Marlo Bright and Build Buildings make "Isomers"
Marlo Bright is not a showy kind of musician. Born in Minsk, Belarus, Marlo moved to Milwaukee as a kid, and the music he makes is that of a poignant observer, carefully watching the world and enjoying all the little things most people are to busy to notice.
It makes perfect sense then that he's collaborated with Build Buildings, aka New Yorker Ben Twell, who is very accurately described in this excerpt from a "Wire" review of his latest, "there is a problem with my tape recorder": "He creates music to accompany the slow accumulation of dust in corners, the passage of clouds across windows and the gentle exertions of the coffeemaker working away in the kitchen."
The two are cut from the same subtle force, giving them the patient vision to create music so soft, warm and refreshing that could be the soundtrack to a spring rainfall. Their collective effort, the "Isomers" EP, is a seven-track collection of sonic transformations, three from Marlo's debut, "Polymers and Monomers," and four off Build Buildings' "problem."
The result is calming waves of sound and electronic melodies that play out like whispered secrets. We caught up with Marlo Bright to get the scoop on his new project, which comes out Sept. 1.
OMC: How did this collaboration come to be? And more importantly, how did you know you could trust Build Buildings (or anyone) with transforming your art?
M.B.: "Isomers" EP goes all the way back to the fall of 2006. I emailed Ben because I wanted to recommend him something he should check out and he responded with an offer of having a remix project. Of course, I agreed, and that was the start of "Isomers." At first though, the plan was to only remix two songs and then release the songs as separate mp3s but we both knew that we could take this project much further, so we expanded it into an EP.
Ben and I share a lot of the same viewpoints on music. We sometimes use similar techniques and we appreciate each others' music. I knew I could trust him to take what I had created and give it a new interpretation without making it discomforting or unusual.
OMC: In the end, were you ultimately impressed by the new shape your tracks took?
M.B.: I was really surprised by the new form of my songs. All of the remixes have a new feel to them. My original songs didn't have too many different instruments that Ben could work with, so it was very inspiring that he managed to create something new with the limited audio palette that he had.
OMC: Has it all influenced the way you plan to write future music?
M.B.: It really has. When I was working on "Isomers," I couldn't choose from an endless supply of my personal samples. So now, I've become very efficient in my current production code because I've stopped being so picky. I'm also not afraid to completely scrap an entire song. I don't know how many versions of "Test Me" I made before I was happy with the final result. I maybe did six different versions and they were all so different.
OMC: What is it about the quiet, nearly-missed sounds capes of the city that are so special and intriguing to you?
M.B.: Ever since I was young I've had a fascination with large metropolitan areas. I was born in a very large city, so maybe that has something to do with it. What I like about Milwaukee, though, is that it's more quiet compared to any other large cities, but it's loud enough to not be as sonically isolated. That feeling of activity is really exciting.
OMC: How do you find the music scene here? Do you ever collaborate with anyone locally?
M.B.: The Milwaukee music scene is really diverse and anyone can find something to enjoy. From rock to jazz, there is a lot of music going on here. I used to hate radio, but after finding about WMSE, I've become an avid listener of local music.
"Isomers" EP was the first collaborative work I had ever done, although the songs were created on separate hard disks on computers in rooms miles and miles away from each other. Recently though, I've begun working on a collaborative song with a Milwaukee artist. I do hope to work with other musicians in the area in the future and musicians from all over the world as well.
OMC: What's your experience in hip hop beats? Is that the kind of music you used to write?
M.B.: My experience in hip hop music was short lived. It was more of a fling I had at a very young age (13). I had the chance to learn the core of music production and that helped me start my electronic music endeavor. When I dwelled in hip hop music, I started making beats by stripping the vocals off of commercial hip hop music because I never cared for rapping. Shortly after those experiments, I downloaded a music program and I began making strictly percussive beats. Though I haven't listened to hip hop music in ages, whenever I start making percussion in electronic music, I usually start out with a basic beat that I could have made at age 13, and I evolve that beat into a more complex and completely different concoction.
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