Sir Richard is a genius. He got tired of the software wizardry, so he took only the specific analogue equipment and toyed with it to make the Analord series. Forty two (!) tracks in total were made and he divided them into eleven 12" vinyls. AFX was the alias Aphex Twin used sometimes in the past, so I guess he used it again not only for nostalgic reasons - sir Richard wanted to get away from the Aphex Twin hype that surrounded the name and used the AFX instead, the one he used when acid techno was still running strong.
Acid house / techno Analords were, and the most beautiful and amazing they could possibly get. Sir Richard was a master of putting a listener in a certain mood and you could just sit throughout the forty two tracks (some bonus tracks were added a couple of years later on a Rephlex site) for three and a half hours, and still have a wish for some repeated listens of some of the tracks afterwards.
Analord 10 was the first one that appeared. Fenix Funk 5 was a marvelous piece of work and a great introduction to the series. It had distorted vocoder, powerful groove and of course, heavenly analogue synths that even Roland employees couldn't detect by name on a listen. The other track, Xmd 5a was even a darker one with low shifted bells ringing in the back of your minds, while the delayed piano pieces were introducing the beautiful liquid mistress the synth lead was.
PWSteal.Ldpinch.D (off Analord 08) was this great track with a modest groove and a nice melody. It was one of those tracks that would crawl under your skin and you'd sing the melody for days, only trying to discover from which song the melody was, thus forcing you to play all the tracks off Analords back and forth to discover the bastard that was braindancing in your head.
Crying in Your Face (Analord 04) was one of my two favorite Analord tracks. It took you on a acid groove ride, while the watery depths of Roland pads expanded your minds to the edges of eternal life. The melancholy was going strong in Pissed Up in SE1 (Analord 02) as well, while Where's Your Girlfriend? (Analord 01) and I'm Self Employed (Analord 06) were the more enjoyable ones, concerning the dancing issue. Batine Acid, Halibut Acid, Phonatacid, Grumpy Acid, MC-4 Acid and Lisbon Acid were all acids with different kind of groove, depending on a occasion or location the blotter was taken.
However, my second favorite tracks off A Rolands was VBS.Redlof.B, off Analord 11. It had the catchiest bass groove and harmony to it yet, while the synth pads were flowing over them with such pleasure it was blissful enough just to have the strength to dance to the track and embrace the watery air all around. This song explained, plain and simple, why I loved the techno stuff in the first place. The transcendental state your mind got in was something rather indescribable for non-music (non-sound) lovers. But the lovers smiled.
There was much talk at the time about VST's and using software technology to emulate the analogue drum machines and if a listener could spot the difference. Also, the tasty analogue synths of old were long gone and not available, while the Ebay bargains for some were pretty much insane that the word overpriced was an understatement. This was a message that sir Richard posted on a Planet Mu forum regarding this issue of using VST's and software:
Re: surfing in bong waterI personally agree one hundred per cent with everything sir Richard said. I found especially interesting the part where he mentioned the physicality and the presence of the actual stuff being played, something I knew was putting my mind in a certain mental state. I'd also agree that one didn't need the best equipment available if the idea was good - one could pull the best stuff off a broken synth or a guitar or just a shitty mic. Although some artists who rely on atmosphere and the mood of creating, certainly find more happiness in touching and playing the thing than staring at some shitty screen that make your eyes hurt.
Date: 02-07-05 03:14
some people bought the analogue equipment when it was unfashionable and very cheap though.
some of us are over 30 you know!
anyone remember when 303`s were Ј50? and coke was 16p a tin? crisps 5p
also you have overlooked A LOT of other points because its not all about the overall frequency response of the recording system its how the sound gets there in the first place.
here are some things which you can`t get from a plugin,they are often emulated but due to their hugely complex nature are always pretty crass aproximations..
the sound of analogue equpiment including EQ, changes very noticably over even a few hours due to temperature changes within a circuit.
Anyone who has tried to make tracs on a few analogue synths and make them stay in tune can tell you this,you leave a trac running for a few hours come back and think Im sure I didnt fucking write that,I must be going mental!
this affects all the components in a synth/EQ in an almost infinte amount of tiny ways.
and the amount differs from circuit to circuit depending on the design.
the interaction of different channels and their respective signals with an analogue mixer are very complex,EQ,dynamics....
any fx, analogue or digital that are plugged into it all have their own special complex characteristics and all interact with each other differently and change depending on their routing.
Nobody that ive heard of has even begun to start emulating analogue mixer circuitry in software,just the aesthetics,it will come but im sure it will be a crap half hearted effort like most pretend synth plugins are.
they should be called PST synths, P for pretend not virtual.
