I see technology as the optimistic push through the limitations of existing paradigms: limitations in materials, processes, functionality, cost, and foresight. With each spearhead of technology, the limitations of incumbents are resolved. All too often, a slew of new issues are introduced that the marketplace is willing to overlook, at least for a short period of time. It isn’t too long before the marketplace demands better, and is willing to abandon the past and pay for the next-generation solution. Within a period of 125 years we’ve seen the evolution of recorded media go from wax cylinder phonograph, to tape, to digital.
Somewhere along the way, creatives exploit and embrace the way that limitations of technologies impose themselves. Imposing their ways much like a collaborator would, a creative will often find themselves in a love/hate relationship that they can’t imagine living without. What is the reason that musicians still use tape-based echo devices in an age where digital is nearly technically “perfect”? Wow and flutter, limited fidelity, and distortion are the hallmarks of tape technology that were engineered out over time, but musicians still often prefer tape because it adds “character” to their sound. So I got to thinking, “What are the artifacts of other antiquated technologies that have merit in a musical context? If David Byrne can find a way to use Powerpoint in an artistic way, why can’t we create a pedal that intentionally embraces technological limitations that musicians haven’t widely utilized?”
The Portable CD player! There was a magical period of my youth where I could take select parts of my CD collection with me while I drove for hours around Japan. It was particularly profound because my soundtracks were carefully curated selections. All it required: a portable CD player, a stockpile of AA batteries, and a ⅛” to cassette rig. The problem was that my portable CD player didn’t have read-forward buffering; if I hit a bump, so did the seamless experience of my soundtrack. At the time, it was very frustrating to be interrupted right when the music was about to rock, but in hindsight, that frustration was of the sort that I would never experience again. I began to explore the possibilities of putting this frustration in a pedal. I put some Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto on and wrote the software for what would become the CSIDMAN.
The first thing to keep in mind about the CSIDMAN is that it completely embraces and makes no apologies for the fact that it is digital (though it does have a 100% analog dry path). Digital is the CSIDMAN’s aesthetic: as a delay pedal, it strives to reproduce echoes as true to the input as possible without filtering. When you utilize its scratched disc, stuttery, and glitchy behaviors, it is pseudo-random, yet gives you a certain amount of “control” over the randomness.