Text by Meritxell Rosell
Electronic music producer 30drop closes one of the conceptual cycles of this project with a new album release on his own 30D Records. 30drop is a project inspired by SciFi, the Universe and technology; Insight Into Mind And Space, his most recent release, is a 10-track collection compiled from tracks previously released on Jeff Mills’ Axis imprint in digital formats.
The original two albums from where the tracks were taken, Soroban and Photosynthetic Zone Manifesto, were released in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The conceptual thread for both albums was based on biology and evolutionary concepts. Mainly, the evolution of life, from the simplest forms up to the human mind’s most complex abstraction processes, is reached from the smallest, like an atom or an electron, to something totally infinite, say the universe or consciousness.
The artist tells us that this new LP tries to summarise these concepts and their analogy in a single album released only on vinyl. The tracks take us on a journey of futuristic music inspired by electro and classic Detroit techno.
Taking the mystery of the human mind as a starting point for Soroban, the artist reflected on how just as the acquisition of language had such a tremendous impact on the human mind, mathematics played a similar role, but at a much deeper and more complex level, endowing the human being with very high capacities for abstraction, reflection, and lateral thinking.
The Japanese abacus called Soroban ‘そろばん’ is considered the first calculator in Japan and has played an essential role in the cultural and educational development of the country. Thus, the Soroban has become a symbol of learning and an icon of mathematical language for today’s human civilisation, as well as a standard of mathematics’ influence on the evolution of the human mind. The album presented a series of tracks that compositionally evolved as a consequence of each other in an orderly way.
Photosynthetic Zone Manifesto goes a step backwards in trying to discern intelligence appearance and evolution. It was a speculative experiment based on a hypothetical plant-life evolution in different planetary environments. In a fun attempt to reimagine genetic laws, the “experiment” also considered the possibility that these new life forms reached advanced intelligence and technological development. The album’s tracks portray hypothetical and alternative molecular combinations.
Exposed to different chemical elements, gravitational and environmental conditions, dormant genes and signalling pathways are activated and uncannily combined. And just like molecular events, sounds are combined in different ways, whether simple or complex, to create songs that provide an artistic vision of other types of intelligence.
30drop has been producing under this moniker since 2014. Now getting close to the 10-year landmark, the artist has found himself at an inflexion point, and this new album closes a period and unfolds his work into a new one. We ask 30drop why he thinks revisiting those releases and concepts is relevant for him at this very moment. He shares that in the midst of the pandemic, he followed the launch of Space X’s Dragon 2 live on May 30, 2020, and was deeply impressed to see the 2 astronauts walking alone down a corridor in a futuristic space suit and above all, completely oblivious to what was happening in the world.
Everything that can bear the label of “Futurist”, be it art, science, philosophy, etc., is by definition alien to the human being and, at the same time, the most optimistic that exists. The word “future” does not make sense without going together with the word “optimism”, but at the same time, the future is timeless, unattainable, cold and artificial since it does not exist, and we are the ones who create it. And this is exactly how I think futuristic techno should be, a style Jeff Mills has defined with his work: Timeless, experimental, cold, artificial or synthetic and the further away from humans, the better. So a good time to release this kind of music is always or never, depending on how you look at it, he continues.
30drop also mentions that the project is now entering other areas of experimentation. Always following the premises of timelessness and futurism but towards other learning spaces, he is now very interested in African music.
It is surprising how futuristic the music is. At the same time can be considered more rooted in the ancestral. It is the perfect proof of the timelessness of the avant-garde. I’m listening to a lot of experimental jazz and psychedelic jazz like Sun Ra and others. I am fascinated by the hypnotic polyrhythms that are created and that can have the ability to create altered states of consciousness. I want to experiment in this direction.
If not familiar with it, Space Is the Place, an Afrofuturist science fiction film made in the 70s, written by Sun Ra and directed by John Coney, is an enlightening and essential document.
Complex percussion polyrhythm is what I’m really interested in right now. Obviously, he continues, I won’t be reinventing anything new and won’t leave techno out either, but this is the direction in which my body and mind are pointing me to work to continue learning. At the same time, I also want to incorporate a visual side to the project for live performances and playing in specific spaces dedicated specifically to listening.
And on the more technical side, where does 30drop want to focus? Some new machines like the Terra synthesiser from the Soma Laboratory brand. Instruments that bring a step further in the human-machine interface, or this case, human-instrument, are the next step to evolve electronic music, which, unfortunately, is in a moment of stagnation and many cases, backwards, especially the quality. A shake-up is necessary, and it will surely come from two sides: One is the evolution of the instruments, as I mentioned before, and the other is the social changes to come. We´ll be ready for these new exciting horizons.