In Live Wires, Steve Horelick – Emmy-nominated composer of the celebrated “Butterfly in the Sky” theme for Reading Rainbow and numerous TV and film scores – commemorates the 50th anniversary of Donald Buchla’s electronic musical instrument, the Music Easel. He also honors his grandfather and father’s pioneering contributions to power transformer design. Their patents, along with Buchla’s instrument, are prominently featured on the album cover.
Throughout these 15 performances, recorded live in his upstate New York studio, Steve enriches his tracks with asymmetrical, Fibonacci-inspired loops and echoes. He melds the concept of a transformer’s spiral windings with his distinctive melodic patterns. Processed and panned through Apple’s Logic Pro, these loops intertwine into a symphony of sounds, paying tribute to his family’s electrifying legacy that fuels his musical journey.
Steve’s electronic music has deep roots, dating back to the early 20th century. His grandfather, Sam Horelick, patented key components for power transformers and founded the Pennsylvania Transformer Company. His father, Arnold, as Chief Engineer, significantly influenced the global landscape of electricity distribution. These historical transformer designs, showcased alongside Steve’s modern Buchla Easel synthesizer, are a highlight on the cover of Live Wires.
Transformers, crucial for modulating electrical voltages, utilize windings – spiraling loops of copper. This engineering concept profoundly shapes Steve’s musical approach. In Live Wires, he creatively applies the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical pattern that describes natural spirals, to create echoing spirals in his compositions. Utilizing his updated Buchla Easel, Steve forges asymmetrical musical patterns that mirror the Fibonacci spiral, dynamically processed in Apple’s Logic Pro into a vibrant electronic soundscape.
Reflecting on his inspiration, Steve says, “It occurred to me, right in the middle of a live Buchla Easel performance in Berlin, that without transformers, there wouldn’t be synthesizers, laptops, or any means to amplify them! I might have been on stage playing an oboe or cello, which would have been a completely different sonic experience. That’s why I decided to embark on this album project.”
Live Wires is more than a collection of performances; it’s a nuanced homage to Steve’s family legacy and Donald Buchla’s innovative instruments, merging the worlds of electrical engineering and electronic music. The album celebrates their transformative work in electricity, which has subsequently enabled the evolution of electronic music. It stands as a poignant tribute to the past, resonating with the spiraling rhythms of the present.
The Buchla Easel is one of the most original and best sounding analog all-in-one synths ever made. See what this amazing instrument can do in this Easel Video Manual created by renowned Buchla expert Todd Barton.
Listen to Live Wires on Bandcamp: https://stevehmusic.bandcamp.com/album/live-wires
Listen to Live Wires on Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/ca/album/live-wires/1718739023
Listen to Live Wires on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/4NgG0u6p9GFTyouJ956ox4
Steve Horelick's website: https://www.stevehmusic.com
Buchla Easel Explored course: https://macprovideo.com/course/buchla-102-the-easel-explored