The Best of the Kul Teng Funk Overdose Years 1996-1998

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  1. Heliotrope
  2. Exegesis
  3. Nausea
  4. Heart of the Galaxy
  5. Trep (Short Trance Mix)
  6. West
  7. Chindogu
  8. Moto Guzzi
  9. Lost In The Translation
  10. Polter
  11. Wangaratta Bypass
  12. Orange Days
  13. 111
  14. Cullerin Plain (Rethink)

All tracks written and produced by Graham Freeman.
Most work produced at the Kul Teng Funk Labs Mk 1, 1996-1998.
Some remedial work performed subsequently over the ensuing decade.
Mastered and assembled at the Kul Tech Funk Labs Mk 4, 2007.

Cat. No. GRUD001

NOTES for those of you who like reading such things.

I estimate that for every decent song that came out from that period, there's been about ten half-baked starts to ideas that never went anywhere, or get cannibalised for other songs.

The really early stuff, from the first few months in which I slowly got the hang of the tracker software, has been lost for the most part, though that might not be too much of a loss. The equipment I had at the time was embarrassingly out-of-date, even for 1996 - a '486 PC, with a mono Sound Blaster, and with which I used that Rube Goldberg contraption, the tape adapter, to get sounds out of my c.1988 Toshiba ghetto blaster (which I believe now resides in my brother's workshop, if he hasn't finally completely stuffed it).

Add in the fact that, since I was a rebel and used DR-DOS (as opposed to the Microsoft program loader), which Fast Tracker II simply wouldn't run on top of, the only other tracker that could write in the XM format (it had its advantages over S3M, most notably 16-bit sample support and more than 16 channels) was some weird thing some German coder group had put together, which I can't even remember the name of. Even then, the XM support was not 100%, so a lot of the stuff was compromised.

After a few months I switched to the more reliable and better supported Impulse Tracker, developed by Jeffrey Lim and based on the classic Scream Tracker, which not only could read XM files but incorporated superior capabilities into the IT format. Thus, the bulk of the work I did is in that format. Eventually I was able to buy a synth (a Yamaha CS-1x, which I still use a lot – great little entry level product) and upgrade the computer in 1998, so I was finally able to bring some grunt to bear. The remix I did of “Corrosion” for the FourPlay String Quartet (almost as a joke to freak out Peter) actually dates from that time. The one they put on their remix album wasn’t even the first, though it was a far better go at it.

(Nowadays I use ModPlug Tracker, which means I no longer have to use some bizarro DOS emulator to get things to work. Eventually I'll get onto a slightly more modern platform of music.)

Websites in 1996 were constrained by disk space to a degree that would be laughable now when hard drives broke the dollar/gig barrier a long time ago, so they purged uploads deemed to be crap on regular occasion – all my contributions fell into this category – add to that that I was reliant on perhaps the most unreliable mass-storage media ever devised, the Zip drive, and so the Click of Death also claimed its share of victims. A lot survived, however, and it still kicks around hard drives, just in case I want to go deep into the past for inspiration.

Whilst I was definitely attracted to tightly sequenced rhythms and such, I also wanted to get a strong sense of melody and structure into things as well – indeed it’s almost embarrassing how many of these songs conform to the structure:

  1. Start off with the first melodic theme
  2. Remove the tune and screw around with the percussion for a few patterns
  3. Bring the melody back, but usually modified in some way.

Whatever, it’s a basic idea, but it worked. I may have been a wee too impressed by the likes of Aphex Twin and The Orb, and so the things like overdriven snares and such are a result of that.

Subsequently, my methods haven’t really gotten much more sophisticated, though I don’t spend nearly as much time writing music as I did in those days. My work is still largely tracker based, nowadays using Modplug Tracker, although I am looking into other kinds of music production software as my ideas continue to evolve.

The Names

While “Kul Teng Funk Overdose” was pretty much the title I envisaged putting stuff out as in the early days, there were also other handles that I went under, and often stuff went out under those names. There is a long and convoluted story, but it would make these notes more lengthy and bizarre than they are now! Maybe in a future release.

In 2000, I eventually decided I needed another name, as I felt Kul Teng Funk Overdose was a bit similar to the Ku-Ling Brothers which were getting some attention at the time – so, after a late night brainstorm, I changed it to Antlerland, a name that now sounds too much like the Avalanches. Also, Kul Teng Funk Overdose was a pretty stupid name, as you might agree.

And as for that band (or collective, or outfit, or project, or union of bongo cognoscenti) in San Francisco calling themselves Antlerland three years after I came up with the name, I expect they have much trouble spelling it for people as I do!

The Tunes

As with a lot of the best of the early stuff, Heliotrope started out on the barest of notions, the simple clap line and a bunch of public domain Juno samples which suggested a tune as I poked around the keyboard. Throw in the ring modulated breakbeat loop - which was concocted by applying an infinitesimal echo to it – to serve as the backbone of the first half of the tune. Even though some of the mix gets a bit mucky with the lines tripping over each other, I rate this as one of my favourite early tracks, not to mention being quite danceable, so I would like to believe.

