I tend to not use this space for personal announcements (that’s what my monthly newsletter is for), but I think a new album merits a post: Erik Emil Eskildsen and I have released Possibilities Vol. 1, an album of ambient compositions recorded in early 2016 and produced in the fall of last year. Click below to listen and purchase, and read more here.
This is interview number eight in the Kolapse Interviews series, where Kolapse remixers are interviewed by fellow musicians and music afficionados. In this second to last installment, Minnesota-based experimental guitarist Todd Madson, aka Aliensporebomb, talks to Erik Emil Eskildsen and Stormtrap Asifeh.
Erik, what made you choose Polyglot as a piece to remix?
EEE: There were really only two simple reasons for this. First I asked Tobias which hadn’t been chosen yet, of the pieces he had made available for the remixes, and Polyglot was the one. Second, I liked that I could do the „lol“ wordplay with the title, hence naming my remix Plolyglol.
What was your process for remixing the tune?
EEE: I started out having some difficulties with how to do it. I was trying lots of things, looking for something. Eventually I decided to use the original piece and structure as a base layer throughout my entire remix.
The original has a very flowing rhythmic feel to it, but I chose to make my remix as much of an opposite of that as possible, so I quantized it to a fixed and very squared grid. The next step was to send all the original stems through my Boss SY-300 guitar synthesizer, creating new synth voices which were somewhat gimmicky and ridiculous. There was a point where I had these chicken-like sounds all over the place, and some of them did actually make their way into the final version. I then proceeded to program a more straight and grooving beat, playing around the original bass line (now fattened up and quantized). At that point I knew that something was still missing, and that’s when I asked my friend Abboud Hashem, aka MC Stormtrap Asifeh, if he was up for putting some vocals on the remix.
It was when I got the vocal tracks, and added them to my arrangement that it all started to take the shape. I applied a triangular form, from less at the beginning to much more at end of the piece, to the way I processed and layered the vocal tracks, letting it become more and more dense throughout the piece. This then became the overall approach to how I finalized the dynamic structure of my remix.
Other than some reverb, compression, and equalizing, I only used external guitar effects to process the tracks. On the vocals I used two pedals from Red Panda, the Particle and the Raster delays. I also used another Red Panda pedal, the Bitmap Bitcrusher, an Eventide Timefactor, and as mentioned earlier the Boss SY-300 Guitar Synthesizer.
You normally are known as a touch guitarist and this is an earthier, groovier, more direct and heavier piece than the original it came from. Any commentary on where your “usual” musical work fits here?
EEE: That’s not entirely true. Yes, I am predominantly known for my guitar work, solo or with my band The Friendly Guitar Trio, but I do consider myself a composer first and a guitarist second. I have a lot of much less guitar centric works that unfortunately still haven’t seen the light of day. An exception would be Ambidextrous Sun, my album with Bernhard Wöstheinrich (on which Tobias also appears). If you listen to that, you’ll hear that it’s very rhythmical and not very focused on guitar at all. What most don’t really know, is that I programmed all the rhythms on that album using Bernhard’s sounds, and that the pieces are more or less my re-compositions of the original improvisations we had played together.
I approached this remix as more of a new composition, rather than just a remix. I did this by using very similar compositional techniques to those that I frequently use; taking something pre-existing as a basis for a piece, and expanding that in multiple directions. That pre-existing material can be anything from a recording of an improvisation to maybe a chord sequence that fascinates me, I will then take that and analyze it, transform it, and extract new elements. In this case the pre-existing material was Tobias’ piece.
How did Abboud become involved in the remix and what direction did you give him? Or did you give him free reign?
EEE: I had actually been wanting to do some sort of collaboration with Abboud for a while, just hadn’t found the right material for it. The Plolyglol remix became the perfect starting point for this, and Abboud and I are currently talking about doing a full length collaboration album in the future. When I asked him to collaborate with me on this remix, I wanted to let him be in charge of his own output. I knew he was going to come up with something great.
The initial vocal tracks he supplied me with didn’t feel like they were long enough. I wanted to have his vocals go through the whole piece, so I had to come up with an interesting way to deal with that. His original vocal tracks are there up until around 02:12, after that I start generating new vocals. I actually did this in a very simple way: I cut up the original vocal tracks into 33 chunks that felt like they made musical sense. I then used a random number order generator to rearrange those chunks and proceeded to place them along the timeline in that new order.
Abboud, could you elaborate on the themes you chose for the lyrics?
AH: The verse I wrote for the polyglot remix mainly talks about a person attempting to escape the harsh reality many of us are experiencing. It is about how such an escape seems hopeless in the face of a powerful and controlling system, when even attempting to think outside the given rules will have fatal consequences. So you can say these lyrics are sort of a dark look at the state of the world today, and how the near future seems very orwellian. Here are the lyrics:
Something is wrong…
Everyone seems under pressure
You either play along
Or you get caught, game over
What am I searching for?
Why am I even searching?
Let whatever happens happen
Like a river I keep flowing, regardless of the circumstances
Wherever he looked there were fences
He was the first, he raced and managed to beat everyone
And as soon as he reached the top
A bullet reached him
Start over from scratch
Stand in line and fill in your application
I’m looking for a soul inside the machine
I still can’t find, hand me some lenses
Time is up, I can hear the gunshots
The immunity is active
Feelings have been frozen
Another one joined the army
Today, life without electricity – unimaginable
I hide my information, I erase my posts
The more buildings there are,
The less words I have
This is a state of confusion.
This is a state of illusion.
This is a state of me trying to pretend everything’s okay.
Download Kolapse for free, make sure to listen to Erik’s music on Bandcamp, Stormtrap Asifeh’s music on soundcloud, and sign up for the a100ql newsletter where I share news, thoughts, essays and materials related to the blog once or twice per month.
The remixers are, in order of appearance: Drescher und Wemmser (D), Guy Birkin (UK), Lärmheim (CH), Kryshe (D), The Redundant Rocker (D), Erik Emil Eskildsen feat. Stormtrap Asifeh (DK/A/PSE), Chris Herb (D) and Mathon (CH). The album was mastered by Markus Reuter and Ritxi Ostáriz again created the cover art.
We have some interesting things lined up to complement the album release over the coming months but for now, have a listen and enjoy!
To stay up to date about Kolapse and my other projects, sign up for the a100ql newsletter where I share news, thoughts, essays and materials once or twice per month.