December 7, 2007

Bruno Pronsato – At Home I’m a Tourist

It started as a curiosity ā€“ something you might or might not hear if you squinted your ears just right at the speakers. Steven Ford (aka Bruno Pronsato) once played drums for a punk-rock/speed-metal band. Against the steady rate of singles for minimal labels like Orac, Philpot and Telegraph, that fact might have stayed a footnote in the producer’s biography. But Bruno’s latest work for Hello?Repeat has seen the musician ebb back wholeheartedly into the groove. His debut for Hello?Repeat, “Wade in the Water, Children,” was a track blown apart and left to see how sparse minimal techno could go, held together by the barest drawl of a bassline. And there’s little hyperbole to that description ā€“ try dancing to it.

With “At Home Iā€™m a Tourist,” the first single from Bruno Pronsato’s upcoming album Why Can’t We Be Like Us, he takes the opposite approach: the drums are front & center, percussion is cascading from every corner, and there’s a drone not too far from the one you hear out of movie-theater speakers over-cranked during a horror film. There are handclaps too, but they’re all gauzed and disoriented, and as far away from the DFA snap as you could get.

It’d be tempting to describe the track as funky or loose – and neither adjective would be technically wrong – but they’d still be entirely wrong in spirit. Instead, “At Home I’m a Tourist” is full of blemishes – little creases, tics and wear in a genre that is all too willing to erase traces of humanity. It might be littered with the abject sigh of reversed strings but what’s actually eerie is how easy it nuzzles into your head without a proper melody in sight.

Hello? Repeat / HELLO 009LTD
[Listen]
[Nate DeYoung]

A brief interview with Steven Ford about “At Home I’m a Tourist” follows.

Beatz: With your first album Silver Cities, you talked about being inspired by atonal composers – something that you can hear it in the prickly textures of that album. If the swing of the drums of “At Home I’m a Tourist” is any indication, it sounds like you’ve shifted your focus quite a bit with the new album. What’s changed?

Steven: Not at all, I am just a little more focused on percussion at the moment. Being a drummer, and not a composer :), I feel a little more at home focusing my attention in a direction that I feel I have a stronger grasp on. There is perhaps a tad less “atonal” feel to this album, but I still feel like I added a hint here and there.

Beatz: It sounds like a lot of the drumming is done on the fly – what type of set-up do you work in? Should we expect a live show/tour to accompany the album release?

Steven: Most of the drumming is done on the fly. I have some old recordings of myself playing real drums. But the majority was done with the BFD plug-in. A really amazing drum sampling program. I’m using Logic to sequence everything. Still harvesting the ugliness from Max/Msp.

Beatz: Does your tongue-in-cheek play off of Gang of Four’s “At Home He’s a Tourist” have anything to do with your move from Seattle to Berlin? If so, how’s that treated you and your work?

Steven: It has more to do with my recent tour in the US. You could safely say that the title pretty much represents my exact emotion being in the US after Berlin for a year or so.

Moving somewhere and totally changing my work environment has had its effect. Mainly because I was using Sammy Dee’s studio for 90 percent of my mix downs on the album. Creatively speaking I was already in a certain groove before I left the US. It was more of a new environment thing that I had to adjust to.


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