Track By Track: Dj Guy – Concentric Rhythms
DJ Guy has arguably been one of the greatest rediscoveries in electronic music in recent years. Back in the 90's his involvement in British techno was largely undocumented, however, tapes have begun to surface from his vast back catalogue of archived material and have found their way into the hands of the right people. In 2014 All Caps, the Glasgow based record label, announced a release from a seemingly new artist in the form of DJ Guy, little was it known that this was in fact archived material from decades previous. Since then the floodgates have opened heralding the way for a number of releases on several labels. The latest from DJ Guy comes in the form of "Concentric Rhythms", his first LP which is set to be released on Hypercolour this month. We caught up with DJ Guy to learn about the pieces which make up his new album. Read below…
This is the first track on the album and it was originally created in Feb 2014 as a sketch/jam really, but was left unfinished/unsequenced until last year.
The drums come from a variety of sources which are layered on top of each other to give a more fuller sound. Most of the sounds were then routed through some phaser effects, distortion and bit crusher to give them extra warmth and character. The vocal samples originate from some of the many Sample CD's I bought during the 90's (mainly AKAI format), such as 'Skip to My Loops' and others. Over the years my custom library of sounds has grown and grown and I still find them great for getting inspiration and adding more identity to tracks. Most of them are quite obscure now, but I’ve really become attached to the sounds over the years.
I played some Rhodes chords (which are reversed) which you can hear in the background of the track and also added a low sub bassline to the track, which is later overdubbed and duplicated whilst being pitched down an octave which gives a much heavier weight to it half way through. Like I said this, was originally recorded as a jam session in 2014 and later sequenced in more detail. I regularly use side chain compression in my tracks to give certain sounds space to exist in the rest of the track. It’s hardly noticeable at times, as the attack/decay is so fast that it’s almost impossible to hear. I mainly use it as a means to stop certain frequencies clashing with each other (bassline and other low frequency sounds). Finally, I named the track 'Love' for the simple fact that I'm now a father to a beautiful 20-month-old boy and my world is full of love each day from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep.
This is one of my favourite tracks on the album and was made in July 2013. It was the third in a trilogy of 'Untitled' tracks which i was making at the time (the other two are available to hear on my soundcloud page).
The drums are from a Roland 707 drum machine and the hihats from a Siel MDP40. The vocal sample is from another ancient sample CD from the 90's (which I later found out actually originated from an old JJ ALL STARS track). The bassline started out as a simple Max patch, which I always find great for creating the cleanest sinewave sub frequencies I’ve ever heard. I remember I played the bassline live unquantised and it works well over the rhythm as it has a slight looseness which is hardly noticeable. The drums start as quite a simple kick/hihat 4/4 structure and after the intro expand into something much much looser and free. I really like the structure of this track, into–middle–outro etc..as i sometimes have difficulty turning jam session ideas into finished tracks. Really happy this track made it on the album and I hope people enjoy hearing it too. Never heard this on a big soundsystem yet though, hopefully will one day soon…
Created this back in Sept 2013 and this is probably the heaviest track on the album, definitely one for the dancefloor. Brutal 909 drum machine pattern played through a delay unit (with a 1/4 bar delay time) so the echo reflections are played back actually louder than the originally source sounds. It gives it a very organic, hypnotic feel which was created accidentally but it seemed to work really well. Lots of gritty distortion on the drums too and tons of side chain compression to push every sound into the forefront. I played this to a friend of mine at the time and he said that the distortion makes it sounds like 5am in a sweaty club with your ears giving out, even if you're listening to it at a moderate volume first thing in the morning. Quite a good description I think! The bassline was played in live over the top and those lead/melody/chords were played on top with some subtle changes in the attack and lowpass filter to give it some movement throughout the track.
Don't Hold Back
Having to cast my mind way back to 1995 to remember how I made this! Pretty sure this was created at Grassroots (community) recording studio in Cardiff, where I use to volunteer and then later worked full-time. Quite sure it was made there, as it has a much different characteristic to the other lo-fi tracks I made at home using the Octamed software on the Amiga computer. I think we might have had an EMU-ESI 32 sampler in the studio at the time, or if not then I would have definitely used the Casio FZ1 sampler maybe. All sequenced and programmed using an ancient Atari ST1040 computer running Cubase 2.0. (with an old, tiny, black and white monochrome Atari monitor screen). I still love the Atari ST though, it had a big clunky mouse and a keyboard that sounded like you were working at NASA or something.. haa haa and the precision midi timing on it was phenomenal. I actually bought another one a few years ago and still make a few tracks on it from time to time. Pretty sure some of the pad and bass sounds were played using the ESI-32 sampler as the lowpass filters have a certain warmth to them. The effects were probably from the Alesis Quadraverb (still one of my favourite effects units to this day, it has so much unique character). Might have also used some sweepable Mid-range EQ from the mixing desk on the chords too. The 'Don't Hold Back' vocal sample was again from an old sample CD (which I later researched as being from the acapella track 'I Need You now' by Sinnamon).
