Bruce Stringer is a guitarist, composer, arranger and producer. He has worked as a session musician and with Elaine Wang Yi-Ling (王译翎) in the Chinese-western duo, 雪宇 (aka Space of Snow). He has recorded themes and soundtrack pieces for a number of independent films and, currently, is working on his second solo album and a series of experimental music videos.
His unique musical styling evolved from experimentation with analogue electronics and guitar synthesizers, dating back to his school days. With so many ground breaking artists in the field of analogue electronics – from Tim Blake to Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre, pioneering movie director John Carpenter to British godmother of electronic experimentalism, Delia Derbyshire – the realisation was that a completely different approach would be needed for any new project to survive.
The unorthodox marriage of electronic synthesis to blues guitar seemed, at first, destined for failure. Indeed, the number of unsuccessful demo tapes filled with quirky, harsh blues licks over JX-3P sequences and Moog Opus 3 strings sounds was beginning to add up. However, through studious arranging processes and a greater understanding of wave forms and sonic relationships, the format finally gained ground with early versions of Gemini, Mathematics and – especially – Mount Etna Erupts. The latter was also the piece responsible for bringing together film and sound when Bruce happened to be working on a sequence while watching a documentary on the 1971 Mount Etna volcanic eruption: after linking up two VHS video recorders and an analogue 4-track tape machine the basis of Mount Etna Erupts was put to video tape as a crude soundtrack.
From that point, progress was made possible thanks to securing then-unfashionable analogue synthesizers in the overhyped digital age; Yamaha’s SK-20 symphonic ensemble, the classic CS-10 monophonic synthesizer and Bruce’s personal favourite synthesizer, the CS-30L (which he also uses as a complex guitar synthesizer) enabled him to begin on the path Be Bop Deluxe had trail-blazed with their 1978 album Drastic Plastic. These three analogue synthesizers can be heard on many of his pieces: from the opening strains of Hieronymus Bosch (of which the introduction consists of the very last chord of Who Will Protect the Innocent but in reverse!) to the macabre futurism found in the middle section of World of Tomorrow. PAiA’s FatMan unit and the highly under-rated British designed Evolution EVS-1 rack synthesizer also played a positive role in sound creation on Bruce’s first solo album, One.
Bruce is fond of Yamaha guitars, particularly those from the 1970s SG series. His SG-800 can be seen close to the flames in the music video for Carnation, and a very rare SG-60T is used in the studio during filming of the Gemini clip. Although most of his guitar solos are recorded with the SG-800 other guitars used include: an SG-200 for rhythm playing and another rarity – the SF-500 – when a clean, “single coil” sound is required. His choice of Yamaha guitars demonstrates his search for unique sounds but with the ability for traditional electric blues tones.
His new album reflects many changes in mood and illustrates the complex and sometimes unnerving nature of the marriage between the Peter Green/Snowy White school of British blues and the outlandish, unnatural sounds of electronic experimentation. From the classically-inspired opening of Hieronymus Bosch to the commercial synth-pop of OMNI, the industrial pulses of Carnation to the complexity of Mathematics, from randomness and dark humour in the sample-laden Talk Talk to the unsettling repetition of Dreaming of Machines, and on through darker landscapes in the World of Tomorrow… Ωne is an album attempting to define modern retro-futurism.