Man vs. machine |

Man vs. machine

Wren Wertin

When Ryan Burnett went looking for the freshest music out there, he found electronica. Shaping it to fit his desires, he’s now traveling the country with his band, Signal Path. The five-piece plays 8150 in Vail tonight at 10.

Burnett, band leader and guitarist, is the project’s creator. While touring with a jam-rock band, he played the High Sierra Music Festival in California.

“I realized we were just one of a million bands doing the exact same thing,” he said. “So my vision for Signal Path was to make something very unique. We wanted to create electronic music with humans instead of machines.”

Burnett began by researching equipment and finding musicians interested in the project. He’s carved out a fairly specific niche in the music world, different from what normally passes through Vail.

“If you look at a lot of the music that’s happening right now, most bands are twisting things that have already been established,” he said. “I took a step out of myself and my biases, and I pretty much wanted to take an objective look at where music was today. The most innovative, new, fresh music that was happening was electronic music.”

Electronic music is at the mercy of the machine that creates it. It can only advance as far as the technology. By adding a human element to the mix Burnett can take the sound further. So Damon Metzner’s acoustic drums, Dion Stepanski’s upright bass and Nathan’s guitar no longer carry their roots potential, but sound definitively electronic. The musical legacies provided by the band members’ hometowns (Denver and New Orleans) influence some of the riffs and percussive beats, but somehow they always fit into the electronic dance realm.

“When I was 14, I used to sneak out of the house to go see the Rebirth Brass Band,” said Metzner. “I miss the New Orleans music scene, but in order to make it there as a musician you have to be in like 10 different groups. That’s never been what music was about for me. I like to focus on one project.”

This one project has led to a national tour on a converted 45-foot bus, and takes them to such stages as the Fox Theater in Boulder.

The band’s name, Signal Path, came to Burnett as he awakened one morning. He and the rest of the group had been seeking a name for several months, trying and discarding several on a daily basis.

“The more we go on playing, the more that name fits in to what we’re doing,” he explained. “Technically, the human is making the signal which is running through the guitar, then the amp, the mic, the p.a., the speakers and finally to the listener’s ear.”

Signal path is bringing their electronic groove, dance beats, ambient funk and driving house to 8150 tonight at 10. For more information, visit or call the club at 479-0607.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.

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