Mike Dred — Techno Satellites (Interview + Review)

Mike Dred just dropped a new LP called ‘Techno Satellites’.

You may remember Mike Dred from such pseudonyms as The Kosmik Kommando, Machine Codes, Chimera, DJ Judge Dred. And such groups as Universal Indicator.

A pioneer of Sound, Acid, Techno and Electronic music — we would detail him more, but a recent interview on Spannered is a great and informative piece of reading. Go there by clicking any of this text; maybe read it, it is very much worth your time.

As the releasing iteration that is Mike Dred — this is his second LP in twenty-four years.

So we caught up with the album for some tea and walks and Mike Dred for a bit of an interview.

We join the interview erroneously as Mike is talking about the trouble with full audio streams and the modern audio release and delivery method.

Mike Dred:
 The trouble with putting up full streams of each track is that people just stream rather than purchase and it’s a bit strange when the download is 24 bit flac and the streams are only 128mp3. It’s a tough call. One has to put out the 1st call to people who have already invested in you. The whole model is in flux. Bandcamp is a good platform but they charge $10 a month to toggle on/off the streaming for individual tracks. That’s why I use Youtube as a promo platform with 2 minute clips.

The song titles are named after moons with mythological names — Io etc? If so — have any of the Nasa radio emissions of the various planets been used in the making?

No NASA stuff used in these tracks. The reference is purely that all these moons are natural satellites of their respective planets. Just as ‘our’ moon is a natural satellite of Earth.

Artistic license gives me the opportunity to remind people how awesome the cosmos is.

Any reason for the ones chosen?

They are relevant to the music.
 I did go to Arecibo in 1999. And was flown around the Observatory in a light aircraft… great experience.

Any small elaboration on their relevance to each track — did you work on conveying/injecting both the aspects of the satellite and its namesake or just the satellite?

There is detail for sure. But it’s more important that the whole process is open to personal interpretation. So the listener could focus on either / or a combination of the physical properties of the satellite and the relevance of the ancient Greek nomenclature.

It’s important to leave it open.

I would agree. Monte Cazazza made a very similar point in whenever his last interview was. Just had to have a little push to see. I hope I didn’t annoy you there.

Not at all.

It’s a long return to the Dred name — any prompt or just a natural ebb and flow of time?

It’s only the second time since 1990 that I’ve used that character for an LP. The 1st time was last year with the Lunatic Sound Designer LP.

Gut feeling. Seemed right.

Was crafting Satellites a long process?

Yes and no. The earliest track is from 1991. The most recent was 2007. The decision was 2014. It’s Zen.

When it’s ready…. it’s ready.

Splendid. Those won’t be named though, those time pin pointed tracks?

No. No point. It’s clear that the source is the same.

So this was just cogitating over twenty-three years? There must be a great feeling of release now — with the digital side over?

It’s just good for the tracks to meet each other and for people to stumble across as if they were meant to be — as a unit. That’s satisfying enough.

What hardware and or software were used?

Old toys from ’76 to ’86. 2 tracks use logic 6.

Is there a large depot of tracks waiting on the possibilities of seeing the rest of us?

Yep

That makes me very, very happy.

Thanks. All in good time.

How did the Arecibo trip come about? Was it just a holiday or part of something else?

I did a show there in Puerto Rico. An extension of playing in Miami at a party organised by the Beta Bodega label guys. Good guys.

Will the LP get a tour?

I don’t know.

You get asked a bit about music and the charts, but what about books? Do you get time? If so, do any come to the front of the brain immediately?

Right… straight off the bat and what I consider to be essential reading:

Dancing naked in the mind field by Dr. Kary Mullis

The Multi Orgasmic Man by Mantak Chia & Douglas Abrams

Your body’s many cries for water by Dr. Batmanhelidj

Self Help for your nerves by Dr. Claire Weekes

The Web that has no Weaver: Understanding Chinese medicine by Ted Kaptchuk

Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics by Daverick Leggett & Katherine Trenshaw

The Magic Cottage by James Herbert

Mullis seems a little at odds with Batmanghelidj — how has ‘Your body’s many cries for water’ been an inspiration?

It was 12 or 13 years ago. But since then I have gone on to study Traditional Chinese Medicine, Food Energetics and now into my 3rd and Final Year of Zen Shiatsu Practitioner Studies. So, I have plenty of enlightening perspectives to draw upon.

The cries for water book reinforces what one intuitively knows but is reluctant to acknowledge. The essential role of water and water’s influence on localised pain also the role of the often overlooked ingredient of human physiology…. Salt.

Previously you’ve mentioned the human voice as an instrument and sound systems of quality. When you travel, has this ever married and left you checking cathedrals for acoustics, or left you looking at voice music and building acoustics?

