At a time when pop culture artifacts are recycled, rebooted and reissued to capitalize on audiences’ eagerness for nostalgia, it’s unusual to find an outfit which somehow manages to combine the sensibilities of yesteryear with an eye looking decidedly to the future. Enter the audiovisual anomaly Telesonic 9000. Equal parts musical act and abstract art experiment, Telesonic 9000 weaves together genre-bending songs with kinetic mashups of midcentury films to produce an inventive brand of sound and video that is as nostalgic as it is forward looking. The ingredients which make up the music - the frantic pace of new wave, Krautrock’s calculated rigidity, electropop synth hooks - form the basis for a type of multimedia storytelling that connects America’s once-thriving enthusiasm for a brighter future to the looming uncertainty of our information revolution. This synchronization of sonic elements and stylized imagery serves as ornamentation for themes which capture an essential feeling about our relationship to time, and how the past’s visions of tomorrow impact today.
Telesonic 9000 formed in mid-2010’s Berlin, where American drummer and producer Dominick Gray — then working as a session musician in the city’s cross-cultural creative scene — began developing a solo project based around the idea of merging the experiences of a concert and film screening. An obsessive fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey (he claims to have read dozens of academic essays which explore interpretations of the movie), computer age aesthetics, and media-fusing artists like Björk, Massive Attack, and Kraftwerk, Gray began compiling his original music with footage extracted from long-forgotten industrial and scientific films sourced from public domain archives. Precisely edited to match sound with image, scenes of postwar idealism were reconstructed to transmute the sense of pleasantly assured optimism into larger concepts relating to technological advancement and the human experience. This came together in an immersive live show built around the 3-way interplay between Gray’s reactive drumming, pulsing electronics, and large video projections. Throughout tours at clubs and galleries in Europe, the US, and Asia, Gray expanded and refined the Telesonic 9000 “film concert” into a 21st-century update of the silent cinema format. This culminated in the release of 2019’s album and film Progress, a 50-minute collage of song and video assembled from over 300 archive movies.
Gray’s sci-fi and left field influences permeate Telesonic 9000’s look and feel, informing the project’s acute creative sentiment and distinctive visual style (instead of conventional announcements or standard social media posts, information is communicated through punchcard readouts and oscilloscope images). Now based in Ann Arbor, Dom says “In the overlap between music and motion picture you find the middle ground of idea and emotion. When paired in the right way, it’s a rollercoaster of both.”
Telesonic 9000's latest release Modern World is centered around hypnotic spoken word passages and a driving rhythmic momentum. The song and its retrofuturistic video delve into the ideas of information overload and isolation in the digital era.
Live in Turin, 2019