I want to start by saying why I did this project, and how it is that music can be linked to ideas in science and other arts.
Last night I was watching a lecture before bed, and it contained a simple new form of explanation of something that had always confused me previously. Which, I then realised was linked to several other things I had been thinking about recently. I couldn’t sleep because I was excited about the ideas. My feelings were keeping me awake.
Nature, in the broadest sense, is full of structure, complexity, paradox and many other things which invoke awe, beauty, peace, confusion, frustration and many other feelings in the people who study it. We could replace the word “nature” with the word “art” in that sentence and it still holds. That is why I involve scientific ideas in my projects. They are a rich source of aesthetic and feeling, which are precisely also the foundations of music for me.
I have been playing with these ideas for some time, and at least for me personally, the foundations of nature, in the broadest sense (including us), carry the most beauty and maddening incomprehensibility. The more boiled down the description, the more clearly the beauty is crystallised. That is why I am compelled to look for foundations as a general approach.
My last album project applied this reasoning outwards to the world around us, this time I decided to apply it inwards. The starting point was only the process this time, I didn’t begin with the formed idea as I had with Emergence, only the plan to isolate myself from all contact and incoming information for a month, to remove social media, collaborations and conversations, and to see what I could find.
I went to the Welsh Valleys to a place called Llawryglyn, a tiny town without even a shop, the nearest sizable town being Llanidloes. It’s a beautiful part of the world, rolling hills, farms and lakes, and not too many people around. It’s also just a short way from Snowdonia national park, where the terrain becomes more extreme.
I stayed in a place called Gribyn Cottage, near the top of a hill with a spectacular view down the valley. And I used a little attic room with wood beams and slanted ceilings to create a makeshift studio containing my favourite synths and pedals. That was my space to get weird for a month of experimentation. I didn’t try to complete any pieces of music while I was there, I just wanted to get feelings and ideas down, which meant chords and melodic elements only for the most part. I spent a lot of time getting to know my synths better, and made more than 20 hours of live recordings, trying to express myself with lots of patch design time and live modulation, meaning lots of warbling synth noodle.
That approach has given the record a certain sound – plenty of retro feel with classic synths and processing like the Prophet’s, Moog and Juno complimented with Roland RE201 tape delay and many degrading pedals. But then extreme amounts of modulation and detailing using live, and generative software, approaches. There was a lot of time spent creating chaos, and attempting to sculpt it down into coherence. The aim was for something that referenced my past upbringing on, and love of, classic synth music, as well as my current processing-heavy approaches to production.
Spending time on my own in the midst of that beautiful natural environment and thinking about the ideas which most interested me around the concept of who I am and what creates me, gave the music a very certain feel. It’s full of awe and inspiration, and perhaps that makes it sound less serious than some of my other records, I don’t know. But I hate the fact that sometimes people try and sound serious because of fears around music fashion. I wanted to escape all of that and try to be honest with myself. I just hope that has yielded some worthwhile results.