Donor crafts his techno from two elements; one simple – A Roland 909 – and one complex and ever evolving – the shadow, clank, hiss and roar of New York. His new album Against All draws on the sounds of his home city, offering a distorted glimpse of the metropolis reflected in a high-rise's chrome. It's techno that can trace it's routes back to the industrial 80s, to the synth heavy movies of John Carpenter, and to the minimal future pulse of Detroit. It is as proficient at slicing through sinister dancefloors as it is soundtracking strange, late night journeys through cityscapes. Here Donor takes us through the recording, and intention of the album, along with some exclusive previews.
Against All is released through Prosthetic Pressings on Feb 2nd. Pre order here
The idea for this project came together on a random phone call with Sean while discussing the possibility of putting together a second EP for Prosthetic Pressings. I remember having a couple of tracks complete that he was interested in releasing but after deciding on an album instead, none of those tracks were actually ever included. Initially I had no idea of the direction I wanted to take the album. While a lot of recent reviews tend to reference Science Fiction movies or scores, ironically enough I’ve never been a huge fan of the genre, but am definitely able to connect with these sometimes distorted and futuristic realities through my own imagination and through music. With that being said, there are definitely certain films and scores that heavily influenced the direction that I decided to take the album, some of them including, John Carpenter films such as They Live, The Thing, The Fog and Assault on Precinct 13 along with Lodge Kerrigan’s Clean, Shaven. For this project I really stripped back my studio, as the whole album was pretty much created with a Roland TR-909 and my Edirol R-09 Field Recorder which I used to record sounds in and around NYC, a lot of which were later processed through Native Instruments Guitar Rig and some Eventide Guitar Pedals.
One of the things I have always appreciated about electronic music is that there is rarely a clear message that the listener is forced into connecting or rejecting and therefore feelings vary depending on how the individual perceives it. For this reason I’ve never really been one for describing my music or intentions but the album is unsettling and it is futuristic and for me there is a story behind it.
One of the older tracks on the album and was originally created for soundtrack album themed dark atmospheres and tension. Through reworking it and keeping the original feel, I thought it was an appropriate track based on the overall vibe I was trying to create for the album. I consists of a couple of field recordings and movie samples, to which I then layered a few atmospheric synths.
Represents frustration and it builds subtle tension as it evolves. I was unclear as to whether it was going to be placed at the beginning or towards the end of the album. I couldn't decide whether it was a more appropriate segway into, or a segway out of, the unsettling territory and the communication breakdown that is present throughout the album. I decided to use it as an intro.
Menace Is Mine
A desperate attempt to communicate with the unknown and I attempted to achieve this through time stretching and pitch shifting random field recordings in order to create some sort of repetitive vocal. It’s anxiety driven and I think most listeners would align on the sort of feeling it creates.
Named after the building that I work in, a former post office in Manhattan. The idea came about after capturing random vocal samples that I recorded on my iPhone at work after tapping into a local police scanner. I guess it would be considered one of the more dance floor friendly tracks of the album which I think I successfully achieved after 2 or 3 failed attempts.
Created entirely on an iPad. I started the track by recording some random samples through a Moog Filatron into my Field Recorder while riding the L Train from Brooklyn to Manhattan. After getting back to the studio I then ran them through my Eventide Guitar Pedals which I recorded live into Ableton. There was no initial meaning behind the track as it was just an experiment that I completed a couple of years ago but it seems to work as a nice breaking point to the album so I decided to include it.
One of my favorite tracks on the album. I started and built the track around the synth line that comes in during the second half of the track. Like with a lot of tracks that I create, the idea was to take something that was initially beautiful and process it through a shitload of distortion. I’m happy with the result.
Us For Them
Actually an older track and started as an experiment involving various field recordings and vocal samples.
Fault Is Found
The most difficult and actually the last track that I completed for the album. The original version was more of a straight forward techno track but I was not completely satisfied with how it related to the rest of the tracks on the album. I wanted it to keep the heavy sound of the original track but in a way that it would be coherent with the rest of the album. I basically just resampled all of the original sounds that I had created on the previous take and worked it into what it is.
This represents the aftermath or total destruction. Chopping samples and distorted synth lines. All of the automation was recorded live on this track.
In Your Place
This was actually a track I finished in early 2012 but I included it in the album being that I think it represents the perfect ending to the struggle. It was never clear to me whether it was supposed to represent peace in the afterlife or some sort of truce. Whatever.