Alibi V.24 No.10 • March 5-11, 2015 

Music History

An Interview with Dwight Loop, Pt. I

Dwight Loop circa 2014
Dwight Loop circa 2014
While folks like Tom Guralnick and Gordy Andersen were busy building the jazz and rock scenes here in Burque during the ’70s and ’80s, another sonic path appeared and gained momentum. Led by the efforts of a musician from Ann Arbor, Mich.—who arrived in Albuquerque seeking the mystery of the desert sky—electronic music gained a following. Dwight Loop arrived here in November 1977.

Weekly Alibi: How was what you were doing different from what the punk rock and jazz communities were establishing here back then?

Dwight Loop: I was a radio person. When I came out, it seemed like an opportune time to bring electronic music to a wider audience. I grew up with experimental music in college. I started doing some freeform at KUNM. I took over the Thursday night spot and began doing a show called Earwaves. Paul Mansfield, the KUNM general manager, was very open to doing new, experimental things. I explored European electronic music. My influence before I got here was the German school—Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Kraftwerk before they got into sequencers. Previously, the electronic scene in Albuquerque emanated from the university, the bloop-and-bleep school that came out of early synthesizer use.

From left, John Cage and Dwight Loop in Santa Fe circa 1990
From left, John Cage and Dwight Loop in Santa Fe circa 1990

What else grew out of Earwaves?

My own interest in the synthesizer had a lot to do with Earwaves. The people I met here who became part of the band Zeta Reticuli were all about gear: knob twisters. I knew other people wanted to explore experimental music. I decided to create a nonprofit to help the effort. My focus was producing local shows. We started doing shows to build up an audience and to create a track record that would allow us to get grants.

I pulled local electronic people into the sphere to serve on the board of directors. New Music New Mexico took off because of people like Ronald Alford. He had the first Commodore synthesizer in Albuquerque and an ARP 2600. He was a generation older than me and a true geek with lots of gear. Earwaves really brought all these efforts together because I could bring people on to perform. Everything really started to cook.

From left, Frank Zappa and Dwight Loop at KUNM circa 1982
From left, Frank Zappa and Dwight Loop at KUNM circa 1982

Tell me about Zeta Reticuli.

I started collecting synthesizers in 1979. I got a Sequential Circuits Pro One—a great analog mono synth—at a music store on Central and Harvard. It’s a Greek restaurant now. And I figured the best way to meet other electronic music people was to see who would go to the import bins at Odyssey Records in Nob Hill. I got a job there and met Craig Ellis. He was one of those guys I saw browsing through the import bins. I latched on to Craig, and we started talking. Dane Hamilton stopped by the shop too. I met Bob Czosek through Craig, and we all started playing together. Our first incarnation as a band was called Universe 1221. Our first gig was at the [UNM] SUB Ballroom. We were a success, and we changed our name to Zeta Reticuli.

We played a series of concerts at a Guatemalan restaurant on Central, broadcasting them live on KUNM 89.9FM. Craig played a Micromoog, but he was also a guitarist and songwriter. He was coming from more of a rock and pop perspective. We hooked our synths up via a CV gate and triggered them together with a Roland drum machine. We had a sync thing going and did multiple sequencing. Bob had one of the Crumar synthesizers. Our series at the café was a real breakthrough for electronic music in Albuquerque. That first concert featured Martian Funk Ensemble, Bill’s Friends and Zeta Reticuli. It was New Music New Mexico’s first big show, and the reaction was fantastic. It was an awesome mixture of experimentalism, punk and new wave.

Next week—Loop expands his reach before returning to promote electronic music in New Mexico anew.