Inchmix028: Steve Duncan

The separation from just a solid line-up of artists to an amazing event relies on a few variables which at its core lies the concept. Without a concept the lines between reason, thought, ingenuity and passion blur into nothing more than a minor afterthought. The foundations of a concept allow an event to evolve without question of dissent from guests – as the concept, like its owners are constantly learning, critiquing and progressing themselves. This discourse remains prominent with our next guest Steve Duncan who is involved with Berlin-based curator’s Patterns of Perception. Basing themselves at OHM Gallery, their events have hosted the likes of Peter Van Hoesen, Natural/electronic.system and Marco Shuttle, along with their own collective of accomplished DJ’s. His contribution is a textural exploration into stripped back ambient production that gently evolves into orchestral atmospherics’s and the surrounding areas of drone, experimental and electronica.

Tell us about your involvement with Patterns of Perception, along with the core concept of the night.
Our group – Kim Bergstrand, Hysteria, Andreas Maan, Bianca Shu and myself – started Patterns of Perception as a way to explore and surface sounds which we felt were underrepresented within the Berlin techno scene. Although we love and respect the scene as it stands, it can be hard to escape the prevalent Berlin sound. Our concept is a response to that, and embodies experimental textures and deep atmospheric sounds, while drawing inspiration from the dissonance between the natural and the industrial.
As a team, we are a group of close friends who have known each other for a long time and really enjoy working together. Outside of music (which we all have a hand in), our skills complement each other in a very nice way. Hysteria and I take care of the design and identity, Bianca and Kim work with our featured artists, and Andreas with our community. There is a high level of collaboration though, so the lines between these roles often blurs.

What has changed for you since first experimenting with ambient music?
Experimenting with ambient music has really boosted my understanding and perception of music composition and performance. Melody, emotion, spontaneity and atmosphere all have space to build and develop when a track doesn’t rely on percussive elements to dictate the mood and flow.
I played my first ambient set at an event we put on a couple of years ago, and I can clearly remember the feeling of profound connectedness with the music. Performance-wise, it was a totally new sensation – texture, timing and detail had always been important elements to me as a DJ, but this was on a different scale. The feeling was reminiscent of painting, or how I imagine it feels to conduct an orchestra. It was meditative, heady and totally satisfying.

Can you remember your first ambient LP or EP?
I had always enjoyed ambient and drone moments on key albums throughout the years (for instance on releases by Vangelis, Brian Eno, Sunn O))) and Porter Ricks), but it wasn’t until I discovered Terre Thaemlitz’s early ambient works – “Soil” and “Tranquilizer” – that I really embraced the genre. I always find it inspiring about how she is able to build so much from so little. Emotions and narratives are transmitted so strongly and clearly through her work.

What was the concept behind this mix?
The main goal of this mix was to delve deeper into the idea of dissonance between natural and industrial sounds. Using these elements as a central axis meant working with a broad sonic palette, enabling me to explore the polarities of light and dark, loud and quiet, melody and noise, human and machine.
Additionally, It has been refreshing for me to see ambient music receiving recognition amongst a wider audience in recent times. When conceptualising this mix, I tried to acknowledge artists and labels that I feel have made an impact within the genre, from Brian Eno and Warp Records, to Mika Vainio and Silent Season.

What five records haven’t left your bag recently?
Warmth – Essay
Purl – Stillpoint
Refracted – Through The Spirit Realm
Amandra – Drachme Tolosate
Iori – Cold Radiance

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