Categories
1998 Descent downloads releases

Descent

The DESCENT project was conceived by me in 1997 as an outlet for the group of Ealing based producers to release music that did not fit into the dancefloor mould of the labels they had in existence at the time.

In keeping with the philosophy that techno is not to be restricted exclusively to the dancefloor, but is a medium for free expression of ideas, sensations and emotions, a 74 minute compilation of abstract pieces was constructed. The project reached fruition in August 1998. Only 100 copies were made, and these were distributed free directly to DJs, CDJs and other artists.

This restricted distribution was due to several reasons, not least the nature of the music contained on the CD, which would have been difficult to market via the channels we had access to, but also the fact that most of the featured artists were still relatively unknown on the techno scene at the time. For these reasons it was decided that the best method of getting the music to people was by giving it to the artists most likely to play it in a public forum.

‘PREACHING THROUGH THE CONVERTED’ seemed an appropriate name for the CD, as we were indeed using like-minded individuals as a medium for our ideas.

Described by Miles Ahead magazine as “a truly free representation of Ealing idealism” and “a mind blowing insight into the way the Ealing producers are and the manner in which they think about their music”, the album is available for download in lossless FLAC format.

Download the Descent CD in flac (zip, 357Mb)

Categories
2013 random

track IDs

A bunch of tracks I’ve been trying to identify…in some cases for more than 20 years…..


ID-01: deep techno/house track with vocal. Taken from a recording of a Colin Faver Kiss FM show dated June 1991


ID-03: early 90s deep atmospheric European sounding techno with lush atmospherics and female vocal saying “I wanna be in paradise”


ID-06: chunky house with rolling ragga style vocals


ID-14: embarrassingly – this track is in one of my old mixes and I can’t remember what it is. Help!


Please leave a comment or get in touch via the contact page if you can help with any of these. Cheers!

Categories
2001 2011 ARC downloads releases

Bliss Within Agony

“Bliss Within Agony” was the fourth release on ARC, coming out in July 2001. The title refers to the concept of deriving pleasure from pain. I should point out that I have an extremely low tolerance of physical pain, so this isn’t about being bound and whipped for fun. It’s more to do with the idea that the music was meant to stimulate sensations, thoughts and feelings in a dark, loud environment that weren’t necessarily “nice” but were nevertheless enjoyable.

The release starts with “Sticky Fingers”. A very basic track recorded in October 2000, it remains one of my favourites. It leads in with a kick drum that’s quite heavily limited on the attack so it has a nice sustain. The vocal sample that filters and echoes once per bar caused some issues in the cutting room, I seem to remember, and on some decks can cause the needle to jump if not weighted correctly. All that really happens in this track is an off kilter synth line fades up and gradually gets more aggressive. It feels like it’s constantly getting higher and higher but I’m sure that’s an illusion, as the range on the EMU Audity synth probably wasn’t great enough for me to be able to keep increasing the cut-off frequency for four minutes. The synth was sequenced using the Latronic Notron, hence the odd pattern, and an LFO causes the pitch to waver up and down giving that seasick feeling that I tried to create with many of my tracks. I love this one. It has a relentless, single-minded vibe.

Next up is “Eastern Rumble”. Some might recognise that this track contains elements of the remix I did for Takaaki Itoh. The rumble referred to is a sample taken from his track “Step To Makin'”. I recorded this track in September 2000, immediately after finishing the remix that made it onto the Electracom 12″, while the sample was still loaded in the Roland S-760.

This track has a disorientating, chaotic feeling, created in part by the pitch LFO I constantly used on the Audity and also the pitch shift sequence used for the cowbell sound on the Boss DR-660 drum machine. Also, it fades in rather than starting from a set point. I can’t remember exactly why I did it that way. It’s not the “DJ friendly” method of starting a track, but perhaps it sounded rubbish starting any other way. After the event, I liked the idea that – although an audience on a dancefloor would probably never be aware of it – the fade in signified that the track was coming “from” somewhere; that it didn’t start at a specific moment, and when it fades out at the end it went back to where it came from. Or perhaps the listener did, after a brief glimpse into the maelstrom; a place / feeling / memory of something… heavy. OK, that’s all a bit mystical, but a lot of what I was always trying to do with music was to induce in others feelings that I had personally experienced at one stage or another, often while listening and/or dancing to techno. As the record title suggests, these were not always “happy” or “nice” feelings, but intense, powerful feelings that afterwards one understands as valuable, even if one is doubtful as to whether a repeat experience is desirable.

