With five genre-defying and emotionally arresting full-lengths in as many years, Stephen Hummel (aka subtractiveLAD) has established himself as n5MD’s “flagship” artist and the embodiment of its “emotionally experimental” credo and ethos. Combining the warmth and warble of classic analogue hardware, a vast cache of original instruments and plug-ins and an improvisatory compositional freedom gained from over a decade in jazz, subtractiveLAD creates a sound both cathartic and escapist, highly personal yet universally accessible, with an emotional depth rarely heard in the often cold, cerebral world of “armchair electronica.”
As a classically trained vocalist, accomplished jazz saxophonist and Fine Arts student (with a major in English Lit.), Hummel had already accrued an impressive set of influences and inspirations when he decided to pad his resume (and wallet) by founding his own patch/plug-in company, “Wavelength Devices,” in 1999. Finding the same “thrill of discovery” in tweaking parameters that he’d relished in improv jazz, he spent the next four years creating custom instruments (with a special emphasis on analogue emulators), shedding his acoustic roots as he amassed the unique “sonic arsenal” that would become the bedrock of the subtractiveLAD sound. When business slowed in 2004, Hummel donned his new moniker (a nod to his favorite filters and an acknowledgment of his own mortality), produced a demo and, with an in from fellow Vancouverite Spark, dropped a copy on the desk of n5MD label-owner, Mike Cadoo. Impressed by the demo’s technical precision and emotional integrity, Cadoo signed him less than 6 months later and, in February 2005, released subtractiveLAD’s debut disc Giving Up The Ghost to widespread, international praise.
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