Hi Todd! Glad to talk to you today. How are you doing?
TT: I am well, thanks. Working on the next record at the moment.
For people who might not be familiar with your work, please tell us a bit about yourself and the origins of Tapes and Topographies?
TT: I first began releasing ambient music as Tear Ceremony many years ago. I then detoured into downtempo for a while with Sonogram then in 2014 I returned to ambient with Tapes and Topographies. A Pulse of Durations is the 8th Tapes and Topographies release.
You also run a label Simulacre Records, could you tell us a little about how that came to be? What other labels have you worked with and how did you come to work with PITP?
TT: After releasing the first Tear Ceremony record on Germany’s Machinery Records, I started Simulacra primarily to release my own work and that of a few close friends. This was manageable when I was doing one release per year but lately I’ve been doing 3 or 4 releases per year which left little time for label duties. I decided it would be better to seek the help of a label. PITP was familiar with my work and they had an impressive roster so I reached out to
see if they would be interested in doing the new record.
The new album is wonderful, congratulations! What is this album about and what does it mean to you?
TT: Most of my work explores similar themes of dreams, memory, time, loss. I suppose It’s an attempt to document the human condition or at times just to comfort myself.
In the description that accompanies the album you said that the album was influenced by the films of Tarkovsky and Resnais, please tell us more about this!
TT: I’ve always been influenced by the likes of Bergman and Cocteau. For this record, I absorbed other cinematic influences particularly Resnais’ Hiroshima, Mon Amour, Tarkovsky’s Solaris, Louis Malle’s The Lovers and Antonioni’s La Notte. In these films, time seems suspended as in a dream and there is such poetry in the journey of the protagonist. An underlying despair which is unresolvable. I try to capture some of those feelings in miniature in my music.
The title ‘A Pulse of Durations’ is taken from Scott Walker’s song ‘Angel of Ashes’. Scott Walker was truly a one of a kind artist and his passing last year was a great loss. Did he have a big impact on your musical journey and this release in particular? What other artists have had a big influence on your work?
TT: I don’t know that his sound had an influence on mine but I find his trajectory inspiring.
He was always pushing the envelope. Many found his last couple of records impenetrable. Even I sometimes secretly hoped he would return to his majestic croon before he left us.
I first discovered him many years ago, long before the 4AD resurgence and even then there was so much of interest in his catalog to explore. He was certainly ahead of his time. I was astonished he had escaped my gaze for so many years. But his records were extremely difficult to find in the US at that time.
The music on this album is ethereal, dreamy, powerful and (at times) dark. What was your approach and process in writing, composing, and recording this record?
TT: I normally focus on a limited palette for each release and then try to remove something and add something new for the next one to keep it interesting. This might be adding new gear or changing the workflow, usually a bit of both. Once I have a couple of tracks, the rest tend to come quickly. Sometimes there’s a vague theme guiding it all for inspiration, but usually nothing too explicit or restrictive.
What gear did you use on this album? And what is your thought process in regards to gear selection in general?
TT: I recently started using a hardware looper more often than software along with more effects pedals over plugins. I find these tactile differences lead to more spontaneity. The new record is primarily sample-based, I don’t think there any actual synths on this one. There are a few heavily processed guitars. The Avalanche Run and Electro-Harmonix Super Ego Plus are good for smearing the attack away so you end up with more of a soundscape. I am using the Electro-Harmonix 95000 looper which is more than I need but it’s very intuitive with few menus and little scrolling required.
I’ve recently become more adventurous with trying different gear and if it doesn’t work for me just getting rid of it and trying something else. On the next record I’m working on now, I am using a couple of analog synths (Model D and Minilogue) and experimenting more with microloops. I prefer to accidentally stumble on inspiring sounds than to spend too much time programming. I have not yet ventured into modular synths.
What is your favorite track on the album and why?
TT: It changes often but perhaps the title track, it best encapsulates the feel of the record as a whole.
Thank you for talking with us today. Any last words you want to share with people out there?
TT: Thanks to everyone for listening.
'A Pulse of Durations'
by Tapes and Topographies
LP // Digital
'With "A Pulse of Durations" I found myself attempting to strip things down to find the beauty of each core idea instead of hoping to find it through further embellishment.
During this period, the films of Tarkovsky and Resnais were influential for their atmosphere and dreamlike qualities. The title is taken from Scott Walker's "Angels of Ashes". I've always found it to be a lovely and undefinable phrase.' -TG
Written, Recorded & Mixed by Todd Gautreau
Mastered at SDS Studio (WA) by Drew Sullivan
Photography by Isaac Helsen
Artwork, design & assemblage by zakè
© Past Inside the Present
This is PITP-V024 | MMXX