If you wrap your ears around any of the releases in Glasgow native SEI A's lengthy discography, you'll notice his innate ability for crafting subtle melodies, regardless of whether its atmospheric dub techno or a hypnotic peak time cut.
Since his first outing back in 2008, SEI A has taken his sparse and melodic creations to a plethora of labels, from Life and Death, Hemlock and Kompakt to Turbo Recordings and Aus Music, whom he's returned to time and time again over the years.
More recently he teamed up with Body Hammer boss Scott Fraser for a track on our first Ransom Note Pen Pals compilation, and now he's making his return to Aus for his second album, Kinetic Action, on the imprint. Ahead of the release he guides us through each of the tracks on his new album, unpacking his production and creative processes.
On the album opener ‘Random Rules’, aside from the album productions I was doing side projects which was in a film narrative. Listening to this track there are certain aspects which remain throughout but are spaced far away and low in the mix - the hi tense string sound and various other hi pads enabling a sort of ethereal feel. This being taken from working within the film narrative sounds/ideas coming out. Swirling around all this is a synth line played in with the NYX analog synth. Drums are filtered to something you can barely hear but with an added hi flange/tube delay sound played all around it and all tuned to a certain pitch to help keep everything coherent to the ear.
The name is nice and for once I really like something, it kind of all just works. It was all really natural to produce, sampled some drum hits and played in some melodies, again using the NYX analog synth. A main feature of this synth for me is that you have two oscillators that you can change the tuning as little or as much as you want using the two tuning dials, taking it to really any sound you want - This I think is what makes this track as it’s ever slightly out of tune, but for me it works and this is something I’ve started to curate into my whole sound now. Off tune everything :)
There’s a lot of fuzz in this one, a lot of hiss, noise, anything to push it and to keep it very deep. The intro starts with a YouTube clip I recorded then placed FX around it. Next comes in a female vocal sample which is placed over the kick. Not sure where the vocal is from. The track evolves around a broken beat kick pattern and then halfway through it opens into a 4/4. There’s a Dreadbox NYX bassline (the album really should be sponsored by Dreadbox synths) keeps it moving and for an album on a whole fits nicely for what the album (sound-wise) later goes on to do.
It starts with a vocal sample but there’s so much delay/verb/echo, basically as many FX as possible not to even know where it’s taken from so it’s completely blurred out. The kick is sunken so far deep it just rolls into the main spoken word sample of ‘I’m The Foundation’. A sample taken from a Studio One classic interview with Coxsone Dodd, the true pioneer of ska & reggae. Below all of this there’s an Analog Solutions synth that keeps snapping in which builds with the whole track. Hopefully, somewhere, this will be sounding really nice in or outside a club.
It’s one of the more heads down, repetitive tracks on here more-so built for a club. It’s not surprising that this was the track that Surgeon chose to mix when he first heard the full album. The track was mainly based around an Analog Solutions synth which was played in for several minutes then I cut apart and kept about 6 or 7 different snippets of it then feeding it through several FX for each loop. Aiming to give the track a bit of funk through it. There’s vocals tucked well away into the back of the mix that you can barely hear and the main melodies and FX keep it driving by entering back and forth. Another for the club heads for sure.
I produced this after a big weekend in London at the start of March just before Covid started to really ramp up in London. I’ve found that most of my best productions happen after an eventful weekend and always on a Tuesday when I’m still feeling knackered, it always seems to work for me. The album had been well finished in January but the inevitable delays started to work their way in to release schedule but eventually all worked for the better. This was later added once we knew we were delayed but I’m happy it did as it’s one of the more popular tracks of when listeners talk of what they like on the album. Bristol producer Hodge chose to remix Jets which he took a softer approach to. I think knowing that Surgeon would be onto working in a techno remix for ‘Forget Now’, he (Hodge) really found the perfect balance for everything.
Double Dot Matrix
The whole album is really curated around minimal gear but again the Analogue Solutions played pretty much every part to this track apart from drums and perc. It’s the track I’ve been wanting to make for a while. A techno track that just plays away itself in various directions but always keep steady in the groove. I’ve really let the machine do its own thing here whilst I’ve cut loads of small samples and looped it all together. I’m hoping this really does do the business on the late/early hour sound systems. It’s techno but I think still has an element of the funk with the off-kilter synth hits in there.
With my last album ‘Space In Your Mind’ it was intentionally created with a bit more melody and soundscape. This album was centred more towards playing live, and having it a bit more club focused so making something that could relate to me melody-wise and something nice to listen to, this was made for that reason. The Prophet 12 was used in the last album a lot so I brought some of that sound back to this. The bass is V low throughout in the mix with just a 4/4 kick pattern, a wood perc/snare hit then the prophet 12 melody played in. It’s all really simple and I remember that this track was made and finished in 18 minutes straight after I had finished the previous track ‘Double Dot Matrix”. I had an extended version of this as well but I liked how it cuts off, maybe giving the feeling of wanting more.
You Dance Into My Light
Is it the euphoric ending? :) The melodies are back again for this with a simple Prophet 12 bass pattern keeping it flowing with a soundscape around it all keeping it light. The flow and overall sound in this track I think rounds off the album nicely. The whole album (bar one track ‘Jets’) was really made within 2 months during the period of November and December 2019. I think this helps with its flow and fluidity but I really hope the album can cross into many minds as it’s the best album I think I’ve made to date.
Enjoy this article? Want more?
You can support Ransom Note and independent journalism through our Patreon campaign now.
Become a friend of Ransom Note