Michael Terren: Thru Cassette

'Thru' is a three-part album exploring Terren’s interest in digital music processes, specifically the tacit condition of the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) in contemporary music. DAWs are vital and necessary mediators of virtually all recorded music, yet their status as such is barely questioned. Thru was initially conceived as a conduit through which to interrogate what constitutes DAW practice, or what impact the DAW has had on music and its composition.

'Thru' is not, however, a dry experiment in digital methods – it seeks to probe the subtle auditory cues that emerge from creating and combining sounds ‘in the box’. The results are sharp, clear, and powerful. Split into the trilogy of ‘Thru’/‘FWD’/‘In2’ (commissioned by the Sydney-based radio show Ears Have Ears), the glossy diptych of ‘Vacillate’/‘Vessel’, and the stunning closer, ‘Siliceous’ (which Terren calls “a kind of speculation on the interior lives of rocks and mountains”), these six pieces take divergent paths through the open field of computer-based composition, sometimes restrained and subtle, sometimes brash or overwhelming, always intriguing.

At a time when the benefits of restrictive/authentic/immediate analogue tools are constantly extolled, Thru asks us to consider the role of the DAW in music today – what avenues are still unexplored? What kind of communication is encouraged, or even possible, within this environment? What kinds of logic are preferred there? Thru tests the limits of its origins in a way that feels both new and timely.

Michael Terren is an electronic musician active in Perth, Australia. His work arises from an experimental studio-based practice, and encompasses a technical vocabulary of “in the box” synthesis, manipulation, and sequencing. Terren is motivated by an idea of music as a symbolic microcosm of activity in the world, articulating its material and discursive structures. Fidelity, intentionality, surface, and compositional/productional labour are strong thematics in his music, grounded in the rituals of acousmatic listening. Terren maintains a research practice that brings these ideas into orbit with studies of the technological and mediatic environment that pervades contemporary life and work, towards recounting the cultural origins and practices of digital sound media.

Terren has released recorded work on Flaming Pines and Twice Removed. He has been artist-in-residence at Listhu´s i´ Fjallabyggð in Iceland, Bogong Centre for Sound Culture in Victoria, and attended Mills College as a Schenberg Fellow. He also teaches at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where he is a PhD candidate.

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