Track By Track: Eomac – Bedouin Trax
Stereotypically speaking, techno isn't built for home listening. Therefore the concept of an album or a release in full is often deemed debatable. However, Eomac is not an artist who could be said to conform to the rulebook. So much so that in recent years he has become rather the specialist in long form production. Following two self released LP's and an album on Killekill he now returns with a ten track effort on Bedouin Records, a label based in the United Arab Emirates which has released music by the likes of Hieroglyphic Being, Ekman, J. Tijn and John Heckle amongst others. We spoke to Eomac about his musical output as he guides us through his new album. Read the basis behind each track below…
Given the nature of the composition of this album, most of the tracks were directly inspired by the source material. But not just the sounds in themselves, it was also the images and feelings they conjured in me. Images of morning calls to prayer in foreign cities I’ve never been to; wild drumming ceremonies; street musicians playing raw, life affirming music unconcerned with ‘production’ or a studio and all the more joyous for it; unfamiliar religious rituals ascending to higher places….there were many things in my head. A lot of them admittedly may be very stereotypical images of the Middle East, a lot of them romantic views held of a place and time I’ve never been. Imagined scenes both alien and familiar. This opening track was inspired by the main vocal sample used – an old Kurdish song from Iraq called ‘Kassem Miro’ by Said El Kurdi. (It was sampled previously by PJ Harvey on her track ‘England’). It is an incredibly evocative vocal for me, emotive, ambiguous – it could be a paean of love, it could be a battle cry. The original is more gentle, but I’ve distorted it to give it more urgency, like a call to arms, a call to arise, a call to unite. That’s why it is the first track on the album, it felt like a mission statement for the record (as well as being the first track I wrote for the project). Hence the title, 'Entrance'.
There is undoubtedly a spiritual aspect to this record. The word ‘spiritual’ is quite loaded, as are many words that attempt to describe worlds and realities beyond the one we physically inhabit, and it means different things to different people. It’s a difficult thing to talk about. Language is limiting. But I can’t think of a better word right now. When I use the word spiritual here I am talking about something that is outside of ourselves but also within us. The notion that we, as humans, are powerful, beautiful, as loving and as great as any god figure that traditional religions have come up with. The notion of a soul, of a higher self, of aspiring to be the highest form of yourself that you can be. Embracing who you are. Not giving your power to external things, but owning your own power and not fearing it. Of trying to reach a point of unconditional and unending love for all things. Ha! Not easy. But aspiring to such an idea can help life flow a little more. ‘Ascension’ is an attempt to express some of these ideas in musical form. The rising strings, the development toward movement and celebration, the ‘angelic’ voices. Honesty of intention. Again ‘ascension’ is a loaded word, especially for someone like me who was brought up a catholic in Ireland, and have suffered the guilt and shame that brings. But ascension in this context doesn’t mean ascending to some traditional idea of ‘heaven’ or some god-like figure transcending this world. It means ascending to who we truly are as humans, ascending to our full potential, right here and now. Transcending the lies and illusions of this world, our society, systems, structures, limitations and living truthfully and free.
‘Same heart, Same Breath, Same Life, Same Death’
I love gabber. I always have, ever since I first heard it when I was a teenager. The energy, the release, the aggression, the anger, the dancing, the sense of community, the fun – all of it attracted me. I know it has a bad reputation in some parts, and has had some pretty negative associations with far right-wing groups over the years. But that is not the music’s fault. There is a lot of amazing music that has been used by people to push extremely negative viewpoints – black metal, power-electronics, noise, industrial. But the same extremity that attracts those who give in to their fears and spew hate, also attracts those that want to push positive ideas into the world. That’s what I wanted to do with this track. Heavy but uplifting. I wanted it to be intense, to have a gabber-like beat, to have distorted kicks. To fucking bang. Hard. There is anger there for sure. Anger at the state of the world, the fear-based society we live in, the conditioning, the brainwashing, the sadness, the disconnection, the manipulation by the media.. All of it. Fuck you. A massive fuck you. However a ‘fuck you’ without a plan is unhelpful. Maybe even dangerous. Unchecked anger without focus, without thought, and without finding a healthy outlet for it can lead to the very bigotry and hate that initially caused the anger. Because behind anger usually lies fear. Personally I am attempting to recognise my own fears, deal with them, and then use the anger as fuel to move and grow. That’s what this track is about. It is not just anger, it is righteous anger – a beauty within anger, it is fuel, it is fire, it is opening my eyes. All of them. And a call to others to do the same. A call to others to do the same, because we are all in this together. We all live, we all die, we all breath the same air, we all feel the same emotions. Blood pumps through us all. Let's unite through our anger and disillusionment and turn that focus on the real problems instead of turning on one another.
