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pent - ‘trepidation cycles’

Staff Picks

Disorienting and obfuscating sounds, born out of the club.

By ian

2024/04/02

There are few producers—perhaps no producers—in New York’s fervent underground electronic scene operating like pent. Her music is hard to pin down but born out of the spaces where she often plays; pent uses the sonic codes of the club as a vehicle to create disorienting and obfuscating sounds. On trepidation cycles, her latest for the beloved 3XL imprint, she brings forth some of her most realized pieces to date. We spoke with pent briefly about the new release, which you can listen to and purchase below.

pent - trepidation cycles
pent - trepidation cycles3XL

  • 1trepidation cycles pt 1-3
  • 2antagonisms feat. dylan kerr
  • 3inert_773x7I_y7
  • 4babble acids
  • 5fragments feat. dorothy carlos

This is your second release on another label, having self-released several works over the last few years. What, in your experience, distinguishes releasing something for a label from releasing it yourself?

pent: Self-releasing has been very important in the formation of pent as a project by creating its world and logic in a free setting. Taking the project from that spontaneous and autonomous environment into the collaborative and social methods of record labels, especially ones such as 3XL, is the natural step in forming the project's placement in public perception, as an artistic project is often contextualized by its orientation and association. 3XL is a freeform label (both aesthetically and functionally) with enigmatic behavior, so this project fits quite naturally.

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Additionally, what separates this record from previous efforts of yours?

Previous records were mostly sketches and experiments with step sequencing, tempo modulation, and timbral composition. This record is an expansion upon those ideas into a more robust form, focusing said techniques into more compositionally varied and dynamic pieces.

It introduces instrumental collaboration with two extraordinary artists and performers: Dylan Kerr and Dorothy Carlos. These artists were specifically chosen due to their sharp artistic vision and performance capabilities—how they stretch, mold, and mutate their acoustic instruments into almost unnatural territory. Electroacoustic processing on their instruments pushed their efforts even further.

“Trepidation” is the agitative fear of an event or possibility of its happening. The record is a study on the relationship between sound (event) and space (absence) and the expectations between compositional form and listener. It is the most spacious and breathing pent release yet.

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Where do you source your sounds from?

Mostly all sounds are self-synthesized, with very little sampling being used (sampling consisting mostly of classic drum machines such as the Cheetah MD16 & Roland R8). Digital synthesis methods such as additive and pulsar are dominant and preferred. Marcin Pietruszewski’s New Pulsar Generator is the most prominent sound generation tool being used. In the rare instance that longer form samples are used, they are time-stretched, resynthesized, and/or granularized beyond recognition.

What would you say is your guiding philosophy when it comes to sound design?

Design is perhaps an improper word to choose, as much of the process revolves around guiding semi-aleatoric sound generation into place rather than forcing its hand. Embracing unexpected outcomes is very important. This creates a more surprising and exciting environment. Very little are sounds crafted from proposal; they’re attained via the relational position to their counterparts. The composition of the music becomes self-propelling.

The goal is to de/re-contextualize physical space and temporal awareness via these dynamic digital sound synthesis environments. Aesthetically, plasticity and buoyancy are favored, and at times these concepts serve as metaphors. Keeping spontaneity in mind, sound is formed from the ideological prompt of creating synthetic beings that operate in a semi-organic fashion. A sound simulacra, which will shift and contort at chance.

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Who, or what, has inspired you to continue to make music?

pent, as a name, takes inspiration from the state of political and social angst caused by late-stage capitalism and its repressive culture. The sounds, often technologically inspired, take form and structure to reflect this purgatorial experience, floating between stillness and burst, or confusion, distraction, and cohesiveness. It is, by necessitation, sonically synthetic and disassociated. Through this analysis, inspiration comes to fruition.

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