It is a shame that we don’t see more cross-over between beat-oriented and more experimental forms of electronic music. There’s no lack of creativity amongst the nightclub set. Anyone with even a casual interest in electronic dance music has to be impressed by the way beatmakers push technology to deliver a never-ending supply of ear candy.
Rob Clouth’s new one is an inspiring example. The glitch/industrial dance music artist (he’s also released music under the name Vaetxh) has delivered a uniquely beautiful avant-garde disc entitled Zero Point. That is no overstatement. Clouth developed a package of software tools specifically for the project.
Zero Point’s title refers to a quantum mechanics term. It is the lowest level of energy possible within a quantum mechanical system. It cannot be zero. This is true throughout the known universe, even in a vacuum. These systems fluctuate in this lowest energy state. Quantum field theory speculates that the universe can be understood in a similar light; as continually shifting fields.
Clouth’s idea was to develop software that would allow him to make music leveraging data from an online service that posts real-time measurements from the zero-point energy field. It’s called the ANU Quantum Random Number Server.
“Zero Point is a love letter to noise, written with data sampled from the core of the universe,” according to the album’s notes.
Clouth has transformed that data into an early candidate for album of the year. These 14 compositions – stretching more than an hour – would be entertaining had they emerged from a more traditional music-writing process. Given their origin however, the album is something much more.
Back to the album’s notes, where Clouth describes the work in sculptural terms: “pure noise is like a block of marble,” he says. “It contains all possible sounds, you just need to figure out which parts to carve away.”
Clouth produced the album in a farmhouse in the north of Spain. He was attracted to its remoteness and quiet. “The silence meant that I could hear every little detail in the music, and so I played a lot with dynamics, filling each moment with barely perceptible sounds,” he says. “It’s the subtlest music I’ve ever written.”
The album is not entirely electronic. Sections of piano add an occasional new classical feel. Largely though, this will appeal to electronic music lovers, particularly those with an interest in unconventional composition processes.
Zero Point is out on Max Cooper’s Mesh imprint. “Listening to Rob Clouth’s album is an inspiring experience,” he says. For me, it’s something really special, and actually, having Rob’s agreement to create an album for Mesh, was one of the main reasons I created the label in the first place.
“Music is supposed to tickle our pattern finding tendencies, but most music is painfully predictable. Rob works with such a density of ideas and expression that I know I’m only hearing a fraction of the content. I love that I can discover new hidden structures with each listen, and the complexity and level of spatial binaural construction gives me a listening richness I don’t experience elsewhere. But it does require a focused headphone or good stereo-field system listen, it’s not background music, and sometimes it’s a challenge, but one with rich rewards. Music of the future, for me.”