Track By Track: Michal Turtle & Suso Saiz – Static Journeys
It’s always fascinating when two innovative musicians collaborate to create something new for the first time. Sometimes the result is nothing like what you might expect, sometimes the result exceeds expectations and in this case Michal Turtle and Suso Saiz haven’t dissapointed.
“Static Journeys” is a record from two musicians who have found a new lease of life, a new sense of purpose and a remarkable new direction. Both have written music for many, many years. Going back to the 80’s they each respectively dabbled in experimental new age, ambient and krautrock yet their paths did not cross.
However, more recently they have become familiar with one anothers work, perhaps by chance but more likely through the release of their material on Music From Memory.
Anyway, the new record is out on Planisphere Editorial, an album which delights in sonic experimentation, dreamy soundscapes and wild musicality.
We invited the pair to talk us through the record.
Michal Turtle explains…
“Once we started the recordings, a theme seemed to emerge. The music seemed to reference fanciful geographical locations. We devised names that sound like cities or towns, both exotic and mundane. I personally have been influenced musically, and in the concept of the titles for this album, by the works of Jon Hassell. Other influences have been David Byrne’s work with Twyla Tharp, and his work with Eno, as well as the various works of Meredith Monk and Laurie Anderson. There are of course many others I have encountered along the way. The tracks are mostly live (played together) with a few overdubs. (like shaker or bass or additional guitar) Three of the tracks started with a loop to which we played.”
Michal Turtle: “I imagine a wily old hermit, for some reason displaced from his roots: the caves of Papotl, making an inward journey trying to recreate the magic of his existence there in times long gone by. We recorded this in Madrid. It was one of the tracks where we put microphones out of the window to capture street noises. I programmed a bass drum, all the hit type sounds were played live. I added a bass guitar afterwards.”
Returning to Brendleton
Michal Turtle: “I imagine an old-world explorer, leaving mosquito-inhabited jungles and burning savannahs, reminding us (verbally) of random moments in his life, both on safari, and back home in his hometown: Brendleton. This was one of the Basel recordings. I recorded the voice first with long gaps. Then I played a basic percussion bongo part, at the same time as Suso’s guitars. (To which I added later)”
Caravan to Inek
Michal Turtle: “A caravan is underway, in search of new life and new hope. How many are on this journey we do not know, but many are talking of a mysterious and faraway land: Inek. Another one of the Basel tracks. I programmed a pulse on beat 1 (which we kept) and I played the percussion (mainly rototoms) at the same time as Suso’s guitar. I added the shaker, and Suso added a second guitar track.”
Suso Saiz: “The calm maintained. Life that flows and passes by. The commented reflections. A conversation about friendship and the value of everything that remains. Recorded in Madrid.”
Michal Turtle: “I programmed the loop and played a (real) fender Rhodes. We stuck 2 microphones out of the window to capture Madrid. I made a loop of Suso’s first guitar riff which repeats throughout the first section. My piano and Suso’s main guitar track were played together, and we both could hear the street sounds being recorded during the take.”
Suso Saiz: “Something ancestral. The past that emerges out of sync and seeks its position within that tribal chant. Recorded in Basel.”
Michal Turtle: “I programmed a basic loop with a lot of delay and morning effects on. I played the bass part with Suso’s guitars.”
Suso Saiz: “Minimalism A simple guitar that sings alone with nostalgia for what has been lived, surrounded by alien activities that surround life. A space of micro-sounds that defines the place where everything happens. Recorded in Basel.”
Michal Turtle: “This is basically totally live. Suso played all the guitars while I rattled around with a cardboard box filled with strange objects, various bells, brushes and things to hit or shake. All the left to right panning is me moving between the 2 microphones.”