This track is a bit lighter in tone. It is dance music. It has a straighter beat. It has wandering melodies. It was important for me to explore light as well as dark on this album. The two exist side by side. Duality is everywhere. I think it’s important to understand them both. Explore and understand all aspects of things. I wrote the tracks for this album in my home studio in Schoeneberg, Berlin, where I was living at the time. So depending on my mood, and depending on the source material, different atmospheres and feelings were reflected. I tried not to censor anything and just let it flow. Explore every idea fully. This led to a few dead ends, but more often than not tracks developed organically and quickly, I just followed them wherever they went. This track stemmed from the melody – I had a loop and a sound for the melody, then the beat came really quickly and a track formed in front of me. That happens a lot. I try not to think when I am writing. I think and plan beforehand and afterwards, but during the actual creation I try to
switch off my mind and just let it flow.
This is part one of a two track set, as suggested by the title. There wasn't room on the album for both parts, so this is the one that made it. Hopefully the second part will see the light of day somewhere. It is based around a sample of a flute melody, sadly the source is unknown, uncredited. The original track is stunningly beautiful and I didn't have to do much to it to turn it into something I was happy with. Some simple processing and a new melodic idea and I had a piece that resonated with the vibe of original, but was also something new and made sense in the context of my own work, and the other tracks I was working on for the album. With this album I wanted to include some beatless tracks and tracks of different styles. I
have become known as a techno producer in recent years, but I have never seen myself as that. I am a musician, an artist. I feel the need to create and express myself, and I see labels as limitations. In art and in life. At the moment I make predominantly electronic music, but in the past I have been in bands, I have composed pieces for traditional acoustic instruments, I have improvised solo and in groups, both electronically and as a pianist. I love music. It speaks to me and through me. So I wanted this album to be a fuller expression of that. More varied and dynamic than my last album 'Spectre', which I am very proud of, but feel it only shows one side of me. I wanted this album to be more representative of where I see myself now, and where I see myself going. So it was important to include different aspects of my work, which I think 'Prayer' shows, along with tracks like 'Oasis' and 'Jani Mun'.
‘Toward an Entity of Oneness’
The phrase 'toward an entity of oneness' was something that Salem (owner, founder, curator of Bedouin Records) said to me. We were talking about the themes of some of the music he sent, in particular some of the sufi songs. He told me they were songs about love, but 'toward an entity of oneness'. That really inspired me. It resonated with what I have been feeling for a long time – that we are all the same. All one. Differences are only on the surface. We're all on this planet, all part of something – life – that we will probably never understand on an intellectual level, but if we allow ourselves to feel and love and forget our fears and judgements it all makes perfect sense. For me that's what people coming together to listen to music is about – the PLU rave spirit, the connection, the ability to get closer to some essence and truth about life. It's pretty simple really, I don't think life is complicated deep down. Yet it is hard to realise this sometimes. Life can be fucking tough. We all have shit to deal with that gets in the way. And a whole heap of shit is put on people by those in power, the corporations that fund them and the media that propogates their manipulative agendas. Whether it is some planned system of control, or a point we have arrived at through sheer ineptitude and blindness, it is clear that things are not working for an awful lot of people. So life is complicated on the surface, or it certainly seems that way. But we can transcend this. That's what this track is about I think. It wasn't a conscious thought while writing it, but that's what emerged. For me the track starts kind of dark and moody and moves towards a light and a celebration toward the end. That's what I feel we're trying to find at this point in human evolution. We're in an age of disconnection, and we're trying to find the connection, the unity. And it's beginning, people are waking up to it and searching for it, smelling the bullshit and asking questions. The answers are only a matter of time. And those answers, I believe, lie in connectivity and connectedness.
