Going Gonzo with Duck Dive

Posted by on June 12, 2013

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Indonesian musician Duck Dive creates a hypnotic sort of music that eschews the usual traditions of songwriting. It is tempting to label the music as “experimental,” but that takes away from how natural the sound feels like. It’s a free-flowing sonic exploration of tinkling synthesizer sounds, sub-tribal beats and field recordings that comfortably collapse on top of each other, creating heavy layers that speak less of conventional melodies and function more like a New Age spiritual soundtrack. In a positive way, the music practically begs for pretentious descriptions.

Duck Dive Inner Pro-BIGJakarta-based label Space Records shows just how forward thinking they are by reissuing Duck Dive’s debut record. Originally released in limited numbers through experimental French label Synth Series in 2010, Inner Projections is now purchasable in record stores throughout Indonesia, as well as online. Along with more nuanced and fitting artwork contributed by Indonesian artists and musicians Jonathan Kusuma and Angga Utama, as well as a new track listing and additional remixes by Jonathan, Inner Projections finally feels like the record it was always meant to be.

28-year old Muhammad Fahri, better known as Gonzo, is the name behind the one-man band that is Duck Dive. Amiable and a treasure trove of off-kilter musical references, Gonzo counts artists like German psychedelic acts Ash Ra Tempel and Popol Vuh, and legendary minimalist composer Terry Riley as primary influences. His first release was a split with Plankton Wat on Stunned.

Inner Projections’ aquatic ambience (as well as having the “Duck Dive” moniker) is a conscious decision that has shaped Gonzo’s music. Tracks such as “Taking Liquid Horizon,” “Rooms of Thoughts,” “Multiversal Drift,” and “Quasar Vision” all point to a meditative, underwater nuances that are sometimes calming and sometimes disorienting.

“During the time Inner Projections was being written, I had just gotten my first synthesizer and was just starting to get into scuba diving, so I traveled a lot to dive a number of places around the country. These two things are the foundation for the album because they opened my mind in so many ways. The diving gave me the knowledge of sea life and the understanding of how nature works; how vulnerable we are at the mercy of the ocean once we are below the surface,” Gonzo says.

DDpic1Gonzo calls his synthesizer work — almost all of which was done using analog equipment and a beat down 4-track recorder — on the album an attempt at interpreting and emulating the diving experiences.

“I used a lot of looping pedals to create layers upon layers of melodies and textures to recapture the mood, or to create new atmosphere inspired by the nautical experience I had.”

Gonzo feels that his music works best on people with the same oceanic passion as his.

“Sometimes I think a person who has already experienced underwater activity might have no problem relating to the music I make, but that doesn’t mean others who haven’t won’t get it. I just hope that my music would help them develop some sort of fascination or at least curiosity about nature, and along the way they’ll understand how important nature [is]. The music is nature doing some sort of action inside our heads. It has to go together.”

Gonzo calls his fascination with the ocean the backbone of the album. A self-proclaimed fan of mother nature since he was a child, Gonzo draws a parallel between his young kid interests in animals (“I geek out whenever someone starts talking about animals”) and his interest in diving.

“When we’re talking about dark, mysterious abyss (that is the ocean), that’s the ultimate framework for creativity and I guess that is the starting point for me when I recorded Inner Projections. Ultimately it gives me the total freedom to record sounds the way I wanted. No boundaries, only thoughts of mysteries that bring a sense of peacefulness. The meeting of subtlety and chaos on the album clearly projects the message. Hopefully.”