Chronology Qasim Naqvi
“Evok[ing] exploration in fits of caution and excitement” (Q2 Music), Chronology is the electronic album from Brooklyn-based drummer, composer, and member of the group Dawn of Midi, Qasim Naqvi.
Chronology was made in partnership with Naqvi, painter Pippo Lionni and the P! Gallery in New York City. The collaboration chronicled a sharing of ideas between both artists as an asynchronous call-and-response where painting, music, and graphic notation blended through common and conflictual gestures. Naqvi's reaction to Pippo's work was an electronic composition, produced on the Moog Model D analog synthesizer, as well as a series of corresponding transcriptions. Part score and part art object, these transcriptions use a graphic notational system of Naqvi's own design, logging the settings of the synthesizer and also representing pitch, dynamics and duration over a period of time. A transcription of the first piece on the album, "Kindly Static", and an annotation of all the graphics are included below. "'Chronology' inhabits the cheerfully poignant space of a technological cutting edge worn soft. What once seemed exotic, alien, and cold is revealed as human, curious, and vulnerable. Call it machine learning" (Boston Globe).
Naqvi on the project:
"I was keen on somehow mirroring Pippo's process through sound. His paintings are made with a spare set of elements. With layers of transparency, interference, and graphic form, he is able to achieve a set of permutations with the basic ingredients of black acrylic enamel and a canvas. I was struck by his restraint and use of one color source, and the kind of visual distortion achieved through a process of slow layering. So for the music, I reacted by using an analog device instead of a computer.
When we think of a computer, we think of limitless options and an abundance of memory for recalling ideas. The Moog holds a reverse approach. It's a tactile piece of machinery with discrete circuits, 3 voltage-controlled oscillators and knobs for controlling the contour of the oscillator. It's monophonic, so chords or polyphonic playing is out of the question. The absence of this function required a layering of ideas in stages. Also, there's no way of saving anything or recalling presets. Once you make a sound, that's it. It exists in that moment unless you chronicle the settings by writing them down. It's kind of like making a gesture with a brush. Once it strikes the canvas, you can either freeze it in time or erase it forever."
When Naqvi first encountered this particular Moog, it was not without its idiosyncrasies.
"On the level of functionality, the machine was kind of janky. It produced a low level din of white electrical noise and some of the knobs were erratic. It was like bringing some ancient thing back from the dead and having it adapt. But with sound that always leads to interesting results."
Naqvi used these anomalies to his advantage and the overall piece has a unique sonic signature that would perhaps be impossible to recreate on another Model D. The result is an instantly compelling and rare work that shapes and shifts anew with every listen.
All music on the album was produced by Naqvi on the Moog Model D Analog Synthesizer and Berna Tape Playback. The album was mastered by Sam Minaie. The album cover is by Emilie Baltz.
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