CLOT Mix: CLOT Magazine presents SORCERY
Our 9th Mixtape instalment brings Sorcery – the acclaimed electronic experimental drummer- with a very special crafted mix, Manufactured Stimulus – the unfolding of a surreal hyper narrative though music.
Merlin Ettore (the man behind Sorcery) is a multifaceted creative: a highly skilled drummer, producer and also visual artist. With a long-established artistic career, he developed a very personal bold esthétique noir. Whilst the intense, polyrhythmic power of his live performances his compositions reveal a mastery of both the acoustic instruments and analogue equipment that define his particular sound: There are no strict rules to how I compose beats, calculate clever subdivisions or bend time signatures, the rhythmic alchemy is dictated by feeling the impact that resonates in me. Ettore has also lent his unique drumming imprint to the techno scene throughout various contributions and collaborations including Kangding Ray and Powell.
Last September, under his alias Sorcery, Ettore has published his debut EP, Manufactured Conflicts (which includes a Samuel Kerridge remix) where he expands on his cinematic math-laden techno with a combination of bestial, off-pulse rhythms, clever metric modulation, inspired textures and punchy transients. Reinforcing the fact that Sorcery cuts a unique presence in electronic music’s experimental underground, with an unrelenting and visceral impulse to his work, defined by a life-long and far-reaching passion for the rhythmic qualities of music.
Ettore shared thoughts on the new EP, his creative process and technical challenges as well as his future plans. Recently, he’s been doing several collaborations under his Sorcery moniker; just completed a collaboration track with Kyoka, made for a compilation that should come out in the very near future on Midnight Shift Records. And another collaboration track on that same compilation with Xhin, a piece they already finished a while back, but finally sees life. Ettore also said he’s constantly working in the studio developing new material which will most probably result in a 2nd Sorcery EP for early next year and in parallel developing a new live set, where he thinks is where he will be doing most of the breakthrough new territory explorations.
For this mix, Sorcery wanted to create a vibe of “short stories” that intertwine and morph into each other unfolding a surreal hyper narrative: In there, there is a collection of music and sounds from friends, family, influences and music that I like a lot. Mostly older stuff, some newer discoveries as well, but mostly dug into the “weird” folder. I guess it relates to my practice as I’ve treated the individual tracks like raw material and just jammed with them. The mixtape was so much fun to do! Hope you enjoy the listening trip!.
Text by CLOT Magazine (Twitter @clotmagazine)
In Manufactured conflicts, the rhythmic patterns and syncopated synths and drum machines sound almost precision-enginery sculpted. How was the creative process like? And what were the technical challenges if any?
The creation process spanned over a few years actually. Mainly because I’ve been trying to coin the Sorcery sound and overall musical message. Essentially I was hovering between; recording free improvisations with various pieces of gear (Eurorack modules, drum machines, acoustic instruments etc..), selecting, arranging different grooves or sketches from those recordings and pushing the limits of “musical storytelling” with crazy structures. As for the syncopated rhythmic figures, I love to “bend the grid”, I’m always shifting the downbeat, adding or subtracting measures and playing around with evolving time signatures. What was a little more tricky for me was trying to maintain a good energy and functionality for the dance floor. I would repeat the process of recording, selection and arrangement over and over again. After about 2 years of that, it resulted in some kind of massive sample library from which declined the current Sorcery sound. At the same time, I was trying to figure out engineering technics that would give me good sound pressure, defined transients and rich textures that might satisfy me. For some of the mixing process, I discovered outboard gear (tube compressors, tube eq, different preamps, etc..) and analogue summing on a 24 channel desk. That was a total game-changer for me. The whole thing has been quite tedious and challenging, to be honest… I’m still not out of the woods yet.
Did you develop the album with a concept around, or was it more an exploration of the different instruments you were using?
The theme or concept of this EP is definitely about the process of its own creation. So yeah, developed around the many sonic explorations in my studio. The title “manufactured Conflicts” might recall how much “problem solving” I might be doing on a daily basis whilst making music.
As a drummer how do you incorporate new technologies into your practice? Have you experimented with Sensory Percussion?
I’ve been fiddling with the integration of acoustic and electronic (percussion) instruments for many years now.. more than 15 years focusing on that. I’ve always put efficiency in front of anything when I’m in the “dummer mind set”, I want to get instant and solid results when I’m sitting at the kit. But I don’t think the technological approach has more of an impact as much as the “alive” side of things. When I work I’m really looking for the type of excitement or emotional feedback I get and try to channel that state or energy to whatever I’m doing. At the end of the day, if I don’t feel anything when I make or play music, it’s a complete waste of time for me. Yes, I’ve tried the Sensory Percussion stuff. Was never really able to get anything sounding different other than what it has to offer “out of the box”. Maybe I should spend more time with it.
You also have a background in visual studies, what are your main influences for your visual creations?
I come from a photography background. Always had a passion for that. I founded the analogue photo club/film development lab back when I was in High School, always coming late to class smelling like chemicals and such. The initial spark was when I understood how photography is essentially painting with light. That was an exciting idea. Also, I’ve always been fascinated with performance and/or performers, so I’m very often working with dancers, circus artists, models or actors when I’m behind the camera. I like the dynamic energy of working with a living muse. I’ve recently collaborated with Brandon Tay, an outstanding visual artist from Singapore, on the Manufactured Conflicts music video. Thanks to Brandon’s endless skill and imagination, this collaboration really opened my eyes to the integration of footage and digital art. The music video turned out to be a really exciting project. It also features two amazing dancers Lena Kilchtiskaya & Bozna Milan.