Telesonic 9000 Blends Art-Rock with Art-House

A mix of film, live drumming and electronica

musician stands in front of a large screen displaying the name of his music project
Toledoan Dominick Gray pairs music and visuals with his project Telesonic 9000 and its latest release, E.C.H.O. Photo by John Fleischmann.

Telesonic 9000 is the multimedia project of Toledo native Dominick Gray. Coming from a family of drummers (father Mark played with Kentucky Chrome and Maureen and the Movers), Gray started playing drums at age 11 while becoming obsessed with bands like Queen, The Police and Pink Floyd. Fast forward to today, and Gray, 33, has lived in Berlin, Germany, toured in Japan and Europe, and recorded drums for the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Gray currently resides between Toledo and Ann Arbor.

Telesonic 9000 was formed while Gray was living in Berlin. The one-person project, originally conceived as a live multimedia show combining his music and film interests, expanded into digital music and video releases. According to Gray, he’s a drummer first and foremost, and  drumming is an anchor for Gray’s other creative outputs, including composing, producing, filmmaking/editing and live show design.

Updating with electronic sounds

two black and white photographs of women using large room-sized computers are juxtaposed with two graphics evoking radar and sonar
Toledoan Dominick Gray pairs music and visuals with his project Telesonic 9000 and its latest release, E.C.H.O.

Released in March, the EP E.C.H.O. is the latest effort from Telesonic 9000. Musically, Gray wanted to capture the energy and experimentation of new wave bands like Devo and Blondie, but also update and incorporate new electronic sounds into that vocabulary. That’s where the synthpop elements of Kraftwerk and YMO (Yellow Music Orchestra) come in, mixing with the conceptual approach of artists like Björk, Cornelius and Steven Wilson.

The EP will be paired with a short film later this spring. Inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey, including postwar atomic visual imagery, the short film comprises 99 archive films, sampled and remixed into 11 minutes. The project will blend Gray’s experiences in Berlin with an American sensibility, informed by his art school upbringing in Toledo, where he attended Toledo School for the Arts. According to Gray, the interaction of sound and visuals really defines the world of Telesonic 9000. 

E.C.H.O. is sparked by the discord between the wide-eyed techno wonder of the computer age and the tech-malaise of modern times. We’re living at a time that was once envisioned to be a utopia, which instead has mutated into a digital world haunted by a loss of optimism,” explains Gray.

European experience

Comparing living and performing in the United States to Europe, Gray said “funny enough, I thought more about the States living abroad, and I think more about other parts of the world when living in the US. Overall, the US has so many outstanding musical identities and constantly creates new cultural revolutions – and the caliber of musicianship [here] is phenomenal. That’s a heritage I’m proud to be a part of. It takes a high level of performance to really capture the attention of American audiences, and that pressure produces great performers. There’s also the flip side where music that is left-field has a harder time breaking through, whereas in other parts of the world the public is much more receptive and invested in what they go to see and hear.”

Gray continued, “There’s a more intense appreciation of culture and room to breathe creatively in other parts of the world. Europe also has the advantage of being very aware of their respective long-running folk traditions and incorporating that into modern art in really beautiful ways. To me, it’s two very different worlds where each has wonderful strengths.”

Gray plans on bringing E.C.H.O. to the stage and film festival screenings throughout 2023.