Track By Track – Manuel Tur – Es Cub


Manuel Tur is back with a new album on Freerange this month; Es Cub.

Having released his second LP Swans Reflecting Elephants, the Spanish-German producer moved to his father's birthplace in Ibiza to spend a year on the island. Sounds like a cliche, yes but during the yea he spent there he didn't visit a single club, choosing instead to spend his days and nights in the hills amongst fig and almond trees just reading, watching films and contemplating his future musical direction…

This is the product of that time…  we asked Manuel to talk us through it Track By Track.

By using the starting points of: Inspiration; Colour; Season and Setting as descriptive points for each of the albums tracks, the aim is to collate a tangible, cohesive description of an LP. Pretentious? Maybe but Manuel's created some excellent responses to each track. 

Ara Anam

Colour: Bright Yellow

Season: Midsummer
Setting / Inspiration: The first track on “Es Cub“ is in fact the last one I finished. When I got back to Germany from my sabbatical in Ibiza I had all these tracks in one folder that I had never planned to put out as an album in the first place, but quickly realized they all shared a particular vibe. “Ara Anam“, at this stage, was only a very simple 2-minute loop but I always really liked it and had the finished track ready to go in my head. So I took the project apart, re-amped every sound and added a few drum sounds and bleeps here and there and finished the track, together with mixing all the other tracks, in 1-2 weeks in my new studio in Germany. However, the housy organ chords, the upfront groove and the simple layout always remind me of the club culture aspect of Ibiza and listening to that kind of music in the late 90s at the beach, when I spent my summers visiting my family on the island as a teenager. So I thought it would be a good opener for the record, making clear this is not a real home-listening record like my previous two albums.

Es Cub

Colour: Powder Blue
Season: Beginning autumn
Setting / Inspiration: I remember sitting in my tiny cubic studio next to our house in the pityusic countryside, the touristic season had just ended and it got noticeably colder. I pulled out a semi-ancient Yamaha groovebox that was the main instrument me and fellow Essen producer Langenberg had used on our “Ribn“ project, programmed a couple of simple patterns and hit record on the computer, tweaking knobs and pressing random buttons in real-time. I then put together the parts I liked the most to lay out a basic track. However, it felt like something was still missing so I sampled a libanese record from my grandfather's world music collection that I had taken with me from Germany, filtered and looped it. When mixing the track back in Germany, I had just bought the new Moog Sub Phatty synthesizer – I couldn't resist and again started to play some random notes with a random LFO modulation engaged over the whole track, adding tons of delay and not correcting anything. Overall, this track is all about studio accidents.

About To Fall

Colour: Pitch black
Season: Late autumn, beginning winter
Setting / Inspiration: This is one of two tracks on the album that were not recorded in Ibiza but licenced from earlier releases on my own, now-defunct label Mild Pitch that I used to run with Dplay and Langenberg out of Germany. Apparently, it's a favourite of the Freerange crew so they asked me if we could include the track on the album and I agreed because it has a similar, almost esoteric vibe to it as the rest of the LP and the place it refers to. I remember recording “About To Fall“ on a weekend day a few years back in Germany, playing it to Dplay in the car on our way to Bochum where we were going to see our friend Gerd Janson play at an abandoned train station. It was raining like hell and we were waiting outside Gerd's hotel for him to pick up his records, which took forever so we listened to “About To Fall“ a couple of times and instantly knew it was something special. For “Es Cub“ I've shortened the track to fit on the LP/CD, the original full-length version can be found on the few vinyls pressed for Mild Pitch.


Colour: White
Season: Ending winter
Setting / Inspiration: The title might already suggest the influence for this track. Last year in january, I flew back to my hometown of Essen for a couple of days because a friend of mine had gotten hold of tickets for one of the Kraftwerk shows at the K20 museum in the band's hometown of Düsseldorf which is located only 30km from Essen, and thankfully asked me to accompany him. The same friend works at a well-known record distribution company and had sorted me out with a Kraftwerk “Katalog“ box-set the year before, so I had already been listening to a lot of Kraftwerk during my stay in Ibiza when the shows were announced. In fact, Kraftwerk were my musical connection to Germany and the Rhein-Ruhr area where I grew up during my time in Spain – I can totally hear they were looking at and influenced by the same things surrounding them in everyday life like me, and this kind of music could have only been made in this particular part of Germany and the world. Anyway, the show we went to was the “Tour de France“ concert and you can hear they used a very specific delay plug-in preset throughout the whole album that I had also used on many of my first records in the mid-2000s. You can hear it again on “Werk“.

