Based in Montgomery, Alabama, Michael Earls began making music when he was a preteen using his Casio SK-1 sampling keyboard. He explored the sounds of his environment and learned how to push the limits of the device to accomplish sounds using undocumented features of the instrument. He collaborated with his best friend and they recorded music on a micro cassette recorder.
It was also during this time that he acquired his first home computer, a TI-99/4A, and began to study his first programming language: BASIC. His favorite game at the time was Tunnels of Doom.
In his youth, he began making music after he was inspired by the public radio program Hearts of Space. His parents made sure that he had new cassette tapes on which to record the show each week so that he could listen to it many times in the following week.
As he acquired new computers, he began to study different languages and operating systems. He began to gain experience using CP/M 2.2 and Assembler. He also studied word processors and challenged himself with the games of the time. His favorite games were Planetfall and Zork.
As time progressed, he began to connect to local Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and interact with other like-minded individuals in the area. At a later date, he discovered a BBS that used FidoNet, allowing him to send and receive his first electronic mail to users outside the city. He was also introduced to chat, which allowed him to have his first ever conversation with a user in Australia.
Just before the turn of the century, he was a technical support representative for an Internet Service Provider (ISP), during which time he learned everything he could about how the Internet and related networking worked. This would prove useful in his coming career.
After his technical support role, he landed his first assignment as a professional web developer, responsible for building an online shopping cart for a large publisher. This was before the world was introduced to Amazon.com, so there was no existing model to go by.
His first music release was 2000’s Southwest Feelings, an album inspired by his move to Arizona from his home territory in the Southeast United States. He was overwhelmed by the alien beauty that the desert presented him as he took long hikes in the desert, surrounded by new sounds and smells.
This was a time when Michael's professional career was at a crossroads. He was guided towards sales support (presenting technology solutions during sales meetings), but was still anchored heavily in software development.
While much of his earlier musical work was rhythmic electronic that didn’t really fit into any specific genre, his most recent work tends toward experimental ambient soundscapes.
Today, he is exploring context free grammars using algorithmic music composition techniques.
His music carries the essence of slow ethereal textures with obvious forward motion. Usually beginning with a lower drone note to set the stage, the music introduces a supporting mid-tone of a heavily processed synthesizer sound. Most all of the tracks in a piece of music are set to heavy delay, and ambience is provided by applying generous amounts of reverb. The underlying sounds are taken from various ambient sources, including heavily processed field recordings and time-stretched audio files of musical compositions.
Lately, he has begun experimenting with rhythm and adding more structure to his music.
Michael’s primary influences are Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Jean Michele Jarre, and Rafael Anton Irrisari.
He has over six releases on Bandcamp representing over two decades of personal growth and experimentation. From his all improvisational Southwest Feelings to his latest experiment in “Intentional Music Programming”, where he defines the intent of his tracks using the Swift programming language. The entirety of Intentional Ambience was developed using computer code and an advanced algorithm to process the intents to automatically generate the songs on the album.
Michael has a few repositories on GitHub, but most of his work was for his employer and is not publicly accessible.
Michael is currently working on his next release, vigorously typing away at his computer keyboard to develop the next Intentional algorithm with the hopes that it will present him with a much more rewarding result than the last iteration. You can reach him on LinkedIn.