Tijuana and Baja California have a long history with electronic music, and it seems that the community there has blossomed yet again over the last few years. There’s a thriving underground scene creating experimental concoctions removed from the dance floor, ranging from Les Temps Barbares’ raw noise to Hidhawk’s sample-heavy collages, and everything in between.
One such artist popped onto our radar when he was announced as part of this year’s Mutek.Mx lineup: Gaspar Peralta. Though he was classically trained as a pianist and composer, Peralta’s material embraces both the abstract quality of ambient music and the elegance of classical works, and creates a placid world you’re invited to inhabit. During his opening set at Mutek’s FMCC2 event, his loop-based performance, which combined an electric piano and hardware, stunned audiences.
Peralta gave Remezcla the low down on his debut EP Prontuario Sosiego Miríada and his perspective on the current state of Mexican electronic music. If you need a break from the anxieties of the Internet, look no further: Gaspar Peralta’s music builds tranquil shelters of sound for you alone.
Having formally studied music at Universidad Autonóma de Baja California, a career with a reputation of being strict and rigid, what made you take an improvisational path? And how did you transition into electronic music?
I think it started from exploring timbre: playing the interior of the piano, preparing it, and using sound objects. [In order to do that] I needed to break away from classical or formal music’s structural techniques. I really like interpreting works by Bach or Schubert, to name a couple of composers, but I found it enticing to play something that cannot be repeated. It sparked, as I mentioned, an interest in exploring different sounds. The first step was free improvisation, and I felt like the natural next step was electronic music, especially with synthesizers and their live processing.
Was it easy for you to find the relationship between classical music and electronic experimentation and use it as the starting point for your own music?
I had to completely leave behind the classical tradition in order to return to it in a subtle way using electronic means, especially in my live shows. Even though there’s a big dose of improvisation, I take parameters inherited from classical music into consideration. I normally think of my live electronic pieces as big diatonic clusters; sometimes, there are motifs or themes that I repeat inside a mist of timbre. I think it’s more evident in my compositions, like, for instance, on the brief Ostinatos series found on my Prontuario Sosiego Miríada EP.
Prontuario Sosiego Miríada is a body of work that alternates between ambient landscapes and beautiful, more structured pieces – Ostinatos – where the piano is the protagonist. How did you conceptualize this release?
I had some sketches, notes, and ideas which developed into the Ostinatos. Everything is written using very few strokes; my purpose was to build some sort of shelter where you could enter and find some calm. I worked the electronic pieces in the studio, and they link the acoustic pieces through tonality and character. These six tracks are my brief annotations on calm; they’re my soothing handbook.
Gaspar Peralta’s music builds tranquil shelters of sound for you alone.
Regardless of the route you take or the equipment you use when making music, you manage to create an intimate atmosphere in your recordings and concerts that emanates pure emotion. Is there something in specific you want to convey with your music?
Yes. I usually work a lot with loops on a live setting; I like to think that each repetition gets more and more intimate, provoking a feeling of immersion little by little. When that is achieved, it creates a place where there’s an interpretative flexibility about what’s happening, and that gives the listener freedom.
Do you believe the bicultural nature of being born and raised on the northwestern border of Mexico – between Mexico and the U..S – has affected the way you understand, create, and listen to music at all?
I’m sure it has. Maybe that biculturality you mention is analogous to the openness and mixture that sometimes happens between classical and electronic music in my work. But, to be honest, it doesn’t occur in a conscious way – I guess it’s within me now. It doesn’t just affect the way I make music or work with sound, but the way I think, act, and live.
Baja California, and particularly Tijuana, has traditionally been on the forefront of the Mexican electronic music history, and more and more projects have come out lately, many of which share the free and experimental nature of your approach. What’s your perspective on the local and national scene?
You’re right. Tijuana has been giving birth to great electronic music projects for a long time. There is something invisible that drives that border city towards experimentation. I consider Tijuana’s [electronic] scene to be in a very good stage; several projects are in the process of consolidating, and diverse genres and trends are being received with joy and the artists take the best qualities out of each of them. At [this year’s] Mutek.Mx, I had the opportunity to listen to various Mexican acts, some of which I didn’t know, and I have to say that they’re on par with the international artists. Probably the only difficulty for artists in this context is that the performance spaces are scarce.