In the early aughts, before Coupler was conceived, Ryan Norris was experimenting with electronic music via two primary processes; one involving early cassette experiments with drum machines, synthesizers, and fried four-tracks; and another based on sampling sounds from LPs, compact discs, and field recordings. The latter approach was influenced by what often gets referred to as IDM: Aphex Twin, Mouse on Mars, and Autechre; and the equally important inspiration of the left-field hip hop of Madlib, DJ Shadow, MF Doom, and J Dilla. Though the approaches have changed and matured, and new tactics have been implemented, the seeds of Coupler were planted in this ground.
Upon hearing the debut No Stress release, Prelude No. 1, Norris remarks that he “was immediately transported to that earlier time and place, where all was fresh and fecund. Here was someone absorbing and repurposing sounds from their environment at will. The fidelity was warm, familiar, and exciting. These were waters I wanted to swim in again. And after 5 ½ years in Chicago my tastes have migrated back to the Venn diagram populated by some of the artists named above, the space where hip hop, jazz, and experimental electronic music meet.”
Reinvention No. 1 sits firmly at the center of that diagram, with Coupler and No Stress occupying equal parts of the new compositions. In reworking the tracks Norris eschewed his reverence for the originals and let the constituent parts lead him in new directions, like the barreling percussion of “Wake Up”, or the anxious landscapes of “Trust Falls with my Enemies.” These new creations have their own identities and internal logic but retain the magic of the originals, an optimal result for any remix project.