Track By Track: Coloray – Future Static
Escapism has been something many of us have revelled in during the last year or so. Unable to travel or explore in real life, our imaginations and technology have provided us with portals into new worlds and with new means of communicating with others.
Similar themes run through multidisciplinary producer, designer and 3D artist Coloray’s debut LP for Atomation, ‘Future Static’. The album “translates the concept of man and computer creating a new reality where logic and emotion seems to be at odds with one another”, and comes with more than just the music – a virtual space offers an immersive listening experience, giving vistors the opportunity to enter a different world with each track.
Coloray’s dexterity for synth design is at the core of the 12 tracks which cover a breadth of styles and influences, from the spaced out ambient of opener ‘Center Of The C#’ to the eerie EBM-inspired grooves of ‘Echoes’ and the pumping techno-funk of ‘Moire’.
Picking apart the details, inspirations and concepts behind these tracks, Coloray dives deep into the world of ‘Future Static’. Check the teaser for the virtual world below.
Center of The C#
To me, this track is where I had the feeling I was making an album. It wasn’t the first track that I had made though, I think it was halfway along the process.
I was in Egypt around the summer of 2018 at the time of making this, lying in a hotel room at an abandoned 80’s Hilton Resort somewhere in an Egyptian desert. A nice group of people booked me and I didn’t know what to expect. When they asked if I wanted to stay for a couple of days longer after the festival I said yes of course.
So I was in this strange place, where time seemingly stood still. Why did they build this resort in the middle of the desert?
Stepping outside I could see the camels walk for miles and look at the mountains. It was really beautiful. First I felt a bit trapped, I mean, there was no way I could easily get home, but then when I gave into the vibe of the desert I felt really at peace. Stars were super bright at night and the breeze coming from the mountains was a huge contrast with the scorching heat during the day.
When lying in my hotel room the evening before driving back, I made ‘Center Of The C#’. I was imagining myself as a solid rock, standing in between the crashing waves of the sea. Seeing different hues of blue, light blue, and teal. The calm feeling of the desert had inspired me to be calm myself, something I needed at that time.
I see this track as the opening of my live show. A way to get people grounded at the moment, to take them on this journey.
The summer of 2020 was a weird one. The Covid virus had changed what used to be my most social season into something that was the complete opposite: 24/7 studio hours. As the heat (and infection) numbers kept rising, I had to find a way to cool the studio off. A friend of mine brought this huge ventilator, which made so much noise that I couldn’t record vocals when it was turned on. This heat vs cold idea kind of became the concept off the track. As the base, I recorded the ventilator and took the mic closer and farther away so you get these howling noises you hear in the back (also used in Face of Value). Then, I’d take a snippet of the sound, run it through a delay pedal, pitch it down, and make a bass layer out of that.
It resulted in a track that’s about the duality of cold versus heat, of feeling nothing versus feeling every emotion. It’s reflective in a way, about who I was at the time, where I was going, friendships breaking up, leaving parts of myself behind. It’s the hot lonely summer versus the cold lonely winter. I think it’s one of my favourite tracks of the album.
If I were to give this track a colour, it would be fiery red. The kind of red that burns when you get close. If you play this, play this on your earbuds lying down somewhere.
This track can be seen as some of the coldest tracks on the whole album. At the time of producing this, I think early 2019, I was just coming off my Real Life Cinema EP and I knew I wanted to leave some of the wave/EBM elements in there, but blend it with electronica a bit more. I was experimenting with resonances and over/undertones a lot in this track, and I had just started to use a new recording process, using a lot of pedals, external effects in an analog Midas mixer. Can safely say that this track was awful to mix.
So there’s this thing about my music which friends of mine label as “dramatic” or “theatrical” (which I don’t find a negative). Big sounds, big climaxes, emotional melodies, that’s kind of what I like to do. Whenever I hear this song it makes me think of dark purple/blue velvet, kind of like what the velvet looks like in the David Lynch film of the same name. That colour has something mysterious, maybe even dangerous in a way.
The vibe in the studio was kind of like that too. I came in very late at night. I couldn’t sleep, so I went out and arrived at the studio around 02:00. I set the vibe a bit, and I could imagine this place. A big open theater, lots of metal and concrete, long purple blueish velvet curtains coming down the ceiling, and spotlights lighting a way to the stage.
Line Break I
Years ago I used to buy graphic novels as a kid. I was never much of a reader, but anything visual would excite me a lot. Around 12 I found this book on eBay which I thought was amazing judging by its cover; Watchmen. It had this smiling face button with the smiling face on the cover and the drawings looked amazing. So I bought it with some pocket money I got from working some job somewhere and I found out it was much better than I had even expected.
In the novel, there is a story being told inside of a story. “Tales of The Black Freighter” it’s called. It comes in the form of different people reading this comic and sometimes as a reader you zoom in and read the comic too. How genius is that.
So I took this idea and tried to tell a story within a story, something that’s even more abstract than the normal album itself. These are the tracks Line Break I, II, and III.
In programming language (which was a huge inspiration for the music and the track titles) a “Line Break” is added to add a comment to the code, something for other people to read, or for the programmer to remind himself off.
This Line Break, however, didn’t start like that. It was made as a supporting musical piece for an artwork of a friend of mine. He wanted to do something with an installation and asked me to do a live improvised piece. So I said, sit down, I’m making you something while you show me images of this installation.
Later when writing the album, it was the missing puzzle piece. A descent into darkness is how it felt. The colour of this track is black (even though black isn’t a colour) and I’d say it’s something you play during wintertime in an utmost desolate place.
