Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/1/2021 (523 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Jordan Unger has certainly been making the most of his time at home over the course of the past year.
A Grade 12 student at River East Collegiate, Unger plays lead trumpet in the school’s concert band, jazz band and orchestra. But in his free time, Unger records ambient electronic music. Performing as Ternn, Unger has released two full-length records: Ganymede and Telephone Wires in August 2020, and [apologue] earlier this month.
"I find it really engaging and enjoyable, the act of making something," Unger said. "It’s just cool to say I made this and that I think it’s cool. And if people enjoy it, that’s cool, too."
Growing up in a musical family, Unger had plenty of jazz records on in the background from an early age.
"I started finding my own artists through video game soundtracks, which got me into electronic music, which then expanded into a wide range of things," he said of his own musical tastes. This year, I got quite into Nicolas Jaar and Oneohtrix Point Never."
In elementary school, Unger started messing around with Garage Band on his iPod, graduating to FL Studio in middle school. He still records with the program today, using a MIDI keyboard to trigger sounds while employing a portable recording device to gather samples.
From Ganymede to [apologue], Unger refined his process for recording and selecting samples.
"(Before) I recorded stuff from my phone," he explained. "Just recently I got a handheld recorder. Some of the more choral sounds (on [apologue]) I found on a copyright-free website so I ripped those."
Unger’s own process for composition has is also evolving.
"It’s probably just a progression of personal taste and ability to discern what I like and don’t like and how to do it," he said.
Jeff Kula, head of the music program at River East, said students in Grade 11 and 12 concert band study minimalistic concepts of John Cage, Steve Reich, the Fluxus movement, and serial composition styles of Arnold Schoenberg
"Jordan seemed to take a keen interest in these concepts and when students were assigned to perform or compose in these styles, his submissions were always very well thought out and conceptualized," Kula said.
Kula feels that Unger’s compositions are subtle, allowing the listener to take their own journey along with the music.
"It leads you to find your own interpretation," he said. "(His) work is texturally and sonically orchestral in nature with the layering of various timbres. I love how his tracks weave themselves together with ‘cells’ of ideas becoming part of larger concepts. This reminds me a lot of the work of Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, and other modern progressive artists."
Going forward, Unger intends to continue to hone his musical instincts and broaden the pallet with which he works.
"I want to try to use a wider variety of samples and things, different sounds," he said. "I’d like to get more field recordings of sounds, stuff that people might not think of in the context of music and finding more interesting ways of applying those sounds."
While music is a serious pursuit of Unger’s, he doesn’t plan to make a career out of it. In the fall, he plans to attend the University of Manitoba to study science.
"Which science, I’m not sure just yet," he said. "But I’d like to leave some room for music production classes."
And while the current COVID-19 pandemic has all but curtailed live music, Unger said he would like to try performing as Ternn in a live setting, if the stars aligned.
"Electronic music does, in some ways, feel more inhuman," he said. "But when you see someone performing it, whether it’s with an improvisational bit to or whatever, it’s interesting. But there are a few more logistics. If I could work it out in a way that’s cool, then why not?"
Visit www.ternn.bandcamp.com to hear Unger’s music.
Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112