Rhys Fulber of Front Line Assembly Brings Live Show to Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts

Rhys Fulber is currently touring with his live electronic-music project Conjure One and making a very rare stop at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake, Colorado, a town across I-25 from Monument. Fulber is perhaps best known for his time with well-known industrial band Front Line Assembly and the dark ambient duo Delerium. However, some of his collaborations over the years might be surprising to fans of that music.

His first remix work was done for industrial metal band Fear Factory in 1993, which isn't a huge leap from the way he established himself as a musician. But that bit of work led to other opportunities to do remixes for the likes of Die Krupps and Skinny Puppy, to name a few. It also led to work programming electronics for Mötley Crüe, Yes and Josh Groban's self-titled album. “Josh came about because they liked the Delerium record and wanted some of those programming elements incorporated into their record,” says Fulber. “It's, 'We want some of that sound, so let's get the guy that did it,' basically.”

Fulber went on to do similar work for Serena Ryder, Avril Lavigne and Rob Thomas. He's also worked with newer artists closer to his own realm of music-making, like Youth Code. In all of his work, Fulber has excelled at crafting sounds and rhythms that draw on unconventional methods yet produce something accessible. Fulber got into using synthesizers at a young age, and in the early '80s, the pioneers of electronic pop music were often great innovators of the form. “I first saw the 'Joan of Arc' video [by OMD] on a cable access channel and was fascinated by the moody sound. I immediately got the [Architecture & Morality] album and then became totally immersed in it, even buying the songbook and learning all the songs.  This was around the time I got my first synthesizer [a Juno], so I spent most of my free time figuring out that album. The first four OMD albums are one of my biggest musical influences. The combination of art, experimentation and pop they had was amazing then and now.”

For the early music of Conjure One, Fulber was inspired by his experiences traveling in Turkey and Cypress and absorbing the music of Western Asia and the Middle East and its use of compound time. This rhythm scheme is especially conducive to creating contemplative moods perfect for ambient music. That vibe also resonated with Fulber's longstanding interest in the films of Werner Herzog and Andrei Tarkovsky. “I think it is the meditative and contemplative mood of their work that I like and try to incorporate with a lot of my music,” says Fulber. “[I try to create an] inward journey, and things that require multiple views or listens to fully absorb the layers. There is also an emotional power to the work I love and try my best to project with my own music.”

For the current tour, Fulber will be bringing a version of Conjure One that should appeal to discerning fans of electronic music. “For the first time, I am incorporating an analog modular synthesizer into my live set,” says Fulber. “I did a live modular set at an event recently and was hooked on the feel of 'live, improvised' electronic music, so I had to bring that into these shows. I am now able to extend and go off on tangents from the recognizable tracks I am playing in the set, which I love. It also means every show is different. The static model of most 'live' electronic music has been frustrating to me. There are visuals, but they are more like mood wallpaper... A lot of artists with the 'static live model' have synchronized visuals, maybe to add some movement and activity to the performance. I think I am trying to do the opposite. I also like the intimate feel of the modular synth on stage, which works well in smaller venues. The set is a mix of Holoscenic tracks and the catalogue, with a lot of the older songs being updated with different versions for the live show.”

Conjure One featuring Rhys Fulber, Friday, October 7, 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show, Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 719-481-0475, all ages.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.