SnackTracks – A Breakdown

Hopefully, some of you lovely readers will have listened to the new EP. If you’ve downloaded it, many thanks. If you’ve bought it, many, many thanks!

I like to get some insight into the music I listen to, whether its trying to guess what equipment has been used, or trying to surmise what the intentions were. So here’s a breakdown of the tracks, just in case you’re interested in these things.

1. Snackshack

This track was actually first recorded in 1999, so its very old. I was slightly in thrall of DJ Shadow, Wagon Christ and Coldcut at the time; so the original version of the track reflected that. That original version has always been a personal favourite track of mine, with its lolloping beat (drum hits from James Brown’s ‘Funky Drummer’), weird atmospherics and 1960s beat music groove. It reminds me of a particularly good time in my life too. For a laugh, my old mate Neil did a mock-Norwegian rap to it which actually sounded really good; but that was never recorded.
Anyway, the new version, recorded in November 2010, was an attempt to recreate the mood of the original, and beef it up a bit too. The updated version has an insistent sample from Coppolla’s film ‘The Conversation’ (if you’re not familiar with it, check it out, its fantastic) and a couple of other movie samples, as well as a more synthetic feel. The same distorted bass sounds and drumbeats remain.

2. F*** You, Purist

This track just kinda happened. I’d not intended to do a vocal track originally, but thought I’d try a spoken-word vocal on there. The lyrics were originally a lot more varied and the vocal was longer as a result, but I cut most of it out in order to make it fit a little better. The theme, as such, is me ranting about the rather self-righteous nature of self-confessed music ‘purists’, who will dismiss music because its of a certain genre, or because its been recorded in a certain way; without actually listening to it! They tend to be a bit obsessive about vintage gear like analogue synths, or classic guitars, or vinyl, as well. Oh…and valves! They’re always ranting on about “warmth”, like some elderly relative constantly feeling the radiators and complaining about the chill. It’s about music and equipment fetishism.
I mean, we’re all music snobs to some extent, but really!
Anyway, the noise on this track is pretty piercing…an FM drone on my Alesis Fusion. The synth bass is a squarewave bass I programmed, and the underlying bassline is my bass guitar through a lowpass filter and a ring modulator.

3. Ohm Song

This was originally a song (ie with vocals) also, but I cut the vocal as the track seemed to have a life of its own as an instrumental. It’s got a lovely upright piano sound from the Fusion, and a tweaked Oberheim preset synth from the Fusion again (I tend to programme most of my own sounds and record my own samples, but there are some expert, and rather cool, preset banks on the Fusion website, so I occasionally use them). Incidentally, the Alesis Fusion is my main instrument for writing/recording…. it pretty much does everything, and because it’s not used by many people (its not one of the more fashionable synths), the tracks always have a slightly different sonic ‘feel’ to other music. Its very underrated, if occasionally a bit unpredictable!

4. The Pit

This track is very recent and has gone through a couple of incarnations. I never intend to make a track actually sound like another artist, I just stick to my guns. But I guess your influences do affect the way you make music, so in retrospect, this has turned out a little bit ‘John Carpenter’! Anyway, repetition that slowly builds and builds is a musical feature which I love. Repetition that slowly builds and builds is a…. oh, you see what I did there?!

5. Under The Bed

A funny one this. The instrumental version had been completed, but the track still didn’t feel right, and I’d been singing along to it. I came up with an odd little lyric; about capturing dreams through drawings and placing them under people’s beds to make them dream those dreams. Er..yes, Paul (backs out of room). Anyway, it seemed to fit. Once I recorded it after a few tries, I still wasn’t happy with the vocal (this is usual for me; I’m no singer!). So I put it through a vocal transformer, and hey, presto! Instant ‘drunk female vocalist’! Enough said.
The instrumentation is fairly simple: strings, synth pad, lead synth and chorused bass guitar (two bass lines).

6. Clinging To The Wind

I really love music which conjures up images for the listener. Movie soundtracks are a big part of my listening habits; and, of course, my music is a reflection of this. So, that this track has elements of John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Roy Budd and Ron Grainer, is inevitable I guess.
A layered theme with dense instrumentation, I think this is a bit excessive sonically, but oddly I’m still quite pleased with it. There’s a distorted bass guitar under there somewhere, and also the bass played as a lead guitar. As a result, it sounds a bit New Order-ish as well, which was unintentional.

Anyway, I hope this has either given you some insight, or made you want to download the EP, or not download it, even!
Bye for now.

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