Face of Value
This is another track where I recorded that ventilator (it was very hot that summer), however with this one I wanted to give a feeling of warmth. I knew when I was making this track a friend of mine came walking in and said: “hey this kinda reminds me of Stevie Wonder”. Kind of an odd comparison I thought since the beats were so cold that Stevie would say: put some soul in it. However, what he was referring to were the keys I was just playing on the Prophet 6. It became this funky robot track which I still really like.
This one is one for a hot summer party, where it has been very hot during the day and it has just started to cool off a bit. Outside, in the forest, crazing lighting. When are the festivals starting again?
New Moon +
I get most of my inspiration from watching movies and visual art. I’m a music lover, but when I make music I make visuals in my head and set the soundtrack to it. New Moon + is one of the most cinematic pieces of the album. I think it was the second track I did, and when I was doing it I was imagining this sort of wave coming up emotionally and running in the rain. Dramatic again, but I like it. The drums were mostly made in the Analog Rytm which I had just received, what an amazing drum computer. It really sparked the creativity for this one. The strings we’re a live improvised part on the Korg M1, which I recorded waaay too loud so I had to use all sorts of black magic fuckery to get the clipping out. I was just learning how to do analog production at the time.
I imagine an autumn evening, just when there has been a lot of pressure in the air and the rain is coming up.
I would love to play this live in the rain.
Line Break II
As I got further in the process and the concept of the album started to take form I knew the main theme of the album was what it means to be human versus what it means to be an AI. The digital world versus the real world. If Line Break I is decent into darkness, into the void, then Line Break II is what you see and hear when you come out. It’s the meeting with the new digital world. It has this sort of courtyard feeling to it, but then in a computery fashion. I think at the time I was listening to a lot of Oneohtrix Point Never, and it inspired me to step out of the boundaries a bit.
The track is made without a beat grid, and I see it more as a composition of sorts where I get to paint with these different colours. A lot of it was done on a Roland D-05 boutique but I also used the dreadbox Erebus for this a lot.
If there’s a colour I can give this track it would be silver with a colourful shine to it. Again, not a colour, but more a material I’m seeing with this track.
Kill The Ego
There was a point during Covid where I was going nuts a bit. Podcasts became boring and even though I was never a reader, I had read a couple of books. So I got back into my old habit of meditating a lot. To this day I still practice it and it has helped me get a clear oversight of my thoughts but also learn to explore my mind a bit. One thing I found out was that the ego is a strange and incredible thing. It is one thing that has served me a lot in the past but has also has made me a complete asshole at other points. How wonderful it is to be a human being right?
As I was writing the album I began imagining what it would be like if I could upload myself to the computer, becoming an AI. Would I still have this ego thing? Maybe the ego is what’s killed in the process? This is a track where I started playing more with vocal deformers, using a TC Helicon Voicelive rack and also isotope Vocalsynth. The digital was also used a lot for this track, which gives it its deep basses.
The colour I feel belonging to this track is very darkish green. Something I associate with a hunter’s jacket and the forest.
The setting of the track would be ideal in a live setting with visuals added to it.
This is the first track I wrote for the album, so I think the core was done around 2018? It was a while ago. A friend of mine brought all these pedals into the studio and one of them was this bass phaser pedal which was used to do this main bassline sound.
The instrumental of the track was on my computer for a long time, not knowing what to do with it. I liked the vibe of it but something was missing. It was only later in the album process, after I had a general idea of the themes I wanted to write about that I knew this one was going to be about the whole process of making this album. I had the feeling I was sitting so much behind the computer, staring at screens, that I was getting addicted to these visual impulses and slowly was disappearing into virtual reality. Digital Abyss is about that. Everybody’s hooked to this digital world, but I have the feeling we’re still staring down into the abyss, not knowing what will come next.
This is again not a very summery track or even autumn. Play this in the winter at a crazy rave. I like that the aesthetic is very cold, and colour-wise I’d give it a greenish-blue.
Years and years ago, I was just starting as a producer, and at the time I was sent via my publisher to work on an album of somebody they represented. This guy was a Dutch Trance legend, and not knowing anything about Trance I thought: well, lots of new things to learn! I spent days in his studio in Rotterdam, talking about vintage gear, how trance was made, what trance was like in the 90’s / 00’s vs now and how to make it. I think I got a sense for euphoria in those sessions.
When I was writing Moiré I felt I could finally show that. I love those big trancey chords that are a bit harsh on the ears but in your face. I think I made the track starting with the bassline, which came from the analog rytm when trying out the synth that’s in there. Also, the chords were done on the prophet 6. It’s one of these tracks that was finished in 2/3 hours. Those are always the best.
I have the feeling that this track goes with a close to white-ish blue. Something very cold. I think i’d mostly put it in the “winter” group and setting wise I see an open hall with a light installation that’s making Moiré patterns.
Line Break III
Line Break III is the last part of the story, in a story. It’s the final part where the mind is uploaded to the AI and I ask what it means to be human. The vocal snippet was taken out of a Ted talk where the speaker was talking about the concept that we might be living in a hologram and that reality might not be as it seems. Exciting. The track is short and I wanted to give off an idea of madness and insanity as if the brain was being scrambled.
What would be a good setting for this? I don’t know, the event horizon of a black hole? I see a very dark yellowish colour with this one.
The lyrics of resurrection were written around the time when I wrote ‘Can’t Stop’. I knew the lyrics and the tone were beautiful but I just had to find the right format for the music. Since I knew it was going to be the ending of the album it had to have something of a victorious feeling, but still with a dash of melancholy. The song fits perfectly on this spot. It’s not only fitting for the story of the album (rediscovering yourself as a new person via escapism) but also for where I was standing in my life at the time. I had just stopped working together with Tunnelvisions, and I knew I wanted to do something different, something new, and it felt like I was reinventing myself. Resurrection captures that feeling for me.
This is a track that I associate with spring, where everything becomes alive again. I’d say It gives this track a yellow/orange tone, something energetic.