Spotted: Carl-Mikael Björk – fototrof

Spotted: Carl-Mikael Björk – fototrof

When I was at the university, learning how to become the best pre-school teacher there is, I met Mikael. He was one of many teachers I met during my 3,5 years at Malmö University, but he is one of few that stuck when I graduated.

He is also a musician and maybe even what you would call a “synthesizer geek”. So if you’re into all of them knobs and synthesis, you should probably check out his Youtube channel Carl-Mikael’s Cabinet of curiosities, and this EP from last year. Just recently he wrote a Facebook status about an upcoming Ambient release of his. I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. So I wrote to him about it! “There will be piano!” was his response.

So I guess I kind of had to write about it here.

Tell us something about your EP fototrof!
The fototrof album came along when I was ‘cleaning out the closet’. Scraping through collected recordings from tutorial videos published on YouTube. Several of the songs on the album are straight to stereo (slightly edited for release), improvised, recordings exploring specific setups or configurations of for example modular synthesizer, effects pedals, loopers or performance sampler… and piano, it turns out.

The song slinga for example is based around the Elektron Octatrack performance sampler and Hologram Electronics Infinite Jets resynthesis pedal. Both of those are fed audio from my upright J.G. Malmsjö piano (probably from the early 1900s). The Octatrack provides a monotonous drum beat. And also acts as a real time sampler and looper capturing fragments of the piano and replaying decaying melodies with and without effects.

The tutorial that turned into the slinga track:

I’m not by any means a keys player, but find it very enjoyable to explore tonal structures and patterns through electronic instruments and effects. Building textures and sonic landscapes. Progressing through timbre rather than harmonics.

For the song snö I was exploring ways to creatively use side chain compression within Ableton Live to enhance and build rhythmic structure. For ease of use, and possible laziness, the piano in that track is a software sampled one. The Native Instruments Una Corda. A brilliantly custom built actual physical piano created by David Klavins and Nils Frahm. And then sampled and turned into a software plugin. The Una Corda brings a very special sonic character as well as ease of use. Highly recommended.

The tutorial that turned into the snö track:

I guess I should find a way to combine my love for pop structure, electronic instruments and evolving pianos soundscapes in a creative way. That’ll have to be an upcoming project. 

Thank you for sharing this with us Mikael! And also, thank you for being an awesome teacher.

For more information, check out these links!
Facebook / Spotify / Website