It's a name that has resonated throughout the world electronic music community for over twenty years...from early experiments in academic electro-acoustic music (giant tape loops, treated stringed instruments, and mainframe computers running huge Buchla and ARP modular synthesizers) to a brief but acclaimed stint in the cassette culture to over ten years at the helm of Team Metlay, the first Internet-connected electronic music supergroup. He appears regularly on electronic music forums on the Internet, and has contributed to the Computer Music Journal and to the creativesynth.com electronic music website. Internet -based electronic musicians have used him as a resource since the early 1980s, before the Internet as we know it even existed.
He's known as a mover and a shaker, someone who gets things done while others sit around and talk. Team Metlay's album releases brought together up to 18 musicians at a time from around the world to occupy empty houses, turn them into studios, create amazing electronic music, then vanish until the next time.
The results are famous: two albums (_Bandwidth_ and _Ballistic_) are currently available on CD Baby, and there are reports of three of the enigmatic Silent Volumes (_Beta Test/Saturnalia_, _Badlands_, and _Beneath Electric Stars_) circulating in the shadows of the emusic fandom. _Beneath Stars_, the Team's culminating achievement of live electronic magic from within the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado, is due for release by the end of 2002 (search the CD Baby site for it, it may already be out by the time you read this).
Metlay has inspired others to greatness as well: here on CD Baby you'll find releases by two of his cohorts, DC-area electronic-jazz experimentalist Joe McMahon's _Shatterday_ and London modern-dance computer music expert Nick Rothwell (CASSIEL)'s _LISTEN/MOVE_. And his collaboration with powerhouse composer DAC Crowell in Ozma has become legendary, preserved forever in the haunting dark-ambient album _A Huge And Silent Place_.
But all of this team-leading, collaborating, and executive-producing has led to a difficult question. What has Metlay himself done lately? Aside from getting married, raising a family, and becoming Associate Editor of RECORDING, the music industry's well-respected audio gear review and applications magazine, that is.
There has been no solo output from him since the EP _Band Of Fire_ that came out on CD in 1995...but even that piece was written for the cassette label Synkronos Records, years earlier. What can the community expect next? And when?
The answer is here. This is _after silence_.
In the year 2002, a venue in the Denver area opened for "house concerts," where prominent electronic musicians could perform small, intimate events for tiny audiences and speak with them before and after the fact. Robert Rich and Steve Roach are among the electronic music luminaries that have graced this venue with their marvelous music, and when New Zealand artist Rudy Adrian agreed to play a quick concert at the venue Metlay saw a chance to break free of the chains of silence that had bound his solo music for over a decade. He volunteered to share the evening's program with Rudy, and Rudy accepted.
It was a daunting task. Metlay hadn't played a live gig since _Beneath Stars_, three years earlier, and that had been with four other musicians in Team Metlay, one of whom was acting as onstage mix engineer. His last solo live outing was in 1986, a lifetime ago. There was less than a month to assemble a live rig, rehearse it, and perform...and there was a possibility that he'd have to improvise a duo set with Rudy, whom he'd never met and about whose music he knew nothing.
Rising to the challenge, Metlay created a unique live performance rig for solo electronic music, missing many of the trappings of most solo setups. There was no computer to play the synthesizers. There was no MIDI sequencer to create prepared melodies or harmonies. There was no sampler or CD player to provide backing tracks. There were no audio loopers to build up ambient textures. And there would be no sound engineer...everything would be played live and mixed on the fly, with the audience watching.
The resulting set was arresting, soothing, twisted, a bit scary in places, and altogether magical, alternating between the gentle ambiences of "Descent/Substrata" and the pounding rhythms of "Necrocosm." Specialized mixing gear, lenticular pre-echo, the mysterious depths of arx, and the sonorous tones of the aebea (a steel-stringed baritone instrument invented by Metlay and built by Schecter Guitars), take their places with digital synthesizers and rhythm machines to create an undulating, stimulating journey from the fall of frightening night through the nightscape of earth and space to the hopeful glimmers of dawn.
More by luck than design, Metlay's solo set was captured on CD-R as it was played (the material with Rudy was not, alas...although Rudy's association with European emusic label Groove Unlimited might have prevented its release anyway), and upon later listening Metlay realized that his solo silence of a decade-plus may have been broken in more ways than one.
_after silence_ is a limited-edition CD-R release of this concert. It has not been edited, aside from adding track numbers to the audio, and consists of one long audio event in five movements. The album itself was burned by Metlay himself on a professional duplicating system to assure the highest quality, and packaged with original artwork in numbered cases. Each disc is numbered and signed, and only 50 were made.
By a special arrangement with CD Baby, whose policy on CD-R releases was relaxed for this limited-edition release on the Atomic City imprint, part of the print run has been made available here, primarily as a service to buyers who wish to order these albums online with credit cards rather than direct cash/check payment to Atomic City. But by the time CD Baby got this inventory the rest of the print run had been sold; when these copies are gone, that's the end.
More solo work is on the way from Metlay, as are bigger and better collaborative events in the electronic music world (after all, one doesn't just decide to stop being a mover and shaker). But this priceless snapshot of the moment the silence ended is here now. Grab it before it's gone forever.
Check out the artist's website:
1. The Stars Look Down
2. Annapurna 2k2
4. Necrocosm [lenticular Three]
5. Those Who Wait For Morning