A Very Normal Day with Bleep Bloop and His Computer Music
It was all spliffs, tunes, and tacos galore before the DJ Shadow protegé's Low End Theory debut.
All photos by Nathan Beer
Between 1949 and 1963, the world experienced the first major steps in the development of electronic music. CSIRAC, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Automatic Computer, was the first digital computer to play discernible music, though nothing was ever recorded. Following that was the Ferranti Mark 1, which produced the earliest known recording of computer music in 1951-a version of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" that still puts many of today's bedroom producers to shame. IBM's MUSIC-N programs and a subsequent article in Science are widely accepted as the final major strides in the global popularization of computer music.
While so much has changed since then, the fundamentals of computer music are clearly visible in much of the new millennium's musical output. Nearly seventy years later, we are in the midst of a re-simplification of electronically produced music, a revival of the days when producers were scientists, creating and programming the means to create music before the actual music itself. Ironically enough, the current milieu is sometimes referred to as "future music."
Artists like EPROM, Daedalus, and Lindsay Lowend; styles like chiptune, VGM, and electroacoustic; labels like Brainfeeder, PC Music, and Hyperboloid Records, embody many aspects of what the future movement is all about. Allow us to introduce the next installment of history's future-Aaron Trigg's "outer-space bass" project, Bleep Bloop. He is the first signee on DJ Shadow's new label, Liquid Amber, and claimant to studio sessions with Shadow in his dad's modest NorCal home. Aaron is the leading and most promising artist in the broad field of computer music. His sounds are calculated, synthesized, and molded together in such a way that affords him a unique voice amongst others in his class. We had the fortune of spending the day with him and some friends before catching his set at Low End Theory.
From the comfort of my home in Los Feliz I ventured westward to meet up with Aaron and his friends, Patrick and Kellen, in the studio. I was relieved to eventually find out the space's location was "on Santa Monica" and not "in Santa Monica" (the former of which had me in week-long mental preparations for a long day of LA traffic). We had loosely planned the day's itinerary as follows:
- Studio time
- Low End Theory
- Food and spliff
Quite busy, I'd say. We even managed to achieve all but the meetings, since priorities and studio time come first. Always.
In the studio, the four of us exchanged tunes back and forth for about an hour. After Aaron confessed his love for grime, I knew I was in good company. The overpowering distractions from our mutual fandom prevented him and Patrick from getting any further on the track they started a few moments before I arrived. Instead, Aaron showed us some unreleased stuff he'd been working on over the past few months. One, entitled "THROUGHOUT THE GALAXY", revolved around the concept of a space chord-the sound when all keys on a keyboard are pressed at the same time. Befitting, as it launched me from a sonic tempest into the empty voids of nebulous space.
"I'd really like to collaborate with some grime artists," Aaron interjected, "Guys like Skittles, Chimpo, and Flowdan would be great. Some dubstep dons, as well; Benga and The Bug come to mind. Tom Waits, too." With that, we journeyed outside for another spliff, fearing we might fall behind schedule.
Kellen recommended Chipotle's Shophouse for a pre-show dinner. It was pretty decent, though I fear the restaurant's Pandora station was too loud and eclectic for its own good. After the auditory bombardment and over-pleasant epicurean glances from the kitchen staff, I was ready for one of LA's most low-key and modestly alluring nights-the famed Low End Theory.
Home to some of computer music's certifiable legends, Low End Theory has been a hub for compositional exploration and genuine creativity since its founding in 2003. For Bleep Bloop, it was the perfect place to showcase the progress Aaron has made as a producer over the past few years.
Bleep Bloop's set crushed my expectations. I knew he would throw down hard, but his flow and selection had the entire Airliner rapt with excitement. He traveled from heavy EPROM-style beats to mellow syncopations -truly jaw-unhinging beats. His set was a testament to what Low End is all about: Heavy yet unassuming, calculated yet free-flowing.
Bleep Bloop's set exemplified everything computer music was and is about-past, present, and future. Between influences of electroacoustic and semblances of genres long dismissed, Bleep Bloop's cohesive, but rangy interpretation led me to realize that future music cannot be constrained to one sound or of music. It is, for all intents and purposes, a movement and a perspective.
By the end of the night, Bleep Bloop's stacked setlist paired with performances by Daddy Kev, Gaslamp, and Teklife's DJ Spinn grew my musical repertoire tenfold. The whole night was a celebration of lowkey subcultures doing their thing for the sake of doing their thing can produce. On one hand you have the rich history of computer music. On the other, Bleep Bloop making a name for himself by bringing weight to and pushing the limits of a movement just future enough to make history.
And yes, Prince showed up with five body guards. But only to use the bathroom.