Editor’s pick: 30drop’s ‘Soroban’, reflections on human abstraction
30drop, the electronic producer also the founder of 30D Records has just published a new album on Jeff Mill’s legendary Axis Records. The LP, titled Soroban, takes it inspiration from the important role the Japanese abacus, the Soroban, in the shaping and development of the right part of the brain (the one responsible for understanding and artistic creation), and musically is a reflection of the artist’s main influences from Detroit techno, obscure electronic sounds and most importantly experimentation.
Axis and Jeff Mills are one of 30drops biggest influences from his beginnings in electronic music. Not only for the music but also for the artistic concept behind the entire project. Mill’s vision and approach to experimentation, nonconformity with the established and the development of the soundtrack of the future fascinated 30drop from the beginning: For me, being able to publish this LP under the “Axis” umbrella and curated by Jeff Mills, is undoubtedly the biggest milestone of the 30drop project so far. In the same way ‘Soroban’ is, for now, my most ambitious work on a conceptual and musical level.
Jeff Mills himself shares that Soroban is a wonderful insight into the mind and craftsmanship of 30drop. The album requires open-mind thinking and the stretching of the imagination. And that’s great to have this exclusive creation of 30drop in the Escape Velocity catalogue. It complements the concept and objective graciously.
30drop also hares that the album moves away from the dance floor and the more regular techno musical structures to get into more cinematic, timeless, aseptic sonic territories that are emotional and reflective at the same times: My way of working, he continues, always brings music as a conclusion to research and learning about a specific topic. The study of soroban provided me with a wide and ambitious range of knowledge about the development of the human mind throughout the thousands of years of evolution. The concept that interests me the most is the one that defines that mathematical language is not a consequence of the evolution of the human brain, but quite the opposite. From which we can deduce that mathematics was there before humans learned to use it.
The tracks in the album want to reflect the evolutionary increase in intellectual capacity for abstraction and reflection. During the production of Soroban, these tracks were appearing while the artist was assimilating the different concepts that gave way to each other in a natural way, just as human learning works. The order of the tracks clearly reflects that evolution of the mind that 30drop wants to convey. There is a beginning with songs of simpler structure and melodies of easy assimilation. Then it’s time for rapid evolution with the more complex tracks in terms of interlocking sequences and percussive polyrhythmic. Finally, reflective themes appear with a deep sound and perspective that represent the highest state of consciousness, which would be abstract painting in the field of painting.
At the studio, in 30drop’s workflow, there is no room for absurd prejudices. He mixes hardware with software as well as any sound source that I think could give me something different. Ols school synthesizers mix with the new generation without restrictions; modules, drum machines, iPad apps, external FXs, plugins, etc.
When asked about the relevance of releasing this album in the current social context, 30drop thinks that this pandemic, like all difficult times for humanity, shows the best and the worst in people and the world of music is no different in this: It is easy to see how the projects or rather products based on business and far from artistic quality; They despair and try to quickly reinvent themselves by generating absurd content or inventing pseudo-social causes to stay in the forefront of their audience’s attention with tools such as social networks. None of this that seems to have arisen spontaneously and with good intention, is what it seems. Everything responds to a well developed and structured marketing strategy.
On the other hand, you see differently with “real” artists; they are still stronger than before all this happened, making and publishing good music or even starting excellent projects such as anything related to the Stoor project by Jochem (Speedy J) and Sander, which undoubtedly provide something new and a guide to follow from now on.
And what’s next for 30drop after Axis? Keep going he says… another album published at the end of September and I continue to work daily on new music and artistic projects, always with the premises of experimentation and disruption.