First track on side-B was “Backlash Boy”, recorded way back in December 1997. The title is an adaptation of the name of the band from which the main sample was taken. I’ll leave you to work that one out…shouldn’t be too hard. I would sometimes stick the input lead of the sampler into the output of a radio and just sample whatever was coming out at the time, and this was one of those occasions. I’m not fond of this track. To me, it feels like a track that was made on a day when things weren’t really working, but I felt like I should push myself to record something anyway. Similarly, I suspect I included it on this release because it seemed like there was something about it I didn’t understand, but that perhaps others may appreciate. And maybe they did…perhaps it’s your favourite of the bunch. I don’t want to spoil a track that others may like with my negativity about it, but I can’t recall ever wanting to play this after it was pressed, and I don’t think I would play it now either.

The last track on the release is “Home Is Where The Hate Is”. This was made  in March 1998. Like the noise track on “Walking Wounded”, I made this track some years before I really understood that there was a lot of dark, nightmarish music which already existed and formed part of a long tradition of alternative music making. Much of the electronic music I was familiar with at the time which was not aimed at the dancefloor (I consider this track just right for the dancefloor, depending on the circumstances!) fell under the “ambient” banner. It was more of the “nice” variety, and this track is definitely more inclined towards the “nasty”. It grinds, whines and wheezes its way over six nauseating minutes. Great fun.

Files are in lossless FLAC format, compressed from WAV files taken from the original DAT recordings.

download lossless FLAC version of Bliss Within Agony

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Categories
2001 2011 ARC(ANE) downloads releases

Speech Emphasis

I’ve decided to skip over the small collection of remixes (ARCN04) for now. I’ll come back to it later. I appear to have lost the original CDr that Hardcell sent me so would need to produce a decent copy of his track. I tried to contact him a while ago but never received a response.

So, I’m skipping on to the next in the sequence, which is ARCN05, “Speech Emphasis”, released some time in 2001. Three of the tracks on this release have vocal sounds in them, but the title isn’t an intentional reference to anything in particular. It was simply two words spoken by my friend Ed during a conversation. I thought they sounded nice next to each other and probably noted them down somewhere at the time, for later use.

This record was subtitled “Elegant Manoeuvres part II”, the second in an occasional series of loosely related records that started with the first ARC(ANE) release. As such it had – to my ears at least – a subtle difference from the sound of ARC and the sound of other ARC(ANE) records. A little bit more funky, less dark…maybe?

The first track, “Got To Get Down Again”, uses the same vocal sample that featured in a brief skittish track on ARC02 (“This Weak Flesh”). The bass line for this track is the same sequence which fades up towards the end of “Divine Confusion” on ARCN02 (“Storyteller”). I almost never saved patches or sequences across studio sessions, and all these tracks appear in sequence on the same master CDr. This suggests that all of the aforementioned tracks, which made it onto different records at different times, were started and finished on the same day in March 2000. Except for some 909 ride cymbal from the Novation DrumStation, all percussion sounds are from the Boss DR-660 drum machine, and the synth sound which pops up came from the EMU Audity 2000 rack-mount synth. I manually switched between vocal sequences somehow during recording, to produce the sections in which it repeats more frequently. I’m still very fond of it.

“Mapped” is a deliberately plodding track, recorded in September 2000. That plodding feel is largely down to the TB-303 bass line, which is just three single hits on the first, second and fourth beat of each bar. The other sounds, which seem to combine a sound reminiscent of the TR-808 toms and another spiky sound, was probably created by me randomly hitting a bunch of keys and quantising the result in the Alesis MMT-8 sequencer. I think those sounds are from a percussion bank on the Roland JD-800, but I could be mistaken. I do remember that the spiky sound with a delay on it caused concern during the cut at The Exchange, almost making the cutting stylus jump off the lacquer. The only thing which does much here is a sampled sound which shifts up and down in pitch, giving the track a bit of momentum. I wanted to make something which was unexciting and uneventful but still hypnotic and engaging. I think I may have played this track during one of the warm up slots I played at Lost some years ago (2005/2006).

