Bloomfield Machine is an exceptional musician from Huntington Beach, California, whose strong love of music has been reflected in an astounding diversity of influences ranging from the 1960s to modern sounds. In this interview, Bloomfield Machine reveals the creative process and motivation behind his latest masterwork, the 16-track instrumental album “Left To Our Own Devices,” which he released on September 8th. Bloomfield Machine’s musical DNA is a complex synthesis of a lifelong interest in music embracing all genres and eras. Even though he does not use any mind-altering substances, the transforming force of psychedelic music is important in achieving his artistic vision. In 2016, he made the shift to computer-based music creation, bringing a new dimension to his craft and enriching his work with newfound significance and delight. I’m thankful for the opportunity to chat with him and provide insights into this album “Left to Our Own Devices.”
SONGWEB: How did your vast variety of musical influences, from the 1960s to today, shape the distinct sound and style of your 16-track instrumental album, “Left to our own devices”?
BLOOMFIELD MACHINE: Since music has been such an important part of my life since I was very small, and I continue to absorb different new influences, my musical DNA is the distillation of all these influences into something new I hope. I also have this desire to manipulate and play with sound all the time. Psychedelia was a huge influence and I don’t do any drugs. It is just the music that transports me. When I finally started making music on the computer around 2016—it opened up a new world for me that I had never dreamed I could inhabit. It was a real epiphany and continues to bring meaning and joy to my life.
SONGWEB: Could you please give some insights into your creative process when combining current computer tools with old analog instruments to push the boundaries of composition and sound creation?
BLOOMFIELD MACHINE: I once read an interview with Brian Eno many years ago where he spoke about keeping a keyboard that had many unusable sounds—but one or two great sounds—so it was worth keeping. I don’t have an excess of instruments, but a few have some great sounds that I like to use. I guess the point is whether it is a piece of old gear or a sampled piece of that gear, for me—it’s all about creating a sound that seems fresh and new. So I may use harpsichord or piano, but with some effect that turns it into something else. There are so many great sound effects, pedals, and software—many of which are free, it’s almost overwhelming. What I tend to do is find some cool drum loops or glitchy loops and write a melody on a cheap casino. Then I’ll just search at random through different VSTS and the first thing I find that sounds interesting and works for the piece, I’ll go with it. It’s a series of accidents. But it works for me because it forces me to make quick, spontaneous decisions, instead of going through tons of patches to find the “perfect” sound. I find the right sound with this process time and time again.
SONGWEB: “Left to our own devices” is characterized as a reflection of technological progress. Could you explain how the hypnotic grooves and powerful melodies on the album express the spirit of our changing world?
BLOOMFIELD MACHINE: As I was making this album, I didn’t have any idea or thematic tone at all. But as I progressed, I kept reading about AI, the corrosive nature of social media, and the polarization of people and it dawned on me that we have free will and this is what we created. There is a dark element to the music that is not a conscious effort at all. I think it’s my deeper fears about the world surfacing. I am a very optimistic and happy person, but this darkness is part of me and is expressed through my work. I don’t get involved in how it manifests itself. I’m just grateful that it does regularly!
SONGWEB: Were there any particular themes or notions that inspired the album’s short pieces, and how do they relate to the broader story or message you wanted to convey?
BLOOMFIELD MACHINE: The short nature of my work has a lot to do with my attention span and desire not to bore myself or the listener. That said, I do like repetitious music to listen to. I just think my love of the 3-minute pop/rock song, social media shortening my attention span, the George Harrison solo—always brief and tasteful/impactful, has a lot to do with this as well. I also like the nature of so many little ideas at once that it makes an impression and keeps the listener engaged in the whole thing. I’ve heard that it is very dense and can be a challenging listen at first, but I hope that the melodies linger afterward like they do as I create them. Interestingly, many friends say—the pieces should be longer. It just started heating up—they say! But I am noticing other electronic artists making shorter tracks, so maybe this is a new trend.
SONGWEB: How do you think your album will appeal to a wide spectrum of listeners, and what feelings or sensations do you hope they will get from it in today’s continuously developing musical landscape?
BLOOMFIELD MACHINE: Because of the wide spectrum of sounds, tempos, and tone of the work, I hope it sounds new and strange enough to spend time with. We live in a tense time. Maybe a good escape with headphones can transport listeners away to another place for a moment or two… Thanks for the opportunity to speak directly to your audience!
As a listener, I’m excited I approached “Left To Our Own Devices” with an open mind, embraced the unexpected, and was transported to another realm. The brevity of Bloomfield Machine’s tracks is what genuinely distinguishes the album for me. He admired the concision of his works. Each piece packed a punch, engrossing you with a diversity of ideas and melodies. It’s an enjoyable departure change from the ordinary, and while some may find it challenging at first, it’s a credit to his ability to fascinate and leave a lasting impact. In terms of how this album will be viewed by a wide range of listeners, there is a promise of something new and exciting.
Finally, “Left To Our Own Devices” by Bloomfield Machine is a testament to artistic inventiveness as well as a reflection of the times we live in. It’s a sonic journey that both captivates and challenges, providing a unique getaway from the global cacophony. This interview with Bloomfield Machine offers a fascinating peek into the thought behind the music as well as vital insights into the creative process that formed this outstanding album. It’s a must-listen for anybody who wants to lose themselves in a world of musical wonder and exploration.
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