The enveloping and lucid track, “Sorry I’m Going to Think Positive,” off cEvin Key’s newest solo endeavor, Resonance (due out February 19 via Artoffact Records), is the sort of composition that maps out the language of existence: the chilling humanness is embedded in every inorganic pulse. It’s an effect only electronic music can achieve, something the legendary Skinny Puppy co-founder has a little experience in.
“I like a song that makes me feel good,” Key notes. “Not sure what exactly that is, but certain sounds and combinations can make for a resolving kind of feeling.”
Key’s new record is about that inner correlation resolving itself as an emotion. It’s both the specific and the ethereal that shines through. What’s presented is a human story and a hope for something more, a notion all of us can identify with these days. Resonance is a data collection of human origin, with Key’s inner and outer world-shaping its methodology.
“The record was made from songs I started a couple of years back until now, and a lot has gone on,” Key explains. “Phil Western [Key’s late collaborator in the project Download] came down and we picked through the folder and culled Unknown Room [the last Download album, released in 2019]. About three months later, Phil OD’d, and that was too much a reminder of my times with Dwayne [Goettel, of Skinny Puppy], so I felt an oncoming storm of emotions. The music provided an escape, and as the year rolled on to 2020, it became clear that I was expressing a lot of emotions. ‘Sorry, I’m Going to Think Positive’ is really my motto, in the sense that I could have just thrown it all down and walked away as part of me felt, but fortunately the musical therapy kept me active.”
Key’s impact on electronic music through bands like Skinny Puppy, Download, platEAU, and The Tear Garden, has shaped the contemporary electronic world as we know it. His unique way of using technology to shape organic life stretched the boundary of what computerized music could be. For Key, it was always about life, and therefore the fusion of real and imagined universes was seamless and transcending. The coldness of robotic motion was turned warm, even while it was still dark and desolate.
The connection to the human heart is paramount for Key, and here, in 2021, a breakdown very real and apocalyptic sits at the precipice. Resonance is in many ways offering a distinction, offering method and analysis for a world turned upside down. Technology cannot become isolating, and this is where Key has always shined through, using the inorganic to connect the organic, paving the way for conversation.
“Well, I’ve always felt overly empathetic to any issues involving animals, people’s rights, and just the general state of the world,” Key says. “Lately, with witnessing the Trump regime, I’ve kind of felt like, ‘hey, don’t you people see what’s going on here?’ My biggest problem was how few seemed to be really speaking about how we are all being sucked into that whole world. It was head shaking. Now it seems that we are opening our collective eyes after witnessing January 6. I guess it’s a ripe time for some politically active music. I felt that more so in 2016. There is a natural flow with music, how it happens around me, so this time my emotions were more personal. That’s why Resonance exists.”
The album, featuring collaborations with Edward KaSpel (The Legendary Pink Dots), Chris Corner (IAMX), Otto von Schirach, Dre Robinson and others, is fluid and Socratic. Both direct and open in an endless sort of way, something that has a traveling rhythm, heightened by the variance of its collaborators. At its heart it is unflinchingly positive, a warming sun holding up its concrete machinations. The live voices brush up against Key’s mazes of industrial beats as if predestined. Freewill and Determinism play out in impossible metrics. But Key is looser than that, happy to indulge in freeform.
“I love happy accidents,” he notes. “So, in some ways it’s nice to jam out some ideas and see if anything ‘happened,’ then go back and see how other accidents could possibly be interjected. I can’t say there is a regular method for songwriting. Following inspiration and intuition is a goal. Following a creative spark or energy. Quite often I will lay down a bunch of ideas and then go back after and see how they hit me. If I give enough time to forget the technical aspects and just listen to where it went, I often judge things based on the musical language.”
Resonance is in the key of life, a natural cubistic vision, the sound of the past and of the future.
Pick up a copy of Resonance here.