"Negative pH" are Joshua Fanene and Micheal Bailey. Their first collaborations began in 1999 after connecting through the early, non-commercial incarnation of a major MP3 hosting site which hosted independent artists' music, had a competitive ranking system for popular tracks, and, for a cut of the profits, facilitated sales of individual MP3 tracks and albums manufactured from uploaded MP3s.
Bailey ('DJ Fony', 'disfony', 'Fony') was in the Army stationed on Hawai'i at Helemano Reservation. Owing to a lack of fun things to do on base besides guard duty and marching, in his free-time he started laying hip-hop and experimental tracks with FrootyLoops, as well as running an online radio channel and message board.
Fanene ('pHatty acid', 'Tigah', 'Tora', 'isotope'), who recently left the Navy, was studying Music...no wait, Computer Science...Um. On second thought, it was Psychology...Ok. Well at any rate, he ended up graduating with a degree in Theater at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. When not acting in plays, Fanene worked part-time freelance gigs as a sound designer, Waikiki club DJ, mobile disco, and composing for stage productions.
It wasn't long before each of their individual talents started surfacing and merged to create the primitive roots of the dynamic sound you hear today. "Negative pH" officially formed in the Fall of 2000.
Their first efforts produced trance versions of "Liminal Space" and "Rising Sine". Each of these later became drum and bass versions on the album of the same name: "Liminal Space". The title was inspired by a class in Southeast Asian Theatre taught by Dr. Kirstin Pauka, which Fanene was taking at the time. ("Liminal space" refers to the sacred "in-between" space bridging the world of Man and the spirit realm. Windows, doors, passageways, dawn, noon, midnight--thresholds of all sorts--are therefore regarded as physical manifestations of this bridge between worlds.)
Later, Bailey obtained the MIDI file of "Destination Skyline" from the Swedish trance group "Aura (the source of Trance)". They stepped up their efforts on this track and created a remix that rivaled the original. Much to their surprise and elation, it climbed into MP3.com's "Top 10" Chart for Trance and settled in at #7.
Eventually, they bored of making trance tracks and decided to channel their efforts into a new sound, inspired by the cold, distant, mechanical feel of a TekStep group called 'Indikator' as well as Trent Reznor's 'Nine Inch Nails'. An early, downtempo version of "Rising Sine", a re-edit of a Breakbeat track by Fanene (then 'pHatty acid'), excited them about this new direction and helped drive their effort to improve.
In 2001, Fanene and Bailey released several tracks through MP3-dot-com, the now defunct Ampcast and Radioaid sites, and a number of other indie-music MP3 hosting sites. "Pressure", "Propaganda", "Liminal Space", and "Rising Sine" all climbed to the top of the Drum and Bass charts on Ampcast where they stayed for many months.
Several popular online music sites like "Gods of Music" and Radioaid published glowing reviews of these tracks. Eventually, these tracks were incorporated into the album "Liminal Space" released later that year through CD Baby. The album was well-received for its artistic fusion of tribal and technological sounds and had a strongly positive reviews in Hyperactive Magazine and the Las Vegas Review Journal. Unfortunately, however, "Liminal Space" overall suffered limited circulation due to an unfocused promotional effort.
Several years rolled on. The bandmembers moved to adjacent states with Fanene residing in California and Bailey in Nevada. Geographical distance and a series of personal upheavals stymied attempts to complete a follow-up album. However, late in 2007 circumstances changed, the band members both relocated to San Jose and later Oakland where after a year of dilligent labor they completed the latest album.
Released October 31, 2008, this new album is a much more focused and technically superior work than its predecessor "Liminal Space". Taking the best elements of "Liminal Space" and steering them in a direction oriented more towards live performance, Negative pH have created a new sound they dub "pHediacore".
BIRTH OF PHEDIACORE:
PHEDIACORE emphasizes simplicity of instrumentation as well as song structure. Modeled on the 5-piece band (drums, bass, rhythm & lead guitars, pads), PHEDIACORE departs from other forms of Drum and Bass in that each part is written as if it were an individual musician playing. Instead of straight beats for 32 bars (as with DJ-centric Electronica) variations in drum patterns are introduced with each iteration of a phrase, basslines fudge notes and make liberal use of hammer-on and pitch-bend style articulations. The drums and bassline together support the rhythm and lead "guitars", while pads and special effects fill in the gaps. The overall result is that each element possesses an ego of its own--that bursts forth when the time is right.
PHEDIACORE, remaining true to the "live" performative feel, takes full advantage of "call & response" with songwriting to involve listeners in the "conversational" interplay of musical elements. The result is movement between manic and subdued passages, alternation between walls of sound and quiet introspective moments. The result is an impression of a drama unfolding as if each song were only a chapter from an epic work of literature.
PHEDIACORE, though founded on Drum and Bass and TekStep, daringly makes forays deep into other genres such as reggaeton, trance, and industrial to disrupt expectations. Part of the spirit of this new genre is that a deliberate effort is made to play with the listeners by setting them up for one outcome, only to surprise them with another.
PHEDIACORE is all about deception.
In keeping with this trickster spirit, Negative pH's grand, epic, wall-of-sound, Frankenstein songwriting evokes imagery of heroic struggles and Herculean tasks, interstellar travel and frontier adventures--perfect for fans of MMORPGs. Yet their sound in no way belies the humble, bedroom-studio environment in which it was created...all on a home computer pieced together from the corpses of previous home computers.
So, at long last we come to it--years of anticipation, staggered efforts, abortive attempts, and backtracking. FINALLY...Negative pH is happy, relieved, exhausted, petrified, many things, but above all else proud (the album cover aptly sums up our feelings on the matter) to present to you their latest: