The Gary Goblins, Quoth put out collaborative improv record as Spectre
Electronic musicians Marcus Milazzo and Kenny Hill have shared a lot when it comes to music. Now, for the first time since their friendship and musical camaraderie began in 2013, they’re sharing an album release.
Milazzo, who performs as The Gary Goblins, and Hill, who performs as Quoth, debuted “Jam The Transmission” under the moniker Spectre on March 18.
The musicians met, Milazzo said, when Hill was hosting “Electrostatik” on local radio station WFTE. For one hour a week, Hill, of Scranton, would play both homegrown and internationally known artists.
“He was looking for local talent to put on there,” Milazzo, of Archbald, said.
Milazzo and Hill began comparing notes, talking music and trading records.
“The thing about me and Marcus is we’re both rhythm heads, industrial kids from the ’90s,” Hill said. “That’s where my background started.”
Both artists have released original records under their own stage names — most recently, The Gary Goblins’ “The Elf & The Fizmo 5” and Quoth’s “The Jooks,” both in 2016.
Their collaborative effort was unintended. In fact, it surprised the impromptu duo.
The session in which “Jam the Transmission” was recorded began as an opportunity for Hill, who utilizes mostly software to create, to pick the brain of Milazzo, whose music is hardware-generated.
“He had come to me to help give some pointers with a Korg ElecTribe drum machine and synth,” Milazzo said. “It was supposed to be a lesson on hardware territory.”
What started as a workshop for musicians to share knowledge quickly became something else altogether.
“All I know is he hooked (the synthesizer) up, and we were playing around; and all of a sudden, we were jamming,” Hill said.
Milazzo, who was running the session through a mixer, decided he was going to broacast the duo on mixlr.com, a website that allows artists to broacast live performances.
“After going back and visiting, and listening to the mix from mixlr, we decided we had more than we had more than met the eye,” Milazzo said. “Not as much of a lesson came out of it as an album. It was kind of a happy accident.”
The 18-track record is comprised of original improvisations as well as overdubs of some of Milazzo’s previously recorded works, such as “Moldschool” and “Tomato Fest.” It touches on the duos many influences, which include everything from industrial music to break beat to techno, house and various other subgenres.
“The greatest thing about the Spectre album is it was just us hanging out,” Hill said. “This is us bare bones jamming. There was no connection between machines; we were just on each other’s body clocks. We were just vibing.”
Milazzo said he finds it easy to mesh with Hill musically because they have similar influences and tastes.
“If I say something about a sample I heard in a song, he’s going to know what I’m talking about and vice versa,” Milazzo said. “We came from the same school.”
And although Milazzo’s instrument of choice is a synthesizer and Hill has, to this point, preferred a computer, the two have a deep appreciation for each other’s styles.
“I like my hardware, but I’m not a purist,” Milazzo said. “I highly respect (the software approach), because it’s a world I’m not comfortable with.”
Hill, a self-described “beat-oriented guy,” said he’s amazed by Milazzo’s synth work.
“What he does with synths and tones and textures is incredible,” Hill said.
Hill said his slightly dancier tendencies and Milazzo’s aggressive, beat-driven style were woven together on “Jam The Transmission,” resulting in something that contains hallmarks of both their styles.
The friends turned accidental improvisational electronic duo admire each other as much as they admire each other’s music.
“Marcus is a great influence on me,” Hill said. “I’m lucky to that one of my greatest influences is also one of my best friends.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.