Mute founder announces new improv project
By Classic Pop | March 4, 2021
Sunroof (Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones) have announced, after four decades of friendship and collaboration, the release of their debut album. Electronic Music Improvisations Volume 1, a collection of eight improvised modular pieces recorded as live in various studio spaces across London in the spring and summer of 2019, will be released on the newly revived Parallel Series of Mute on 21 May 2021.
Daniel Miller (founder of Mute, the “accidental label” that began with the release of his own 7” single The Normal’s T.V.O.D / Warm Leatherette) met Gareth Jones, (the innovative and influential producer, engineer and artist) back when Miller asked Jones to work with him in late 1982 on what became Depeche Mode’s Construction Time Again. After the band had gone home for the day, they would stay on to work on their own sessions, a practise that continued and, by the mid-90s Sunroof had emerged as remix project, reworking the likes of Can, MGMT, To Rococo Rot, Kreidler and Goldfrapp, and appeared on a compilation paying tribute to Neu!.
Back in 2019, Miller and Jones were heading to a György Ligeti concert at the Barbican, spending a couple of hours improvising with modular systems beforehand. Unusually, this time they decided to record the session and over a pre-concert meal, Gareth asked a question: “Are we actually going to make a record together before we die?”
The following day, they set themselves some rules: “We decided to get together to do a bunch of improvisations,” explains Jones. “We said we’d work in a number of different physical spaces but always together, in the same room. We were keen to do shorter pieces because we were both very inspired by Chris Carter and Martin Gore’s electronic music projects, where the pieces were very concise and compact.”
Key to their manifesto was a distinction between an improvisation and a jam session. “With modular systems, you can just go on and on forever and never actually complete anything. Sometimes that’s okay – part of the joy of a modular is that you can just keep going indefinitely. But with this we were keen to actually finish something, so setting that timeframe became a really important rule for us,” adds Miller.
Nothing was pre-planned, they didn’t rehearse, and the pieces were recorded as live performances using a limited number of channels. What they accumulated during the course of those 2019 sessions was a suite of evolving, restless pieces, each one containing layers of pulsing, atmospheric sounds.
You can pre-order the album here and watch the video for its first track here.
Electronic Music Improvisations Volume 1 tracklisting
1.1 – 7.5.19
1.2 – 30.5.19
1.3 – 30.5.19
1.4 – 18.6.19
1.5 – 9.7.19
1.6 – 7.5.19
1.7 – 30.5.19
1.8 – 2.3.19