This one goes the other way. A moment of calm, of peace, of beauty. But it gives way to chaos, noise, a storm. This one conjures up images of a desert for me, but there is a mechanical quality to the sounds, so there is something unnatural about it too. Something not quite right. I suppose I like that ambiguity sometimes. Things that aren't clear. Often life is like that. Things that are supposed to be simple become complicated, things that you
percieve as pure become sullied. Light becomes dark, love turns to anger, even hate, everything dies. It's all perception though. Life is chaotic and it flows according to how we choose to respond to the chaos. That's my belief. All paths are valid, all choices are equal, though some may make the journey easier. You can't control what happens, only how you respond. None of us get out of this alive, in a physical sense anyway. This track was composed in a slightly different way than most of the others. It was recorded in one take as an improvisation, with very little editing afterwards, just some mixing to get the elements to gel. I laid the samples out on a keyboard and played them in a very traditional way, and triggered other samples as clips in Ableton, layering up patterns and rhythms, in and out, to create a direction and flow through the track. Afterwards I edited it down because I thought it was too long, but then I realised that didn't feel right and I trusted the original improvisation and flow.
I had a strict policy when making this album that I would only use the sound sources I was given. Everything would come from the samples Bedouin provided. I wouldn't use any synths or other sample sources. This track is the only exception, where I have used my own voice. I figured this was an acceptable breaking of the rules, because it came from me. I have always been interested in using my own voice, and have done so in a number of tracks – 'I Love you, I Miss You' on my Trilogy Tapes 12", 'I'm Starting to Believe' on Stroboscopic Artefacts, and a few others. On this track I wanted to use it in a more traditional sense, more song-like. Even though it is heavily processed to fit with the textures of the other samples, it still sounds like my voice. I think. I had the bass, and beats and a few other elements and a melody came into my head. Instead of searching for a sample to use, I decided to sing it, and I improvised a number of lines until I had something that worked, which I then layered over the other elements. A voice can give music an immediate sense of connection. We can't help but respond to the sound of a human voice, it's like it's in our programming – even when processed electronically and somewhat hidden. The idea of an incantation is one that is appealing to me too. I like the idea of magic and mysticism, and of the potential to tap into that power. For me this track is like a wordless incantation, a summoning of cosmic forces right here on earth. Celestial, powerful, and human. Like screaming from the top of a mountain and feeling connected to all things.
‘Gather to Move, Gather to Live, Gather to Be’
This is another dance track. The beat is pretty straight forward and driving. Short and simple, and definitely inspired by my connection to the techno scene and from DJing in clubs. That simple, pure desire to move your body to music. It's a beautiful thing. So human, so essential to who we are. Connecting to our bodies, our physicality, our sexuality. Dancing helps with all of that. Letting inhibitions and self consciousness go. It can definitely open a doorway to deeper levels of being. Anything that enables you to switch off your thinking brain, be completely in your body in a moment – sport, sex, music, dance, meditation – can help you to feel more deeply connected. I believe when you are fully connected to one aspect of your
being, then you can connect to all. Mind, body, spirit. Whatever those words mean to you, I think together they speak a truth about life. When all are connected and in balance life flows. The title of the track reflects what I was talking about earlier when I mentioned the rave spirit, and people gathering to listen to music. It can break down prejudices and barriers, it can bring about new paradigms. Peace. Love. Unity. That's not just the pills talking, that's who we are and where we're headed.
'Jani Mun' means 'soulmate' in Persian. I read it in the book 'I Am Malala', the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai, the young schoolgirl who stood up to the Taliban in Pakistan, who advocated for the rights of girls to be educated, only to be shot for her beliefs and willingness to speak out. She survived and is now a campaigner for peace, education and the rights of women. Her story is one of incredible courage and strength. I love her strength, her courage, her conviction. But I also like her humbleness and softness. Her father called her 'Jani Mun'. You could tell by the way she wrote that this made her feel special. It gave her strength and courage to know that someone viewed her with such a deep sense of affection. That was certainly my interpretation of the short passage in which she mentions it. I suppose the idea of a soulmate is, for me, a symbol of a human being's capacity for unconditional love, and what that ability to love enables us to do – all the strength, ferocity, drive, power, wildness, gentleness, kindness, compassion and sweetness it allows us. We need all of it, and we can access it all. All of us.
Buy the release HERE.