John Greenland, painter, composer, sound designer and producer, is owner of Greenland Sounds, a sound design and music production company in Pennsylvania through which he creates custom sounds and music for film and industry.
John worked for several years as a Sound Design Engineer for Ensoniq, for whom he developed many of the factory sounds for their synthesizer and sampling keyboards. He has consulted with and provided PCM and finished sounds for several other companies and recording artists, including Casio, Korg USA and the Grammy award-winning band Shadowfax.
His musical compositions have been featured by several area commercial and industrial video communications companies and broadcasters. A 1993 Pew Fellowship Composition finalist, his music was premiered at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in August of that year. His second CD, Wire We Here? was released in the spring of 1993 on Kultur Kampf Records. Periods of Lucidity, also on Kultur Kampf, was released in 1997.
John and his music have appeared in Electronic Musician, Keyboard and Recording and Engineering magazines, and have been the subject of a 90-minute special on National Public Radio in Philadelphia. John is currently the Director of Electronic Music at Eastern University in Pennsylvania. His musical compositions have been featured on prime-time network and cable TV spots including Good Morning America, The Maury Povich Show, Nickelodeon and Saturday Night Live. They are currently featured in commercial and industrial video presentations and film projects in the tri-state area. John is involved with composer Thomas Metcalf in an ongoing improvisational project.
WIRE WE HERE?:
"When [Wire We Here?] kicks in, this swirling, gurgling, toe-tapping melange seems punchier and
pushier than previous releases; in its more introverted moments it is a bit more atmospheric and richly textured.
What gives Wire We Here? its own personal character is not so much the more advanced technology as it is the way Greenland works with technology. Greenland knows what his synths
and samplers are about and how to make them work together. The instruments are more than tools, they collaborate with him the same way that the Hohner mute collaborated with Miles Davis or the way that light collaborated with Rembrandt. He is able to see the possibilities offered to him through the technology and to express himself with it, which in this world of over-reliance on technology, is a breath of fresh air.
A strong effort, a smart advance, and a solid contribution to the field.
"I bought this on the recommendation of a posting last year by RGC and I can best describe this album as an hour of music to test your hi-fi as well as your listening powers. It's one of the best produced independent contemporary music releases I've ever heard. The depth, quality and variety of sounds and instruments used is incredible and each listening (and there have been many) has revealed another treat. Mind you, the music is just as rewarding.
I admit it took 3 or 4 listenings for me to really begin to appreciate this album but perserverance has paid off!
Each cut is like a miniature film soundtrack - swooping and rising, creating tension with a sudden key change or lulling you into a false sense of security before dramatically changing rythm.
Favourite tracks include the title track and 'Harry Birthday' with its repeating, syncopated, 6 note melody line. Also 'Ekkos' with it's mixture of orchestral sounds and an irritating (in the nicest possible way) lead keyboard sound.
In the sleeve notes John says "I am not a minimalist. On the contrary, everyday life is so subtly
complex and multilayered that if I had to assign it to a musical genre I would call it baroque".
This album is itself subtle, complex and multi-layered and if you like your music on the
adventurous side then this really is worth buying."
Palo Alto, CA
Soft Robot, John's debut CD, was composed, performed, engineered and produced by him. It was released in 1991 to introduce Scarlet Records' new "Infinity Series". His influences range from Prokofiev to the Beatles, and the sounds and compositional techniques he uses combine to weave a complex synthesis of heart and mind rare in today's music.
"...some of the lushest, most sophisticated, and most orchestral electronic music ever heard".
The Village Voice
"... sophisticated, fully-developed electronic music capable of being mentioned in the same breath as Wendy Carlos. Greenland is a composer who happens to work with electronic instruments, not a fiddler who follows where knob twiddling leads him, which puts him in rare company."
Electronic Musician Magazine
" This music is forceful and imaginative. His handling of color is subtle, which sets this apart from other attempts at electronic music. In fact, I believe that John is breaking new ground in the mastery of electronic
technique. These sounds are not toys...but in his hands are real musical tools and ideas. This can only come from an actual gift for composition and lots of hard work."
Pennsylvania Composers Forum
" ... completely original timbral quality...Soft Robot dazzles the ear with it's sonic variety, orchestral scope, and lush, full arrangements... an articulate, powerful musical whole."
" Discoveries "
" ... I've listened to Soft Robot and I like it. It is one of the few exceptions from the general crowd of...electronic recordings that has captured my attention recently... very expressive textures and sounds, and I found [the] melodic structures challenging".
Synergy Electronic Music
"...leaves the listener breathless, awed by the strange power and dark mystery of this complex music...vibrant, highly visual...startlingly original... a wild ride through the further reaches of the imagination".
John Greenland's rhythms come from the street, his tonalities from the early 20th century classical masters, and his sounds from everywhere; breaking glass, musical instruments, everyday objects, his own voice, even sheep. Within the first few moments of Instinct, you can hear sounds he derived from a broken light bulb, shaking a jar of heavy cream, and from
sheep transposed down several octaves...
...It's a bizarre, idiosyncratic soundworld, but not lacking in musical logic. Greenland cites Stravinsky and Prokofiev as influences, and you can
hear that kinship in the Lydian modes and whole-tonescales of Instinct and Evidence, and in the Slavic melodies of Great White Hunter.
The pieces rise above the level of mere technological innovation through Greenland's attention to detail and his refusal to compromise... Greenland
mixes his sounds...to achieve the same specificity for which a painter mixes his colors, and the sensibility that underlies Soft Robot is that of a painter, not a technician.
Kyle Gann, Village Voice