Train stations are cool. I don’t do many cathedrals. The underground Roman cisterns in Istanbul have amazing acoustics, as do a few deep caverns.

Mind you — a professionally treated recording studio is amazing.

Nothing quite beats an anechoic chamber though unless one counts one’s own pulsing pacemaker cells in a state of deep relaxation.

That is something I would like to experience.

Meditation is free ;)

What about movies or documentaries, do you find time? Any of particular worth?

Not so time much really. Worth is subjective. I like the odd movie. I used to go to the cinema a lot — like 3 times a week. But I was paying more attention to the sound rather than the acting, plot or scores.

That reminds me of the distraction of voices and sound in The Ninth Configuration and The Conversation. Any specific ones with noteworthy sound?

The conversation is a good one — after all the main character is sound. I liked the cinema experience of Sunshine. The Bass was wicked for a movie. The pod race sound in Star Wars was decent at the time as was that bass sweep in LOTR 1 when the finger was cut from Sauron’s hand.

Then there is the one shot scenes of incredible cinematography and accompanying sound in Citizen Kane. Some of those takes were minutes long… not a few seconds here and there, well pro preparation.

You’ve toured and travelled — any places aside from those mentioned that have left a lasting affection?

Iceland and Australia come to mind.

Do you any favourite Zen kōans you’d like to share?

There are many and I don’t know many…. but this one comes to mind…

Buddha’s Zen
 Buddha said: “I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes. I observe treasures of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles. I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags. I see myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds of fruit, and the greatest lake in India as a drop of oil on my foot. I perceive the teachings of the world to be the illusion of magicians. I discern the highest conception of emancipation as a golden brocade in a dream, and view the holy path of the illuminated ones as flowers appearing in one’s eyes. I see meditation as a pillar of a mountain, Nirvana as a nightmare of daytime. I look upon the judgment of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of a dragon, and the rise and fall of beliefs as but traces left by the four seasons.”

Oh and I forgot, do you have a favourite cheese?

I don’t eat cheese. But… If I did, it would be a heavyweight Blue Stilton leaping around the room like a crazed salmon.


Techno Satellites Review

A TARDIS is a craft for travelling through time and space. You’d most commonly find it being sort of piloted by a being called ‘The Doctor’.

It is sentient and at some point both the Doctor and the TARDIS stole each other to see the universe. All of it.

It is famously difficult to navigate.

In truth it does not always take him where he wants to go but it always takes him where he needs to go.

TARDIS means Time And Relative Dimension In Space.

Techno Satellites took around twenty-three years to coax and hew from tricksy and hard to master technology. Manipulating voltage — Mike Dred is not, as Tom Waits put it, just doing fancy things to air, he is creating super structures with which to access the infinite…

Through the bass and thump of Techno and Acid — how else did you think? We’ll never get to the moon in alt-rock…

Sometimes it reminds me of sleep paralysis.

That’s the secondary voice — don’t mind it, it’s just trying to scare you or me.

Perhaps — because guidance is internal.

It does not compute to try and pick out favourite tracks. I get a stack overflow error. That’s rare.

Normally, a review and interview would be interspaced with tracks from the release. The explanation for this is at the beginning of the interview.

It would do neither release justice to interspace this with tracks from Dreds previous release, ‘Lunatic Sound Designer’ but you can go listen to that and buy it here.

Something between the modulation, thumps and the squelches — I want to move — because movement is key, but I’m lost in flashbacks to Foucaults ‘Madness and Civilisation’ a video store I spent too much time in, mixed with bits of ‘The Shout’ and ‘Up’ (1976). Something-sand between toes-something Beethoven, a harpsichord and those old tiled heater-cookers they had in the corner of rooms in central and Eastern Europe.

There is no point in telling you the composition and musicianship here is tight — as Dred said in the interview. The source is the same — no point in doubting, just don’t have expectations — they do tend to fuck things up.

Like that time, you were so sad, but too embarrassed to say, so you got angry and then, never explained. Expectations.

‘Techno Satellites’ is a TARDIS.
 A sleek shimmering TARDIS. Rattling, spinning, sliding through time and space. A moments it is a sonic past you know, remember, can feel and touch. Then it is gone and it easily stands with other very hard things. Specifically the track

Then it is gone — future sounds — glimpses of forward places that may or may not happen. Someone just pointed out that he has a track called TARDIS as The Kosmik Kommando. Well, that blows my whole theory.

So, anyway -

Techno Satellites is a TARDIS.
 Or Mike Dred is.

I am unsure which.

You should buy this — listen to it High Quality, Very Loud.

I did. Now I can see upside down and hear quarks.

Here is the promo again — having had the album for a while now — it almost does the full songs justice.

The album is £7 on Mike Dreds Bandcamp. Vinyl will be pressed if there is enough demand — details on Bandcamp. If it wasn’t obvious — click this text.