Track By track: Death In Vegas – Transmission
Back with a sixth album, Death In Vegas release 'Transmission' later this month. Richard Fearless' project has been running for nearly two decades and has seen a roll call of guest appearances from a broad musical pallete including Bobby Gillespie, Iggy Pop and Liam Gallagher and their music has been used in Oscar winning films and across television. The latest LP sees him move further into raw, electronic sounds. Partnering with artist and writer Sasha Grey, her vocals resonate across the visceral techno landscapes and field recordings. Part recorded in Richard's Metal Box studio in London, he tells us how that sonic environment informed and influenced the production, and shares the story of working in an old Luftwaffe building.
Drone’s studio, Metal Box, is located on a peninsula between two rivers, the Lea and the Thames. It sits adjacent to a steel importer which runs 24/7, with its productivity increasing into the twilight hours. All day and night you hear the scraping of metal on metal, sounds which sit so well over the sonics that were coming out the container, they had to feature on the album. After failed diplomatic attempts to get into the steel factory, field recordings of the factory from across the water and the incessant airplane drones (flightpath to London City Airport) plus radio recording from the studio’s handbill VHF long wave recorder started to feature on the album, on Metal Box, and Transwave. Metal Box opens with unsettling discordant drones, then embracing this Ballardian landscape in the final part of the song, a journey from dark to light.
CONSEQUENCES OF LOVE
Sasha and I first bonded over a love of Chris and Cosy and Throbbing Gristle, and this track has an October (Love Song) vibe to it. Party boats go down the river with their music drifting in and out of earshot; a magical way of hearing music. It’s something I try to do when I put passes down in the studio: sweeps of sound, enhanced as its all running live through the delays with sequencers and drum machine’s triggering synths. It’s all mostly pre midi gear, each machine with its own characteristics. Sasha’s delivery on Consequences of Love along with her mid-western American accent reminds me of Sissy Spacek in Badlands.
Raw, visceral techno, a trance inducing battle cry. When you’re in the studio for extended periods of time it can be really isolating. This album for me is has a strong sense of communication, reaching out, Death in Vegas is transmitting from the Metal Box, post Trans-Love Energies, emitting its Transwaves.
What works so well for me on this track are the confessional, whispered vocals which contrast to the the underlying track which has just got this sick groove going on. I remember when we got this particular jam going in the studio and just dancing round the studio, one of those moments.
This track was recorded in one of the Luftwaffe’s former Flak towers in Hamburg. The building is this incredible Brutalist structure and I was told that post war that it would have been too difficult to actually knock it down so they decided to hand it over to the arts. Anyway I was working in Bremen and knew there was a studio in the Flak Building that had this System 100 I wanted to use. The building was so oppressive but I really tried to channel the energy of the place into the music. It turned into one of my favourite songs on the album.
Sequential Analogue Memory
Sequential Analogue Memory was named after the sequencer of the same name, or SAM-16. It was made by electronics genius Sebastian Niessen who built loads of Kraftwerk’s equipment over the years. It’s one of three sequencers in the studio, the SAM is super intuitive like the other sequencer, the SQ10 that’s running in the Metal Box. It became a Holy Grail of mine to acquire one. At the time one hadn’t come up on eBay for 3 years or something like that. Anyway, German synth forum to the rescue. Hunting for another currently, as I need more steps for the next album.
I love the beginning of this with just the drums. I want to make more tracks that are just drum work outs. Ren Schofield’s Container project on the awesome Spectrum Spools is a big one for me in that way: super stripped back technoise, gut music.
The title of this track is a poetic German word for the flow of electricity or a river’s current. Working on the river is really inspirational for me: the movement, the expanse of space, the light. When the weather’s bad the view becomes Turneresque. At night the City lights up and the futile cable car keeps running and that the waste of space the Millennium Dome come together in this Ballardian landscape that takes on its own beauty. There’s all sorts of craziness going on too which is fascinating; convicted bank robbers running tug boat companies, stories of a skeleton found handcuffed to a submerged Rolls Royce, it all adds to the romance.
YOU DISCO FREAK
Discordant, repetitious, far-out, Hi-Nrg techno. I love the over-driven snare, it’s like a bull whip. I got a text from Roman Flugel the other day saying he’d just dropped this at Panorama Bar and it killed it, sweet, job done.
My favourite track on the album. It was about 3 in the morning in the winter, and Chris Blakey who engineered and mixed the record and I had been sitting out a storm (we ride to the studio). Anyway this track came together and remember it just sounded so fragile, a broken beauty, a perfect song for me, Richard Fearless.
Death In Vegas – Transmission is released by Drone on 27th May 2016 and can be pre-ordered HERE. They will also perform a live premiere of the album with full audio- visual show at Atonal Festival in Berlin in August, full info can be found HERE.