Nearing a decade since their acclaimed debut 11-track album, ‘Metaphysical’, the Tryptamine duo of futurebum and Charles F. Moreland III now return to the release radar with a new 5-track endeavor, ‘Jaguar Priest’. The latest EP to come from the duo directly follows the remix pack of their hit ‘Serpent Tomb’ released in December of last year, as these multifaceted China and Nepal-based producers continue their musical onslaught with their signature innovative sound. DMCWORLD gets set for a world exclusive…
What was the inspiration behind your latest 5-track ‘Jaguar Priest’ EP?
In the ancient Mayan culture, “Jaguar Priests” were isolated from society and literally kept underground in the darkness their entire lives. Besides turning their retinas into extremely sensitive instruments for reading the movements of the heavens at night, it also kept them away from the influence of the masses and group-think. They divinated the stars and guided their people accordingly. With this in mind, Tryptamine’s music sees the ever-present link between the ancient and the future as where our psyches should exist while creating. During the recording process we also disengaged ourselves from outside influence for a few weeks in a cabin in rural Appalachia and use a technique of randomization to guide our creative agencies. Placing our various available options of instruments, scales, time signatures, effects processing, and even genre styles onto strips of paper and placing into separate jars. Just as choices and fate determines the destinations we reach in life, these indiscriminate pieces of paper were our fortuners. So I guess the simple answer is that our main influence for this EP came from the stars and from the ancient civilizations that predate our current one.
Your debut 12-track album ‘Ergoline Transit’ was released eight years ago — how would you say your sound has progressed in this time period?
For that album we were still finding our voice with what Tryptamine would ultimately become. We knew that we wanted something rooted heavily in the psychedelic experience. Something that would speak to the grandiosity and heightened connectivity that unfurls when you’re in the grips of those substances. That album also had a lot of guest appearances. In many ways, I would say it had a wider scope than the more condensed releases we’ve put out since.
For Metaphysical (our sophomore release), we began to take a much more stripped down approach and keep it at a three piece. It was Charles (bass guitar//synths//laptop), myself (electric guitar//noise boxes//vocals) and the anomalous Dave Farris on the kit. At that point, Charles and I were getting into a lot of live looping in order to recreate the textural aspects of that record for live sets.
In early 2016, I made the decision to break away from the states. I sold my house and my car and moved to Cuzco, Peru with a handful of synths and drum machines. Charles moved to Atlanta where he founded his own recording studio and further developed his production chops. This didn’t by any means end the Tryptamine project, but it did mean that Charles and I would begin focusing on honing our own singular visions with our solo work.
The time off proved to be beneficial. In late 2018, we met back up in the studio and ultimately wrote/recorded the skeletons of what would later become our three most recent releases (Agent Provocateur, Self Titled and Jaguar Priest). All in the span of about two months. It was immediately apparent to both of us at the start of that session. We both had developed a wealth of new insight from our solo works during Tryptamine’s hiatus. To my mind, our most recent releases delineate a natural progression from our earlier works.
Where do you see your sound going in the next 8 years?
The Tryptamine sound is in constant flux while maintaining a perpetual stillness. We have always migrated towards deep ambient soundscapes with the foray into heavy trip-hop beats, while also being persuaded to explore non-western genres in our production/composing style. I don’t think we will differ too far from this formula in the future but will find ways to probe further into the expanse of these elements. We do plan to keep releasing music consistently and hope to find a film to score because we believe our music to be very cinematic in tone, but need to find the right project for our sound. There will also be a number of releases from our solo endeavors, Charles F. Moreland III & Tristin Morin (aka Futurebum & Ovipositor Tapes).
What aspects of your immediate surroundings in both Nepal and China influence your creative output?
I (Charles F. Moreland III) live in Pokhara, Nepal next to Phewa Tal & surrounded by the Annapurna mountain range. My lifestyle is tranquil and wild at the same time. Trekking or taking motorcycle rides through the mountains and jungles of Nepal to see the innumerable ancient temples has cleared my head in a way I did not know was possible. While my partner in Tryptamine, Tristin Morin, is more of a nomad traversing his way anywhere in Asia that will let him stay for a few weeks or months. At the time of this interview he is in Turkey, but has recently been in Albania, Burma, Vietnam, Peru, China, etc. I think we both prefer to live outside the cookie-cutter western lifestyle that has been prescribed by the corporate overlords of our times. This definitely affects our creative content directly, which is why our music is very hard to pin-down as far as genre and description. Unlike most electronic music in 2021 that is a formula of downloaded midi loops and sample packs that is far too easily packaged into a little genre box, the Tryptamine sound is raw cerebral emotive communication with our listeners. Using instruments, self-collected field recordings/samples, international scales, and ritual procedures uncommon in “modern” electronic music makes our tracks abnormal in the best way.