Through The Galaxy
Another old track recorded at Grassroots studio in Cardiff. This was definitely made with the Casio FZ1 sampler and also used a Roland D110 Sound module. Again it was sequenced on the Atari St 1040. Some of the drum sounds are sampled from an 808 & 606. The chord, flute and Japanese koto sounds are from the Roland D110 sound module. Again the Alesis Quadraverb was used for the stereo ping-pong delay effect which washes over much of the track. I probably made this track in a few hours in Grassroots. I used to get quite a lot of free time in the studio when people wouldn't turn up to their pre-booked studio session. Some of the music i made back then was from sessions like this, e.g. working against the clock trying to get as much done as possible in a very short amount of time…no time to think…just try and subconsciously feel what works best.
20 (16 minute full length mix)
Recorded this at in my bedroom studio back in 1996 using an old Commodore Amiga computer running the Octamed tracker sample/midi software. An edited version of this was released in 2014 on the excellent ALL CAPS label and it's really nice to finally be able to show the original unreleased full-length version.
I remember I was sharing a house with a few friends in 1996 and would sometimes get to borrow the equipment from their studios (Korg X3R sound module, Yamaha R100 effects unit and a Novation Bass station rack unit). All the drum sounds and a few other were from the Amiga, and the strings and other sounds were from the X3R sound module. The main thing I remember from this track was being able to play the strings sounds and other sounds through the external filter input of the Novation bass-station. The great thing about this was that the midi notes of the strings (high/low notes) would also trigger the filter cut-off frequency of the low pass filter (which was also midi-controllable.)
I suppose my midi capabilities were pretty limited back then so the only way i could control the cut-off was to assign the string midi channel to control it. The result is a really nice sort of S&H (sample and hold) randomness to the cutoff frequency on the strings, quite a unique sound, which also able to be controlled again by using the cutoff dial itself on the front of the rack unit which would add another layer of movement.
This 16-minute version is pretty much a snapshot of the live take which I recorded at the time. I used to just start the tape deck recording and jam out for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Many of these tracks are available to hear on my Bandcamp page https://guyevans.bandcamp.com/ and I hope to add more of my archived tracks to my Bandcamp page soon.
This was a sketch I had floating around since 2014 and did some more work on it over the past year. I'm always working on ideas whenever I get free-time and sometimes go back and forth between revisiting old ideas and working on brand new stuff.
This was basically a bit of a homage to acid house and rave culture. The chords remind me a lot of the Detroit techno I grew up listening to and the filtered drums give lots of energy to the track as a whole. There are some 909 drums on top (hihats etc..) again played though lots of distortion effects to give them a fuller sound. Also contains lots of Roland 727 percussion which I have always loved. Lots of sidechain compression going on here too, mainly to make sure the sub pumps out as much as possible by making everything else drop in volume. That famous 'spinback' sound as heard on a couple of old tunes in the 90's originated again from an old Simon Harris Beats Breaks and Scratches LP (Vol.2 i think?). I'm glad this track made it onto the album, quite different to the others tracks..
Made this track in March 2013 and the track includes lots of samples of zap sounds, space invaders sound effects and lots of space echo/reverb effects, quite dreamlike overall.
The pad sounds originated as a longer sample and I basically used some granular synthesis to take a tiny snippet of it and loop it back and forth, whilst the added phaser gives it lots of movement and space. The bassline again originated as a Max patch, created quite accidentally in fact.
Lots of influences here, ranging from dub, ambient, drone and footwork to jungle. I suppose I was just experimenting and seeing what happens really.
If people listening like this this then go to my soundcloud page and check out my other tracks 'Loose Orbit' (2013) and 'Transient System' (2013). Quite similar in terms of the experimentation I was trying out at the time.
The track features a short vocal sample from the 1978 LP 'African Anthem' by the late, great, genius of Michael George Campbell (Aka Mikey Dread). My older brother gave me this when I was about 12/13 years old and its been such a majorly important record throughout my life. The production of the entire album is incredible and it really inspired me to try and make my own music as adventurous as his.. A genius whose legacy will live on forever…I think that’s the beauty of great music really, the timeless quality about it. The track also contains a tiny sample from the intro of The Heptones & U-Roy track 'Freedom Train'. Again, another two artists who have inspired me a lot throughout my life… The other vocal sample on the track was from a sample CD I bought back in 2004.
The siren sample originated from an old Simon Harris 'Beats Breaks & Scratches LP Vol. 8' (I grew up listening to all of these records and learned to scratch, mix and make music with them back in the mid to late 80's). The same siren sound can also be heard on the excellent Mantronix track titled 'King of the Beats' which was also another massive influence on me growing up.
I suppose the main thing you notice when hearing the track is the space effects. I spent quite a while trying to get everything to sit just right it the mix, trying to control the feedback as much as possible without it overloading, but it really adds a sort of hypnotic dreamlike quality to the track as a whole. Worth listening with to good quality headphones on…
Finally I just want to say a big thank you to everyone at Hypercolour for releasing the 'Concentric Rhythms' LP. Big thanks to Alex for the artwork and Shawn at Optimum for the mastering work. Would also like to say special thanks to everyone who has supported/ released my music in the past few years. Thank you so much.
Buy the release HERE.