Live recording, 2004
Remastered by PK in 2005
On Feedback Sounds
During recent years the heart of my live set-up has been a 10-channel Phonic mixer. It is a very basic machine, clear sounding and also small and light, which means a lot when I am on the road. The mixer is more than just an ordinary mixing desk to me. It is a real musical instrument, with a central role in my feedback-based sound world.
For many musicians, feedback is unwanted sound, a cause of annoying acoustical problems. But in my music feedback is the soloist. This might sound strange, since I just wrote about acoustics and "good sound". But in some way I just like it. With feedback sounds I am back in my roots again. When I was young, my interest in music started with the screaming feedback sounds of Jimi Hendrix's electric guitar. I didn't listen to the actual songs so much, I was much more fascinated about those unbelievable new sounds that Hendrix created!
How do I generate feedback? In my system I generate feedback sounds by overloading the signal in the channel between the mixer and the FX-module. The effects module that I have used in recent years for this is the DigiTech StudioQuad V2. I am not using it for echoes or delays in my set-up -- the only purpose of this digital machine is to generate feedback. There are 4 ins and 4 outs in the FX-module. I multiply the feedback sound inside the processor and take the distorted sound out from the 4th output back to the mixer, where I can control its frequencies and sound colors by changing equalization values and the signal level of the aux send.
Beside the mixer desk and the StudioQuad module there is a Korg Kaoss Pad processor in my effects link. I can take all sounds out from my mixer to the Kaoss Pad and process the sounds live with it. With the Kaoss I can control sounds by touching and moving my finger on the screen of the processor. I can create, for example, fast moving soloistic lines, or stable, dense textures. The palette of my feedback sounds may vary from a 'wall of sound' (like dense and distorted sound of heavy metal guitar) to lightly moving figures of bird singing (like in Beezus, Beeten, Breep on the CD Why Birds Sing, 2005, by David Rothenberg).
It took a few years to develop my feedback technique, and the process is still going on. At first I used Kaoss Pad like it was originally meant to be used. It is basically manufactured for DJs, so it is a practical live tool because it is easy to handle and there are so many good-quality effects inside this tiny machine.
I can't remember exactly when I started to use Kaoss Pad the way I use it now. Perhaps it was just an accident when I started to control feedback with it. Perhaps I produced a feedback sound at the same time as my finger was on the Kaoss Pad, making some surprise processing. At some point I started to investigate the possibilities of feedback, and I realized how powerful and expressive a sound it really is. From feedback I developed a soloistic sound for my music. I also realized that I don't have to use any prerecorded or programmed sound material to create live music. I could just turn on the feedback sound between the machines and use it in many ways in real time!
I also use a Toneworks digital FX-pedal in my set-up. It is made for electric guitarists, but I wanted to have one because of its processing possibilities in my feedback world. With this machine I can build my sound textures by selecting between different programmed guitar sounds, amplifiers and loudspeaker stacks.