Listening Center

One of my favorite finds over the last year or so has been Listening Center, the solo work of New York’s David Mason. I first picked on LC from the Ghost Box Study Series, and have been keeping an ear open ever since. Mr. Mason is just about to release his second full-length, Cycles/Other Phenomena, on October 1st, and I thought I’d get in touch and get a little more background.

OU: Can you tell me a little about your setup and approach to composing?

LC: The setup has always involved a core of analogue instruments – synths, drum machines – on Example One, there was also bass guitar and various percussion…On the Cycles/Other Phenomena album it was limited to synths, sequencers and rhythm boxes, mostly from the late 1970s, which have tended to push the sound in a particular direction. Some of the pieces on Cycles were recorded directly to cassette; it was mixed using mostly bucket-brigade delays and spring reverb. The approach to making pieces usually consists of improvisations which gradually solidify into a harmonic/melodic structure through reworking. At the moment I try to record entire songs in a single take, with all the instruments working in tandem.

other voices 02

Other Voices 02 – featuring Listening Center, on Ghost Box Records

What are some of your influences/why did you get started making music?

I started out with a spontaneous interest in jazz drumming at an early age – my father had a wide collection of music, and I would always play along to records to practice. Drum set is still my main instrument, and I am greatly influenced by the music of Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, and Ed Blackwell, to name just a few. I studied music at the Cologne Conservatory, and became interested in organ music, and gradually electronic music. In New York, these influences expanded, and eventually I discovered the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which led to a great interest in the music of Broadcast, and artists affiliated with the Ghost Box label. That opened up another world of music, that of the lost, the forgotten, the (re)imagined. I also derive great inspiration from some current artists working in the analogue realm, such as Martial Canterel.

How did you end up getting involved with the Ghost Box guys?

When I was making my first album – Example One, I sent some of the music over to Ghost Box – they have been a great source of inspiration since the inception of Listening Center, and so it was a logical step to make contact.  I felt very honored that they took a shine to “Titoli”.

Is there a underlying theme to the new album, or recurring motifs? any particular inspiration for the album or songs?

The theme of the album relates to Cycles, as they occur in sound, form, nature, and biography, to an imagined perception. I was inspired by the idea of performing everything live, with analogue instruments, so that each piece would be time-stamped, and have a distant, but warm feeling. There are a few minor motifs which occur throughout the album; the first is the main figure in Cycles – a polyrhythmic suspended loop which is varied somewhat in Extension. Another would be the kind of aleatory figures derived from sample and hold circuits which occur in Focus On Movement and Unspecified Tension.

Do you perform live at all, or any plans for shows or tours?

Yes! There have been recent performances in NYC at the Clocktower Gallery, Queens Museum and Cameo, and there is a week-long residency alongside Hessismore planned for mid-November at Nublu.

Be sure to visit Listening Center on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or Bandcamp


Maybe it’s because I haven’t been sleeping, maybe it’s because we just a new baby, maybe music these days is beginning to sound the same to me. Whatever the case may be, I’m looking to re-align the direction of Outersound Underground to put the focus entirely on the musical happenings of a closer circle of musicians I know and respect.

A General Lack of Depth

I’ve learned a lot from music blogging over the past 2 or so years, and have noticed many blogs are thin on details, posting very short articles and generally reporting what everyone else is reporting. I see that from the fact that I receive emails from bands about a new or upcoming release, then a day or so later see the exact same info on about a dozen other sites with little new information than what was in the email or announcement. Basically, most music blogs just re-post press releases with little context or embellishment.

Result: listeners should be forging closer ties to the musicians they like by getting to know them and their story better. Music blogs need to go a little deeper into what’s going on in the music world, rather than just post quick updates about the latest band or release.

Faster Than the Speed of Sound

Music media is evolving faster than musicians and even listeners can handle – in just 10 years we went from CDs to downloading MP3s to streaming. Digital music is transient – streaming is even more transient. I’m more and more wary of streaming, as at any time Spotify can de-list or remove a musician’s work rendering them virtually invisible to a large portion of the listening public. We’ve gone from thousands of terrestrial music outlets (records stores) to only a handful of on-line digital sources: Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, etc.

Result: putting so much music in the hands of very few can’t be good for the future of music. My approach is to buy directly from the musicians (using Bandcamp), with a preference towards vinyl releases.

Fragmented Transience

Because social media is becoming more and more fragmented, musicians (who mainly self-publish their music) have to work harder and harder at reaching an audience – an audience that may listen to their music for a short while then move on. On the one hand, we have Facebook – they actively limit the number of people who see status updates and manipulate your feed based on what they think you should see. Then there’s Twitter, that can be a torrent of information in short bits that never seem to add up to anything. As for Google+, who really knows where that’s going.

Result: social media platforms are fucking with us and are inherently unstable and transient. There needs to be a better way for musicians to interact with their fans and listeners. My preference is going directly to band’s websites, and getting updates from RSS feeds.

Where Am I Going With This?

