Drummatic distance

What makes a master drummer forsake the traps and sticks for computers and software? In noise rock-ruling Gravitar and swamp-punk detonation duo Bantam Rooster, Eric Cook laid down some amazing and unique drumwork. Then he broke his ankle, and, as he tells it, "I was laid up for a couple of months. Suddenly, it seemed like a lot better to be able to do something at home, without my feet."

Intensifying his decade-long interest in electronic sound, Cook adopted the brilliant nom d’electronica Persona, reinventing his own identity as he processes source sounds into cutting edge, electronic noise-beat abstractions. It’s so cutting edge, in fact, that an unsolicited demo to San Francisco’s avant-garde dancefloor destroyers, Vinyl Communications, resulted in the release of the first Persona CD, Maximal, which came out earlier this week. An even newer disc, Uptight, follows on Cook’s own Simulated label. With an upcoming 12-inch, Persona’s recordings may be plentiful; live performances, however, are rare. As Cook explains, "From the beginning, (Persona) was very not live, very not real time. It was me, sitting in front of a screen and moving things around very slowly. I would find that I’d worked on something for three hours and think that I had the whole song done, and discover that I had only a minute and a half."

Still, new techie tools and toys just might make the translation from the hard disk to Persona’s ultra-rare live appearances a little more acceptable in the Persona world. Talking of a new CD player with some sort of scratching ability, Cook enthused, "I don’t know who they’re making them for, because it doesn’t sound like scratching. You can play it and fast-forward and speed rewind with it, but you can also pause it, and it puts it into that skipping CD pausing mode. It’s amazingly artificial sounding."

Because of this, conventional DJs dislike the device. "But if that’s what you’re shooting for ...," he laughs. "And I have been shooting for that."