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Sequential Artist Spotlight: Analog Tara

Dr. Tara Rodgers (Analog Tara) is a multi-instrumentalist composer and historian of electronic music. She is the author of Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound (2010) and several essays on the history of sound and synthesizers. Her music includes recent techno EPs on 1432 R (DC), several self-released albums, remixes for Beauty Pill and Le Tigre, and a compilation release on Move D’s Source Records. She has presented music and public lectures at MUTEK, Ableton Loop, and many other forums.

We chatted with Analog Tara about how she uses Sequential instruments in her music:

What made you choose Sequential?

I work with a few instruments now in the DSI/Sequential family. My first was a DSI Mopho desktop, which I picked up around 2010 not long after it came out. At that time I was drawn to its size and power. I was putting together a compact analog techno setup for live performance and used an Akai MPC500 to sequence the Mopho and an MFB-522 drum machine. For minimal techno, electro, and acid house it was a big-sounding, fun, and very portable all-hardware combination.

In 2013, I bought a used Oberheim Matrix-1000. I was looking for an affordable way into the Oberheim sound world of Prince’s music and other synth music of that era, and this was it. These vintage synths have actually doubled or tripled in price since then, so I’m glad I acted when I did!

Both of these instruments became central to my studio – irreplaceable, really. And so when I learned about the Sequential OB-6 combining Dave Smith’s and Tom Oberheim’s design expertise, of course I was curious to work with it and in recent months have loved exploring what the OB-6 desktop can do.

How are you using it?

I produce a range of techno, ambient, and experimental music. For the beat-driven music, the Mopho and Matrix-1000 have held down most of the bass, lead and pad duties, respectively, for some years now. I’ve also used the Matrix-1000 extensively, sometimes exclusively, in ambient compositions. The OB-6 is a great addition because it has the vintage sounds and filters that I already love, but also the polyphony and the knob-per-function editability.

My typical process in the studio is to work up ideas with hardware first, sketching out ideas using the MPC500 to sequence synths and drum machines. I then track those loops into my laptop. The tracking stage can be labor intensive as I’ll often make certain creative choices in terms of sculpting the sound, or maybe doing some live filtering that becomes part of the recorded sound. Following that I’ll do extensive arranging and production inside Ableton Live in a way that elevates those analog sounds so that they shine and evolve even more.

What are some of your favorite things about them?

Mopho is spectacular as a bass unit. It remains my go-to for square or sawtooth bass. I don’t use many presets or have a need to create many – all I need is access to those pure wave shapes, maybe some sub boost, and the Curtis filter of course. Mopho bass really cuts through a mix without much EQ or processing and scales up well to a club sound system too. I’ve had people come up to me at shows and ask what’s kicking out that massive bass and it often comes a surprise when I point to this 5×7″ yellow box.

Read more on Sequential.com.

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Soso Tharpa: Upcycled Sonics

Soso Tharpa’s ingenuity spills out of his tracks – they bristle with energy and land with such a punch you imagine banks of sought-after synthesizers and premium signal chains, meters tickling the reds but smoothed out by a high-end console. But the Washington DC-based producer doesn’t believe that more tools bring about better music. Since he began his music production journey almost by accident after purchasing a MIDI keyboard and discovering the bundled copy of Live, he’s focused on pursuing sound through the immediate means at his disposal and avoided the creative cul-de-sac of over-abundance. 

“I didn’t have the hardest of upbringings but I had to do with what I had many times in my life,” explains Tharpa, real name Michael Aniekwe, as we chat on a video call, “and I feel like you hear that with my music. I’ll use the same sample in three different tracks, but people will never know just because of the way I processed it.” 

Aniekwe could be considered early in his career due to his concise discography, but behind the veil of publicly available music are many years spent developing his sound. Since arriving at a point where he was ready to release something out into the world, he’s chosen to keep focused on why he wanted to make music and not subscribe to the demands of the modern age, where productivity and visibility are supposed to equal success. His music has reached respected labels and DJs without the industry-approved pathways of PR and networking, serving as a heartening reminder that genuine talent shines through no matter what.

Read more on Ableton.com.

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Truancy Volume 312: Sami

Dualities can lead to life’s more fascinating moments, and in music, generate some of its most spirited sounds. Seamlessly tapping into this quality, the DJ, producer, and award-winning journalist, Sami, consistently explores the contrasts that exist within this world, channeling joy, sadness, pain, and brightness through his work as he fills seemingly disparate roles as a musical artist and Executive Producer at NPR. A deep love of house music and appreciation of its roots bleeds into all aspects of his artistry, showcased in his blissful and evocative productions across releases for labels such as 1432 R and Future Times, and within his skillful, infectious DJ sets.

Over the 20 years he’s lived in Washington, DC, Sami’s constant involvement with the DC dance community has built unshakeable connections, and his desire to see his musical peers shine and their artistry celebrated can’t be overstated. This passion for his community has also led Sami to a number of inspired collaborations and co-productions, including writing credits on the latest dreamcastmoe record, Sound Is Like Water, plus recent live sets and a new track with rapper Sir E.U, which was recently featured in livwutang’s Impact mix. Sami’s latest EP, Elevate, released July 2023 on beloved DC label 1432 R, explores a wide range of perspectives on house music as each track imagines a unique sonic landscape. Immersive, sensual, and featuring the sun-kissed sound of Sami’s flute playing, Elevate embodies summer bliss with its whimsical touches and melodic embrace.