The second track is Exegesis, which is a bit slower. It is a really early track, dating from late 1996 though of course it got a scrub up in 1998. It conforms to the formula outlined above, and whilst there’s nothing too special about it, I like the way it all comes together.

Nausea is not much different, it’s pretty much a sister track to Exegesis, which makes sense since they were probably written in the same month. I think the melodic structure is better, the rhythm parts not so much – again, a heavy debt to Richard D James there, though I’m hardly alone in that.

Heart of the Galaxy is another slow one, written a little later, but I think it’s pretty effective. It occurred to me later on that the heart of the actual galaxy wouldn’t be such a peaceful place, since there’s a lot of cosmic activity and radiation and that, so I brought some white noise in at the end to obliterate everything.

Trep (Short Trance Mix) is a 1997 remix of a ’96 "epic" clunker which clocked in at over ten minutes, and which I don’t care to release in its original form – it was largely wank. I ripped out the essence of the tune, rearranged it, sped it up and mucked around with it to make it floor friendly, to put it that way. It, along with Heliotrope, got a few spins on one of the first Shoutcast stations back in 1998 which played mainly stuff from the mod tracking community. It didn’t sound that great at a bitrate of 24kbps

I wasn’t sure that West was going to get a guernsey with this line-up, given that it is a pretty basic track, the drum patterns are minimal, even the organ bit is pretty unimaginative. But there’s a real sense of momentum going on and I do have to admit I like how it plays out. Hopefully someone else does too.

Chindogu is just a mess, I’m afraid. To this day I continue to do the odd piece where I start a track, and keep adding and adding sections to it until the end sounds nothing like the beginning. Chindogu could’ve gone like that too, but I managed to put a logical end to it. It actually didn’t have a logical beginning, it just started full-on, so when I was putting the final listing together I figured I should do something about that. So I cheated with the timeframe. The introduction was put together in October 2007, though using the basic elements of the piece, just so people don’t get whiplash from listening to it after West fades out.

The first thing you will notice about Moto Guzzi is that it has no bassline. I just couldn’t figure out a way of bolting one in after the fact. It’s also a very silly arrangement with farty rave synths and all, plus you’ve heard the breakbeat in plenty of places before. 1996 was the year of Big Beat, and this is just about as close as I got to really capturing that sound. I think I might’ve been trying to do that deliberately.

With Lost in the Translation I was trying to get a sound similar to The Orb’s “Toxygene”, which had just come out at the time, though I was obviously using a different tune and so ended up with something else. You could probably hear the connection, though.

Polter is a short song, nothing much to write about, I just like the melody on it, plus it’s a good example of an interesting idea that was never really expanded upon.

There’s not really much to Wangaratta Bypass, as the track was being developed I noticed little hidden melodies lurking behind the main lines, so I worked to bring those out as the song progressed and took form. There’s also of a EBM feel, particularly with the drum patterns, but it’s not really what I would class as EBM. This song has grown on me through the years.

The name of Orange Days was inspired by Philip Glass’ “Ange des Orages” – which is stupid because that actually means “Angel of the Storms”, nothing to do with citrus fruit, but I just liked the idea of there being an Angel of Citrus Fruit. I guess in turn that the song should sound like Philip Glass, but I don’t think the two similar yet competing melody lines that kick off the song are really a Glass trademark from any of his periods. I don’t think the breakbeats are really part of his sound either, but I remain to be surprised. Again, I cheated a little bit with this with the time frame, around 2000 or 2001 I changed some of the instruments from the original version because they sounded crap, but the general idea has been improved for it, so no regrets there.

For a long time the title of 111 was “Krunk 101/Krunkenfest”, but it’s not very “crunk” and the title could confuse people, so I figured I’d better change it. Since most of the track is in 7/4, I figured it made sense to name it seven in binary, and it also connects with the old title. For a long time I wanted to finish an album with this because of the vaguely melancholy melody line and the way it resolved itself, so here it is.

My third decent go at Cullerin Plain was Cullerin Plain (Rethink) which I produced in 2000 (beyond the supposed 96-98 purview of this collection), as it’s close to the spirit of the original which got lost to the Click of Death or something like that. It might seem odd to end a compilation with a song that doesn’t even fit the remit, but, hell, U2 did the same with a remixed version of “The Sweetest Thing”, and if they can do it, so can I. The song is named after the stretch of windswept paddocks to the east of Goulburn. I felt that the original was my first close attempt at making the music I wanted to express, even though it was all out of tune and badly mixed and sucked other wise. It was probably best that that version has been lost forever.

And that's it for now! I hope you enjoy the music.

Graham Freeman, December 2007.