along with actual bells, or rim click samples along with actual rim clicks, it was often difficult to discern what is live, unprocessed sound and what is a sample being played back. This blurring of the line between acoustic and electronic is certainly true of Icons, as well. On “Static Doesn’t Exist,” background chatter and street noise that seem to be pulled directly from field recordings are looped and chopped, morphing into their own rhythmic grid that accompanies Keszler’s playing. Although you might recognize some machine-like breakbeats reminiscent of Aphex Twin or other electronic music pioneers, there is also something distinctly human about Keszler’s music, some essential quality that can only be produced by a person sitting down at their instrument.
Josh Green: LUMEN
Josh Green has been featured before for his various works using Sensory Percussion to control epic light shows, and this time he’s back with his new album LUMEN, out on vinyl now! His album release show was held in May in the forests of Chattanooga, Tennessee, with 500 feet of LED lighting strung from the trees and controlled by his drum set.
But don’t worry if you missed the show; even just the “audio” side of his audiovisual piece is well worth the listen. On “Nebula” and “Heartlight,” the two singles off of LUMEN available on streaming platforms now, Green provides a rhythmic bed of synth stabs and percussive clicks, over which vocalist Joel Harris sings airy melodic lines. The effect is one of juxtaposition: the natural world seems to be at the center of the music, as it’s filled with sounds of twigs snapping, rocks falling, and chimes ringing. Yet, every track is laden with decidedly unnatural, glitchy production played via Sunhouse’s machine learning technology. Green seems to find the right balance between the two both in his live light shows and on the record. The LUMEN vinyl is available on Bandcamp now!
- Yamaha Hipgig Jr.
- Kick- 16X16
- Snare- 5X14
- Rack/Floor toms- 13X8
- Remo Silentstroke mesh heads
- Macbook Pro; holding strong with Mojave
- Scarlett 18i8 interface
- Entecc DMXIS DMX controller
- DMX switches & LED strips by Sirs-E
wh0wh0 is the solo moniker of Polish drummer and electronic musician Jacek Prościński. His album CNC008 came out this past year and was recorded over various sessions just prior to the pandemic. The 8 tracks cover a lot of sonic ground, from ambient drones to aggressive up-tempo grooves. At times the landscapes are so lush and intricate that it’s hard to believe it was all played by one person. But Prościński proved this to be true during his live-streamed album premiere show, in which he recreated the album as a solo drum piece. Inspired by the compositions of Steve Reich, CNC008 features repetitive rhythmic passages that slowly unravel and evolve, transitioning seamlessly from one track to the next. In addition to using Sensory Percussion to control samples and effects, wh0wh0 also uses the MIDI information sent out by Sensory Percussion to control the light show at his live shows. CNC008 is available for purchase on Bandcamp now!
- 3 snare drums with Sensory Percussion sensors:
- Omar Hakim signature snare drum 13 x 5 (coated head)
- Noble & Cooley Classic Solid Shell Maple Snare Drum 14 x 7 (coated)
- Mapex MPX picollo snare drum 13 x 3.5 (mesh head)
- Paiste Masters 20" Dark Crash-Ride
- Turkish Millennium hi hats 14"
- Roland SPD-SX with 2 electronic kicks (KD-9 and FD9)
- Nord Drum 2 with four Roland PD-8 pads
- Tascam US-16x08 audio interface
- MacBook Pro 13” 2015 /w Sensory Percussion and Ableton Live 10
Kyle Harris: Frames
Frames is the debut solo album from drummer/producer Kyle Harris. Known as a touring drummer for The Blue Man Group, the founder of Boston Drum Lessons, and as a collaborator with Ben Levin Group, Kyle has honed his production skills the past few years mainly through using Sensory Percussion. The tracks on Frames reflect his high-energy and often comedic sensibilities, as the listener is blasted with in-your-face 808s and dramatic risers, all controlled from his mesh head kit.
In addition to creating and playing back sounds using Sensory Percussion, Harris also lays down vocals on several of the album’s tracks, alongside a few featured guests. Rapping/singing is new ground for Harris, and it allows him to explore the difficulties of self-expression in a world that emphasizes online validation over authenticity. Check out the videos for “Crashing” and “The Builder” and buy the album on Bandcamp.
- 3 sensors
- Roland KD7 kick drum
- 3 snare drums with remo silent stroke heads
- Pintech rubber rim covers
- Roland Octacapture interface
- Ableton live & Sensory Percussion plugin