Hypnos Artists - Saul Stokes
Saul Stokes was born in Seattle Washington. After adolescent training on both the violin and trumpet,
Stokes discovered the tonal possibilities of the synthesizer and started creating electronic music as a
teenager in the mid 1980's. At the age of 20, Stokes made a highly impressionable move to Germany where
he was introduced to the new blossoming techno movement. Returning to Seattle in 1993, Stokes began
writing music and writing about music equipment as a monthly columnist in the early pages of Seattle's
XLR8R magazine (now a San Francisco based electronic music magazine). His fascination with the palette
of sounds available via synthesizer led him to learn the basics of analog synthesizer construction. While
attaining a degree in Industrial Design, Stokes used his knowledge of synth DIY and design engineering,
to build highly eccentric music devices, and began to restructure his musical ideas focusing on music
created purely from home-made synthesizers and sampling technology.
Stokes' early demo Burning Igloo was featured in the December 1995 CD and magazine issue of Future Music (later to become demo of the year), which led to his connection with Hypnos founder Mike Griffin. Stokes' album Washed in Mercury was also the first album released on Hypnos, now recognized globally for their high quality ambient and experimental releases. Washed in Mercury achieved a sound as singular and personal as the homemade instruments used to make it. From the ethnic-tinged techno-funk of We Found it at IO to the mechanistic pulse of Zona, Washed in Mercury was a varied aural journey, a merging of lean, contemporary rhythms and classic analogue synth textures. Stokes' second album Zo Pilots was realized one year later and explored new sound ventures made possible by a wide variety of new electronic instruments the artist was continually to building. Zo Pilots retained Stokes' recognizable sound even as he branched out into new sonic and compositional territory. The arrangements were more confident, the rhythms more open and off-kilter, the soundscapes deeper and richer. Graduating from Bellingham Washington's Western Washington University, where Washed in Mercury and Zo Pilots were written, Stokes moved to Philadelphia and began work on his third Hypnos release Outfolding.
After hearing Outfolding, Ben Kettlewell of Alternate Music Press wrote, "perhaps no artist in the ambient/experimental music scene possesses a sound as distinctive, fresh and modern. Stokes' new album, Outfolding is totally mesmerizing. The album is fundamentally composed of broad, expansive synthesized atmospherics awash with pristine, melodic tapestries. Stokes' provides an intellectually satisfying atmospheric work, arraying his understated chops as thoughtfully as a master of this medium."
Throughout these years of sonic exploration, Stokes has always been an advent live performer using the stage as a vehicle for improvisation, and experimentation. Rather than fooling audiences like many typical preprogrammed electronic acts, Stokes focuses his attention on his homemade instruments, and leaves the programming where it should be, in the studio. Stokes muses; "performing live frees me from the confinements of studio recording, diving deep into experimentation, play, and constant creation. The end result is almost always radically different than the music I create in the studio." Stokes has performed at many locations throughout the United States and Canada, most notably at two Star's End Gathering performances in Philadelphia.
In 2001, the album Abstraction was released on Minneapolis' GreenHouseMusic label. Abstraction fuses the best of 3 years of concert recordings with Stokes' latest multitrack atmospheric work. From Philadelphia to Seattle, this album is a fireball of ambiance. Abstraction isn't a noise collage, or easy listening ambient fluff. It is an incredibly listenable, wildly fresh and inventive continuous play album Stokes currently lives just outside of Berkeley California, and is working on two new Hypnos recordings slated for early 2002.
His next solo CD titled Fields, will bring together close to 2 years of intense multitrack studio work and will come out on Hypnos' new Binary label, a sub-label devoted to more dynamic rhythm oriented soundscapes. Prior to the release of Fields, a collaboration between Saul Stokes and Vir Unis titled Thermal Transfer will also be released on "Binary."
Fields, 2002, Binary
Thermal Transfer, 2002, Binary
Abstraction, 2001, GreenHouseMusic
Edge of The Forest, 2000, Wood Case Collectors Series (out of print)
A selection of Live Music, 2000, Wood Case Collectors Series (out of print)
Outfolding, 2000, Hypnos
Zo Pilots, 1998, Hypnos
Washed in Mercury, 1997, Hypnos
visit Saul's web site