The first-ever DJ set from a key Detroit live act.
There's a creepy, latex-gloved hand on the cover of Ectomorph's debut album, Stalker. In a recent interview, Ectomorph founder Brendan M. Gillen (BMG) discusses the hand motif, which has popped up in the artwork for his label, Interdimensional Transmissions, since its inception in 1995. He describes it as representating of "the left hand path of Detroit techno" the label and Ectomorph have taken.
Originally conceived as an electro project with Gillen and Drexicya's Gerald Donald, Ectomorph has constantly evolved over the last 25 years. Detroit ghettotech staple DJ Godfather was in the band around the turn of the century; in more recent years, the duo has consisted of Gillen and longtime Interdimensional Transmissions associate Erika Sherman, best known simply as Erika. Over the past decade, Ectomorph and IT have experienced a rebirth by returning to their source. Their No Way Back parties are a clear highlight of Detroit's Movement weekend afterparty scene, and Ectomorph's modular-focussed live sets embody the raw fundamentals of Midwest rave traditions. RA.652 is Ectomorph's first DJ set. Along with Stalker, it presents a clear vision of the duo's vision, engulfing electro's syncopated blueprint with outer-space ambient and wormhole techno.
What have you been up to recently?
We just got back from doing a No Way Back in Brooklyn with The Bunker on Saturday, always a special feeling and a kind of techno family reunion. Traveling with all the parachutes and transformation material is interesting, Amber's collection has really grown. Then we went to Chicago to do a live Interdimensional Transmissions radio show at smartbar as part of a RBMA festival, with Robert Williams (the guy who brought Frankie Knuckles to Chicago for the Warehouse and later opened the Muzic Box with Ron Hardy), Ron Trent, and John "Jammin" Collins to make the Detroit-Chicago connection more clear, which just happened Monday night.
When and where did you record the mix?
Recorded November 14th, 2018 in the Interdimensional Laboratories, Detroit. The Ectomorph studio space.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
The concept behind this mix was to blend both BMG's and Erika's DJ styles, as Ectomorph DJing had never existed before. We thought it should encompass as many sides of our thoughts, inspirations, and interests as we could get in there. We felt it should have a slow build first through formless music and then the seductive approach of a slow burn, building from 110 BPM very incrementally over time until it reached full power, starting slow and hypnotic and building to full release. We used a Model 1 to achieve that goal, allowing the songs to disintegrate and melt into each other, using two CDJ-2000 NXS2s accompanied by a Moog 500 Series Delay and a Strymon Big Sky for echo and reverb effects.
As Interdimensional Transmissions and No Way Back continue to build a reputation internationally, how does the increased attention affect your day-to-day artistic practice in Detroit? Do the projects still feel underground?
It is music from the underground for the underground, and in Detroit this is all still very obscure. Our ideals don't change as we grow, we just get to share these ideas with more people. We are very glad that the word is spreading and to have so much more interest around the world, but it is really growing organically, it all feels very natural, even if we are four times busier than we were in previous years. There is a greater responsibility to our community as our profile rises, and we take that seriously but still come from a place of wanting to have fun and to blow our friends' minds.
Ectomorph just released its debut album, Stalker, 23 years after the project's first release. How does the current iteration of Ectomorph relate to its past and its future?
Something to do with the latex hand on the cover. This is Ectomorph 23 years on, with all that personal growth and life experience and years of performing onstage to help us create new music. Music should constantly evolve and reflect where you are at currently. Since we have reformed, the equipment is all from the century, and the process and ideas are evolving. It feels very modern to us. For BMG it's all been about using the modular for exploration of deeply psychedelic ideas from within West Coast synthesis concepts, for Erika it’s all about using the Genoqs Octopus sequencer as a medium to speak through. We're already working on the next iteration and progression of Ectomorph with specific machines and ideas that will allow us to develop more new music in new ways.
What are you up to next?
We are reissuing the very first Ectomorph EP the last week of November alongside two new records on our techno imprint Eye Teeth from Pascal Hetzel and Israel Vines. We have made special smokey swirled clear vinyl of the Ectomorph reissue for the people on our ITHQ Bandcamp, and digitally it has been remastered by Neel. On November 30th, we are doing an Ectomorph live show alongside DVS1, Scott Zacharias and David Shettler at a show we are throwing in a secret Detroit location that will be one of Amber and her Infinite Dimensions crew most ambitious transformations and installations.
In December, Ectomorph will record for a few days with Orphx. BMG will record a Detroit rock project in Hi Bias studios and process that recording with his modular for an undisclosed Carl Craig project and at the end of the month we will be jamming with Danny Daze in Detroit and mixing a new EP for IT from Eris Drew right after the New Year.