1989+33 Void

“Void” (1989) is an art pop song from my student days. One of my weirder, nerdier numbers, in it I still sought to be groove-based. It was recorded quickly along with other songs in a late night session, and included on my DIY album Sleepdancing. “Void” posed an existential question that required a complex musical answer.

The song embodies elements of the styles I had been listening to in that first five years of learning to play music, initially through the piano by playing along with recordings: reggae and dub, West African pop (Highlife, soukous), electronic dance, experimental, ethereal wave, sophistipop. The lyrics explore environmental and anti-consumerist themes in a naive way. My quirky vocals riff on the inevitable themes of youthful alienation, drifting into self parody.

The instrumental track was played manually on keyboards (including all drum sounds) live to tape without any programming, and the jerkiness of the music reflects both the era and stage of my musical development. I was eager to dive into the global beat, awkwardly on brand.

Composed and recorded February 1989
Keyboards: Roland S-50 sampler, Yahama DX27 (bassline)
Cassette recording digitized 2012

Photo: Danielle Waxer, September 1989

Music and composer’s notes copyright Bruce A. Russell 2022

By elmahboob

Bruce A. Russell aka Ibrahim El Mahboob (b. Kingston, ON, 1968) is a composer and self-taught pianist living and working in Toronto (Tkarón:to, the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat). He studied at York University with James Tenney and Phillip Werren. He has composed music for the Madawaska String Quartet, Modern Times Stage Company, McMaster Dancers and choreographers Pam Johnson and Tracy Renee Stafford. Interest in his work increased in 2020, with performances by Arraymusic, Prism Percussion, Second Note Duo, San Juan Symphony and Idaho Falls Symphony. He was host of Radio Music Gallery, and has written for Musicworks and I Care if You Listen. His interests are in 20th and 21st century concert music especially postminimalism, and music of the African diaspora including notated and non-notated forms. He is a parent of three and is employed in the financial sector.

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