Fact 2021: Patch Notes

We select some of the most memorable Patch Notes sessions from the year gone by.

Last year, when we launched our Patch Notes series, the world was largely locked down, with artists confined indoors to their homes and studios. As we turned the spotlight on artists from around the world whose practice involves hardware synths, modular setups and samplers, the series offered an intimate look at their creative process behind closed doors.

In 2021, as the world began to open up, we were able to capture these artists in a wider variety of unique locations, from the quarries of Italy’s northern lake region to the rooftops of São Paulo. Other locations included Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works and a plant shop in Seoul – all showcasing some of the world’s most innovative electronic performers outside of their own four walls.

With the threat of new variants looming, this year’s Patch Notes programme offers a reminder that live performance is as important an outlet for creativity than ever. Below are some of our favourite performances from across the year, from extended modular sessions to hardware techno and sampler-based wizardry.

To watch all episodes of Patch Notes from 2020, check the series archive.

Nkisi

In July 2021, Fact travelled to Italy’s Nextones Festival, where NON Worldwide co-founder Nkisi was performing alongside Caterina Barbieri as part of her new light-years platform. While we were at the festival, Nkisi performed an exclusive Patch Notes performance for Fact, set amongst the rocks of the Roncino quarry in the Ossola Valley that is home to Nextones.

Nkisi’s setup was one of the most unique we’ve seen on Patch Notes, with a strange electronic wind instrument providing eerie textures. “[I performed with] a couple of drum machines and FX pedals (this time I took my Korg Tribes out), a CDJ connected through a Tera Echo FX pedal, my Siren noise machine, and my favourite gear of the moment, the SOMA pipe, Nkisi says. I got into their gear through a friend showing me Ether, their electromagnetic recorder.”

Tantão e Os Fita

Tantão e Os Fita are an electronic trio from Rio de Janeiro, comprised of visual artist, vocalist and composer Carlos Antônio Mattos aka Tantão, and producers Abel Duarte and Cainã Bomilcar. The trio’s music, a collision of fractured, noisy beats and half-spoken, half-screamed vocals, are imbued with a raw punk energy, an influence carried over from Tantão’s role in legendary ’80s post-punk band, Black Future.

In this episode of Patch Notes, Fact filmed the trio performing at a warehouse space that forms part of a traditional samba school in the Brazilian city called Pimpolhos da Grande Rio. The props scattered around Duarte and Bomilcar’s table of samplers and turntables are a poignant reminder that in a normal year, this weekend would see the Rio Carnival lighting up the city’s streets.

Qasim Naqvi

Pakistani-American musician Qasim Naqvi is perhaps best known as a founding member of acoustic trio Dawn of Midi, in which he has played drums since 2007. Naqvi’s recent solo releases, such as 2019’s Teenages and 2020’s Beta, have made extensive use of synthesizers and modular systems, and in this episode of Patch Notes, we invited Naqvi to perform at Pioneer Works, a non-profit cultural center in Redhook, Brooklyn.

“The building dates back to 1866 and was originally a railroad track factory,” Naqvi says. “Now it’s a massive performing arts space. With my equipment, I was merging two systems that I’ve been configuring for a couple of years, a Verbos System and a Serge System. I also used a few random modules to connect everything: a Quad VCA from Intellijel and an X-Pan stereo module from Make Noise as the final output.”

Mabe Fratti

Mabe Fratti is a Guatemala-born experimental cellist and composer, now based in Mexico City. Her music makes use of cello, voice and synthesisers, drawing on the influence of classical forms such as Gregorian chants and Sephardi music and combining them with modern genres like shoegaze and dream pop to create expansive, emotive compositions.

In this Patch Notes performance, Fratti performs inside Mexico City’s Museo Anahuacalli (part of the city’s Fideicomiso de los Museos Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo), a 20th century building designed by Mexican painter Diego Rivera to house his collection of over 41,000 pre-Hispanic artworks. It was planned as a ‘City for the Arts’ that would encompass painting, dance, music, theatre, crafts and ecology. The building’s architecture draws on the influence of Teotihuacan and Maya cultures, and was opened in the 1960s after Rivera’s death in 1957.

Fronte Violeta

Fronte Violeta are Anelena Toku and Carla Boregas, a duo based in São Paulo who investigate the behaviour of sound in different environments via performance, audiovisual pieces, theatrical practices and collaborations with other artists. Their duo draw on the influence of the natural world, crafting ambient soundscapes and experimental beat-driven tracks.

In this episode of Patch Notes, Fronte Violeta perform a special improvised session with synths, samplers and effects amongst the metropolis of downtown São Paulo, filmed on a building where experimental music and performance venue Leviatã is located.

Seoul Community Radio Presents: Salamanda

For Salamanda’s contribution to the Seoul Community Radio Residency, the duo decamped to Unlooked For Blessing, a plant shop and café owned by local DJ Jjongho, to gently guide us through a gauzy jam using a variety of synths, sequencers, pedals and software. Using Ableton Live to control looping in real time, the duo used an Akai APC 40 Mk2 alongside a TC Helicon Vocal Box Duplicate, as well as a Korg Minilogue connected to the Boss Reverb pedal for sequencing and controlling delay time, feedback, resonance and envelope generation.

Unlooked For Blessing is just one of a network of spaces that comprise the wider universe of Seoul Community Radio, an interconnected and interdependent cluster of venues, cafés, restaurants, and galleries that provide the bricks and mortar support a scene like this needs. “The electronic music scene in Seoul is small but big, harmonized while being diverse, and has order within disorder,” explains the duo. “Due to the COVID-19 and the pre-existing vulnerabilities of the arts and culture sector, our favorite local venues have temporarily or permanently closed. Accordingly, we’ve been doing more online-based activities and recording mixes for radio broadcasts to reach out to listeners. While doing so, we tried (and are still trying) to find what would be the most interesting way for the audiences who are now watching and listening to us at home.”

Chang Rodrigues

Chang Rodrigues is a Brazilian artist based in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais. For the past decade, she has produced house and techno as Amanda Chang, but under her current alias uses modular and semi-modular synthesisers with skills learned at the La Siesta del Fauno studio from synthesist Ernesto Romeo in Buenos Aires.

Her recent foray into hardware has gravitated towards ambient and experimental sounds – inspired in part by her spiritual outlook, love of yoga and close connection to the natural surroundings of her home country. However, Chang Rodrigues still has a love of techno, and its this side that she explores in her Patch Notes set, as she performs a high-octane hardware session using gear from Arturia, Moog and Elektron.

Luiza Schulz Vazquez

Luiza Schulz Vazquez is a musician and sound artist from Rio de Janeiro, who creates intricate electroacoustic compositions, typically with a Rhodes piano. Her compositions have scored film, dance, theatre and installations across Europe and South America, in venues such as the Sculpture Museum in São Paulo and Warsaw’s Grand Theatre.

In this session, we filmed Schulz Vazquez in performance at Rio’s Parque Lage, a former mansion turned art school and public park sitting underneath the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. The building has previously been used as a location for music videos featuring Snoop Dogg and the Black Eyed Peas, and required Fact to carry her 65kg Rhodes through the Atlantic Forest, 200m above sea level.

Watch next: Fact 2021: Audiovisual

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