False Self

Out now on Café OTO's TakuRoku imprint:

False Self* works are a little slippery — they often deploy found materials, and some kind of systematic musical process to arrive at a place that feels familiar, but somehow unnatural. These compositions play with ideas of authorship, identity and the delineation between self and other. My hope is that these compositions evoke a kind of musical uncanny valley.

The series so far, comprises of three albums:

  • False Self plays music for six pianos (2021)

  • A false memory of a sports party (2018)

  • False Self (2016)

The first two albums were created in collaboration, and sometimes antagonization, with a self authored SuperCollider algorithm.

False Self plays music for six pianos was composed whilst studying with Jim Denizen Simm. Jim kindly indoctrinated me into his own working methods and some of the methods of his friends, many of whom are ex-Scratch Orchestra members; such as Michael Parsons, John White, Christopher Hobbs and Howard Skempton. These lessons led me to abandon SuperCollider in favour of working with more flexible, and to my mind, more interesting systems designed on paper.

The compositions are experimental works for six pianos; that use integer tables to arrange found cells of slow, jazzy piano music. Each piano has eight cells of music and one silent cell. The cells mobilize as hypnotic cyclones of repetition, that move in and out of sync, to create complexity from simplicity. As the compositions progress, the cells extinguish themselves in a languid, stuttering fashion — before the process begins anew.

Rudi Arapahoe 2021

*The term False Self is lifted from the psychiatrist Ronald David Laing's writing. I use the term to imply that there is another self working on the compositions with me.

A false memory of a sports party (2018)

If our memories provide the blueprint for our identity, what happens if our sense of self is built on a faulty recollection?

During the creation of A false memory of a sports Party I was inspired by Elizabeth Loftus's pioneering research into memory distortion and specifically the generation of false memories. The disturbing voices that haunt the album reference Loftus's work. They speak of past traumas, yet we are unsure whether they are lucid recollections or fantastic confabulations.

The album finds me once again working with my False Self Supercollider system. This time however, I extensively reworked, or to use Loftus's term — distorted, our joint efforts alone, in a final compositional phase.

These compositions are sounded by synthetic instruments, notably late 1980s and early 1990s attempts to synthesize and sample acoustic instruments. These instruments have a clunky, strange, counterfeit tone that I find fascinating.

Rudi Arapahoe 2018

  • The post below has some brief notes on the False Self SuperCollider program

False Self (2016)

Double Bind (EP 2013) was largely inspired by the writings of Gregory Bateson and Ronald David Laing. The EP explored dualities and the different selves we use to inhabit our various faces. With this new work I wanted to take this exploration further by introducing a new self into the composition process. I created this False Self in the SuperColider programming language, as an algorithmic musician designed to compose and play alongside my true self.

At first False Self composed in a naive fashion, though like any good student; he became more accomplished and free thinking. As time passed I taught him various rules and systems to follow and occasionally deviate from.

As the project progressed I found that if I positively adjusted the timing of his notes in post-production it would give the illusion that he had led the composition and I had been his accompanist. Further I realized that if I recycled the simple initial composition through False Self he would respond with another layer of instrumentation; or as in the case of It Becomes You, I found that if I removed the notation for the lead melody I had composed; then recycled the composition through False Self, my artificial assistant would compose in the vacant space, often to interesting results. The project frequently gave rise to the question of what and why is something in ‘good’ taste. False Self may have followed all of the rules, but due to some unforeseen condition he would make a decision that would take me off guard and lead me into new territory.

Rudi Arapahoe 2016