Rod Modell writes in the liner notes for Waveform Transmissions, “F.Y.I. - Dr. Patrick Flanagan has perfected the Mark XI and Thinkman Model 50 neurophones. It is possible to
download taped information directly into long term memory. The U.S. Government will not recognize his work even though he has made a deaf man hear for them, and the CIA utilizes this system daily.” This
quote sums up nicely the the ‘attitude’ of Rod Modell’s ambient music. An amazing release, “v1.0-1.9” (released on Silent Records in 1996) is an important gem that has never received the recognition it
deserves. Listening to this CD nearly eight years later, I am amazed that it stands the test of time as well as it does. Ironically, “v1.0-1.9” was Rod’s first release and Silent’s (along with Makyo’s
“Rasa Bhava”) last release. Luckily, Kim Cascone found the music on this release to be important enough to slip it through just before the label was sold.
The power of the Waveform Transmission release
can be glimpsed by looking at the credits in the notes for the CD:
“Rod Modell - Digital audio graphs, granular synthesis (courtesy of M.I.T.), microwave communications, psycho-acoustics
Chris Troy - Analog
tone engineering and realization, location recording, para-normal research, recordings of the dead”
Recorded live, just weeks after Rod had met Chris for the first time, in the basement of WSGR FM in Michigan,
“v1.0-1.9” is more than drone. It is an exploration into the impact of sound on the human psyche. Similar to what Clock DVA was exploring during this time, this CD focuses on using earth frequencies from
NASA, microwave, paranormal recordings, field recordings and both analogue and digital synths to create a masterpiece of dark ambient music.
Two years after his first release, Rod Modell found himself
involved with Michael Halcyon (M. Sickinger). Mike was in the process of releasing a compilation CD that included many of the former Silent Records artists. This release is worth noting, not only for
it’s wonderful track selection, but for it’s success in re-creating the Silent vibe. Besides the two tracks he provided for the CD (one with Michael Mantra, the other as Waveform Transmission), Rod also did
the digital edits and mastering. The CD also included music from Michael Mantra, Pelican Daughters, Transendental Anarchists, and Heavenly Music Corporation, as well as new liner notes from Kim Cascone.
This same year (1998) also saw the first collaboration between Rod Modell and Michael Mantra. “Sonic Continuum”, released on Hypnos Records, contains two long tracks (35 minutes each) featuring brain
hemisphere synchronization frequencies, binaural beats, field recordings, 40 HZ tones, and Tibetan gongs. As if that wasn’t enough, Rod Modell also found time to release his masterpiece, “The Autonomous Music
Project” on the Soleilmoon imprint Lunar. Included on this CD are seven soundscapes that incorporate “electro-organic, virtual reality audio textures” into an amazing ambient release.
In the year 2000,
Rod joined forces with Mike Schommer and started the minimal techno label Deepchord. Quickly becoming a cult favorite, the Deepchord vinyl-only releases sold out worldwide necessitating the need to release a
CD compilation in 2001. Reminiscent of Basic Channel, and hailing from Detroit, this is techno at it’s best.
Today, Rod Modell is as busy as ever. Still co-running Deepchord and releasing
vinyl, Rod also does audio mastering for Richie Hawtin’s M-NUS label. Rod performed live at the 2002 Detroit Electronic Music Festival and, luckily for us, released his second full-length collaboration with
Michael Mantra (titled Radio Fore) as a hand-numbered limited edition release of 500 copies on Amplexus.
This month (January, 2004) will see the third release of his Octal project and it looks as if it
won’t stop there. Much respect goes out to Rod Modell for managing to keep the spirit of the classic ambient era alive in his new recordings. I would like to thank him for the time and energy he has put
into this site and look forward to hearing more in the future.
Rod Modell Discography
Waveform Transmission - v1.0-1.9, Silent Records, 1996
Rod Modell - Global Systems Silent Moving, Silver Records, 1998
Rod Modell & Michael Mantra - Sonic Continuum, Hypnos Records, 1998
Rod Modell - The Autonomous Music Project, Lunar/Soleilmoon, 1998
Deepchord - DC 1-6, Deepchord, 2001
IMAX - Brush Park, Pacou (Tresour)/Linear Logic, 2001
Theorem - THX, N-Nus Recordings, 2002
Niederflur - ND4, M-Nus Recordings, 2002
Rod Modell & Michael Mantra - Radio Fore, Amplexus Records, 2003
Tracks on other CDs:
Rod Modell & Mike Schommer- “?” on the Six Hours One Week #4
compilation & ‘zine, 1997
Rod Modell & Michael Mantra - "Sonic Continuum [halcyon edit]" (7:16) on the Oscillations compilation, Halcyon Recordings, 1998
Transmission - “Sonology” on the Oscillations compilation, Halcyon Recordings, 1998
Rod Modell - “Ipperwash Twilight” on the Weightless, Effortless Compilation, Hypnos Records, 1999
Modell - “Cool Watery Depths” (11:03) on Between Sun and Moon compilation, Amplexus / Soleilmoon, 1999
Deepchord - “CD 12-00-01” on TechnoTuner V.0.2 compilation, Technotuner / EMI (Europe), 2003
12” Singles and EPs:
Deepchord - DCV07, Deepchord, 2000
Deepchord - DCV08, Deepchord, 2000
Deepchord - DCV09, Deepchord, 2000
Deepchord - DCV10, Deepchord, 2001
Deepchord - DCV11, Deepchord, 2001
IMAX - DC Trax, Octal, 2001
Deepchord - DC14, Deepchord, 2001
CV - Movement, Octal, 2003
Deepchord - DC16, Deepchord, 2003
Rod Modell - Kettle Point EP, Echocord / Kompakt
The Discovery Channel Television Network - Produced atmospheric background music for
television program on “Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes”, 1999
Deepchord set performed at the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) 2002
Von Schommer - Limited Edition Full Length CD release
featuring source material provided by Rod Modell, then deconstruced / reconstructed by Mike Schommer.
