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Diet Audio: half the carburetors of Electronica with all the taste

By Dale Johnson · December 29th, 2004 · Locals Only
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Diet Audio
Dale M. Johnson

Diet Audio



In Paris in the 1950s, a man named Pierre Schaeffer made what was termed at the time as musique concrete, which used both sounds from conventional instruments and recordings from Schaeffer's surroundings, like street sounds.

During the same time period, in Cologne, Germany, Karlheinz Stockhausen used sine wave generators (they make sounds similar to musical instruments and/or the human voice) to create music that sounded like the cold, otherworldly soundtrack of a sci-fi film. These two events are considered to be the birth of the genre known as Electronica.

Flash-forward about 50 years, and you have Diet Audio, who combine real instruments and computer generated loops and samples to make what those in Schaeffer's circle might have termed Musique de peau et de rêves -- "Music of Skin and Dreams."

The band -- Amy Whitaker (keyboards/vocals), Frank P. (bass/vocals), Dan Ferguson (percussion) and Ian Gullett (guitar/cello) -- have a slightly different take on what most people might consider "Electronica," which is more often thought of as dance music. And while you can dance to Diet Audio's sound, you'd probably do more of a sultry sway 'n' twirl than an Ecstasy-fueled pogo. The band came into its present lineup July/August, although Whitaker and Gullett had been playing and writing together before that.

"It was really important for us (Gullett and Whitaker) to be able to do the electronic stuff that we did live," says Whitaker in regard to the addition of P and Ferguson.

"(Playing live) introduces a level of chaos to the whole thing," says Ferguson. "You can sample anything you want. In our music, at least for me, it's like, 'Let's throw something in there that probably doesn't even fit,' but you can pull it out just as quickly as you put it in. That's the way (using) electronics opens it up for you -- you can control certain elements and let rip on others."

They've been compared to UK Trip Hop group Portishead and Belgian Techno-folkies Hooverphonic and, while those are fair comparisons, they're not entirely accurate. They're more soulful than Portishead and more on-target musically than Hooverphonic. They actually put one more in mind of Horses-era Patty Smith, if the poet/priestess of Punk had had an Internet connection at the time.

Diet Audio's songs are like snippets of dreams strung together with the rough silk thread of Whitaker's voice. Images immediately leap to mind with their music, but they're not always distinct images, more often blurred and quick-cut, suffused with the strange light that only seems to exist in your subconscious.

Their songs are constructed like a half-human/half-robot heroine of some anime-noir. For instance, the tense, dangerously building song, "Shake," fits the velvet fist of Gullett's cello snugly in the cybernetic glove of Ferguson's samples. And "Naked" could have been written by the Tin Man, if Oz gave him a libido along with a heart.

Diet Audio makes connections in their music, but Whitaker wants to make bonds within the music scene, too. "It's important to me to bring (Electronica) more to the forefront," she says. "And when I say 'Electronica,' I mean people with electronic elements. I think that there is so much of that (electronic) scene that doesn't play together and I'd like to bring some cohesion to that."

"Most of us (in the band) are on the end of Gen X," says Ferguson on the band's desire to connect with other bands and fans. "Gen X is about striving to connect, striving to reconnect. If you look at any market analysis about how to appeal to Gen X versus boomers or whatever, (it'll tell you that) Gen X always wants to connect and find more people, because we were so isolated growing up."

It's all about finding the soul in the machine, and Diet Audio lays down the perfect soundtrack for the journey.



DIET AUDIO (
Diet Audio
Dale M. Johnson

Diet Audio



In Paris in the 1950s, a man named Pierre Schaeffer made what was termed at the time as musique concrete, which used both sounds from conventional instruments and recordings from Schaeffer's surroundings, like street sounds.

During the same time period, in Cologne, Germany, Karlheinz Stockhausen used sine wave generators (they make sounds similar to musical instruments and/or the human voice) to create music that sounded like the cold, otherworldly soundtrack of a sci-fi film. These two events are considered to be the birth of the genre known as Electronica.

Flash-forward about 50 years, and you have Diet Audio, who combine real instruments and computer generated loops and samples to make what those in Schaeffer's circle might have termed Musique de peau et de rêves -- "Music of Skin and Dreams."

The band -- Amy Whitaker (keyboards/vocals), Frank P. (bass/vocals), Dan Ferguson (percussion) and Ian Gullett (guitar/cello) -- have a slightly different take on what most people might consider "Electronica," which is more often thought of as dance music. And while you can dance to Diet Audio's sound, you'd probably do more of a sultry sway 'n' twirl than an Ecstasy-fueled pogo. The band came into its present lineup July/August, although Whitaker and Gullett had been playing and writing together before that.

"It was really important for us (Gullett and Whitaker) to be able to do the electronic stuff that we did live," says Whitaker in regard to the addition of P and Ferguson.

"(Playing live) introduces a level of chaos to the whole thing," says Ferguson. "You can sample anything you want. In our music, at least for me, it's like, 'Let's throw something in there that probably doesn't even fit,' but you can pull it out just as quickly as you put it in. That's the way (using) electronics opens it up for you -- you can control certain elements and let rip on others."

They've been compared to UK Trip Hop group Portishead and Belgian Techno-folkies Hooverphonic and, while those are fair comparisons, they're not entirely accurate. They're more soulful than Portishead and more on-target musically than Hooverphonic. They actually put one more in mind of Horses-era Patty Smith, if the poet/priestess of Punk had had an Internet connection at the time.

Diet Audio's songs are like snippets of dreams strung together with the rough silk thread of Whitaker's voice. Images immediately leap to mind with their music, but they're not always distinct images, more often blurred and quick-cut, suffused with the strange light that only seems to exist in your subconscious. Their songs are constructed like a half-human/half-robot heroine of some anime-noir. For instance, the tense, dangerously building song, "Shake," fits the velvet fist of Gullett's cello snugly in the cybernetic glove of Ferguson's samples. And "Naked" could have been written by the Tin Man, if Oz gave him a libido along with a heart.

Diet Audio makes connections in their music, but Whitaker wants to make bonds within the music scene, too. "It's important to me to bring (Electronica) more to the forefront," she says. "And when I say 'Electronica,' I mean people with electronic elements. I think that there is so much of that (electronic) scene that doesn't play together and I'd like to bring some cohesion to that."

"Most of us (in the band) are on the end of Gen X," says Ferguson on the band's desire to connect with other bands and fans. "Gen X is about striving to connect, striving to reconnect. If you look at any market analysis about how to appeal to Gen X versus boomers or whatever, (it'll tell you that) Gen X always wants to connect and find more people, because we were so isolated growing up."

It's all about finding the soul in the machine, and Diet Audio lays down the perfect soundtrack for the journey.



DIET AUDIO (dietaudio.com) next plays Jan. 28 at The Comet with The Gravity Car.
 
 
 
 

 

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