Four Things We Learned from the New Datach'i Album 'System'

BY Daryl KeatingPublished Aug 22, 2016

It's been a whole decade since Datach'i (a.k.a Joseph Fraioli) has released an album; the last we heard from the New York-based producer was a shattered slice of abstract sound collages titled Shock Diamonds. But Fraioli has now made his return, releasing the new album System, out now on Timesig.

Delving into the new album with Fraioli, here are four things we've learned about his return with System.
1. It actually makes sense that he's the second artist ever on Timesig.
While Datach'i has released music on Planet Mu, his new effort System is on sub-label Timesig — a label that, to date, has only seen releases from Winnipeg electronic artist Aaron Funk (a.k.a. Venetian Snares). Datach'i shares both a past and an interest in modular synthesizers with Funk; it made the label a natural fit.
"I was making these videos for the modular community, exploring the capabilities of new modules and such," Fraioli tells Exclaim! "Through doing those, I reconnected with Aaron Funk — we were good friends back in the day — and after a while he said to me 'Why aren't you doing Datach'i anymore?' and I couldn't really think of a good enough reason, so I was like 'Shit, maybe these are Datach'i tracks. Maybe I should make an album.' And it was really reconnecting with him that inspired me to get going again."
2. Fraioli left music because of Jurassic Park.
In the intervening decade, Fraioli has been building his sound design company, Jafbox Sound. He's worked with companies from Google to Gatorade, crafting sound to pinpoint accuracy.
"I saw Jurassic Park, the first one, and the sound just floored me," Fraioli explains. "I happened to catch this little clip on the news that had Gary Rydstrom talking about how he created sound for the various dinosaurs, and it just blew me away how he was combining these different elements. At the time, I was already experimenting with sound, more so with guitars and pedals and whatnot, but I just couldn't believe that there was a job like that out there.

"It wasn't until 2000, when I had my first opportunity working in a post-production field, when I did sonification for an installation in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I realized then that sound design was a neat way to take the worlds of sound that I was creating inside my head and let someone else take care of the visual aspect, allowing me to just focus on the sonic side of things."
3. The modular synthesizer is alive.
Like Venetian Snares and MSTRKRFT, Fraioli used a modular synthesizer to create System, and like them, he couldn't help but think of the instrument as its own entity.
"What really triggered a lot of inspiration for me was when I stopped thinking of it as this inanimate object. I was thinking more of like, this is an artificial intelligence, of sorts. It has this sort of sci-fi element to it, where I'm just sort of putting vague parameters on this thing to get it operating on its own. So, it's just collaborating and teaching an artificial intelligence to express itself and the more emotional that it got, it seems like the more sophisticated the A.I. is, rather than the more robotic it would sound, like you'd think. It's more like, the more sophisticated human it became, the better the results were."
4. After 10 years, he might have had some pent-up inspiration.
Fraioli ended up with 108 pieces to choose from for System. The album boasts 16 tracks, while the bonus digital album has a further 19, which still leaves another 73 floating around, although Fraioli did hint at a possible SoundCloud dump.
Check out Datach'i and his synth-performing "Sick Face" below.

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