INFINITWAV: Encouraging Thought and Discussion

Stephen-Latin-Kasper

Stephen Latin-Kasper is a man behind an experimental project called infinitwav, and he recently released a debut album “Humans” which was inspired by National Geographic’s genome project. In an interview below, Stephen discusses about the music on the album and delves deeper into the story that informed the record.

Define the mission of infinitwav.

Infinitwav’s mission is to create music that is connected to history, but moves past it.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your debut album “Humans” and the themes it captures.

HUMANS was inspired by the National Geographic’s genome project. Reading about the project made me think about how all humans on our planet are connected to each other by their genetic codes. At some point the idea occurred to me that the various genetic mutations that occurred over the course of human evolution might connect the people who share those mutations more closely than they realize. That idea grew into a short science fiction story.

I had already started writing some instrumental music for other reasons. As I continued the process, the writing of the story and the music started to influence each other. The primary theme that runs throughout HUMANS is exploration, but lying underneath that is competition for the power to determine the direction of human exploration.

What is the message you are trying to give with “Humans”?

There is more than one way to think about human existence and destiny. To determine which path is optimal may require groups of humans exploring different paths.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Most of the music was created with a KORG M50 and a Roland Octapad. The KORG M50 has hundreds of “voices” that sound like different instruments, as well as choirs, or entire orchestras. There are also sound effects. The Roland Octapad is all about percussion. There are voices for talking drums and Chinese cymbals, and everything in between. I think there are about 25 preprogrammed snare voices, all of which can be modified.

For each of the nine songs in HUMANS there is a file. Notes regarding the voices used in each song, along with notes on tempo, key, and modifications are all in those files. There are also some notes regarding song structure. For example, in the file for HUMANS 3, there is a note regarding how to set the resonance and cutoff dials for the primary keyboard track.

Looking back, I wish that I had been more meticulous about notation. It has been three years now since I have actually played most of the songs. Since I didn’t notate I would have to listen to individual tracks and learn how to play them all over again.

infinitwav-Humans

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

The short answer is yes, but it is worth embellishing since the music and the story were not initially connected. The first song I wrote for HUMANS didn’t even end up on the album, since it didn’t fit with the rest of the project by the time I finished recording. The last two songs written were actually HUMANS One and Four.

Over the course of three years, as the story was edited and reedited, I added tracks to songs to make them more representative of the chapters they went with. HUMANS One starts with a primitive percussion intro, as we move beyond hitting logs with sticks, to animal skins stretched over wood frames. Each of the first two migratory groups have their own main themes and time signatures in HUMANS Two. The melody in HUMANS Three is repeated three times, rising one octave with each repetition. HUMANS Four has the most complex arrangement of the nine songs to represent the level of complexity added to human culture by the Fours. To represent the cold war being fought by the Fours and 5s in chapter six, the melody played with a flute doesn’t quite match up with the melody played with a synthesized keyboard voice throughout much of the song. You can hear 21 spaceships taking off from their shipyards in orbit around the moon in HUMANS 7, and an electric guitar that is used by the Fours to secretly communicate with each other. The music of HUMANS Eight is pure energy to represent our move beyond the Milky Way. 16 explosions in HUMANS Nine help tell the story of the discovery of our origin.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

The entire album was recorded in my home studio. There were two reasons for that: one was a limited budget; the other was a desire to be as independent as I could. I wanted it to sound as live as possible, so there are no loops, and no samples. I played every track with the exception of the primary percussion track on HUMANS Four.

How long “Humans” was in the making?

I started writing and recording in 2014. I didn’t finish recording until December 2016. As of August 2017, I am still involved in all of the administrative details that are necessary to publish and market new songs.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

I don’t think it’s possible to comprehensively answer the question. A short list would include Richard Strauss, Aaron Copland, Louie Bellson, Steely Dan, Warren Zevon, Yes, and Jethro Tull. The actual list is much longer.

What is your view on technology in music?

As a musician, I think that technology needs to be embraced. Music has always involved technology. The first African percussionists must have realized almost immediately after they started beating logs with sticks that the sound from a hollowed-out log carried further than the sound from a solid log. All further enhancement of that sound involved some sort of technological advance. I’m glad I live in an age in which I had the chance to hear Neil Peart do what he does with Rush. That doesn’t change the fact that there are moments when I just want to sit on the edge of a lake and play my bongos.

I appreciate analog and digital. There is no way I could have produced HUMANS without digital technology, but I prefer analog playback, which is why I published the music on vinyl.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

In the case of HUMANS, the music is worth listening to separate from the story that goes with it, but it clearly was intended to support that story. That is just as true for any song with a lyric. Regarding HUMANS, I’m sure some people will read between the lines of the story. I’m just as sure that not all of those people will interpret the story the same way. I wrote the story with the intent of making people think about some aspects of human culture in ways that may not have occurred to them before. If there is a purpose beyond the music in and of itself, it is to encourage thought and discussion.

What are your plans for the future?

While taking breaks from working on HUMANS, I wrote a number of other songs. I plan to publish those as a double-album sometime in 2018. Two of the songs that will likely be on that album (War Zone Nerv and Cold Sweat) can be heard at infinitwav.com.

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