Boris Blank - The sound creator

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Random Tox
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Boris Blank - The sound creator

Postby Random Tox » Wed Jul 27, 2005 9:44 am

(I have recently cleaned among my older and even some earliest data backups I have, because I figured I am missing some documents on my Lan server. I hope this is not something everyone here has already known, but then again, its quite old - enjoy)

Boris Blank never wanted to be a rock musician. He never learned to play an instrument or learned to read music. For him the world - whatever he heard,a motor, a clock - everything was and still is music

When YELLO started recording in 1979 the sampler had not even been invented. Boris sampled sounds by recording directly on to tape loops.Eventually, years later, with the introduction of the Fairlight, it became easier and a lot more instantaneous for YELLO to sample new, impulsive sounds.

Imagine a snowball being thrown against a wooden wall combined with a piece of cloth being slammed over a table. Then try to imagine the frequencies in both sounds being modified, mixed together, recorded digitally, given a name and finally stored in the Fairlight for future usage.

YELLO make it a conscious effort to create totally new sounds for every new album. ZEBRA is in keeping with this tradition and features sounds that are totally different from its predecessors.

"It doesn't matter if I'm trying to go for a holy church or a 'tough' 4/4 beat," declares Blank. "Most of the time I start with the basic percussion and baseline, and then go into adventurous paths. I never know exactly where they might lead me to. Each song is different. I never repeat the same construction on build-up."

Every sound is labelled with a name and is stored away in Blank's library of over 100,000 samples. Later, when he accesses a particular sample, he'll call it up by its name and play it on a keyboard.

Continues Boris, "I don't go for the traditional bass, snare, and bass drum. I'm interested in a lot of different frequencies instead of the regular selection of hi-hats. They make for very important percussive tools. Instead
of a hi-hat, which has a similar rhythmic effect or accent in the groove, I tend to go for a sound that's in keeping with the track I'm working on at the time."

"Before I started recording I listened to a lot of wild jazz including the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Archie Shepp, and Sun Ra, plus big bands like Count Basie, Duke Ellington and even Pink Floyd. I appreciate any style of music as long as it has heart and soul. It could be Indian, country and western music or free jazz. I've never been influenced by one style of music. It's kind of a conglomerate of influences from music around the world."

Most musicians who work with similar technology, tend to buy commercially available pre-packaged samples. Not YELLO. Each and every flutter, frequency and reverberation you hear on a YELLO recording is created from scratch. This is what gives their records that distinctive and unique YELLO sound.

"I started experimenting at a very young age at my parents' house recording special effects like the radiator," reminisces Boris. "I recorded everything on a Revox tape machine and slowed them down. I was really fascinated when I recorded my fathers' drills. I remember blowing on a straw in a bottle of water and recording it. This was all before sampling. My grandfather was a sound specialist and he also played the accordion. He knew the correct notes but, instead, he preferred to play the low notes as if they were a bass drum. His approach was rhythmic. Perhaps I inherited his genes."

There's no denying percussion is the integral foundation of YELLO's music. The question comes to pass if there ever was a time when Boris wanted to play the drums professionally.

"Yes," says Boris, "...but not the whole drum kit. Mainly the bongos and stuff. Once I recorded a guitar when all the strings were broken, banged on the body of the guitar, put a microphone inside and recorded it. It was a very strange sound. I've always been in love with rhythm. It's very natural. The first sound you recognize is when you are a baby in your mother's stomach. You follow the heartbeat instinctively."

One of the YELLO's greatest pleasures is watching people dancing to their music. After spending so much time in the studio, it must be satisfying to watch people reacting to a piece of music you've spent so much time working creating.

"I love to see people dancing to our music," enthuses Boris. "It's a very nice feeling watching people moving their bodies. Without telling you anything, they reveal a little bit about themselves just by the way they move. I love the transparency in music. It's very important for a person to step inside the circus so that he or she can feel the music going on around them."

Prepare yourself for ZEBRA.

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