“Overcome” is next. Recorded some time during summer 2000, it’s a muddled affair. It combines a 6/4 rhythm pattern, two vocal samples, a vocal waveform from the Audity 2000 synth, and a filtered sample sequenced on the Notron, to finish up with a track that doesn’t really seem to know what it’s doing or where it’s going. Perhaps that’s a good thing. I’ve nothing against confusing a dance floor, in fact that has always been one of my aims. Still, I’m not sure if this would confuse for the right reasons.

Last on the release, recorded in May 2000, is “Electric Olive ver.2”. I like olives, but the title has nothing to do with that and everything to do with the source of the stab which appears in the first beat of every bar of this track. The looped synth sound and clapping sequence was pinched from somewhere else….I’m not exactly sure where…but it was off a friend’s CD lying around at home. I guess it was an electronic music CD and as such I probably was going a bit too close to home again for sample source material. These are combined with a kick/hi-hat rhythm and looped up into a simple, repetitive sequence which changes very little throughout. Because it hardly changes at all, one notices the few moments in which something does actually happen. A few times the stab lengthens and seems to unfold deliciously into a female vocal sound, and a TR-909 ride does the “techno thing” of notching the vibe up and down every so often. Despite the slight unease I now feel about the sampling, I like this track a lot; it’s one I sometimes listen to repeatedly as I find the feel of it very comfortable, and comforting.

Files are in lossless FLAC format, compressed from WAV files taken from the original DAT recordings.

download lossless FLAC version of Speech Emphasis

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Categories
2000 2010 ARC(ANE) downloads releases

Body Conscious

ARCN03 was released around October 2000. Titled “Body Conscious”, it is one of the releases from my back catalogue that I’m most fond of. It follows on neatly from ARCN02, “Storyteller”, and may be the best example of the dark, disorientating techno that the ARC(ANE) label was created to put out.

The first track was recorded in September 1997. “Shiver” is largely sample based. Short vocal snippets and a sampled stab filter up and down, perhaps under my control or that of a random LFO. Most of the sounds, including the sampled and reversed hi-hat, are filtered through the Lexicon Vortex, a wacky rack mount effects processor which I think is great, and which played a crucial part in the formation of my “sound”, if such a thing ever existed. Once I found a setting I was happy with (a stereo delay with a bit of modulation) that patch was saved, and I used the same effect to one degree or another on almost every track I subsequently recorded.

“Partly Due To”, recorded in January 1999, is a murky, uneasy sounding track, with stuttering and echoing vocal sounds. I always liked the idea of dancers hearing voices in the darkness of a club, and never quite figuring out where they were coming from or what they were saying. This track is a particularly unsettling example of that idea, but having made that point I don’t remember ever hearing this track played out by anyone, including myself.

“Through You We” is probably the most easily “playable” track on the record from a DJ perspective. The kick and shaker sounds provide a steady rhythm over which two or three spooky synth patterns cycle up and down in tone and timbre. Simple but effective, this was nice and easy to play out yet dark and disorientating enough to get some interesting reactions (seeing people fall over was usually the aim). I seem to have lost a master CD containing the original recording of this and other tracks, but it must have been recorded in either 1999 or 2000.

The last track is titled “Start The End”, recorded in April 1999. This kicks off with a deep pulse and some sticky sounding high frequency snaps. The main feature of this track is a dramatic sounding looped sample which fades up slowly and bends in pitch here and there to create an uneasy feeling. I’ve no memory of where the sample came from. Although rhythm is provided by the sticky sounds and hi-hats, the kick drum doesn’t appear until the final quarter of the track, shortly before the whole thing fades out.

Files are in lossless FLAC format, compressed from WAV files taken from the original DAT recordings.

download lossless FLAC version of Body Conscious

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Categories
2000 2010 ARC downloads releases

Walking Wounded

The next in the series was originally released on ARC as ARC03 in September 2000, and is titled “Walking Wounded”, a phrase I heard in a news report. I liked the way the two words went together.