El Soplo

Colour: Cyan
Season: Summer
Setting / Inspiration: Kick, Hihat, Clap, Ride, Bass, Synth 1, Synth 2, FX – this is how the track reads in the Logic Project. Did this in less than an hour, had to leave for lunch at my auntie's house at 2pm → Siesta → Beach.


Colour: Amber
Season: Ending summer
Setting / Inspiration: At that time I was listening a lot to the “Disco Discharge: Euro Disco“ compilation, lying on the terrace and looking at the distant sea, and was completely hooked on tracks like Giorgio Moroder's “From Here to Eternity“, “Extraterrestrial Lover“ by Sylvia Love and even the Laura Branigan version of “Self Control“. Not sure if you can hear these influences on “Flux“, but I totally associate the track with futuristic Italo Disco and its rolling basses and arpeggiated synths. Again, granpa's world music collection helped out a little too, this time with some added percussion and vocal bits from Argentinian folk songs. This is a track for a hot summer night, glowing in the dark. 


Colour: Green
Season: Ending summer
Setting / Inspiration: I did this one right after “Flux“. I had worked my way forward to the Brazilian section in named record collection and sampled some crackles and the vocal you can hear on “Basilea“ off a mid-70es Samba LP. The added strings were inspired by some old Chez Damier on KMS I had listened to again the other day. I always associate this track with my eremitic studio room that was typically ibicencan-built and therefore really cool even during summer, with little light entering through the little window set between the thick white walls.


Colour: Light Blue
Season: Autumn
Setting / Inspiration: The inspiration and almost every sound, except drums and bass, on this track comes from a Roland MKS-70 synthesizer, which is the rack version of the 1986 “Super JX“ JX-10, one of my favourite synthesizers which I sadly had to sell because it was too big and heavy to take with me on an island. The synth is supposed to be a two-in-one-version of its predecessor model, the excellent and often underrated JX-8P (which I sold too, still regretting), however it sounds quite different and – most notably – has an incredibly messed up MIDI-section which makes it almost impossible to program with the appropriate PG-800 programmer (which works just perfect with the JX-8P). Another aspect of the messed-up MIDI section is the synth's bad timing – the MKS-70 is the opposite of what you would call “tight“ and plays every note with a random delay that makes it very funky in an interesting way – hear for yourself.

Es Dub

Colour: Scarab Blue
Season: Midsumer
Setting / Inspiration: This is the very first track I recorded after arriving with all my stuff in Ibiza in 2012 and my first track done in Logic. I was new to the software and had just set up my gear in my new room. I put together a basic loop with drums, percussion and a few synth plug-ins and laid out every channel on my analogue console. I then hit 'record', moved some faders, tweaked some FX send/returns and cut the 15-20 minutes of music I had recorded down the classic dub way to what is the final track on the album. I guess I didn't think too much about the whole track because I only regarded it as some kind of training or exploration of my new set-up and the new software. I remember having the studio door open and hot air floating into the studio all the time when programming/recording, so I wouldn't miss the FedEx guy delivering the new hardware compressor I had ordered from abroad (still being used to quick delivery in Germany, it took them two weeks to even find my house).


Colour: Crimson
Season: Beginning spring
Setting / Inspiration: This is the second track licenced from my records on the Mild Pitch label. While this is probably my personal favourite of all my EPs released to this day and received great reactions and plays from DJs I really admire, it did fairly bad on the commercial side, being overlooked due to our small label being relatively new at the time, and because “Agrafena“ was the main track of a conceptual EP that started with a weird beatless 3-minute prelude track, which is not the smartest thing to do when you want to sell dance music these days. The original EP was inspired by a specific chapter in a book I used to read when traveling as a DJ back then, Dostoyevsky's “The Brothers Karamasov“ (crimson is the colour of the book edition's cover I have). If you want to know more, please read the book. If you don't want to know more, please read it anyway. There is a quote from the chapter engraved in the Mild Pitch 12“ too… In any case, I hope the track will receive a bit of attention through the re-issue on the CD and digital version of “Es Cub“.

Manuel Tur's Es Cub album is out next week on Freerange Records.