Kyle Bruckmann: Purposeful Discontent
Things are a little complex for meto the degree that I actually make a living, I do so as an orchestral musician. So it's very strange to have completely, financially untenable activities trying to fund each other. I make a paycheck playing in an orchestra and then I spend it all making creative music. I love it and it keeps me sane but I do occasionally wonder, would I be better off completely not giving a shit and having a day job of some form and doing everything else with free mp3s and CDRs.
AAJ: That allows the music to stay pure though, right? If you were forced to make money off of recording albums, that may alter what you're able to do as a creative person.
KB: It works. There was a time when I worried about trashing my ears, ruining my chops. That I was somehow being a very bad boy by making noises that were going to detract from my ability to be a classical musician. I've thankfully since realized that's bullshit. That was a lie that I was fed as an undergraduate. Rice is a really tremendous place and there are amazing things I got out of music school in particular but there is a narrowness of focus that I had to shake. And really it was exposure to all sorts of exciting things in underground music and work with KTRU [Rice University's student radio station, where Bruckmann was music director from '92 to '93] that enabled me to be in a position that I could move beyond that and realize that the musician I was, was something much different than the musician I was expected to become.
AAJ: So let's get into Gasp and Fissures and what pushed you to record an album like that.
KB: It was pretty organic. With a lot of my projects I find I wind up in the midst of something before I even realize it. I had already recorded Entymology and And. I kind of felt like I had made specific statements of recorded improvised music and I hit a wall at this point where I thought, "Well, I want to keep working but it doesn't make sense to me, right now, to continue recording improv. There's got to be a way to address the medium more specifically.
The very process of choosing a sequence of tracksyou're composing. That was really the germ of itthat was what started percolating for me. "Okay, I'm an improviser and I'm experimenting with sound but as a solo artist, I need to do something beyond simply improvising. I was teaching a lot of high school students and going out into the suburban schools giving lessons and things like that. Spring Break came along and I had a few days to mess around with something and I decided I was going to record some materials, raw materials basically. I was going to catalog extended techniques and just make sounds that would then be building blocks.
Olivia Block, a sound artist and composer living in Chicago that I've been working with since '98, and I had been talking about doing a duo collaboration of some form. That's still in the works. We had to back off the project and I had all these raw materials and I said, "Well, why don't I keep going with these and keep messing around with them. So I assembled them into a couple of pieces and then learned about a fellowship program through Experimental Sound Studios, which is a really great organization in Chicago. I applied for that [fellowship] and got forty free hours of studio time with a ProTools engineer. I didn't know anything about ProTools and digital editing so it was really a blast to be able to go into the studio with an engineer and just experiment and overdub. I started building [Gasps and Fissures] from there.
AAJ: Why? Reallywhy do a record of post-composed oboe technique?
KB: Part of it was that I felt like I kind of wanted to make a "psychedelic electronic record. Again, this is another KTRU thing. There's a show on KTRU called "Genetic Memory that my really good friend Keith Rozendal founded and he would play a lot of post-industrial experimental musicthat sort of world. And I thought it would be fun to make a psychedelic concrèterecord only using my oboessomething that has that sort of aesthetic but limiting myself to acoustic sources.