Electronic music, in all of its shadings, is at the heart of this week's interviews.
Kicking things off is a new side project by Alex Patterson of The Orb. Titled Sedibus, it sees him reunite with his former creative partner Andy Falconer on their first full-length release The Heavens. Falconer was briefly part of the first incarnation of The Orb – and, as some will argue, their best. His engineering genius lent a sense of magic to The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld, turning seemingly simple loops into hypnotic, shapeshifting meditations on time and rhythm. The Orb would go on to release great music without him – from Orbvs Terrarvm via the Kompakt-masterpiece COW up until the most recent panopticum Abolition of the Royal Familia. But they probably never sounded quite as poetic and dreamy again.
It is these qualities that make a more than welcome return on Sedibus. The Heavens is classic Orb, even more so perhaps than the current iteration of the project actually bearing that name. On four lengthy cuts, Patterson and Falconer allow textures to stretch into infinity rather than go anywhere specific, nurturing organic growth, as if untouched by the hand of a creator. Beats emerge and disappear like little fluffy clouds on a sepia-tinged horizon. I used to listen to music like this all the time when I was little, but you you no longer hear it very often. You might still hear it on this release.
Read our Andy Falconer of Sedibus / The Orb interview.
Read our Alex Patterson interview.
For those with an interest in club sounds, our conversations with Laura Bettinson and Frankey & Sandrino are great places to start. Laura represents a no-nonsense, fun-first approach to the genre. Her pieces are based on ferocious bass-and-drum patterns topped off with irresistibly catchy vocals. Some of our questions made her head hurt, she freely admitted. In our opinion, however, the headache was worth it:
"I love producers that push the envelope of whatever genre they they work in. I like to be surprised, I have no interest in electronic music that's just paint by numbers."
Read our Laura Bettinson / lau.ra Interview.
Franky & Sandrino may have a knack for infectious grooves. Their tracks, however, somehow manage to turn into far more than mere dancefloor-tools. Each piece has a surprising twist, an unexpected hook or an emotional depth that elevates it beyond the functional.The same can be said about their thoughts on the topics we presented them with, which were to the point and based on plenty of reflection:
"Cultural appropriation? It’s a lot about intention. If, for example, a music production sounds really bad, it makes a difference if that’s on purpose, part of the artistic language, or just somebody who doesn’t know what he’s doing. It won’t change how much we like or dislike the track, but allows us to respect it from an artistic standpoint."
Read our Frankey & Sandrino Interview.
On the more experimental end of things, we are honoured to welcome Keith Fullerton Whitman to the site. We've followed Keith's work for years, admired the minute timbral and rhythmical details he's managed to express with his modular set-up. It has also been fascinating to see him explore the infinite possibilities of software synthesis instead of resting on his laurels. In our interview with him, he now sheds light on his process and the way he sculpts his compositions:
"I often wonder if something is possible, both physically & logistically. I tend not to make art that “can” be done, easily, or that has been done a million times. I’m such a voracious consumer-hoarder that I usually have a sense of what is being done and what has been done in a given area of thought and I tend to think about what regressions or progressions from the current state of things would be fruitful, or even simply enjoyable."
Read our Keith Fullerton Whitman interview.
Most readers will not consider Fabio Florido an experimental artist. But the stylistic shift on his latest release is testimony to his explorative nature and the courage to break through his fans expectations. After building a solid reputation for his personal, melodic brand of cosmic techno, his latest release comprises a vast world of six expansive ambient soundscapes. The result of spending considerable time immobile to due a severe illness, these pieces are not so much a forced attempt at re-invention, but an effort to utilise the healing potential of music.
Stretching to a total of almost two hours and given the dangerously new-age-title of Balancing In The Digital Age, the epic dimensions of the project belie its precisely composed nature. These are not aimlessly floating major chord-wellness-zones, but deep, almost kosmische fields of gradually shifting thematic particles, always with enough musical content to keep the mind engaged. You can call this music spiritual, Fabio says, as long as you're clear about what that word really entails:
"Being "spiritual" is not at all as easy as many believe ... nor is it a fashion. It requires a lot of will and daily commitment, without knowing much about where it will lead you."
Read Fabio Florido's essay on music and healing.
There is more than one reason why we're happy that we managed to talk to Rollo Armstrong of Faithless. The first and foremost, Armstrong is, of course, a club music legend through his involvement on one of club music's eternal classics (Felix's "Don't You Want Me") and one of club music's most consistently excellent projects, Faithless. He is also a producer with a golden touch, one of the few masters of the trade whose work is recognisable through his sound alone.
But there's more. Entirely out of the blue, Armstrong was presented with a major health scare, which almost went unnoticed. After successfully beating cancer, Rollo seems to have entered a new phase in his oeuvre, perhaps his most fruitful after his early years. Faithless's first album in 10 years, the mesmerising All Blessed, managed to continue the band's tradition while also mining fresh sounds and concepts.
Under the name of R+, he also published his most personal work so far, The Last Summer. A gorgeously produced album, shimmering in earthly colours, gently propulsive rhythms and a bittersweet sense of nostalgia, it marks a remarkable pinnacle of an artist who keeps on striving for the perfect album in a time when the format seems all but an anachronism:
"People are just not so interested in listening to a whole album and that has changed the way musicians approach music making. Hopefully, underneath you still have the same principles: You want to move people you want to express something that has a bit of truth or value."
As his latest release, an introvert and slowly spinning cover of Joy Division's "Love will tear us apart" proves, this is not a one-off, but a new chapter in a career which has co-defined the genre for almost three decades.
Read our Rollo Armstrong of Faithless interview.