Karlheinz Essl

Portrait

Studies for No-Input Mixer

Sound Performances for Analog Mixing Desk
2023-2024

setup-MACKIE1604

Setup with a vintage MACKIE 1604 analog mixing desk
Photo © 2023 by Karlheinz Essl


Basics | Videos | Tracks | Release | Performances


Karlheinz Essl (* 1960 in Vienna, Austria) is best known as an avant-garde composer of instrumental and electronic music. He has been working with computers since the 1980s, developing software for algorithmic composition and real-time performance. His RTC-lib (Real Time Composition Library for Max), which he started at IRCAM (Paris) in 1991, is still widely used in the computer music community.

In 2022, Essl began to explore other ways of creating electronic music without computers and digital tools, using analog modular synthesizers. This resulted in the work-in-progress Coastlines (performed on a MakeNoise O-COAST modular synth) and the suite in four movements Throbbing Crystals (played on a Doepfer DARK ENERGY synth) without keyboards or sequencers.

Essl writes: "During my research, I discovered how feedback routings can create nonlinear systems with chaotic behavior that sound fascinating. However, this requires constant balancing of the control signals with the countless knobs. Performing live on this newly constructed 'instrument' becomes an adventure that leaves a sonic trail: It's like riding a wild horse across Lake Constance.1

A year later, in 2023, Essl abandoned the synthesizer and began experimenting with a broken analog mixer he found in his studio. Retaining the idea of non-linear feedback systems, he explored different kinds of interaction on this analog device, generating sounds only by feeding the output back into the input, which he controlled in an instrumental manner with faders and knobs, where the slightest movement of the fingers can drastically change the sound.

In just three days - between July 3 and 5, 2023 - Essl recorded the 7 tracks of his No-Input Mixer Studies. Each track uses a different number of "voices" in a kind of counterpoint. The title pays tribute to Conlon Nancarrow's famous "Studies for Player Piano", which serves as a subliminal source of inspiration and motivation to venture much further into the unknown.


Videos

Study for No-Input Mixer #1 - 4 voices
Performed on 3 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #2 - 7 voices
Performed on 4 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #3 - 3 voices
Performed on 4 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #4 - 1 voice
Performed on 5 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #5 - 2 voices
Performed on 5 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #6 - 6 voices
Performed on 5 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #7 - 5 voices with happy end
Performed on 5 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #8 - Blacksmith
Performed on 2 Feb 2024 at Studio kHz


Tracks

Study for No-Input Mixer #1 - 4 voices
Performed on 3 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #2 - 7 voices
Performed on 3 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #3 - 3 voices
Performed on 4 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #4 - 1 voice
Performed on 5 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #5 - 2 voices
Performed on 5 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #6 - 6 voices
Performed on 5 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #7 - 5 voices with happy end
Performed on 5 July 2023 at Studio kHz


Study for No-Input Mixer #8 - Blacksmith
Performed on 8 Feb 2024 at Studio kHz



Home Works Sounds Bibliography Concerts


Updated: 8 Jan 2024

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