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John Flomer


Outside View

John Flomer began laying the foundation for his career as a "visual musician" early on. His first real musical instrument was a pint-size red accordion, which cost eleven dollars. It was with this instrument that Flomer taught himself how to play the themes from various film scores. Even at such an early age, it was apparent that cinematic music would become a defining influence in his work.

In 1980, after nearly a decade of playing guitar and touring in the band Archangel, Flomer put his guitar in its case for the last time and purchased a multi-track recorder and a synthesizer. He then enrolled in a design program at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, and upon enrolling in a film class, discovered that for him, music had always been a visual experience. Every rhythm had a plot, while every melody, sound, and playing technique was its character and emotional charge. All of these events have helped influence and shape Flomer's art into the unique and wonderfully original music that it is.

Calling himself an "awe junkie", Flomer theorizes that he writes music to satisfy a constant need for the sublime, mysterious and exotic experiences that lie just beyond human comprehension. Profoundly influenced by the birth of his son, Flomer's music often takes on the perspective of a child, existing in that gray area between fantasy and reality; where everything is liquid, fragile wondrous and possible. The concept behind Primal Cinema is, simply put, the use of advanced technology to portray the drama of the heart and mind, and the imagery of dreams, as embedded in the psyche of primal beings.

With his Spotted Peccary debut, Mysterious Motions Of Memory, Flomer focuses the conceptual eye of his Primal Cinema on the concept of genetic memory. He entertains the notion that our memories are physical, whether the result of our direct memories, those of an actual or perceived past- life, or just the recollection of a simple dream (or twisted nightmare). The idea that these experiences are stored in our genes (not just in our brains as memory) and passed along through generations is the underlying theme that runs throughout Mysterious Motions Of Memory. As Flomer puts it, "the album is a collection of memories in song."

The culmination of John Flomer's vision is an entirely unique and outstanding work of art. This is an excellent addition to the Spotted Peccary catalog - and John Flomer is an artist who we are sure will have much to say in the future development of the New American Music genre.

Inside View

I grew up in New York City during the fifties. Back then radio was different. When you tuned in to the "hot" station, you heard it all; Elvis, Peggy Lee, The Dorseys, Little Richard, Conway Twitty, The Drifters, Huey Piano Smith and the Clowns (betcha you don't remember them!); and movie themes - lots of movie themes. It was the ultimate mish-mash of categories and styles. My mom had the radio on all the time, and I usually fell asleep listening to it.

We (my brother Robert, his friends and I) would regularly watch Dick Clark's American Bandstand. At night, with the neighbor kids, we'd do our own version. We stretched several rubber bands around a cigar boxes for guitars. For a snare drum, we'd get one of those round metal cookie containers, overturn it, throw some buttons on top, cover it with a dish towel, and use a couple of forks for sticks. I've still never heard a more interesting snare drum! There was also an old concertina that one of our friends had, and we used anything that looked like a sax for a sax. Of course, we made the sounds of those instruments with our mouths! You do di doot!

Finally, I got an instrument; not a real one, but close enough. It was a little red accordion from Sears. It cost eleven dollars new! It had about an octave and a half on one side and eight buttons on the other. I taught myself to play the themes from Exodus, King of Kings, and Never on Sunday. I didn't know it then, but I was never the same since!

How about those Ventures!

By 1965, Robert and I had guitars - real ones, and our family had been in Minnesota for a few years. The Beatles were the standard by which others were judged, but we were groovin' to Bob, Don, Nokie, and Mel! At one time we had a repertoire of one hundred instrumentals, and most of them were the Ventures. Of course we had our own songs too. We always had our own songs.

The first band of ours that really amounted to anything was U.S. Pipe. We saw the name imprinted on a section of sewer pipe at a construction site where we were stealing plywood to build speaker cabinets. The name was perfect (because we had, by now, discovered marijuana) and the hippies loved us!

At some point during the reign of U.S. Pipe (1970-71) we must've been visited by aliens (you know, the ones from outer space) because the music changed, as did the name of the band. We were now "Archangel" (not to be confused with several really "pop" Archangels that emerged from "who-knows-where" after that) and we were making a name for ourselves!

