Shasta Cults is the musical project of Canadian electronics technician Richard Smith. For almost two decades, Smith was the official Buchla & Associates go-to repair person for studios, collectors, and musicians around the world, having worked with artists like Aphex Twin, Suzanne Ciani, Mort Subotnick and institutions like NYU, The Library of Congress and Mills College in Oakland, Ca.
Recording demonstrations of the rare equipment that found its way on to his workbench is how Smith describes the origins of Shasta Cults. Although sounds have been trickling out for decades via Soundcloud and other outlets, it wasn’t until 2017 that Smith recorded his first album using one of these rare instruments – the Buchla 700. Configurations, released this past September by Important Records, features eight tracks of heavily-modulated, wave-shaped explorations drenched in effects, and was the catalyst for his latest releases.
Recorded over the span of 3 months in the fall of 2018, this album was programmed solely on the only fully-functional Buchla Touché. Developed in the early 1980s with hardware by Don Buchla and software programmed by musician David Rosenboom, the Touché features waveforms generated internally by twenty-four digital oscillators using frequency modulation and sophisticated digital and analog signal processing for timbre and output assignment, all of this controlled via a six-octave black and white keyboard, unusual for a Buchla instrument.
This LP is a continuation on themes first heard on Configurations, with more consideration given to the generation and capturing of the pieces. This album is less dark than previous releases, showcasing the incredible fidelity of the hardware used and Smiths evolution as an audio engineer. Put on some headphones, find a comfortable chair, and let this LP transport you to the mystifying southern cascades of Siskiyou County.