Chiel Zwinkels


Monochrome is a composition for guitar and synthesizer in eight parts. Each piece was performed in real time and recorded straight to cassette tape, without edits or overdubs. An unapologetic bout of 1980s-infused Retro-futurism, Monochrome is my on personal attempt at coming to terms with the technological and cultural phase shift that took place while I was growing up. It squeezes digital rhythms into an analog timeflow while infusing its electronic circuitry with some crude but contemporary artificial intelligence.

Monochrome is a man-vs-machine themed record. I have given the machine a lot of leeway here, in hopes of getting it to show some creativity in return. The machine in question was cobbled together from an old Gretsch Clipper, a couple of synthesizers and a few audio effects, connected via an analog mixing desk to a vintage cassette deck, which recorded the stereo mix directly to tape. In programming the sounds and patterns, I made extensive use of probability functions, thus introducing additional degrees of unpredictability. After these preparations, the process of recording the actual pieces was not unlike performing a duet with a rather temperamental robot.

Monochromes are images consisting of various shades of a single colour, meaning they only produce (or reflect, depending on your medium of choice) light of a single frequency. In music, such a single constant frequency is called a ‘note’. Each piece of Monochrome is built around one musical note and utilises a single hexatonic scale for its melodic development. The root notes of the eight pieces move across the tonal centers of the equal tempered chromatic scale in a kind of knight move’s variaton on the circle of fifths, so forming a series of musical monochromes. To further justify the album’s title, I might also add that I created the seeds for each piece on a synthesizer called ‘Monologue’, and that everything was recorded to Chrome tapes.