Track By Track: Afterlife – Ten Thousand Things
Afterlife has been at the forefront of all-things Balearic from pretty much the beginning. When Jose Padilla asked him to write a track for Cafe Del Mar volume 3, he never looked back, featuring on numerous Cafe Del Mar compilations both as an artist and as an engineer, and DJing with the best of them in San Antonio Bay. Ten Thousand Things represents his ninth artist album.
In his words:
“Ten Thousand Things is a Taoist description of the universe made up from the 5 elements. It set me thinking… music is a whole universe to me and there seems to also be 5 elements involved; voice, rhythm, melody, texture and emotion… so that was a starting point insofar as the title was born. This album is very personal and a lot more analogue, I wanted to write a solo album but along the way I met two very irresistible songwriters, so it does contain two vocal tracks.
One features the incredibly talented and fresh sounding Coppe, a Japanese electronic artist and songwriter who I first met last year whilst producing the DF Tram album, and the other track features Joel Edwards (half of Deepest Blue). The rest are instrumentals I have written in the last 6 months since I bought a Moog Sub 37, Roland TR8 drum machine and the new Prophet 6. I turned on the computer, sent midi clock to them all to lock in sync and then turned the computer monitor off for the writing process which was really liberating. I think it’s all too easy to be guided by the grid on a computer screen and all too cumbersome using a mouse to access control surfaces. Flipping through multiple sub menus to tweak a sound blocks the creative process or at least slows it down at precisely the wrong time i.e. when you have a vision in your head and just want to get it
Ten Thousand Things
This was a small polyrhythmic experiment with the kick drum playing 4/4 time but the piano loop plays in ¾ time. I wrote it during the winter and the inspiration comes from a memory of crunching my way through the snow to my gig in Warsaw in early January with snowflakes floating down, lights twinkling, very romantic.
This is all about riding a cowboy pony along what was advertised as “the oldest cattle trail in the West” during my stay in Montauk with friends where I met the brilliant photographer Peter Beard who suggested we go riding. I liked the lilting rhythm of the horse when walking, it felt like slow dancing in a saddle. Starting with the beat and the guitar motif in place I was aiming at creating my own version of a spaced-out jazz quartet so everything else was played live and unquantised. This became a habit on other tracks too. Perfect place to listen: riding a horse through Death Valley.
My little tribute to the late great Frankie Knuckles who turned me on to house music and once emailed me out of the blue to say he liked a track I had recently released… always encouraging, positive and loving. I started with the bassline, nice and rubbery then layered it with the moog for some edge. It’s a warm summery track for dancing on the beach barefoot.
There’s a place at Cap Negret in Ibiza called Hostal La Torre. 3 kilometres from San Antonio but a world of difference. It’s not at all commercial, they play really balearic music, serve simple Spanish food and have a perfect sunset. “La Torre” is my impression of the overall vibe. The last time I was in Seville I recorded the audience handclapping during the interval in a flamenco show – they were almost as good as the performers – and mixed it with my own percussion played on a Darbukah, Korg Wave drum and Roland 808.
What happens when you take some Mongolian throat singing, mix it with some old school hip hop beats and mash the whole thing through the filters on a Moog. I started with a basic loop and added extra hats then jammed along with my Fender Precision bass and recorded the bit that worked best. It had a feeling of suspense which I added to with trem strings then freestyled over the top from the Moog; one hand on the keys and the other twiddling knobs to control expression filters and resonance.
I met Joel Edwards (one half of Deepest Blue) and liked his voice a lot. I sent him the track and really loved the lyrics and the backing vocals which have a slight 10cc influence. Sunburn is all about that moment when you decide to take control of your life and decide to live in a place that makes you happy rather than where you thought you needed to live for your work.
Inspired by an old Les McCann track called Soaring At Sunset which was an instrumental and written way before sunset tunes became a DJ speciality. I wanted to capture the light bouncing off the sea at sunset and birds skimming across the water flying home, which is represented by the effects generated by the Prophet 6. Again, all live hands-on filtering keeping the whole piece really organic.
I love listening to shortwave radio in the middle of the night when signals from around the world bounce off the ionosphere and end up in my studio, sometimes like a crazy Moog; snippets of music fading in and out depending on the “skip” – radio signals bouncing off the ionosphere, lots of found sounds, mixed latin rhythms and distorted Fender Rhodes, twisted synths and live percussion.
I met Coppe when I was producing the DF Tram album “Illegal Lingo” last year as she appeared on 2 of the tracks. It’s about how the initial act of falling in love can mature into a deeper loving understanding between two people and how a shared sense of humour is very important to a long lasting relationship so we can laugh at our personal flaws. She is one of that rare breed, massive talent but zero ego, with a playful and refreshing attitude to electronica. She lives in Japan and sometimes California but swears blind that she comes from Mars…
The Piano At The End Of The Universe
I was rereading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by the late Douglas Adams and wondered what their piano might have sounded like. As the restaurant turned back time just before the end on a daily basis I thought the band may have evolved into treating conventional lounge music into something more ethereal, and that was the starting point. Like distilling a jazz quartet down to its essence, playing some parts backwards, slowing down time…
Shocked and confused by global news in the last 12 months which is becoming more and more depressing and inhumane led me to write this little piece late one night to remind me of my childhood which was free from the influence of negative biased mainstream media so invasive to our lives on a daily basis. It’s my take on how beautiful we are as children and how our social system can make monsters out of that beauty if we allow it to happen. I used a piano only for every sound in the track so there was some very heavy signal processing involved.
Buy the album HERE.