The track kicks off with “Is Not Beauty”, which is an abstract piece recorded in November 1998. I wouldn’t call this a noise track, but it does have some noise elements in it (although in recent years I’ve listened to a fair bit of noise, back then I don’t think I was even aware that such a genre of music existed). I think that it’s my favourite track on the release.

As is the case with ARC02 (“This Weak Flesh”) I think the techno tracks on this release are not my best and have perhaps dated more than others. The second track, “Ayaar ver.2”, is in that category. As the title suggests, it’s the second version of a previously recorded track. Or perhaps it just used the same sample, I don’t remember. With the percussion and vocal samples, it has a vibe influenced by the prevalence of those sounds in techno at the time (it was recorded in May 2000). In retrospect I’d prefer to have kept that sort of thing off of my ARCart releases, keeping it for the MIST material that came out on Cosmic Records. This is the track I like least on the record. Typically though, it was the most popular track with other people.

“Circular Heaven ver.2” is another track made from significant parts of another, earlier track. The original version was recorded some time between 1996-1998. This version was made a day or two before the record was cut, and I remember feeling a sense of urgency about getting a track finished that would fit onto the record. ARCart releases were compiled of tracks that were made across quite a few years. The age didn’t matter, it was more important that the tracks seemed good enough and that they fit together to create a cohesive release. This recording allowed me to take something that I really liked from a track which wasn’t quite up to standard, and beef it up into something simpler, with more impact. I love the vocal sample; It comes from a pop song, reversed and put through some chorus, or flange, or both.

The final track, “Enclosed In The”, was recorded in November 1998. It appears immediately before “Is Not Beauty” on the original DAT, so may have been recorded any time from a few minutes to a few weeks prior to that track. When I recorded a retrospective mix of my own tracks in 2008, I came across this track with some confusion, as I barely remembered it at all. I think it’s made up of some drum machine and synth loops which I sampled and then looped, adding some snare and hi-hat from the TR-606, and an additional sample put through filters quite randomly without any manual control after the breakdown, which I think contains an odd number of beats.

Files are in lossless FLAC format, compressed from WAV files taken from the original DAT recordings.

download lossless FLAC version of Walking Wounded

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Categories
2010 downloads releases

Tommy Gillard – “Epiphanies”

In 2001 the Exist label came into existence courtesy of the Exist CD compilation. I seem to remember that at the time a number of ideas existed, both music and non-music related, for how Oliver would continue the label. As far as I’m aware, though, no other physical releases ever appeared, as other projects took over.

One of the projects which never saw the light of day was a piece of music by Tommy Gillard entitled “Epiphanies”. I’m glad, with Tommy’s permission, to now make this piece available as an mp3 file.

“Epiphanies” was actually made up of a number of recordings going back as far as 1995. In Tommy’s own words:

I made it with DAT, CD player, and (I seem to remember) a (detuned) radio! All through my [studio] mixer. I think I added loops from the [Roland] JD-800 [synth] as well. I think I had to make up some sounds and phrases, as well as the recordings, so I could mix between more sources.

Download “Epiphanies” (mp3, 169Mb)

Categories
2000 2010 ARC downloads releases

This Weak Flesh

ARC02, titled “This Weak Flesh”, was released around August 2000. The fourth ARCart release and the second on the ARC label, it has a bit more of a straight ahead techno feel to it. It’s not my favourite release, although it was one of the more successful releases on the label.

“Got To Get Down” is just a 30 second intro that I put together from a sample from a disco track…I think. The sample appeared again later on ARCN05 in the track “Got To Get Down Again”.

