What do you do when you can’t get a virus off your mind? Channel that into a bioscience audio-vision of immunity that reflects that new reality. We talk to Defasten and Kero about their music video for “Lodge.”

We need this sort of fantasy and escape now, I think. But do also check in on the reality in Detroit and the USA – to all our colleagues and friends and family there, we are with you, from Berlin to LA and around the world.

Highways is the kind of EP that might soothe your mood now – it’s a pulsing, electronic, unfamiliar world, but somehow comfortable. It’s music to disinfect to – dry, irregular acid lines, asymmetrical rhythms, but then mellow harmonies set against them. “Chrysler” sounds like a floating Detroit concept car, after hours, a stylish opener punctuated by a wonderful, bizarre bass line. “Southfield” is urgent and groovy; “Fisher” a growling post-apocalyptic IDM deconstructed-electro. “Davison” is delightfully weird reserved glitch. This is Michigan, yes, but through some Tron filter – enter the sadistic game grid.

“Lodge” rounds out the release, and it’s to me the most ambitious – and striking – culmination of Kero’s concept here. Its abstract cycle never quite materializes, a stuttering sound sculpture trying to escape an Enterprise transporter pattern buffer, but with beautiful, murky pad clusters breathing in and out in the background.

That music is evocative even if you close your eyes, but Defasten gives us a bio-science concept visual – unsettling but eerily pretty turquoise and purple 3D imagery. Watch:

Video: www.defasten.com

This is built in Notch, the same 3D software Ted Pallas used in the xR experiments I wrote about yesterday. (Ted reviewed this 3D software for CDM – I’m editing that review now.)

Here’s what Kero and Defasten had to say about their work here.

Peter: Want to say anything about the music, sounds? Love the vibe so – could be either the gear or the feeling you had, or both?

I have always had a love for futuristic GUIs in an ode to classic Miami Vice 80s and futurism / cyberpunk aesthetics. Defasten basically just worked with the aesthetic concepts he knew I already loved, but added a few elements of medical and scientific imagery that we both felt inspired by the worlds current crisis.

Kero’s rig for this release: Eurorack modular (of course, classic Doepfer stuff at top anchoring the setup), Elektron Analog Rytm MKII, Elektron Analog Four MKII, and Teenage Engineering OP-Z, which is nearly camouflaged in gray against its larger fellow Swedish gear.

For both of you – I mean, is there something cathartic and calming about really diving into the science here, understanding what this thing is we’re up against? Or how did you feel about the viral content?

Patrick from Defasten: The Lodge video visibly is a comment on what we’re experiencing right now globally. I found the microsounds of the track to evoke the biology of our bodies, the microscopic world that constitutes our being. It was of interest to interpret this graphically, with the real-time synthetic imagery discreetly reacting to Kero’s sonic pulses.

That said, there is indeed something calming when you’re focusing on crafting an idea, isolated at home. I think a lot of academics and researchers of any field can relate to the isolation required to develop an idea. This is the strange calm required to quell the storm.

CDM: To ask another question, is there a feeling of being on the side of science and technology as an approach, not just sort of giving into 1918 chaos?

Patrick: Let’s hope we don’t give into the 1918 chaos. Looking at the numbers now, we are not experiencing the loss of life at such magnitude. We are grateful that science and technology and general quality of life has increased since the last 100 years. That said, massive loss of life in 2020 is still to be taken very seriously.

But yes – I am on the side of science and technology to combat the pandemic, in addition to the cooperation of everyone to respect the temporary measures in place in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. In 1918, they didn’t have the internet – we now have this luxury to have the latest info – either fake or real – relayed to our phones. In many ways, we’re equipped to handle a pandemic, however it doesn’t mean we should put all our faith in science – in reality, politics has played a huge role in the pandemic’s acceleration, and science only responds as a result.

Can you talk about how this collaboration came together? Obviously there’s tons of visual-sonic collaboration and boundary pushing on DU.

PD: It came out quite spontaneously. I’ve already done more than a few works for Kero’s label since a few years now, I think we understand each other musically/aesthetically and are generally in the same zone with our tastes and interests. So once again – he gave me carte blanche to design what I felt was right. This kind of creative collaboration is what I value most – when there is solid trust in the members involved, and that the constructive dialog between the creatives enhance the process.

What’s next for this project and others? Will we see this bio-future-opera expanded?

PD: I’m interested in exploring the themes explored in the video further, but is it really a ‘’bio-future-opera’’? That is up to the public to decide. Prior to the pandemic – I was already interested in the intersection of biology, technology, the need to improve/augment our bodies, and the innerworld that is within us all. I think, instead of this over-emphasis on AI we’ve seen in the 2010s – the time is ripe for the creative and tech industries to re-examine itself, expand its interests, and push towards a new awareness and understanding of what is already all around us – not only to gain immunity to timeless viruses, but to understand/unlock the secrets of the microscopic world which we rely on to be alive, and of course to respect its boundaries. This of course will not be a smooth journey.