Email – yes, I’m going mainly back to email. It’s the one and only medium where there is ZERO middleman: I send an email and it goes directly to the recipient (aside for the whole spam filter thing). No social media platform to “throttle” my posts based on how much I pay them to advertise, or keep changing their rules, or de-activating my account for whatever reason. If you have a smartphone, you have email on it – and for better or worse pretty much check it everyday. I’ll be communicating with other bands and musicians this way, as well as site visitors. It will be the cornerstone of my messaging (not FB Messenger app, thank you). Also, I’ll be putting most of my efforts into the Orbitings E-zine, which has been on the sidelines while I’ve been figuring out where this thing is headed. The new one should be out in a few days, along with a new podcast.

I’ll still be posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud and active on Bandcamp – but if you are reading this, please sign up for the E-zine newsletter to catch the real action.

Thanks for reading my random, unfocused and sleep-deprived post.

Mark Dwinell

Hailing from the current analog electronic outfit FORMA, and the now distant band Bright, Mark Dwinell is on the verge of releasing his solo work Golden Ratio on Amsih Records. It captures his work just prior to forming FORMA, and is based on multi-tracked Farfisa sounds. From the description: “Golden Ratio incorporates both static pulsing drones and heavily arpeggiated passages, culminating in melodic lines that epitomize Dwinell’s unique musical vocabulary as developed over the last twenty years.” The vinyl album is now available for pre-order. While you are waiting, here’s “Ascend”:

Listening Center

Also available now for digital pre-order is the debut full-length from New York sonic experimentalist David Mason, aka Listening Center, entitled Cycles/Other Phenomena. A veteran of the Ghost Box Study Series, Mr. Mason takes us on an excursion into “the intersection of natural and synthesized processes”, using exclusively analog electronic instruments. I’m really looking forward to this one!

My Autumn Empire

I’ll close out today’s Orbitings with a visual trip following a young couple as they explore various locations around the city of Birmingham – all to the soundtrack of My Autumn Empire‘s “Andrew”. It makes me really miss England.

Have some Orbitings of your own? Feel free to post in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

A Shoreline Dream

After a bit of a hiatus since they’re last effort, the 3 EPs, A Shoreline Dream are back with a new full-length. The Heart Never Recovered is due out on September 9, and the band have posted a video for the track “Aftershocking”. Witness the magic for yourself:

Other Voices #2

Ghost Box records has announced the second single in their Other Voices series, this one from NY’s Listening Center (who were also featured on the final Study Series release). This thick chunk of 7-inch vinyl is available now for pre-order, to be officially released on September 17. From the description: “David Mason puts his analogue electronics to work on two powerfully melodic pieces. Drawing on the classic library-esque, music for schools and colleges sounds that inspired Ghost Box at its very beginning.” Here’s a sampling:


Original shoegangsta Scott Cortez, aka Astrobrite (also lovesliescrushing, and a few more aliases) is working on some new material and has put up a few sketches on Bandcamp. Check out a demo from the upcoming album DELUXER:

Have some Orbitings of your own? Feel free to post in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Outersound Orbitings podcast july 2014Hey everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve sent one of these out, but there’s been so much going on that I’ve only now found some time to put this podcast together. Lots of great music going on right now, and I’m happy to say that this year has seen a re-emergence of my musical side, and I’ve been busy with a few projects of my own. That being said, I’m still committed to Outersound Underground, and am evolving it so that I can fit it in on a more regular basis – likely be putting out the podcast/e-zine once a month moving forward. This month’s e-zine/newsletter should be out very shortly. Cheers!

Track Listing:

Daydream Machine - Twin IdolsDaydream Machine
“Shoot You Right Down” (0:00) – Taken from the album Twin Idols, released a few months back on Picture In My Ear Records.

My Autumn Empire - The VisitationMy Autumn Empire
“Blue Coat” (5:33) – Latest effort from epic45’s Ben Holton, off the album The Visitation on the Wayside & Woodland label.

Flying Cape Experience split EPFlying Cape Experience
“I Am The Other” (9:25) – Amazing #outersounds via Finland. From the recent “8” Split EP with Joaquim Berato.

Moonbell - AfterlivesMoonbell
“Afterlives” (12:10) – Title cut from SF-area outfit’s latest full-length.

I Am Your Captain - HeartRateI Am Your Captain
“As My Heart Rate Slowly Drops” (16:18) – Solo project from ex-Air Formation bassist Ben Pierce, off the EP of the same name.

“Umbral” (20:43) – Great track from one of my favorite albums on the year. Starts off bright and clean, with a motorik-lockgroove conclusion. Brilliant.

Eat Lights Become Lights - Into ForeverEat Lights Become Lights
“Into Forever (Fuxa remix)” (26:10) -Ending the episode on a sonically expansive note with a remix of the title track from ELBL’s latest Into Forver.

To get more info about the bands and notifications of new podcasts, subscribe to the Orbitings E-Zine email newsletter.

You can also get this podcast on iTunes.