The bulk of the first side of the record was given over to the title track, “This Weak Flesh”. Although it could have been sequenced on anything due to its simple structure, I’m pretty sure this was made with the Notron. The main synth sound came from the EMU Audity 2000 I think. I don’t dislike this track, but it does sound a bit too structured and simple to me now. Not that I think simple tracks are bad per se, just that this is perhaps a bit too clichéd. It also contains a very lazy sample on my part. One of the sounds looped up in the background of the track is a sample from another techno track released the same year, recorded by Claude Young. Bad form on my part, and just laziness, really. My set up never facilitated a particularly useful method of recording samples so I probably pulled this one off a CD that was lying around. I know that CY was aware of it at the time (he’d have heard it on the promo I sent him) and he kindly chose to never bring it up with me in person. I don’t make music these days but if I did….or if I had developed the same attitudes around sampling which I hold now, this track would never have been made….or at least would have been different. Even though the sample arguably isn’t the most significant feature of the track, I can’t listen to it now without that thought nagging at me. That said, the feature which makes this track – the long, haunting synth sound which builds during the breakdown – caught the ear of Johan Bacto and that fact later helped to facilitate the Hardcell remix on ARCN04.

“Right To Left” is another track that I have mixed feelings about, 10 years after release. I always feel as if I don’t like it much, until I hear it and find I’m actually quite into it. I guess the use of what sound a bit like “standard” Detroit techno type stabs puts me off at first, but then I enjoy the groove of the track and the way it develops. I also like the fact that there are one or two “happy accidents” in the track, created by me moving the tuning control for that synth stab the wrong way or too far during the recording.

By far my favourite track on this record at this stage is the last track, “He’s Got A Knife”. Many assumed that the vocal sample in the track was repeating the words in the title, but that’s not correct. The vocal sample is very very short, maybe a quarter of one beat long. If it were to say anything it would only be “SA!”. The rest of the phrase isn’t vocal at all, but a mash up of the distorted drum samples and the short vocal stab which come together to create a loop which could under some conditions be heard as a voice saying “he’s got a knife”. I like the breakdown in this track, the sudden way in which the beat jumps back in, and the harsh oppressive feel of the track as it repeats over and over. This track was recorded by looping up the kick drum/vocal/distorted drum pattern as a single sample (you can hear that it is all one sample right at the end when I filter it down to nothing) over which are a couple of hi-hat and snare sounds from the TR-606 and that wibbly JD-800 synth sound that appears in the breakdown.

Files are in lossless FLAC format, compressed from WAV files taken from the original DAT recordings.

download a lossless FLAC version of This Weak Flesh

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Categories
2000 2010 ARC(ANE) downloads releases

Storyteller

The third ARCart release was also the second ARC(ANE) release. It came out in June 2000 with the catalogue number ARCN02, and is titled “Storyteller”. I think it was the first release I put out through Prime Distribution on a P&D basis. I believe that stands for production and distribution, but in any case it meant that I didn’t have to pay for the cut, artwork and pressing up front with my own money – Prime paid and took those expenses out of the sales revenue from the release.

The first track, “The Nowhere Express”, was recorded in April 1999. At about seven minutes in duration, it’s the longest track released on either ARCart label. The bassline is a looped section from something playing on the radio at whatever time I happened to make the track. This is overlaid with sounds from the Roland JD-800 that are heavily processed and filtered. I was manually tweaking the fine tuning knob for the tone settings up and down half a semitone or so throughout the track to create the barely noticeable pitch shift. It’s quite a chaotic sounding and noisy track for me but I like its hypnotic trancey vibe. It even has a couple of breakdowns.

“Divine Confusion” was recorded in March 2000, on the same day as and immediately before I recorded “Got To Get Down Again” which contains some of the same sounds and which will feature in a future post for ARCN05. The rich nature of the vocal sample meant that it was virtually impossible to cut it for vinyl without it distorting, so this is the first time it’s available with a pristine sound. It nearly wasn’t – when mastering these files I was dismayed to find the original recording (on an HHB so-called professional audio CDR, recorded on an HHB professional audio CD recorder) had degraded massively, along with quite a few other original recordings on a number of master CDRs that have effectively become unplayable and lost. By sheer luck I found a copy of this track somewhere on a DAT that I must have used to bounce the audio to a compiled master for the cut.

