Antlerland spooges forth another wonderous landmark in sound-art, Blast Thru Silence. You can download it right now at >>antlerland.bandcamp.com<< in a format perfectly suited for your sound system.
- Sunny Days
- Raincheck Summer
- Blast Thru Silence
- Your Eyes Are Two Gelatinous Sacs Embedded In Your Skull
- The Plains
- Muton Base Attack
- Roxburgh Park
- ... But I See Nothing ...
- It's Like This Cat
- Some Never Do Explain
- Angel Of The Storms
© COPYRIGHT 2011 Graham Freeman
Grudnuk Creations - Cat No. GRUD005
Mastering notes: This album has not been professionally mastered. I would love to get this done of course, but good mastering in a well-equipped room manned by someone who knows what they're doing would cost half a grand that I would rather not throw at an album that isn't going to make any - this is my hobby, not my career, after all.
In deference I've applied some light compression myself but kept it pretty "quiet" at -18dB RMS because I like having lots of headroom and dynamic range anyway. (Anyone familiar with the loudness wars will probably realise this is really quiet.) So you'll probably have to turn it up a bit or run ReplayGain or MP3gain over it once you download it.
And now for something to read while you're listening to the album...
This album can be marked from previous Antlerland albums, that while those incorporated some legacy material with the fresher works, Blast Thru Silence was pretty much written from scratch once Recombinant Diamond Dust was let out in public. This probably accounts for the slightly longer interval as this new material had to mature in its own time, although 15-16 months still isn't too bad given some bands' release schedules.
I was feeling pretty energised by the new ideas I'd worked with on RDD, so that helped as a starting point with the album. At the same time, I felt that I wanted to get a little more of the dub feel I had on certain songs from Intercapital Daylight, which was partly the inspiration for "Your Eyes", which in some ways is the centerpiece of the album. Of course I also wanted to keep doing the strong melodies and themes and working up arrangements that would support them, while indulging in a hint of experimentalism.
And so we begin with "Sunny Days", which is a classic Antlerland album opener - it wants to be a pop single like its similarly vexed counterparts "Opening Up" and "Judge Not", but the structure is so mixed up that it has no chance of doing so. Indeed, the vocoded chorus doesn't even kick in until after the two minute mark. That was actually a last minute inclusion - while work on the song started on the title (there was supposed to be a companion piece called "Moony Nights" but work on that never got past the briefest riff - next album, maybe), the idea of singing on it came in very late, when I messing around with the vocoder and started jabbering out some nonsense about walking in the sun on summer days in time with the playback. It fitted right into the mix, and completed the song, along with the sequenced "solo" that in part reprises the hook from "Wronghead".
"Raincheck Summer" also has a summery title, I guess, but it seems like a very melancholy summer - too much rain, like the one we had in the east of Australia over 2010-11. Contrasts in the title, an old trick. It's also a play on the portmanteau "checksum" - geddit? But enough about the title, which might as well have been called "Elfred The Blue Moose Visits His Grandma For A Pint Of Sugar", because after all it's an instrumental. Ha. This was probably the first thing I started on the album, with the beginning being pretty much untouched from my initial muckings-about with a string pad and a formant filter. Very pretty, and a little spooky, but that gets boring after a while so I brought in a percussion line made up of samples of me whacking a steel mixing bowl. Then I go the whole hog and go for a Mike Oldfield-style exploding melody line (pity I can't play guitar like him) until it's beyond redemption.
"Blast Thru Silence" is a title track that continues the dalliance with dirty dirty prog music. I think I was trying to do some mid-70s Tangerine Dream kind of thing but kind of got bored (well, TD do that) so dropped some doofer over it. Then I realised doofer is boring too so brought the TD nonsense back in. I had to put up with some guy raving about Fela Kuti as well so I threw some polyrhythms in the pot. Then I got lazy and dropped the Neu! motorik beat over the end just to show how much of a jerk I am. I love music because you can throw different people's ideas together like that, no matter how much they don't work. It's still a terrible song.