Special silentrecords.net interview with
Rod Modell (September 02, 2002)
How did you meet Kim Cascone and get involved with Silent Records?
Kim (PGR) was the opening act for an
industrial band that I was associated with in the early 80’s, so I was aware of him and his music very early on. Ten years later, I had a girl working for me at a coffee house that I
operated. She got to know my musical tastes, and then told me that ”I need to meet her husband (Chris Troy), because he’s into the same stuff that I am, and has a room full of modular
synthesizers from the 60’s and 70’s”. I was intrigued. Chris and I got together, and did some sonic experimentation. Things sounded nice. Then an “experimental guy” at
a local college radio station heard what we were doing, and asked us to come onto his radio show and do a live set. We did, and thought it would be nothing more than that. There
were no plans on releasing it, but after the broadcast, we were swamped with calls (to the radio station) asking where someone could buy the stuff they just heard. I remembered Kim from
way back, and knew he started Silent, so I sent him a tape of the show. 10 days later, an excited Kim Cascone called me saying “we have a very narrow window of opportunity here, and we
need to get this released asap”. the CD came out a few weeks later. It was all VERY fast. The CD was in stores about 8 weeks after I met Chris for the very first time.
I think it was the last Silent release under Kim Cascone, which is special. That’s what he meant by “narrow window” on his phone call. I think Kim knew the “Silent ship” was
Describe the "ambient scene” during the time you were putting out material for Silent. How has it changed?
think by the time the “v.1.01-1.9” CD came out on Silent (1996), the scene was already almost dead. I think ambient peaked out in the early 90’s. It was wonderful back then
because everyone had an open mind about “music”. Back then, people were receptive to new musical concepts. Today, “full mass-media deprogramming” has taken place.
Experimental artists that were selling 3500 CD’s in 1992 are lucky to be selling 300 today. It’s a shame. Most people I knew who liked Clock DVA (for example) in ‘92 listen to
pop-radio or rock music today. It’s extremely sad. To me, those people were never REALLY into it in the first place. I wish someone would come up with a master plan to
revitalize the scene. Some have tried and failed because they didn’t realize it needs to be a group effort, and not one person with an ego. One person can’t make a scene. Maybe on
person with 12 artists behind him that are equally excited about the future. Some labels seem to be doing good with a new-age variant of the Silent sound.
Is there any unreleased material from the Silent period?
Yes. Plenty. I have about 40 DATS on the upper shelf in a closet that have not been sorted or played since 1997 (when I sold my DAT
machine and bought a CD Burner). I think there could be many “sonic gems” on those tapes. They were all recorded during the Silent period, so I was in the “v1.0-1.9” frame of
mind. Chris also has many DATS and 2500-foot reels of tape from back then.
What is your favorite Silent release?
Impossible to pick one. I can give my top three:
1. Cosmic Trigger - Polar Regions
2. Michael Mantra - Sonic Alter
3. Chris Meloche - Distant Rituals
Any plans on re-releasing the Silent material?
Actually, over the past couple years, labels have contacted ma and asked, and I was all for it, but they never followed through. One label wanted to
put it on vinyl. I’ve noticed copies of “v1.0-1.9” selling on ebay for $35+, so maybe there may be an interest. Maybe it will happen someday. I would be up for it.
Re-mastered with new artwork. Maybe someone needs to make an archival label for “vintage ambient works”. That would be awesome! I’ll donate my audio mastering skills if
someone would do it.
What are you up to now?
Since the Silent release, I’ve had almost 20 releases (including comp cd’s) on LUNAR
(Soleilmoon/Amplexus sublabel), HYPNOS, deepchord, Linear Logic (PACOU from Tresor in Berlin), Octal, Silver (in Belgium), and many smaller labels. I co-own and record music for a
Detroit based techno label called deepchord (www.deepchord.com). Deepchord has been pretty successful (by 2002 standards) for me. We put out
15 releases, and have sold close to 20,000 records in the past 3 years. We played at the 2002 Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) for about 10,000 people, and recently (humorous
factoid), Alex Patterson (ORB) was caught playing my deepchord stuff in his sets. It was funny, a friend called on his cell phone (from a club in Boston) shouting... “LISTEN, LISTEN,
I’m holding the phone up”, and you could hear my music on the PA. He continued... “I just wanted to let you know that I’m at an Alex Patterson DJ set right now, and he’s jamming your
deepchord tracks”. Deepchord is distributed by Watts in New York and HardWax in Berlin. I’m also doing audio mastering for Richie Hawtin’s (Plastikman) M-NUS label. I just
finished Theorem “Experiments in Synchoronicity” (w/ music by Sutekh, Stewart Walker, Swayzak, and Dale Lawrence), and Niederflur “ND4” for M-Nus. There was a Rod Modell / Steve Roach /
Vir Unis project planned for deepchord, but Steve dropped the ball on that one. That was really unfortunate, because I think it could have opened Steve’s work to an entirely new
audience. Michael Mantra and I have a new ambient release planned for November 2002 on Amplexus in Italy.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Just to say, thanks for the time Darcy. Silent was a leader in the “ambient world”, and was one of the original ambient forces that spawned hundreds of
copy-cat labels, but few could come close to Silent’s reputation and influence. I think this is a great idea to archive things so it’s not forgotten. Keep up the great work, and
again, thanks for the time and efforts.
Please include links to any sites you would like included on the site.
* Note from the editor - the Michael Mantra / Rod Modell release Rod mentioned in this interview has been released. “Radio Fore” can be purchased from