Gordon's formative musical years date back to the Punk Rock and Industrial era, and the DIY ethic of The Fall, Pere Ubu, Wire, Throbbing Gristle, The Residents and Brian Eno. The influence of Throbbing Gristle in particular can be heard in the Beat Frequency tracks Void Ship, Iron Sun and Unlit Airraids, the lyrics of which are sixteen anagrams of the phrase "Industrial Radio." Other influences include the writings of William Burroughs, Franz Kafka and a whole bunch of science fiction writers, the Dadaist and Futurist art movements and films by Peter Greenaway, Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch. Gordon calls his theremin "The Weirding Module," referring to Lynch's Dune, where the use of the weirding module is described thus: "This is part of the weirding way that we will teach you. Some thoughts have a certain sound... that being the equivalent to a form. Through sound and motion you will be able to paralyze nerves, shatter bones, set fires, suffocate an enemy or burst his organs...."
The choice of instrument stems from Gordon's love of classic sci-fi, and in particular The Day The Earth Stood Still. Gordon explains, "for me the voice of Gort is the defining sound of the theremin, the perfect choice of instrument and solely responsible for Gort being more than an actor in a rubber suit and bike helmet, turning him a living mechanism, ruling over man with absolute authority, policeman, judge and executioner, both immovable object and irresistible force, a wrathful god, inscrutable and Other.
"The space controlled interface of the theremin fascinates me. The interesting thing is not that there is no physical contact, but that there is electrical contact - the player is literally a part of the theremin circuit, making the combination of instrument and player a cybernetic organism. The theremin is not merely the first commercially viable electronic instrument, it is a cyborg instrument, giving it a unique status bridging the divide between acoustic and electronic music, bringing an electronic feel to it's classical use, and an organic, hand-made sensibility to the world of electronic music"
As the theremin is central to Beat Frequency, so the beat frequency lies at the heart of the theremin; the instrument's distinctive sound is a beat frequency,created from the interference patterns between two radio frequency oscillators. Beat frequencies also occur in the microtonal interactions that the theremin's continuous pitch interface permits, particularly when augmented with the other defining feature of Gordon's music, the use of echoes and delays which lend polyphony to a monophonic instrument and permit it's use in solo performances without resorting to pre-recorded backing tracks. The majority of the tracks on Beat Frequency's first album are studio recreations of live performances, recorded in a single take and with no overdubbing or post-production other than a little extra reverb, giving vibrancy and immediacy to the music.
The Chordless Chord
Beat Frequency's first album was named by Gordon's son. Gordon explains, "It was one of Alex's descriptions of my rehearsals. The choice was either that or Songs For Strangling Cats, which I felt could undermine my status as a "serious experimental artiste." Despite that obvious advantage to the name I chose The Chordless Chord as it refers not only to the cluster chords I was playing at the time, but also to the Zen-like state of grace that many thereminists, myself included, enter when playing the theremin. The theremin is a meditation machine, a magic box - a biofeedback device, sensitive as a dowser's wand to even the fleetest of micro-gestures, synthesising synaesthetic sounds we sing with our hands and are part of the circuit, fearlessly setting conscious control aside to lose our selves in the music. Who knows what might be brought forth by our evocations?"
The Chordless Chord is a record of Gordon's experiments during the first two and three quarter years of Beat Frequency, mostly in chronological order to chart his progress during that time. The earlier pieces are distinguished by the soft, flutey timbre of the Kees Enkelaar theremin, and the later work by the more brassy tones of the Moog Etherwave theremin. The exception is Kraken, which is a recording of a piece played on the Gakken Theremin Mini, a toy pitch-only theremin given away as a kit with a Japanese hobbyist magazine, heavily manipulated in post-production. The last track, Iron Sun, showcases the most recent addition to the Beat Frequency arsenal of delays and pitch shifters, a custom built two input ring modulator dubbed The Panic Box, which adds a new layer of beat frequencies to the Beat Frequency sound.
The Chordless Chord is a collection of cybernetic love songs, sung by a lonely robot in an empty cave, and echoing in the resonant chambers of your skull.