Flaming Schwarzkopf Experience will extract your ambient gene
Strictly a studio project, Douglas Arthur’s ‘FSE’ has vision, depth and song textures that will seduce and entice you.
Short lived in the early 1990s, and floating among the sound waves of sunny Southern California, was a rave-inspired station which featured a couple KROQ-FM alumni, club DJ Swedish Egil and personality/program director Freddy Snakeskin. The station, “MARS-FM,” was instantly accepted by the public and is talked about even today in lending a seminal hand in introducing the radio-listening American public to techno and rave. Alas, the station was short lived, lasting only a year, before its owners decided a more mainstream direction was they way they wanted to go.
For me, MARS-FM was not only innovative but gave me a different genre of music to explore. It gently introduced me into the fold and I was very accepting of what it had to offer: heavy yet energetic 100+ beats per minute grooves, layered sound, interesting group names and a sound I had never truly explored previously.
What really grabbed me about the sound was the multiple levels of experimentation it afforded. While it later gravitated and morphed into a frantic, louder house style with a more eclectic feel, I’ll always be grateful for the introduction into its form.
It’s one of the reasons I dig the compositions of Douglas Arthur’s Flaming Schwarzkopf Experience. Despite FSE being a single-person studio project with no inclinations of touring or performing live, it doesn’t discount it from being innovative, interesting and attractive on many levels.
With its just-released, 45-minute single coincidentally titled “45″ currently available, I discussed some of what Flaming Schwarzkopf Experience is all about …
Michael: Tell us a little about your new single “45″ …
Douglas Arthur: I have been working on … an audio art project that I will only refer to as “Perfunctus.” The “Perfunctus” project actually was a little bit of an inspiration for my new single, “45.”
Last month I turned 45 years old and I challenged myself to create a new piece of music on my birthday. Using some of the ideas I had for “Perfunctus,” I laid out a song that would be precisely 45-minutes long, using loops of varying lengths that fall in and out of synch. Of course I muddled with it a bit, too, but the core idea is pretty much intact. “45″ has everything that FSE is becoming famous for, multiple percussion tracks, swirling soundscapes, hidden vocals, and a sound that is at turns hypnotic and engaging. I wanted “45″ to represent my life in some ways and also convey what it is like to be firmly entrenching yourself into what is commonly called “midlife.” The sense of impending mortality mixed with the regrets of all those things left undone.
One of the things I like about “45″ is that it works well as background music, or foreground music. Foreground music requires attention and rewards the listener that is careful to listen with several sections that seem different each time you listen to them. It also works well to have on in the background as you do work or other daily tasks, the percussive beat subliminally driving your work forward while the synth swirls hypnotically calm you. The beat remains fairly consistent, but the rest of the loops fall in and out of synch, never quite sounding the same way twice. I love the happenstance of this. It is like life in that regard.
The “45″ experiment was mostly successful. It was 99% completed on my birthday. I spent Labor Day weekend listening to it almost nonstop when I had free time, then went back and tweaked the mix just a touch here and there before committing the final mix to upload. I honestly only did about a half hour more work on it after my birthday, so I feel like I met the challenge.
I like the name “45″ as well. Not only is it symbolic of my age and of the length of the piece, it also evokes the image, at least to those of us old enough to remember, of the vinyl single, or 45 rpm. Seeing as this is my first official “single,” I like that image. In true FSE fashion, though, this is an album length single! I billed “Flying To Orlando” as an EP, but it was over 60 minutes in length, and actually just a few minutes shorter than my full-length album “Encased In Glue” … !!!
Michael: Where did the image for the track come from?
Douglas: The artwork for the single is different from some of the other images I have used. I have sleep apnea and this is a picture of part of the C-Pap machine I wear every night to help myself breath. For me this is also a metaphor for my music, since I rely on machines and technology to help my creativity “breathe”. In that way I am a bit like my musical inspiration Brian Eno, who often referred to himself as a non-musician; much more comfortable in the studio than on the stage.