Saturday, April 14, 2012

Composer Spotlight on Obtuse

Andrew Struve aka Obtuse has had a hand in musical communities for years, and has contributed his talents to quite a few projects. From his keyboard work to his live bass recordings, he has worked his skill and established himself as a standout performer. Obtuse has also seen himself delving into several styles of music through his releases including funk, trance and chip-infused tracks. He currently hosts the 8-Bit Power Hour on Arecibo Radio to showcase the various chip music of the world. I asked him a few questions about his past influences, as well as his current work and projects.  

Regarding his earliest exposure to music, Obtuse revealed that, “The earliest thing I can remember is having a Sony Walkman with a speaker and listening to my father's old Black Sabbath and REO Speedwagon cassettes. Black Sabbath probably had an influence on how I play a bass line. I loved playing Geezer Butler's bass lines.” He talked more specifically on his recent workflow: “Lately I use Reason and Famitrackerusually not together. If I’m stuck I just have to pick up my bass guitar and I come up with an idea. I usually start music with a bass line and some drums. I'd compare building a house with how I make music. I always start with the foundation and build up.”

He first learned about composition competitions in the fall of 2009, when an enthusiastic participant announced that one was about to start. From that point the concept of compos was compelling to him. As Obtuse explained: “I was drawn to them because there was a theme that gave me an idea of what to base my idea around. I also loved the time limit.” He later started his own short-lived orchestral compo, mainly the purpose of improving himself in that area of composition. Inspired by participating in the Doubles' Dash Compo, he also launched a one-time Super Smash Compo encouraging participants to team up for cooperative music making.

In competitions Obtuse is known for writing funk music both as a solo artist and in collaborations. A small running gag occurred when he implied that his grooves consistently prompt his co-writers to pen sexy lyrics. More recently he has put out a trance album and has also experimented with 8-bit tunes. He elaborated on these shifts in style regarding his output: “I love all types of music. I don't find much difference between genres. The notes are just played in a different way and the song is arranged differently. All genres are fun to play. As long as you can speak the language of music, no genre is off limits.”

At MAGFest 2012, Obtuse was part of an Arecibo Radio panel along with several other hosts. As he described the experience, “It was one of the first times where most of the Arecibo hosts were together in one place talking about what they love. I love doing my radio show on Arecibo Radio. I have to work to find new music for my listeners to check out. This forces me to keep up with what is happening with the chiptune scene. I love the feeling when someone tells me about great music. I like to pass that on.” He continues to host the 8-Bit Power Hour at

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