Read more on Truants.

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Soso Tharpa – Evolution EP – Boomkat Product Review

Evolution EP Cover Art

Deep but tuff, offbeat house and rolling techno mutations from 1432 R’s secret weapon, Soso Tharpa, fresh from his ace slot on BenUFO’s Rinse FM show.

Marking the Washington D.C. label’s first move since 2020, the ‘Evolution’ EP balances classic and contemporary modes in aN expressive suite of club styles rooted in African rhythms. As with Tharpa’s tracks on Future Times’ ‘FIGS’ comp and Bon Appetit’s ‘A Slice of The Pie’ set, it’s all strong tackle for DJs and dancers, summoning a lather of stuttering Jersey kicks and hypnotic vocal motifs in ‘Action’, before hewing to a ruggedly electroid jakbeat template in the title tune, and spacing out with swirling drums and lush, meditative tension of ‘Hajj’ like some A Guy Called Gerald groover, and giving it up for classic NYC technohouse in the beautifully buoyant flex of ‘Ruminating on Blue’.

Read more on Boomkat.

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RA.754 Ethiopian Records

A rousing and humbling anti-war mix from Ethiopia’s electronic music hero.

Endeguena Mulu subtitled his RA Podcast “war is a racket.” Just days before he was due to send his submission in, he scrapped and remade the mix in the wake of what looks like a a burgeoning civil war in his home country of Ethiopia. Following an attack on a camp housing federal Ethiopian military troops in northern Tigray state attributed to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front—the political party and militia that ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist until 2018—the government sent troops to the semi-autonomous region and announced a six-month state of emergency. There are reports of mass killings blamed on the TPLF, while the state has been cut off from telecommunications as people have started to flee across the border amid fears of a new war. Mulu has been a vocal critic of both sides of the conflict, authoring several posts decrying the conflict as well as Ethiopia’s allies who have historically ignored the TPLF’s long and well-documented history of repression, human rights abuses and atrocities. So his new mix comes with a theme and a purpose. It’s defiant, mournful and filled with hope all at once: alongside the Ethiopiyawi electronic that Mulu has helped pioneer, there’s Digital Mystikz’ classic dubstep anthem “Anti-War Dub,” UK funky fusion from KG and rousing speeches from figures and leaders around Africa. It was made in Ableton on-the-fly like one of his live sets, incorporating samples along the way into a set that feels more emotional than functional, leading you from one heavy—and sometimes uplifting—feeling to the next. The specific circumstances of this mix shouldn’t take away from Mulu’s long and impressive record. He’s the originator of Ethiopiyawi electronic music, a hybridized strain of electronic music that doesn’t have a particular sound so much as it has a mission: to create new music from the incredibly rich and varied traditions of Ethiopia, from instruments whose histories go back thousands of years to the heritage of 20th-century Ethiopian jazz. It doesn’t even have to be electronic, necessarily, and Mulu’s output as Ethiopian Records—for labels like 1432 R and Warp’s Arcola offshoot—have been restless and inspiring. He’s not just the driving force for electronic music in Ethiopia, but an important and unique artist in a wider global, context too.

Read more on Resident Advisor.

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Lose Yourself In Ethiopian Records’ New East African Mixtape

Addis Ababa-based electronic beatmaker Endeguena Mulu releases a stockpile of new music.

Ethiopian Records—the alias of Addis Ababa-based experimental musician Endeguena Mulu(a.k.a E.R.)—delivers all-new music.

E.R. is the visionary behind the ‘Ethiopiyawi’ genre coming out of East Africa. And as the instrumentalist has done previously, Mulu penned a statement to accompany his sonic odyssey— in it, he admits the night scene where he’s built his persona isn’t his true comfort zone, and urges listeners of his playlist to avoid “enclav[ing] yourselves in one culture, one perspective, expectations, stereotypes and labels — whatever your culture and perspective might be.”

Mashing up Ethiopian folk, jazz elements, obscure vocal samples and electronica, E.R. says he meditated on the “chains one puts on oneself in order to fulfill expectations” while producing the mix.

The Boiler Room release is the genre-bending beatmaker’s way of expressing his gratitude to his listeners who grant him creative levity within the club scene. “To all those that have let me and other performers play, share, produce and release — thank you for trusting my/our spirit(s).”

Read more on OkayAfrica.

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10 house and techno producers to watch in 2016

As one of the co-founders of Washington D.C.’s 1432 R label, Dawit Eklund has done a lot to bring the music of the Ethiopian electronic community to wider attention. He’s also a mean producer himself, as his recent debut 12” for the label proves. Combining the breezy grooves of Theo Parrish with the woozy, sun-drenched synths you’d expect from the Future Times crew, Eklund’s music is a breath of fresh air for those looking for a bit more colour in their house. After collaborations with Max D’s Dolo Percussion and Lifted projects in 2015, Eklund looks to be the thriving D.C. house scene’s next big thing.

Read more on Fact.