I played around with re-recording parts through a guitar amp
I decided quite early on that I only wanted to have three or four proper dancefloor tracks on the album, so it was going to be quite important to nail them. This was the one that I was least sure about as despite the atmosphere and percussion being quite contemporary, the distorted tom riff that comes in around two minutes is definitely not, and when I’ve played it out there’s definitely been a few confused faces on the dancefloor… although when the beat comes back in it seems to make sense to people again.
This was the first track where I played around with re-recording parts through a guitar amp in my bathroom and then layering them back over the top of existing audio. I ended up doing that on parts of every track on the album and I think it gives it quite a distinctive and consistent quality.
All I Think About Is Death
The only track which features anyone other than myself. I’d been working on some tracks for a few months with a singer called Pyur, who is a really talented girl from Munich, but we hadn’t come up with anything we were both happy with (I should probably take most of the blame for that in fairness). But while deep in the album sessions I came across a set of backing vocals she’d done for one of the tracks we’d been working on and they just immediately fitted with the basis of the track that became ‘All I Think About Is Death’. I also used the arpeggiated synth line that is a recurring theme throughout the album, but at a very different tempo to where it appears elsewhere.
A couple of sharp-eared people have noticed the similarity between this track and one I released in 2007 called ‘Brown’. Actually it’s intended to be sort of a cover version, and the title gives a bit of a hint in that direction, although it also refers to the attitude I developed towards having blood tests over the course of last summer when I was in and out of hospital every few days for a couple of months. The track is based around a filtered break, but there was quite a lot of extra recording and processing that went into creating the atmosphere of it.
This is based around a recording I surreptitiously made of the family who lived downstairs from my studio arguing one day. My relationship with my own family is difficult to say the least, and this seemed to be a pretty good approximation of it. Of course there’s a lot more that went into the track and I suppose it’s quite a difficult listen in some respects but all I can say is that it’s quite a personal piece of work.
Black On Black
that classic Akai sampler time-stretch sound isn't easy to achieve without the benefit of an actual S2000
One of the first tracks I started for the album and one of the last to finish. The layering of parts is deceptively intricate even though listening back it sounds quite simple – there’s a huge amount going on and things kind of poke their heads up from time to time and then disappear again.
The time-stretched section in the middle was quite a difficult trick to pull off, as that classic Akai sampler time-stretch sound isn’t easy to achieve without the benefit of an actual S2000… which is something I had in my studio many years ago but not any more, alas.
I was able to give the mastering engineer a bit of freedom to push the track a little bit harder to get that tiny touch of overdrive which my mix was hinting at but I was reluctant to go too far with. The result sounds pretty massive over a big system.
I suppose having an ambient final track is a bit of a cliche and in a way that appealed to me. On my previous albums the last track had always been quite a big dancefloor thing but this time it felt right to bring things down slowly, especially after something like ‘Black On Black’ as the penultimate one. Again, this was a painstaking mix process with the layers of synths and field recordings that went into it.
The “deeper” vocal sample is of course very tongue-in-cheek and I felt that after almost an hour of being pretty serious a little bit of light-heartedness wouldn’t go amiss.