Remute is an artist tilling some strange land. His terra incognita includes Limited, an album released on a floppy disk; Technoptimistic, an album released as a Sega Genesis cartridge; The Cult of Remute, released on a Super Nintendo cartridge and Metal/Plate, a two track release distributed on (wait for it…) a metal plate.

There is a philosophy behind what Remute (aka Hamburg, Germany-based artist Denis Karimani) does, his music and its appearance on esoteric and outré media, which 5 Mag’s Harold Heath delved into for an interview with Remute last year. There’s a point to be made and a point being made here, as old as the one about medium vs. message, packaging vs. art, fashion vs. capitalism and a march of technology often sold as an inevitable process of the planet but which is just as often A Choice.

So we were surprised to see that Remute has released a single from The Cult of Remute — “Hallo, Haben Sie Gin?” — on honest to God vinyl. Of course, in keeping with the aesthetic I noticed it was released as a 7″, one-sided only — in other words, the most esoteric form of vinyl you’ll see circulating in electronic music.

There’s always something to talk about with Remute, and his last few projects and the cartridges and metal plates seemed like a good place to start.

Last time we caught up it was about Technoptimistic, an album inside a Sega cartridge. Since then you’ve released an EP on a metal plate. How is that even possible?

I like to keep it adventurous. I like the feeling of a splendid excitement that comes after a brief “WTF?”-moment. And last but not least: I take ELECTRONIC music very seriously — it‘s the folk music of the technology lover and deserves to flourish in a playful, fun and appropriate way.

I want music to feel like a game that gives you the warm feeling of total immersion — nothing more, nothing less.

Technoptimistic is an album inside a Sega cartridge which contains a computer chip telling the Sega Genesis game console (a very good FM-synth actually) how to play the music back. So every time the listener turns on the console and pops the cart in, the console plays back the music live and in realtime — just like sheet music. The cartridge does not contain any pre-recorded MP3 or WAV-files — that wouldn‘t be possible onto its tiny 4 megabytes of filesize. It‘s just the code for artificial music becoming alive for a moment thanks to electricity. This is electronic music.

The metal plate contains an individual QR-code and whenever the listener scans it, the music plays from my Remute server.

Now there is The Cult of Remute, on an SNES/SFC cartridge. What can you tell us about it?

The Cult Of Remute is my 10th album and the first ever music album released on an SNES cartridge. The Super Nintendo was undoubtedly the most popular game console of the early ’90s and had some very special and unique sonic capabilities. Its soundchip SPC700 is basically an amazing sampler/wavetable synth! The Cult Of Remute uses a similar technology as Technoptimistic and is also actually a custom designed 1 megabyte computer chip (by my dear PCB engineer Mr Tentacle!) telling the SNES how to play back music in realtime. While the audio on the Sega Genesis is focussed and limited on cool SciFi FM-synth aesthetics, the audio for the SNES is very flexible and can sound like anything. You have to “feed” the soundchip with samples and waveforms and then it can sound like whatever you want. It‘s a T-1000-like soundchip and can morph into anything it samples.

Just pop the cart in your game console, turn it on and then a beautiful player GUI (coded by SNES wizard Molive) appears which lets you choose the songs. Stylistically it is probably a sort of “Best Of Remute” album as I am using many signature sounds I came up with the last two decades and so I‘ve made a tasty data smoothie out of them being focused on the right ingredients more than ever before.

How much of this is composing music and how much is writing code, or are the two the same for you?

I guess I do not really consider myself a musician anymore. I much more prefer the term “music programmer.” And so the whole process of creating music feels indeed like coding. My early Remute tracks were mostly improvised live-jams recorded and then edited in multiple sessions. Since Technoptimistic there‘s nothing improvised in my music anymore. All events are meticulously programmed and indeed most music is already done in my mind before I enter the notes and data into my program. I‘ve continued to work this way for The Cult of Remute and even spent more time with proper fine tuning and optimization.

You released one of the songs, “Hallo, Haben Sie Gin?” on vinyl, though I would note it’s on 7″ vinyl, one-sided, and priced at €7.77. Why this song and why this way?

Hallo, Haben Sie Gin?” is the most streamed and radio-airplayed one from the album so far and as so many people out there seem to like it I decided to release an “enhanced mix” of the song: I’ve recorded all the single, isolated SNES audio channels into Ableton Live, gave them a mixdown boost with the help of stuff like for example the Eventide H3000 and also added some new elements like a very rich sounding analog bassline (coming out of a Novation Bass Station II) and some subtle stabs from my favorite Roland synths, the JD-800 and JX-8P. The result is the definitive deluxe version of the song coming on a deluxe red 7“ vinyl and I strongly advise to listen to the song while drinking a deluxe glass of gin.

How is the music on “Hallo” originally composed?

“Hallo, Haben Sie Gin?” is probably the most catchy tune of the SNES album and for sure also technically one of the songs I am quite proud of. I‘ve managed to squeeze all the synths, beats and even a huge number of vocal samples into the tiny 64 Kilobytes of the SNES Audio RAM. The cool thing about the SNES soundchip is its extremely powerful way of (de-)compression: sounds can be very very small, short and downsampled, but still sound “lively” and good due to some clever post-processing and a quite unique, bouncy Echo DSP stereo effect. Some of the samples are just 8000 kHz and would sound like trash anywhere else, but the SNES makes its very own characteristic sound out of it.

Most of the sounds from “Hallo, Haben Sie Gin?” are coming from an E-mu ESI-32 sampler (with dozens of sample CDs and floppy disks) and also from my little Roland MC-101 groovebox I enjoy browsing for classic Roland sounds while on the road.

Vocals were recorded with the help of the Korg Microkorg vocoder and also the Yamaha MU100r.

All samples then got processed, arranged and programmed into an arrangement within a tracker-program called OpenMPT and then transformed into pure SNES code via a program called SNESMOD. In the end the song was something like 63,978 Kilobytes and after countless hours of sample and code optimization I was quite happy and relieved that I made it fit and work into the 64k Audio RAM of the SNES soundchip. This song really pushed the SNES audio hardware to the max!

What do you want people to take away from these projects?

I want music to feel like a game that gives you the warm feeling of total immersion — nothing more, nothing less.

Do you have a hint of what’s to come next?

There will be a bonus release coming up in August called The Cult Of Remute Portable. It will be released for the Nintendo DS and features 12 new bonus tracks and unreleased remixes.

But beyond that: The Cult Of Remute never sleeps! Working also hard on bringing my music back on the road when circumstances are allowing it. And then there‘s of course always the next musical adventure just around the corner…