The Main Sequence is an ambient/prog/psych/drone duo, formed in 2012, and featuring Joel David Palmer (Guitar, Sound Processing, and Loops) and Joshua Alan Weiner (Moog and other keyboards, Guitar, Bass, Percussion, and Loops). All of The Main Sequence’s music is improvised, spontaneous compositions exploring the soundworld of classic prog and early electronic ambient music. Influences include Fripp & Eno, Tangerine Dream, Popul Vuh, Sunn 0))), Wendy Carlos, and soundtrack music. Like the best of classic prog and psychedelia, The Main Sequence’s music provides a soundtrack for journeys through inner and outer space.
Read the Progstravaganza Questionnaire with the band below.
How did you come to do what you do?
Joel was already an established ambient prog solo artist, with several albums and many shows to his credit. He was a part of Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft course and has been using loops and processed guitar soundscapes for decades. Josh had released lots of music before as a songwriter, playing drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards and singing, mostly pop-rock music. The Main Sequence is his first foray into one of his great loves, the soundworld of early electronic and progressive ambient music, which Joel shares. We found each other through a classified ad of all things, and hit it off right away, improvising music immediately.
What is your first musical memory?
My first musical memory (this is Josh writing!) is probably my father’s records on the turntable: The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks. I was one year old when “Who’s Next” came out, with that amazing organ/ARP sequencer hybrid sound in “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, and I remember being fascinated by that (and also the loud guitars and drums!) at a very early age, say 2 or 3 years old. I’ve been obsessed ever since with sound and all kinds of instruments.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Mostly the late 60s and early 70s soundworld of psychedelic, prog, and electronic music: Fripp & Eno, Pink Floyd, Wendy Carlos, Eno’s ambient records, prog rock like King Crimson and Genesis. Sustaining guitar loops, Mellotron, Moog, sequencers, strange sounds. Our music is all ambient, mostly beat-less, and 100% improvised, so it’s not exactly like most classic prog. But we utilize those sounds and try to take the listener on similar journeys to the extended works of classic prog.
What message does the song on our Progstravaganza compilation carry?
Our debut double album consists of four “side-long” tracks (15 to 22 minutes long) and represent improvisations that, in some cases, are cross-faded and edited together. We thus don’t set out to “write” the music, we employ the “spontaneous composition” of pure improv. We get into a mood and explore it musically. Thus all the names came later from impressions of the music. “Noon to Evening, Dome Sector 4″ begins with a bright, rhythmic Moog loop, or rather several superimposed loops, with Joel’s processed guitar and my Mellotron on top. The feel is bubbling and busy, and brought to mind a 1950s drawing I’d seen of a bustling futuristic dome city (this is the “Noon” part). This impov cross-fades into another, more spooky and meditative one, which to me had both the beauty and some of the fear that comes with evening and darkening skies (the “Evening” part).
Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?
No, since all of our music is improvised live, completely. We sometimes choose a key, or a framework (“start very quiet and build to high density” or “rhythmic”) and just look for sounds we love and build on that, each of us creating loops that we then continue to play live against, fading out these loops and bringing in new sounds.
What is your method of songwriting?
How do you see your music evolving?
We were really heartened by how well these edited improvs came together into suites that really followed a trajectory that takes the listener on a trip. We’d like to explore this further and perhaps bring in more planned composition to our pieces–possibly “composing” more of the bed tracks and adding improvisations on top of that to go into new realms that might not be achieved totally live.
What advice would you give to other musicians, trying to make inspired music and get it out in the world?
Well, in one sense the music industry has collapsed as a business. This is bad for traditional rock bands or pop artist hoping to make a living at what they do. But then again, the internet makes it possible for all of us to create music more simply using computer-based recording and fantastic new electronics for sound processing, and then to get it out there at minimal cost to both the musician and the consumer (using, as we do, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, etc.). Plus things like this great Progstravaganza compilation are made more do-able by using the internet and Bandcamp, and more “niche” musics like ambient and prog can more easily find their audience through social media. It’s not a great time to make a living doing this, but it IS a great time to make music you want to make and be able to get it to interested listeners quickly and around the world. That’s exciting. So our advice is just do it! Use the tools available and see where it takes you.
What are you looking forward to?
We are looking forward to seeing the response to our debut album. It’s starting to get noticed on blogs, streaming sites, and websites like Prog Sphere and the Progstravaganza projects. We hope to meet interested ambient/prog fans and to get a pipeline to distribute our new music as we make it. This project has been very fulfilling for both of us and we hope to keep working together.
Do you think that Progstravaganza compilation series is good way to showcase the potential of many unheard bands on the already overcrowded scene?
Yes of course! I love that prog fans get a real wide spread of music types, from our very ambient stuff to prog-metal, and that anyone can stream the music on Bandcamp and pay a small amount to download so much great stuff. When CDs got so expensive it really made just exploring new music harder and more costly. Now with things like this, you can hear tons of new music at a reasonable cost and all the artists benefit from being exposed to the kinds of listeners that love this music. It’s a great opportunity!
Prog Sphere is compiling the first physical (CD) Progstravaganza progressive rock & metal compilation. Interested acts can get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org