For this month’s Track By Track we talk with UK producer Andy Riley about his album recorded with the late Pete Woosh from DIY.
The Peaceful Ones ‘7000 Possibilities of Existence’ was the final music project of the late UK DJ, producer Pete Woosh (one half of Digs and Woosh and part of Nottingham’s infamous DIY party collective) and Andy Riley (Inland Knights, Toka Project). Released digitally last year it’s finally making an appearance on vinyl, with all profits going to the Spirit Wrestlers foundation, founded in honour of Pete’s memory and devoted to good causes in his hometown of Nottingham.
The album is a gloriously blissed-out collection of down-tempo grooves, sunny disco and glowing Balearica that takes in plenty of interesting little twists and turns on its musical journey. We got Andy to talk us through it, Track By Track.
The Light (intro)
Pete and I had a way of working, whereby we would sometimes write a track, then zero the desk and write a completely different version of it. It was a good way of maximizing our time in the studio, plus we then had the option to pick what we thought was the better version … it was also fun to kind of remix stuff on the fly. This tune was originally 125 bpm and was intended to be released as a house track with broken beats! What you can hear is one of those happy studio accidents when the tempo was slowed down my mistake. Straight away we knew we were on to something and wrote this version followed by a more ambient version, which serves to bookend the whole album.
Keep Yr Shape
Our straight-up house track for this project. Again it started life as something completely different. The original had much more of the vocal in it. Once we had done the original, straight away we worked on this. Pete made a point of saying he wanted something long and tracky. Having spent years writing house tunes this was a different approach for me, as we already had the parts and it was just a case of doing something different with them. Consequently, we came up with something neither of us would normally have written. Despite being pretty straightforward this track still sounds off-kilter and quirky to me, in my opinion it’s reminiscent of DJ Pierre during his Wild Pitch era of the early/mid-nineties.
Let You Go
This was one of the first tracks we wrote together, it samples ‘So I Can Love You’ by The Emotions, it took a lot of filtering the original loops to get it sitting nicely but the result is great I think. The bass line coming in around the middle of the tune is done on the Waldorf Pulse rack-mounted synth. Along with the Juno 106, The Waldorf would be our go-to synth for bass lines on this album. There is an edited 4-minute version of this track also, as the plan was to release it on its own as a seven-inch single. It’s wasn’t to be so the full version is the one we released for the album.
This track takes me back to the early ’90s. It’s pretty simple in its approach and its gated vocal and break beat remind me of that time. I think this was another of our early tracks and had already got released as part of the Spirit Wrestlers ’52 Card Trick’ series. I also love the subtle acid line that comes in and out; the gated vocal was done on a plug-in called ‘Effectrix’ by Sugar Bytes. Lots of fun!:)
This was the last track we wrote for the album. Again it’s pretty simple but actually it’s one of my faves. It wasn’t our intention to write a track with a swung time signature but as is often the case, things just come together and sound great. The whole album was roughly split into two halves: one half was done at our studio in Nottingham, and the other was done at a smaller studio at my house. This was done at home. The sub-bass came from Native Instruments Maschine. I love the fact that this tune sounds like nothing else on the album by virtue of its swung time, for me it’s a standout.
K On Keys
A more melancholic moment on this record, we chopped up a piano sample and played a lone snare over the top, the reverb for the snare was done with ‘waves’, the high-quality plugin for reverbs, filters and delays. This is actually an edit of the original, which had a flute included. We thought it flowed much more nicely without the flute. When I played the finished track back, my son Kai came into the room and pretended to play the piano part on the keyboard with much emotion and feeling … hence ‘K On Keys’.
A couple of years ago some friends of ours were getting married on a beach in Thailand. They asked us if we could write something for Tracy to walk down the aisle (well, the beach) to. Pete had something in mind straight away; something that sounded like it had been recorded next to the sea, which then faded away as the waves lapped the beach. He also wanted seagulls (‘Are there seagulls in Thailand?’ he asked at the time ‘There fukin’ are now’ was his answer to his own question ) I love the dubby groove on this and think that thanks to the seagulls it takes you on a trip to exotic and sunny climes – via Margate.
For Your Love
One of only two times on the record that we got close to writing a house track. It reminds me of The Revenge and 6th Borough Project with the tempo and vibe. Another track that already had a release with the ’52 Card Trick’. I love the mid-tempo groove on this, and the fact that it’s euphoric and life-affirming yet still understated without trying too hard.
This is a rework of ‘Labelle-Moon Shadow’. Actually we just used a couple of the original loops and wrote our take on it incorporating a breakdown. We used the drums from the original and added our own hi-hat and extra percussion but that was all. I think it’s a great version, which keeps the essence of the original but with a twist for the modern dance floor.
Let You Go(Dub)
Another example of us immediately reworking stuff we’d just finished. This time we started out with the Waldorf bass and took all the drums out creating space for us to put feedback delays on the vocals. Obvious influences from King Tubby, Lee Perry and The Scientist on this and it was fun to take the vocals and do something totally different with them.
Being a fan of interludes, skits and intros on albums, we did this at the end of a session in the studio one evening. Two chords on a piano, not in any time signature, slowly filtering up before fading away after a minute and a half. I wish we had done a few more of these little soundscape moments, I think they work well in tying an album together and making it sound like a cohesive listen instead of a bunch of tracks playing one after the other. The filtering and reverb is courtesy of the waves plugin.
When I Hold You In My Arms
Another fave of mine. I can’t remember where the acapella came from but it took quite a lot of cutting and chopping to get it in time as it was a weird swung time signature. The beats we wrote from scratch and the lack of bass drum gives it a spacey, dark vibe. The bass came from the Juno 106 keyboard, a stalwart of the 90’s house sound. I think this was one of the first releases on the Spirit Wrestlers 52 Card Trick. It reminds me of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine album with its slightly foreboding undertones and deep spacey production. Again the reverbs and delays came from waves plugins.
Love the bluesy slide guitar on this tune, if I still smoked pot I’m sure I’d enjoy it even more. The guitars are sampled from Bright Black Morning Light, I think this is the second to last track we wrote, at my house. I can’t remember the tempo but it defiantly sounds like the slowest thing I’ve ever done! I love the smokey vibe on this track, like it’s come straight from the Mississippi Delta.
As has become a theme with this album, we did multiple versions of tracks. ‘The Ligh’t started out as a much faster broken-beat house track, which became the slower version at the beginning of the record, which then became this more ambient version the bookend, the entire thing. It’s one of my personal favourite moments, I love the drawn-out breakdown which almost disappears until it slowly comes back to life with that kick drum. It was Pete’s suggestion that we do this version and I’m glad we did, it really captures an ethereal and cosmic essence that was essentially Pete in many respects. For me it’s a highlight on the album and a perfect and fitting end to what was a fantastic project to be involved with.