Track By Track: Applescal – Diamond Skies
Pascal Terstappen has a way with melody and composition, a skill he practises under his moniker Applescal. His innately crafted productions have made their way to several labels including Triple R’s Traum Schallplatten, DGTL and his own Atomnation Records, an imprint that he runs from his home of Tilburg that has released music from the likes of Olaf Stuut, Weval and Tunnelvisions.
This month marks the release of his sixth studio album Diamond Skies, which acts as something of a follow up to his 2013 album Dreaming In Key. Recorded between 2019 and 2020, Pascal invites us into his dreamworld via lush motifs, driving drums and bright synth lines, the process and origins of which he guides us through below, track by track…
This is one of the first tracks I worked on after a long, long absence from the studio. Back then, summer 2019, I didn’t know a new album was in the making. This track is the result of experimenting with Samples From Mars – a great sample pack of drums and synths I’d recommend to all producers.
Written on headphones, late at night, and one of the last tracks that I wrote for the album. Here, I also worked with samples, this time from one of Legowelt’s sample packages of analog drums and synths. Visit his website, it’s a wonderful place!
Cymbals Rush is an updated, maximal tweaked version of a track that I released in 2019: “Atlantis”. If you listen closely, you might hear some of the sounds back in it. Atlantis was recorded in 2018 together with my good friend Coloray. In 2020 I made something completely different from it together with some alternative parts that didn’t end up in the Atlantis track.
I love manipulating audio recordings of synths. I transpose them. Cut them in half. Tweak them. Reverse, consolidate, then pitch them up or down. Loop some small parts of it… This track is the perfect example of that approach. I visited Milio’s studio in 2019 and went home with audio recordings of his beautiful synths (thanks Emiel!!!). He has a Jupiter, and a Moog Grandmother, amongst many other synths. The lead sound of Copyshop is an arpeggiator recording that is played something like eight or sixteen times slower, then pitched up a few notes with the “beats” warp option in Ableton.
I made Jupiter Pong with an open-air festival in mind. I wanted to write something that was really out there, with a massive Drumcode-like techno beat underneath it. I’d love to see what happens when this is played out loud.
This is the very last track I did for the album. It’s a loop from the same audio recording of “Copyshop” if I’m not mistaken.
Synthlove (_The Sky)
This is the track where …by far… most time is put in to. I must have played it a thousand times. Or more. Just to get the sound and arrangement right. All tracks on the album are very rough, and finished quickly to keep a certain free, playful sound. Except for this one. It took ages to finish it, but I’m happy with the result. The kick-drum is sampled from David Mayer’s Werkzeug sample package that you can buy through the Keinemusik website.
The beat is a sample of a tribal drum & bass loop. I love to manipulate those kinds of samples, and play them much slower – you can get great break-beat grooves out of it that would never happen when you draw or play it in your music software. The pad synth is also from Legowelt’s sample package.
The ambient track… I had to do something with ambient. I do not only love the genre, but I also love to close albums with an ambient track. It’s like a moment of reflection… The moment the frequency goes up is done with the Ableton “Echo” effect, a very fun tool!