Thursday, November 29, 2012

Majeure - HEAD MEDICINE'S 2012 Solo Artist of the Year

A.E. Paterra, best known as 50% of the synth and drums-driven behemoth Zombi, has been churning out releases under his solo Majeure moniker at a dizzying rate.  2012 saw the release of, by my count, five new Majeure records, culminating with the release of Solar Maximum, the bands' 2nd full length album.  Paterra has complete mastery over the vast array of electronic instruments laid out before him... vintage keys, synths, knobs, switches, and drum machines that would make an analog electro tech geek cum.  Majeure is currently producing the finest Kubrickian sci-fi journey-to-the-edge-of-the-universe muzak out there, and the HEAD MEDICINE Dispensary cannot hand out enough prescriptions for this.  our highest recommendation

lots to listen to on the Majeure Bandcamp site:
and their Soundcloud page:

Standout Tracks:

"The Dresden Codex" from their 2010 debut Timespan is quintessential Majeure.  tranced-out washes over a frantic pulse, ebbing and flowing over a spellbinding 13 minutes.  i've gotten so much fucking drawing done to this song it's not even funny.  completely engrossing.   listen to an excerpt HERE

"Atlantis Purge" is Majeure's 20+ minute contribution to the split EP Brainstorm with his Zombi compatriot Steve Moore.  Elemental, haunting, and absolutely mesmerizing.  a masterpiece.  listen to an excerpt HERE

"Solar Fare" from the Synthesizer of the Gods EP.  Paterra's finest disco dance beat.  pop music crack cocaine beamed in straight from 1984 that just makes ya wanna dance, dance, dance.  listen HERE

"Starchild 3113" from the Tracer EP.  whoa.  an epic mindmelter.  chemicals are a must.  listen HERE

"Caribbean King" and "Extreme Northern Lights" from  Solar Maximum subtly feel up the sonic boundaries of Majeure.  "Caribbean King" moves at a different pace, with a languid, lazy day groove that stands out amongst the chilly cosmic void of the rest of Majeure's catalog, and "Extreme Northern Lights" has a startling beauty about it that transcends anything Paterra has done previously.  every note is perfect and when the song takes flight around the 3:45 mark, it is the soundtrack to the most beautiful memories buried in your brain. click HERE to stream the entire album


Head Medicine:  what are your earliest musical memories?  when did you know you wanted to make music and who/what were your first artistic influences? 

A.E. Paterra:  My earliest memories are being scared shitless by the "Thriller" video, having my mom yell at my brother and I for listening to "Another One Bites The Dust" (she thought it was about suicide or something), tuning in late one night to The Song Remains The Same and catching "Moby Dick", waking up to "Freewill" on my alarm radio, watching Bladerunner in junior high, and seeing my first Phil Collins solo concert.  I'd say those were my earliest influences, and I knew I wanted to give music a shot when I hit 14 and bought a drumkit.

HM:  how does a majeure composition take shape?  where do you believe it comes from, how does the idea germinate and how is it developed?  is it spontaneous or heavily structured?  at what point do you know whether a piece is destined for majeure, zombi, or something else entirely?

A.E.P:  I usually just fire up my synths and play around until I get something solid together.  Sometimes I'll place random midi notes in a loop until I stumble across something interesting.  I believe the ideas come from everything I've ever heard before, combined with my own taste.  More often than not things are spontaneous. Zombi or Majeure?  Good question.  It just depends on whether or not Steve and I are working together at the time - if we are, I focus on ideas more in line with Zombi, and if we aren't then anything goes.

HM:  you have to be one of the most prolific artists out there having released, what, five albums in the last 12 months?  that's crazy.  how many hours a day/days a week are you able to devote purely to the creation of music?

A.E.P:  Well thanks - I always wish I could do more, and if I worked on music more often I would.  But I go through periods of major downtime.  In general I work in cycles.  I hit my studio hard for a week or so, then have a period where I don't even attempt anything at all.  Some days I work 8 or 10 hours, some 2, on average 4 or 5 when I get in there.  It just depends on what I am working on.

HM:  name 3 artists that you turn to when you are at creative low tide and need re-fueling.

A.E.P:  Hmm, I have to say I simply don't listen to anything at all!  Refueling for me is purging everything from my mind so I can start fresh.  It's been my experience that I hear influential music exactly when I need to.  It's funny how it happens - out of the blue a friend or roommate will be playing something, and it sinks right in.

HM:  how important are visuals in the creation/presentation of your music, on your albums and live?  do you have any aspirations to produce film scores?

A.E.P:  If I have the chance to work with a video artist during a live performance, I'll always jump at the chance if the venue is right.  Visuals add so much to live performance, especially with this type of music. It also takes the heat off of me being a one-man act.  I would love to produce music for films.  I've done a couple with Zombi, and a handful with a couple of filmmaker friends, Tony Balko and Olivia Ciummo.  Just this past week I took part in a Pittsburgh event called "Sync'd".  It's a collection of short films made by local filmmakers and I was given six to perform live to. 

HM:  what do you feel is the underlying connecting thread through the music of Majeure?  how is it different than zombi?

A.E.P:  Not sure, I guess it's just "me".  Whereas Zombi is "us".

HM:   along with Steve Moore, you run an independent cassette-only label called VCO.  could you tell us a bit about how that originated?  what is VCO's objective?  is this mostly for you and steve to release your solo material, or do you put out other artists' work?  what are VCO's plans for the future? 

A.E.P:   In 2003, Zombi released the Twilight Sentinel EP on CD, and we needed a label name. VCO was born years ago, and last year I had some material that I wanted to release.  I started talking to Steve, asking him about possible connections with other labels he may have, etc.  In the end we both arrived in the same spot - we hate soliciting labels.  Having an outlet for our music when needed really helps us. So I put out Synthesizer Of The Gods as VCO 002, and from there we released Steve's Primitive Neural Pathways.  At that point we discussed not wanting to be simply a vanity label, and started releasing music from other artists. This past year we've released 8 albums, and the response has been fantastic.  We have more releases planned, and at some point may try our hand at vinyl. 

HM:  what are your tentative plans for 2013?  more albums? tours? or a little R&R?

A.E.P:  Steve and I have started working on a new Zombi album, so that will be my main focus for the next few months.  I'll most likely start throwing around some new ideas when I have a chance.  VCO  takes up a lot of time, so there is that.  Most likely just work on the Zombi album, focus on Majeure during my downtime, and make trips to the post office.  No plans for touring, but I am open to do more if the right opportunity comes.

HM:  what single piece of music are you most proud of?

A.E.P:  For Majeure, "Geneva Spur" or "Extreme Northern Lights" off of Solar Maximum.  For Zombi, everything from Surface To Air, and "Spirit Warrior" from Spirit Animal.

~thanks to A.E. Paterra for taking the time to talk with HEAD MEDICINE!

 and now, some rare live clips:

review and art by
november 2012

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