In Drum Play: Pangaea Talks
It's that time of year where albums fall around us like golden autumn leaves, or the miniature snare drums which adorn the cover of Pangaea's new record 'In Drum Play'. Other than the 2012 "double-EP" titled 'Release', Pangaea – aka Kevin McAuley – hasn't yet put together a group of tracks presented as an full-length 'album'. Enter 'In Drum Play'. Making my way downtown (to Peckham), I met up with McAuley to talk about the ten track record – which is out on Hessle Audio on October 14th.
Since the age of 8, McAuley had been playing around with music, making his own, and recording himself. "I'd record myself playing the piano onto tape, and then do a sort of live overdub – playing new things over it." Fast forward to 2016, and McAuley, one third of Hessle Audio, has been part of a scene-defining sound, with a strong catalogue of releases and remixes stretching back to 2007.
The first thing that strikes you about 'In Drum Play' is the cover art. "We were going to take some photos of some drums, and then wanted to throw some into the air." I'm no drum expert, but throwing snare drums into the air seems like a bit of a risky game… "We got some doll's house drums," Oh yeah? "And took them and threw them up into the air repeatedly while I had David [Pearson Sound] take photos." It made sense. I was also glad to be reminded that almost anything that exists in a regular house, will also exist in doll house form.
We then got to talking about the album, how it came about, and how it has compared to previous projects. "'In Drum Play' was just a phrase that was going round my head, and the idea of just playing about with drum sounds," McAuley told me. "The album was actually finished in March." I wondered if this delay between completion and the release had led to any sort of detachment from the tracks. "Not really," McAuley said, "it's actually been quite nice not being so involved, not to be thinking about tinkering with tracks, because I know they're finished."
"After the previous EP ['New Shapes in the Air', which was out on McAuley's own label HADAL in 2015], I started sketching some ideas that could be used for a new release. Things were a bit more upbeat." This is certainly the case. Following the scene setting serenity of opening track 'Mutual Exchange' comes 'Rotor Soap' – a high octane, razor sharp techno track – "that track has been good to play in clubs [Rotor Soap]," McAuley told me, "it really cuts through a set."
For setting the scene as well as showcasing individual tracks, tracklisting can be crucially important for electronic music albums. I asked McAuley about how he came to a decision on the track order for 'Drum In Play'. "I asked Ben and David about it and they gave me some ideas which was helpful," he told me, "sharing things we're working on is I think part of why we are where we are."
'More is More to Burn' is the leading track off the album, described as a "feedback loop between the club and the studio." "What you DJ informs what you play," McAuley told me, before going on to echo his earlier comments about how he's been leaning towards more club oriented tracks of late, favouring 4/4 tracks more and more – a slight divergence from the usual wrong-footing, dubby, breakbeat sound associated so strongly with Hessle Audio. Those elements are all still present on 'In Drum Play', now joined by more pronounced techno flavours. Listen to 'More is More to Burn' below.
McAuley expects any new projects will be "more of the same" following in the footsteps of 'In Drum Play', while also hinting at the possibility of expanding his sets into live performances. "I'd like to do a live show next year. I'm not sure how yet, but have spoke to some people about it and want to do that. Then there will also be a few remixes, and then I'd like to do another record too."
In the more immediate future, McAuley told me about particularly looking forward to an upcoming gig at Amsterdam's De School, and performing alongside Ben Ufo and Pearson Sound.
'In Drum Play' is out on October 14th and can be pre-ordered here.