We hustle the hairy Germans out the back door to make way for "Your Eyes Are Two Gelatinous Sacs Embedded In Your Skull". The idea came to me, as many ideas do, as I was out walking home from work or something. You know, a nice walking song likening people's eyes to soulless lumps of jelly. Ideally this would sound like something someone cooked up in the backblocks of Kingston, but I don't know what went wrong. Probably the fact it was someone from rural and regional Australia trying to make it. Having said that, I think the end result is pretty much what I had in mind in the first place."I like both kinds of music, Rural and Regional!"
"The Plains" - oh yes, another droney track. I was messing around long delays and that, sort of trying to get some No Pussyfooting thing going, except of course the elektro drums really buggered that idea up. So I had to fade all that out and have a second bite of the cherry. Hot damn do I love them pulsing basslines. Basslines and drones. Good golly gee. That's a good time right there.
"Muton Base Attack" - please note that it's Muton, a species of alien from the old X-Com computer games, not mutton, although the idea of a bunch of old sheep raiding a military base... it could be a soundtrack to that as well! But anyway. It's a drum'n'bass track, no bones about it. Halfway through putting this album together I got jack of the atmospheric nonsense I was writing and put that aside for a little while to do pisstakes of various dance music genres. I made starts on cheeseball techno and house anthems, but once I got into the jungle music cliches it started taking on a life of its own. So aggro and yet so swinging. Start with the spooky pads, the ridiculous movie sample, and of course the squonky bass and the Amen breaks. Pretty soon I decided to promote it to the "proper" album and kept working on it. And then capped it off with the tacky synthetic guitar line. Yeah! This will surely get me onto the heavy metal festival circuit!
"Roxburgh Park" - yes, I am sneering at outer suburbia!
"... But I See Nothing ..." obviously started out as an extension on "Gelatinous Sacs" but things got out of control as they do, at least I got it back into control. This turned out to be a pretty good bit of stream of consciousness tracking, where I would just mix elements in and out and change the character of the music as I went along. There must be about four phases in this one, and of course because it matched the beat with the next song, it made sense to segue them, although twelve minutes at the same pace is pushing it, I will agree.
"It's Like This, Cat" - yes, the name is inspired by the Newbury-winning novel! (though the music ain't) - was actually finished well before "But I See Nothing" but is also basically another set of transitions. I was a bit worried that it was getting a bit ChemBros although that's not necessarily a bad thing (considering how much I have severely ripped off the other members of that mid-90s Brit-Poptronica cohort - you know, your Orbitals, your Underworlds, your Leftfields, your Propellerheads). It kept its place because, I dunno, I just like writing things that flow through different ideas without really underlining them.
"Some Never Do Explain" - working title "No Explanation" - this I like. It is pretty rare that songs just fall together under your fingertips, where all the parts make themselves known and then sit in their right place in the arrangement. Even then things don't always go smoothly - it stood in limbo while I worked on other tracks because I couldn't figure out how to finish it off, but after I'd sketched out "Raincheck Summer" I'd noticed that a reworked reprise of that song's hook would fit in quite nicely. So I had the remaining pieces to cap this one off.
Finally, "Angel Of The Storms". (For the origin of the name, refer to "Orange Days" from the Chindogu compilation. Certain delay effect VSTs sound like crap if you keep messing with the delay times while active, presumably it messes with the buffers, inducing glitches and strange flanging effects, so I exploited that to strangify the percussion and melody tracks. Why would I do something ridiculous like that? Because it's art I guess. Perhaps also because I've been trying to write something that Peter Hollo will play on his radio show and I figure the highly technical explanation I've just given you might impress him (along with the unsubtle suck-up job in these virtual liner notes - I figure if I can get him on-side every other community radio DJ will follow). That's cute and all, but I also have to write the music too because that's gotta be impressive too. So, a incorporate a simple but pretty tune, top it off with some omelancholy melodica, finish it on a somewhat ambiguous cadence, that's the album done.
NB: The suck-up job worked! Although he played the upbeat ones. Go figure.
Blast Thru Silence doesn't really mean anything, it's just a phrase that popped into my head at some stage that I thought would be a cool name for an album. Or at least it would be, if the album actually BLASTED something.
- Graham Freeman