INTERVIEW: Thomas Park (AutoCad/Pantheist Audio)

by Marcus Pan

Chain Border

AutoCad/Pantheist AudioThe world around us is a sublime thing, not only in vision but in sounds as well. Cacophony is everywhere. However, what you probably aren't aware of, is the soothing sounds one can pull form the constructs as well and the math that makes up everything around you. AutoCad/Pantheist Audio's sole creator, Thomas Park, does just this, composing his music from fractal elements of constructs in the world around him. Fusing this with danceable rhythms and using more mathematics to define the rest of the track, Park has amassed a library of over 200 songs and his work has been hugely received on the Internet and featured in various offline media such as Spin as well. His work is precise, mathematical and as such can touch the listener at the base of their brain. Ethereal, smooth and mellow…be sure to check out the full review of some of Park's work by Wilde in this issue.

1. Thomas, you describe your music as Fractal Music of the Jackson/Strohbeen school. Can you give us a definition or some more insight into this?

Phil Jackson and Dave Strohbeen are musicians, composers, and experts in the fractal music field. Both of them, and, especially Phil Jackson, got me started.

2. Now I and most people I would assume know the basics of fractal imaging or at least something of what they look like. How do programs like Tangent and QMuse convert those into sounds and how is this interpreted?

Actually, Strohbeen's Artsong program and Coagula are the only two that I know that actually convert sounds from images. These other programs you mentioned (QMuse by Paul Whalley being a favorite of mine), use a template and open up variables for user input and fractal interpretation. It's like putting musical ideas into a sort of randomizer and then laying them on a template.

3. You also stated that you "arrange mathematically" as well. What type of process is this? Is there some kind of formula you use to get a certain rhythm?

Actually, I usually just use mathematical sequences (like in a math table book) - a "1" is an "a", a "2" a "b", and so on. Then I look for musicality, alter the notes, or just pursue the ordered chaos of math. . .

4. Do you find it difficult adding the dance and rhythm parts to the fractal creations?

No. The rhythms are the easy part.

5. How does the soundscapes created fractally dictate the method of rhythm and other dance fusions?

Mostly you listen for certain similarities or contrasts in mood and sound that you want to use. It's a taste thing.

6. Quite often I find numbers at the end of your song titles - Our Skies 2 or Stars 124 for example. This leads me to assume that there are another previous 123 versions of Stars?

No. Stars 124 is 124 BPM - just something to help me when I re-record the song.

7. If so, how do they differ? Are they remixes of the same data arrangement or is it that you used different data from stars to create completely new pieces?

Most songs with the same title use the same source for data. You should be able to notice certain abstract similarities as a listener.

8. How did you use AAVSO Observatory star data in your Our Skies series at Live365.com?

I translated the variable star data, reported almost every day, very precisely into a seed to be used for a particular set of templates designed with Algo-Arts Soft Step Software.

9. You're working with something that isn't completely controlled by you. Manipulated, arranged and given other elements to create a composition, yes, but how often do you arrange a fractal data structure or method to find out that you don't like the result at all?

Often. Maybe 50% of the time. Of course, the data's not to blame…usually the sounds and the idea I have for a song.

10. You do most of your music marketing online. Has this been your favorite venue, or do you prefer more traditional means of marketing?

I would prefer to sell a CD some day through stores, but manufacture is hugely expensive.

11. Many of the bands I feature in Legends have been independent in most if not all of their endeavors. How did you find yourself signed to Pivotal Records and ASCAP registered?

ASCAP will sign almost anyone patient enough and who will pay a small due. Pivotal was nice enough to reply to a demo I sent out. They are a nice, small label into experimental electronica.

12. After DJing for Acidplanet for a while and creating what you thought were just repeats of what other people had written, you started on a dark ambient experiment using H.P. Lovecraft as a background. Then you had an inspiration. And you said, "It all started with a tree," and out came a measuring tape. Tell us about how this happened. Get any weird looks measuring a tree by a bus stop?

No…I waited until I got home, then measured flowers, pretending to be the owner of the lawn. Basically, I wanted to find out what kinds of numbers to use as seeds for fractal generation - trees grow, they say, logarithmically, so why not measure a tree or other plant for its mathematical characteristics?

13. You've said that you were a "musical klutz" when it came to instruments. Can I drag an embarrassing moment out of you on this?

I think in marching band you could always find me marching to my own drummer and playing pretty far behind a given song.

14. How could enthusiasts contact you for further information?

Just e-mail me at: autocad13@hotmail.com. I don't mind - or visit http://www.mp3.com/autocad for samples of my music.

Legends Online