Brett William Naucke (b. 1985) is an American electronic composer, recording and performing artist based in Chicago, Illinois. Naucke’s sonic output has been primarily focused on marrying an ever-evolving practice of audio synthesis with personal and conceptual narratives for recording and live performance.
With recording, Naucke’s work has been documented physically on over a dozen albums on national and international labels to a wide array of critical acclaim. His most recent release; EMS Hallucinations (Sept, 2020) recorded in Stockholm Sweden in 2019. Each recording represents a ritual or method of working exclusively with audio synthesis in both hardware and digital domains to translate conceptual ideas and visual projections into sound. With performance, Naucke has primarily focussed on presenting works for extra sensory performance which has included multi-layered video projections, unusual physical spaces or environments, sound installation, and presented many works for multi channel speaker arrays.
Arctic Watch was fully conceived in 2020 as a free flowing and meditative work for live modular synthesiser. The work originates from patches created in 2019 for more ‘energetic’ live performances and slowly evolved into a slow, meditative and therapeutic practice. From a visual perspective, the work reflects standing still and watching time move past at a glacial slowness, like watching ice move past from a ship in the dark months. The patch created for this work is set up to generate a myriad of slowly evolving harmonic elements and requires no human involvement to unveil itself. Each human touch or interaction sets off a string of electronic activity but the user is ultimately guided by the patch itself. This work was created and largely used in the winter of 2020 as a meditative work, a way to let an instrument guide you during the literal figurative ‘dark’ times of the pandemic. This final recording of this human-machine conversation was recorded on the shortest/darkest day of 2020, December 21st.
I think meditative may be the key word here. This work is as introspective as it is engaging in my opinion. I found recording this piece and playing the piece very different experiences. It’s something that while immersed in it, sounds very different than listening back.
Deep listening plays a huge part in both my creative process and listening process. With creation, my work always follows visual narratives as I have a visual arts background. I spend a considerable amount of time working with sound palettes, especially with synthesis trying to bend them into sounds that reflect the visual image I'm trying to convey. While it’s hard to fully explain, the most simple thing I often say to myself is “what does this image sound like?”. Or what does this sound look like? if going in reverse. If I allow myself to be immersed in the sound both audibly and mentally, I will be able to communicate feeling, emotion, and image throughout the sound without expressing words. This was why Ive chosen synthesis as my practice for over ten years as it has always allowed me to start with a visual idea, and build its' sonic counterpart from the ground up. With Arctic Watch, I often thought of watching the coast from a ship, glacially slow-moving, and unveiling itself visually through the clouds. With that image, I slowly built up a sound palette to match.