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XLR8R - Backissues - #16 -THE ROCKET SHIP ISSUE



Single Cell Orchestra

Isn't He Cute?

by Robert Shea

Single Cell Orchestra is Miquel Angelo Fierro. He has been producing deep and modernist techno and ambient for close to five years, with only a small selection of his work being available on recordings. These include the legendary "Liberated" EP on ZoeMagick, his "Unleashing The Horrors" contribution to Silent Records' ambient series "From Here To Tranquility," and most recently the "Angelic Silence" EP on Reflective Records (a track from this also appears on the "Synoptics" compilation). Miquel has lived in the Bay area most of his life, and all of his work has been featured on Bay area labels; his first full length project, due soon on Reflective, is a CD of outerspace proportions, literally.

"My upcoming Reflective release is a science fiction narrative that was written by myself and writer Michael Katz, it's called 'Dead Vent 7.' We had actors come in and record all the dialogue, and I've been doing noise stuff to lend some of the visual element to what is being said; basically it will play like a science fiction film, but you just listen to it. Myself and other ambient artists have realized that most of the music is just soundtrack music or has fine potential to be, but few people come up and say 'Miquel, we want you to do the soundtrack to our science fiction film;' even though Lucas film is right down the road, it's not as if they go looking in the depths of the underground to find people to write the music."

Single Cell Orchestra

His history in music goes way way back. "My father is a sax player in a group called 'Zero,' so music has been around me since I was pretty young. The guitarist for Huey Lewis used to live with us, he taught me how to play back then. When I was in 8th grade, a friend had gotten a keyboard set up, and I was completely intrigued by it. I'd go over to help him mix his music; later, he let me work on a couple songs of my own songs. I've been in and out of a few musical projects since, some electric and some not. After a while, I decided I wanted to work alone, and as I was getting into my house music, my brother was a DJ, I started doing dance music. I cut a demo at Third Floor Productions way back when they were on the second floor, I met many people through them. They had a whole bunch of room, they rented it out to hip hop guys, indie bands, techno, deep house people, pop producers even. I shared a room with Jonah Sharp, back when he was just Spacetime. Jonah and I even did a show together, we opened up for Psychic TV in May of 1992."

Miquel did a remix for North Bay buddy Daum Bentley, otherwise known as Freaky Chakra, which appeared on Daum's recent Astralwerks single, "Peace Fixation." He has been developing his skills as a live performer, and has had many opportunities. "I've been playing a lot lately. I've been doing work with Sound Traffic Control, a local artist electronic collective. They work on a sophisticated system with computers and software that can route sound in a 3D sort of way. When I perform, I try to do it mostly live, with the exception of one taped cut, usually I only use tapes for backing noise and stuff like that. I have an S280 that I do sequencing with, I bring a few drum machines, my sampler, and I get my whole system going as one song, with fairly different and distinct parts, so I can move through out this one large piece for my show. The last few shows I've done have been like this, over 1.5 hours non-stop."

When you experience the musical efforts of Miquel, you may wonder on how he comes up with such a unique sound, you may wonder what sorts of sounds does he like listening to himself. "I really enjoy acid as form of dance music, and I've been having a good time lately listening to jungle. There are too many bad jungle records out there, the good stuff is few and far between, but it is fun music. I find the whole 'backbeat' aesthetic to be the best thing out there right now. I draw inspiration from all sorts of pieces, but it won't be the institution as much as the concept. Some stuff I've been working on lately has had a double time thing happening, there may not even be a beat at all, but there will be repetitive movements. With my music,I try to reach myself. With 'Angelic Science,' it represents different points on the curve of how I was feeling at the time. I don't set a goal with any one project, whenever I have done that it usually comes out the opposite, or just won't come out at all."

Miquel's recorded music seems very suited to the Reflective Records sound. From electro-ambient, to hard edged techno beats, to atmospheric space-fests, his sound is hard to describe, and even harder to classify. It is only a matter of time before many new ears become Single Cell Orchestra devotees, his openness to collaboration, his warm and unassuming nature, and his talents will ensure him a steady gig in the music scene of tomorrow. Watch out for the release of his next project, "Dead Vent 7," out on Reflective sometime this spring.