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Even More Less Exquisite

by Damon Holzborn & John O'Brien

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Our earlier album Less Exquisite continued the original pattern of creating pairs of solo pieces asynchronously that we developed in Exquisite Coast. The subsequent More Less Exquisite was our deep exploration of Less Exquisite in real time. While the goal of More Less Exquisite was to bring our process to a live context, during the preparation for each rehearsal we continued to record solo versions of each patch before coming together in performance. Even More Less Exquisite is a selection of the tracks recorded ahead of these live sessions.


In the spring of 2020, as the Covid-19 lockdown got under way, we started talking about ways to collaborate remotely after realizing that we both owned a Make Noise 0-Coast semi-modular synthesizer. By sharing patches—the state of the synthesizer, including the positions of the knobs and how the signals are routed from one part of the synthesizer to another—we created pairs of solo pieces that shared a common configuration. Each week, we made two recordings: one based on an original patch—the Prompt—and then a Response based on the other person’s patch.

The title, Exquisite Coast, is borrowed from Exquisite Corpse, a collaborative image or text game, developed by the Surrealists, where a work is created either by using some set rule that all of the participants have to follow, or by revealing to the next participant only one part of what the previous person contributed. In this spirit, Exquisite Coast uses a tight set of technical constraints as an artistic challenge that encourages a deep exploration of the instrument. The guidelines are designed to foster creativity, provide a useful method to get to know the 0-Coast, and engage with a wider community of music makers.

Less Exquisite was an evolution of this game. The instrument has been expanded – the 0-Coast was augmented by the Moog Werkstatt and a handful of Eurorack modules – and we added a conceptual constraint. In the original Exquisite Coast we had defined only the instrument and a rough time limit. For Less Exquisite we came up with a textural/formal constraint that we came to call “slower.”

You can play Exquisite Coast too! If you and a friend have any of the small semi-modular synthesizers from Make Noise or Moog and would like to play the game yourselves, we have publicly released the web app we used to notate and share patches. Visit ec.rustle.works to learn more.


released November 8, 2023

Music by Damon Holzborn & John O'Brien
Cover art by Andrew West




Damon Holzborn & John O'Brien Brooklyn, New York

Damon Holzborn & John O’Brien are Brooklyn based musicians who have been improvising together for over a decade.

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