Prior to Area C, Carlson played guitar in Purple Ivy Shadows, an indie-rock shoegazer quartet who toyed with avant atmospherics before, over time, their experimental edge softened and they embraced a more tradition rock/pop æsthetic. When Carlson parted ways with the band in 2002, he went in the opposite direction, exploring more-abstract approaches to guitar until the idea for Area C coalesced. “I think I came upon it from just trying to make the guitar sound different. It comes back to my trying to free the guitar from the rhythmic way I’d been playing for quite a while. One of the places it led me was to drone-based music and using more delays to extend notes.”
It was important to Carlson, after so many years as part of a band, to develop these new ways of playing on his own. “The textures of sound and the relationship of different cycles and loops have always fascinated me, so Area C started as a means to explore those interests. I wanted to work alone. It became what it is out of me trying to make sounds using the guitar that I hadn’t been able to do before. Guitar is my main instrument, but my sonic interests are a lot broader than traditional guitar music.”
His sonic activities have broadened beyond performing and recording — as Area C, Carlson, who trained as an architect, also does sound and multimedia installations. One of his most recent projects was as sound designer for an interactive public art piece in DC called “Lo Rez/Hi Fi.” Designed by architect J. Meejin Yoon of Cambridge’s MYStudio, this sidewalk installation combines sound and light into an interactive “soundgrove” with music scored by Area C.
Closer to home, Carlson is collaborating on a multimedia project that will fill some of Providence’s vacant lots with large-scale projections and an Area C soundtrack. It’s a chance to work with other artists and musicians in that city’s vibrant cultural scene, which though best known for its high-voltage noise shows also embraces his contemplative æsthetic. “The small size of the city and the level of artistic and musical activity means that things do intermix quite a bit,” he explains. “People go out to hear what other people are doing and are inspired and challenged to do something different, or to push what they’re doing a little bit farther. I know that’s always been important to me, because it inspires me to improve what I’m doing.”
Haunt is available at www.lastvisibledog.com, and through the Area C Web site, www.areacmusic.com.
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