How do you hope people will watch this? I turned out the lights and went VERY full screen in the dark. But with all these streams around, I wonder if you have a vision for how we can have some more, say, quality immersion.

PD: What you did sounds like a good idea. The video is a slow burner and doesn’t require your constant attention – watch it on your phone if you like. There’s a lot of micro detail, so the higher the screen resolution, the better. The original content was made in Notch, so it’s generated in real-time, and it could loop forever, so ideally – a multi-screen installation setup running on real-time data in a large, dimly lit, architectural space. Sound familiar? 🙂 I also see it as a kind of backdrop to a sober, advanced tech ‘’mission briefing’’, in a large auditorium or hangar, with speakers of various expertise explaining to an audience the stakes at hand. Like a TED Talk PowerPoint presentation replaced with a holographic visual data presence.

The latest from the Detroit area, on the front lines

Next up from Detroit Underground is Joe Sousa, who will be out next on audio tape, Infinite Cold Distance. He had these sobering words to share about the current situation in Michigan; he’s a respiratory therapist by day so right out there.

Joe, you stay safe, too – and thanks for the update, especially as we deal with this worldwide. We can’t wait to hear your music.

Covid-19, week 3 southeast Michigan update:

This is going to be an account of my experiences during the boom of this virus, and to the point.

I was the charge therapist staffed during the initial weekend of SARS-CoV-2 infected admissions. Admittedly, a time of extreme uncertainty, with high anxieties felt across every profession in my building. You could feel it as you walked into rooms, as you talked to providers, as you tried to guide those around you with what knowledge you had. I am at a minimum pleased to say that phase has passed.

While my hospital (40 minutes away from epicenters such as Detroit or central Oakland County) is not yet challenged with at-capacity status, we are faced with the highest acute workload we have ever seen as a respiratory department. We have more ventilated patients than I’ve seen in my 8 year tenure. The patient population who requires critical care typically has at least one other health issue, but not all. Age is barely a factor, but most people are between 40 and 80. That being said, there has been individuals who are in their earlier 20s, and let that be a reality check.

Regarding diagnosis and treatment: this is an ever-evolving beast. Too many unknowns, and much is questioned daily, not only based on my personal research but based on conversation with providers across the field. Those with hypertension, diabetes, and ACE inhibitor usage seem to be at highest risk. Conjecture between cytokine storm, vasculopathy, thromboembolism, and more, point to an atypical presentation of ARDS. Some things I’ve read are saying it’s actually not true ARDS at all. Many lung mechanic strategies we implement end up being similar, but there is so much food for thought that I’m kept with a consistently open mind. For the layman: this is a unique virus. Too new (“Novel”), and lots to study. Full disclosure: I am not a physician or an infectious disease specialist for example, but knowing how others think is important as a clinician; to best integrate my respiratory tactic into the care plan. I put this here just as an insight to perspective on how every frontline team member is integrally involved in outcomes.

Regarding PPE: we as an institution early-implemented conservative measures, so we are not yet on the shortage side of the line. I anticipate this happening, though, if the supply chain has not been figured out by now. I also don’t believe in a first world country we should have to worry about “conserving” single-use protective equipment, so that thought is slightly daunting. Key point: I take my time putting on my gear and taking it off, properly, effectively, safely. It goes without saying that we, as the health care workforce, are exponentially more at risk than anyone social distancing or locked in their homes.

Beyond this, I truly feel for my other southeast Michigan hospitals nearing or at capacity. Michigan is currently at the 4th highest case count, and the 3rd highest deaths. And in the spirit of honesty: when they do, the deaths come swiftly. It is taxing to all of us, mentally and emotionally. I’m not a proponent of fear, but please stay home. Please be clean. Keep up your immunity and cardiopulmonary system with proper diet and exercise. Please take my word for it. And probably best to lay off the NSAIDS for a while.

Finally, there has been a token of uplifting measure: to see the level of support from so many friends and family of mine, checking in, giving thanks, it’s just all extremely encouraging. This matters more than you know, and I know my peers feel the same. Thank you to all the restaurants and individuals who donate meals and endless snacks to our ICU units, and while these aren’t alway the healthiest options, it does plenty for morale.

Listen to facts from experts, not headlines in the news. Knowledge is power more than ever, and I hope it quells some stress for some of you, I know it does for me. Stay safe and diligent everyone. This too shall pass.

Kero’s release and videos

Well, we’ll need something while we’re home. So for those of you who can, go get that record, which comes adorned with fantastic urban topography from Berlin’s graphic design shop www.neubauberlin.com, pressed in Detroit at Archer.

And for everybody, we get some eye candy. Dim the lights. Start with the opener:

Another one by Katya Ganya, for “Fisher”:

And Bryant CPU Place [www.cyberpatrolunit.com], for “Southfield”:

Detroit Underground:


And fill the time with more videos here:

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