Colorado has a bevy of great synthesizer artists, and not all of them are producing electronic dance music. We searched far and wide to create a list of synth masters, with a particular focus on people working on the fringes of club culture and pioneering new ways of using their instruments to craft music. Here are twelve of our favorite Colorado synth wizards.
1. Alex Anderson – Nasty Nachos
Alex Anderson has been making some of the most adventurous electronic music in Denver with the bands Flashlights, Rose Quartz and Nasty Nachos. For those projects alone, Anderson would be considered a significant synth artist. But his work with Willam Matthewson Devices means his knowledge of synths goes far deeper than merely writing the music.
2. Blackcell – Matt Jones and Eric Isbell
Since the ’90s, Matt Jones and Eric Isbell have been creating and refining their synth-driven industrial music. Without succumbing to trends, Blackcell consistently sets a high mark for the art of composing and using the technology of synthesis to create accessible and danceable music.
3. Chris Frain – Pattern Language
Whether releasing music under his own name or as Pattern Language, Chris Frain freely associates/appropriates sounds from a broad spectrum of electronic-music eras and genres. The influence of Cluster and Tangerine Dream as well as Autechre and Pole can be heard somewhere in Frain's labyrinth of sounds.
4. Gabriel Temeyosa – Kuxaan-Sum
Gabriel Temeyosa has been performing as Kuxaan-Sum for going on two decades. His use of all-analog, often modular synths culled from his own vast collection of the devices keeps his shows consistently interesting and varied. Temeyosa has also put on electronic-music festivals and synth trade shows, making him more than just a player.
5. Jesse Sola – Numina
These days, Jesse Sola doesn't play Numina out live as he did in a very limited capacity in the past. Instead, his own ambient works end up released on various record labels worldwide. A known figure in the international ambient-music world, Sola has also curated performances from national and international ambient artists like Robert Rich in suburban homes in the Denver metro area.
6. John Mulville – Paperbark
John Mulville is a practitioner of modular-synth ambient music with his project Paperbark, whose early albums were issued by Sole's Black Box Recordings. With sounds that convey a strong sense of texture, Mulville has contributed significantly to the Colorado synthesizer-music world.
Read on for more of Colorado's greatest synth wizards.
7. Lee Evans – Hippies Wearing Muzzles
Lee Evans is probably best known as the bass player in the rock bands Kissing Party and Assdroids. But for a few years, he's been coaxing unusual sounds from modular synths as Hippies Wearing Muzzles.
8. Mark Mosher – Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup
Mark Mosher's synthesizer compositions would be worthwhile on their own. But he long ago took the unusual step of doing “visual synthesis” to accompany his own performances as well as those of others. Mosher will play the music along with a streaming projection that interacts with the artist and sometimes the audience, too. Mosher also started the Boulder Synth Meetup, which has now morphed into the Rocky Mountain Synth Meetup, a group of more than fifty members that meets regularly to share information about synthesizers.
9. Ryan Mcryhew – Entrancer
As Entrancer, Ryan Mcryhew straddles the line between dance music and avant-garde and hip-hop production. But his main visible instruments are his analog synthesizers. Early in his career, Mcryhew was signed on to Software, the record label of Oneohtrix Point Never, extending his impact far beyond Denver and Colorado.
10. Sean Faling – Distance Research
When Sean Faling gets on stage — with or without his opera singer wife, Eve Orenstein — he brings equipment that looks professional, while he makes music that sounds homemade. For his recordings, Faling makes extensive use of his large collection of vintage and modern synths.
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11. Seth Ogden – Acidbat
With his project Acidbat, Seth Ogden seamlessly joins the worlds of analog synth composition and modern beat-making. Outside of his own music-making, Ogden also showcases other artists at various spots throughout the city.
12. Victoria Lundy
Victoria Lundy, who once played a show with Silver Apples, is also arguably the best theremin player in the Denver metro area, and her original compositions on synth coupled with her classical-music arrangements for both of her instruments sets her apart.