The music we were writing then, is only coming out of places like London now - performed by people a generation younger! And the stage show....whew! This, of course, will give you no idea how "far out" we were. You had to be there! But it's not hard to imagine what happened? The industry laughed us out of L.A. (we actually lived in Tarzana!) The really short story from here is - we packed up, moved back to Minnesota, and survived through several "depressing" Archangel reincarnations, doing covers in bars..."Cat Scratch Feverrrrrr", or how about....."put your hand into my pocket and grab on to my rocket..."

Fortunately, during this time I crossed paths with the music of Wendy Carlos and Vangelis. Once again, "I was never the same since."

Giving The Biz The Boot !

"When the cover songs became packaged products on the "glam rock" conveyor belt, and the drunken cheers ebbed away into the flow of the Midwest outback, when the ringing in my ears and the echo in my lifestyle became a persistent verse, chorus, verse, chorus without a finale; the drone of desperation eventually woke the sleeper within."

It was about January. I was freezing in the band truck somewhere in "deep" Nebraska when the realization struck that I wasn't rockin' n' rollin' anymore - hadn't been for years. It was just business - products, schedules, logistics. In order to get back into the music, I had to get out of the business.

In 1981, I sold my guitars, purchased a keyboard (some bizarre Casio thing), a four-track recorder, and started from the bottom, trying to unleash the music languishing among the wreckage in my head.

It was during this period I enrolled at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design and got involved in the media arts program. And again, "I was never the same!"

Learning To Paint

I've always been a fan of the screen, and music has always been a visual experience for me. Art school, a film major; it was perfect! All I had to do was to make my own films, then write the score; or write the music, then the film! Forget the paint!

I gravitated towards video and its instant gratifications, and I was really doing well - scholarships, grants, awards, exhibitions, etc. But it was all happening too fast. I was spinning around on too many different levels and heading for a flame- out. There was also a major component missing from the script - my heart. It was only a bit player in the storyline."

In 1989, I extracted my love of music from the multi-media mix. I put everything else on semi - permanent hold and got to work on "ONE," my first CD project

Music School....Preposterous!

Somewhere, some way, somehow, I acquired a gift to compose music. I shunned formal training as much as it remained unavailable to me. This has made the journey longer, harder, and more painful; but also, I think, more deep. Everything I know about music was learned on the street. So, I guess you could say I've never been tampered with!

Deeper View

So, What's Behind John Flomer & Primal Cinema?

I'm presenting modern, dramatic music with emphasis on creating visual imagery, and evoking emotional reactions and responses.
Through my compositions, I endeavor to portray a panorama of feelings, visions, and higher thought associated with the hidden, primal forces that maintain substantive, controlling, and unconscious influences on the human mind, as we move forth constructing the future.
I use the brush, palette and canvas of modern technology to portray the drama of life - launched from deep within the primal heart and mind of mankind; and to translate the imagery of our individual memories, aspirations, dreams, and fantasies into the anthems of humanity.
On a personal level, I am compelled to create imagery, through music, based on the drama of my life and those influences affecting my perception of, and effecting my actions in the natural and artificial world.

Music and the Tools of Enchantment

Because the natural trajectory of my life has curved more towards composing music rather than manipulating a musical instrument, my proficiency as a technician has become limited. I use computer technology as a means of achieving an end that would otherwise be unavailable to me; that end being to compose, orchestrate, perform and record musical works of significant magnitude that exceed the abilities of (or opportunities available to) a great number of trained professionals.
My work, of course, is instrumental synthesizer music. The usual prevailing thought on that, it seems, is you either like it or hate it. Now for those of you who hate it; if you can get beyond the "voodoo of electronics" and discover that there is actually "serious" music there, you'll find that with the exception of a full scale orchestra and chorus, there really isn't any other kind of music played with any other type of instrumentation that can catapult you "off world" and into a fantastic realm where things don't have to make sense to make magic, and things that are impossible can become very real.

The Gray Area

My music has a strong, child perspective, existing in the gray areas between fantasy and reality where everything is liquid, fragile and wondrous. It is a region where all that is etched in stone can easily become undone with as little as a twist and a whisper.

A Certain Perspective

My latest line of thought about what inspires me to write music is this: I have many clues and few answers. I can only guess, based on what makes sense to me at any given moment. And that depends entirely on the prevailing big picture which is always subject to change without notice.

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