It was good news back in the fall, when I heard that MiNdToUcH had released his first album, ToNight aT NoON (you can download it for free at Bandcamp I’ve been keeping an ear out for his music during the past few years, tracking his admirably steady flow of new tracks, in years past on Myspace, and more recently on Soundcloud. I first met him in my Seoul apartment back in 2006 when he came by my place to have a look at some gear I was selling. No transaction took place, but our conversation started.
I appreciate how he’s built and evolved his recording set-up. In a day and age when people (myself being one of them) get carried away with desire for the latest recording gear and functions, MiNdToUcH has so far taken quite a stripped down approach. Much of his music gets made on samplers, like the Akai MPC 3000, which would have cost a fortune in their early 90s heyday and are now affordable collector’s items to be found on eBay and used shops. But, far from being dated by the 90s gear, I find something very sustainable in MiNdToUcH’s approach to making music – it’s refreshing to see somebody recording machine-based music without being dependent on evolutions of Mac or Windows operating systems and the resulting upgrade-itis. He seems to have this love for his hardware, which makes him want to try different stuff out, but he doesn’t seem to stockpile stuff. All gear he has is used and part of his workflow, or else it’s quickly gone. There’s nothing flashy about his approach, no unnecessary gestures – watching him at his equipment you can’t help but admire the certainty of his hand movements, the lack of hesitation.
Seeing MiNdToUcH’s stacks of floppy discs, each disc containing one set of beats, makes me think of a poet and his or her stack of notebooks. Each disc holds 10s of seconds of sounds, not even a minute. He seems to begin with a process of disassembly – then, when all the suitable bits and pieces are treated and gathered, the assembly begins anew, but it is a different work that has been created. After getting everything ready in the sequencer and the right sound on the right pad, he records the output to an external device – he seems to be access most of the tracks from his album right on his Roland SP-4-4. Then, on another day, he can rearrange, refocus, and reconstitute the same fragments into another flow. What exists on these discs is not finished songs, but a set of sounds ready to breathe again once inserted into the sampler, possibilities waiting to be conjured.
It would do an injustice to MiNdToUcH to dwell too long on his gear or his workflow. His music is above its process. He happens to be a photographer par excellence, and, bearing this in mind, I can’t help thinking of him as a photographer of music, circling around the sounds that he samples, shining a light on what was previously dark, overexposing something, playing with the contrasts – some techniques employed later in the dark room and others at the time of shooting. Clicking, adjusting, rotating, freezing, tapping, releasing …
MiNdToUcH’s music does what the name promises – the music becomes part of a thought process – ideas looping, new ones joining, something remembered then forgotten, an idea modified over time, a new notion. This could be a soundtrack to finding keys and then looking for doors.
Having met him in Seoul, having lived in Seoul myself, I can’t help associating his sound with Seoul. When I hear it, I feel the stop-start rhythms of the bus that carries me through central Seoul, the random announcements – I see the little slices of everyday life and occasional drama that catch my eye through the bus window … the minor intrigue of someone getting in or out of a taxi, a couple side by side both on the phone, a kid restlessly waiting … being out too late, needing to get up too early.
On the day, I filmed the brief scenes in this video, I arrived at his place late afternoon. As soon as I got there, he said we’d go out for a drink, as he’d already spent ample time in his home studio that day. But I pried a bit, asking him about this or that, and in the process of demoing something, he stumbled onto some sounds he liked, and a new session started. Finally, one more disc was added to the stack.