“Shift It”, recorded in February 1999, is a rare example of me using the Roland TB-303 in a released track. It’s a full sounding but very basic track, with a 3/4 bass throb under the beat, and a simple 303 pattern that pitch shifts up and down in semitones. There is also some subtle manual tweaking of the tuning knob. The 303 sounds like it has some chorus or flange on it to make it a bit edgy, and lots of stereo delay from the saved setting on my Lexicon Vortex which featured on pretty much every track I made for years.

The title track, “Storyteller”, is also the oldest on the release, recorded in December 1998. It’s more mechanical sounding than the other tracks on the record due to the incessant snare pattern. The only sounds which vary in this track are the delayed vocal samples and a high pitched synth pattern that (of course) moves up and down in tone.

All of these tracks were sequenced using the Alesis MMT-8, except “Divine Confusion” which used the Notron (I have the metallic blue Mark 2 model which is not currently pictured on that Wikipedia page).

Files are in lossless FLAC format, compressed from WAV files which are taken from the original DAT recordings.

download lossless FLAC version of Storyteller

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Categories
2000 2010 ARC(ANE) downloads releases

Elegant Manoeuvres

The first release on ARC’s sister label ARC(ANE) came out in February 2000, was titled “Elegant Manoeuvres” and had the catalogue number ARCN01. All the tracks were at least 2 years old when released. It was distributed by Prime Distribution which had agreed to take on my labels following the dismal performance of Metropolis described in the previous post. By that time I’d had another release on the Chicago based High Octane label, which was arranged by DJ Rush who acted in a sort of A&R capacity for them.

The differences between ARC and ARC(ANE) were always quite subtle, but were probably most audible on this and the two subsequent “Elegant Manoeuvres” releases. They had more of a groove to them, I think, and were more house-influenced even if they didn’t sound much like house.

The first track, “Passenger”, is quite pacy at about 140 or 142bpm. It was recorded in late 1997, immediately after the track “Ambrosia” which was released some years later on ARCN07. It uses the same sample or synth loop as its main riff, but it’s sequenced differently. Derrick May played it once at a Lost party in Vauxhall. At the end of the night I approached him to say thanks for playing it. He asked me which track I meant, and I mentioned the title. He said “I only have white labels”. So I described the logo which would have been stamped on the copy I posted to the Transmat office in Detroit. He said “oh yeaaaah….I thought you brought the hi-hats in a bit late”. Cheeky bastard. I told him it would make more sense if he played more of the track. “oooh, yeah!”. Anyway, it was nice to hear him play the record, it certainly buffed my ego a bit. I once heard Kevin Saunderson play another of my tracks at a much later Lost party…and I didn’t like the way he used it at all. In fact I rarely enjoyed the way other people played my records, but I was always interested to observe from the dancefloor how a crowd would react to the tracks. I doubt I’ll ever hear the other member of the Belleville Three do the same but two out of three isn’t bad.

I seem to remember having problems with the bass sound distorting in the next track, “Hunk”. This track was recorded in January 1998. The sound that echoes throughout is, I think, a sampled TR-909 snare that was messed with and put through loads of effects. I’ve never played this track in a set or heard anyone else play it. It’s not particularly exciting to me now, and not one of my favourites of all the tracks I released, but I’d be interested to hear it on a big system one day.

“Picnic Cut” was recorded in July 1998. The main riff was a sample from a track that Tommy Gillard and I made together in January 1996 called “Life’s No Picnic” (that track can be downloaded here if anyone is interested). I used the dysfunctional time stretch function on the Roland S-760 to mash it up a bit and processed it through the sampler’s rough sounding filter while messing with a few simple percussion sounds. I like this track a lot, it was always my favourite track on the record.

Recorded in late 1997, the title of the last track, “Break The Laws” came from the vocal sample used, although I don’t think that’s what’s actually being said. Like “Hunk”, I never played this track in a set. I like the chunky beat it has, the shuffled sampled closed hi-hat and the low synths that appear a couple of times. I’m less sure about the two sections where the sequence of the vocal sample changes.

All of these tracks were sequenced using the Alesis MMT-8.

Files are in lossless FLAC format, compressed from WAV files taken from the original DAT recordings.

download the lossless FLAC version of Elegant Manoeuvres

Please get in touch if you have any problems downloading, unzipping, or playing the files.