All of your tracks are sonically cerebral in nature — in specific, what draws you both to want to make atmospherically ambient electronic music?
Thinking of sound as organized chaos of frequencies and waves of emotion floating through space, we find inspiration in the simplest of sounds and atmospheres while traversing life. I think of all our senses, sound is the most subconscious in nature. For me a field recording of a past experiential location is more effective at triggering the sentiments of a memory than a picture. I also do work in the video medium and the prime way to create mood for a shot or transition the brain into another train of thought is through sound effects, music, or even room tone of an environment. With this in mind when we create music, we do our best to fabricate an unseen but profoundly felt macrocosm of perception. Atmospherically ambient music is the foundation to achieving our sonic agenda and leaves a well defined purpose for the rest of the elements of a track or album in whole.
In the years that you’ve been active as Tryptamine, what’s been one of the more rewarding aspects of making music together?
For me, working with Charles has always come extremely naturally. He’s one of the only musicians that I’ve played with where if you put the two of us in a room, the energy is always electric. Vision wise, we’ve always seen third eye to third eye and both have a profound love for analog gear. It’s never been about trying to write something that would fit a current moment or speak to a specific audience. It’s always been about our love for making genuinely raw music. Whether that means sending a cascade of drones over a gnarled Burroughs sample that’s swimming in and out of the passing void, or a mangled Jazzmaster riff over a bassline so deep in the pocket of a break beat, your mom slaps you right in the mouth.
I suppose the most rewarding part of making music as Tryptamine has been the freedom to really dig into experiential themes and concepts. Hopefully elevating psychedelic music from the cheese trenches of blacklight posters and paisley graybeards, to a more deliberate and salient lens.
What does your typical production process look like?
As Charles alluded to earlier, a huge factor in our creative process is the concept of chance, combined with complete disengagement from the outside world. Holed up in a rural Appalachian cabin, we used an aleatoric method via two glass jars and strips of paper that determined the outcome of which instruments we would be given in that moment, paired with genre, time signature, effects processing, or scale. A slight nod to Brian Eno’s “Oblique Strategies” deck of cards that he imposed on his peers in the studio, to break up any possibility of a “normal” approach.
The official music video for ‘Stelae’ was jaw-droppingly gorgeous — how did you go about coming up with the idea for it, and do you plan to release more music videos moving forward?
First-off, thanks for the compliment on the video! It definitely took some time to create the visual aesthetics I wanted for this. The original spark of an idea came from a short coming-of-age story for a female shaman priest in Asia. Her dream vision was jumping out of a boat into their lake, dying, becoming a fish, and emerging with newly acquired skills familiar to shamanic practitioners. I had this bouncing around my thoughts while listening to the vocals Tristin laid down for the “Stelae” track and applied it to a short treatment for the song. Once he liked the general premise of the story, I asked my long time collaborator and wife, Babita Shrestha, to help me style & act in the mainly green-screened video. I composited with the backgrounds and other elements, then I used style transfer and artificial intelligence learning software to rotoscope the video frames into oil painting inspired psychedelia. Babita & myself have done a number of other music videos together, including “Serpent Tomb” for Tryptamine, “Math Salts” for Futurebum and a few for my solo project, including “Death, 3:16am,” “Vimana,” and our first “Résonnent Le Stereo.” I also used a similar a.i. driven deep dream animation style and technique when creating a video in 2020 for my ambient modular-synth release “Acuity” which featured a Siberian Shaman during a mountain ritual. So I guess it is a stylistic vibe I’m loving to explore right now.
What do your plans look like moving into the remainder of 2021 and beyond?
The Tryptamine project is going to be a consistent collaboration between myself (Charles F. Moreland III) and Tristin Morin (aka Futurebum & Ovipositor Tapes). We are continuing to create and send files back and forth while making plans for an extended recording session in the outlying mountains of the Himalayas of Nepal in the very near future. We are specifically unsure of the fruits of these intentions but are assured to include a couple EP’s, singles, remixes, and maybe a short film. I am personally geared up to release a solo EP entitled “Trails Of Light” including a music video in the next couple months and currently finishing an EP of Nepali instrumentation features called “Jhakri Sessions” that I hope to have out by the end of 2021. Tristin also has a solo album, “A Mercurial River,” that he plans on releasing soon under his Futurebum moniker. Once travel and touring starts to be normalized, we will make plans to tour South-east Asia as well as U.S. venues for a live audio-visual experience. Unfortunately, that isn’t really up to us at this point, so until then we will be releasing music & videos online.