For Toledoan Tim Story, presenting his music is a little more complicated than having a listener press ‘play’. The electronic musician has a lengthy catalogue of album releases and his sonic ambitions are, at times, bigger than what can be contained on a CD.
March 16 through 24 Story will give his sound the space it needs, transforming his 2016 album The Roedelius Cells into an impressionist sonic landscape at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion.
The Roedelius Cells pays tribute to German experimental composer Hans-Joachim Roedelius, who has collaborated with Story numerous times over the last 20 years. Though the installation is billed as a performance, Story described this unique display differently. “It’s more of a presentation,” explains Story. “I didn’t play the piano. It’s all Roedelius.”
Cells is composed of eight separate channels of audio, each replete with digital samples of his past collaborations with the German composer. Chopped and sampled with meticulous precision, each channel stands out on its own, with the distinct sounds heard differently throughout the room. And in the center? Harmony.
“In the middle of the room, the audio channels all coalesce into one sound,” explains Story. “But as you wander around the space, you will hear how these compositions are made up of discrete little bits. It’s like an impressionist painting, or a television screen— if you stand back the picture makes sense to your brain, but as you get closer it deconstructs into little pieces.”
Those familiar with experimental electronic music may recognize the names Cluster and Harmonia— two groups with which Roedelius is most well-known as a member, and which have been major influences for Story over the last several decades.
“I was a huge fan of Roedelius,” says Story. “Back in the early ‘80s, I put out some music on a Norwegian label. While traveling there, I decided to reach out to him. I had no idea that we would become close friends and later work on music together.”
The influence of this style goes beyond the realm of esoteric electronic compositions. Story explained that “Brian Eno took a lot of influence from these groups in the ‘70s when he worked with David Bowie during his Berlin Era. Much of today’s electronic music is still influenced by these earlier works.”
Finding focus in Toledo
When it comes to getting work done, Story is no slouch: In 1989, he was nominated for a Grammy for Best Children’s Album. “I was asked to put together music for a children’s album that was narrated by Glenn Close. The label, Windham Hill, was looking to branch out from acoustic music. I’m still sort of shocked that it happened because my music and typical Grammy categories don’t cross very often, especially back then,” he explained.
While many musicians make their way out to live in one of the coastal cities, Story decided years ago that the Toledo area was the perfect place to make
music. “Earlier on in my career, I kept thinking that I might move to a big city,” said Story. “But here I can really spend the time I need to focus on the craft and the parts of music that I find interesting. It’s less distracting. You don’t get swept up in the trends. I travel a lot, but I always come back here. This is where I’ve raised my family.”