Every piece of outboard gear has its own sound ,reverbs,modulation effects etc
real room reverb, this in itself companies have spent decades trying to emulate and not even got close in my opinion, even the best attempts like Quantec and EMT only scratch the surface.
analogue EQ is currently impossible in theory to be emulated digitally,quite intense maths shit involed in this if youre really that interested,you could look it up...good luck.
your soundcard will always make things sound like its come from THAT soundcard..they ALL impose their different sound characteristics onto whatever comes out of them they are far from being totally neutral devices.
all the components of a circuit like resistors and capacitors subtley differ from each other depending on their quality but even the most high quality milatary spec ones are never EXACTLY the same.
no two analogue synths can ever be built exactly the same,there are tiny human/automated errors in building the circuits,tweaking the trimpots for example which is usually done manually in a lot of analogue shit.
just compare the sound of 2 808 drum machines next to each other and you will see what I mean,you always thought an 808 was an 808 right?
same goes for 303`s they all sound subltey different,different voltage scaling of the oscillator is usually quite noticable.
VST plugins are restricted by a finite number of calculations per second these factors are WAY beyond their CURRENT capability.
Then there is the question of the physicallity of the instrument this affects the way a human will emotionally interact with it and therfore affect what they will actually do with it! often overlooked from the maths heads,this is probably the biggest factor I think.
for example the smell of analogue stuff as well as the look of it puts you in a certain mental state which is very different from looking at a computer screen.
then there is analogue tape...ah this really could go on forever....
im quite drunk cant be bothered to type anymore...
so yeah,whatever, you obviously dont have to have analogue equipment to make `good` music in case thats the impression im giving,EVERYTHING has its uses .And not all anlaogue equipment is expensive you can still get bargains like old high end military audio devices,tape machines fx etc just go for the unfashionable stuff.
Sir Richard is a genius and I think no one could make something genuine again with analogue stuff like he did in 2005 with the Analords. These songs remain my Holy Bible for enjoying the realms of synthetic sounds. These series also made me finally buy my first Roland synth, so there you have it. Thank you Aphex Twin.
2. Autechre - Untilted (Warp)
This one was a mindfucker. How abstract could electronic music possibly get? Were this duo ever making IDM music? Was this music at all? Untilted gave more questions than answers.
Autechre weren't destroying the catchy piece onto little fragments. What they did was the opposite - they made a slightly organic form out from trillion zillion pieces that would fit together. Or wouldn't. The actual synth pads were so rarely played it would be always a blissful salvation when they appeared, something that me and my friend Dusan Žica often discussed - I thought I was the only one thinking that way before that actual dialogue happened.
Untilted was so abstract, everything was about fragments. And that could or should appear frustrating to a lot of listeners. Autechre were pioneers of creating / evolving various synth sampling stuff and evolving the sound and the fragility of the rhythm further on. Pro Radii might sound like Ulver's nightmare or Aphex Twin's headache on a freezing sunny day, and the more abstract it got, the more the insanity was welcomed to the technological world of ones and zeros. But the beauty of this was that you never ever knew where it would take you to next.
3. The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute (Universal)
Wow. I liked the debut, but this one blew my pants off. Led Zepps on acid they were and I loved it. Retro psychedelic and prog influences were clashed against the modern production. And the effects... Oh, the effects. The guitarist Omar showed it was fashionable again to have thirty pedals in a row, to play that goddamn guitar like it's your last living day and rock like hell all at the same time.
Everything about Frances The Mute was fascinating at the time. Deloused debut had the hits and now the Volta said, just fuck it. Let's make twenty minutes long epic psychedelic songs, we're on big label anyway. Thank God there's people like them. The Widow was the only single and I liked it less than the insane stuff of the rest. Listening to this album always makes me smile, cause of the guitars and the effect pedals. I'm not the only one who has three delay pedals, you see? I'm not crazy after all. Omar knew how to use them, sometimes all three at the same time and not making a noisy mess out if it.
The word retro got a good meaning again thanks to The Mars Volta. Cygnus.... Vismund Cygnus and Cassandra Gemini were my favorites, pieces that were so kaleidoscopic, the eccentric singer Cedric could only write the lyrics down by letting the stream of consciousness going. And it worked. Prog went sort of mainstream after a long time and The Mars Volta were the ones to thank to.
Mike Vennart wasn't lying when he said to me in an interview a year before, that their next full length would be more like those ending three tracks off the Nurses EP - more powerful, yet more atmospheric.
Everyone Into Position was the best alter metal / prog rock that was out there and no one could beat them in their own game. I'm a sucker for ballads so Music For A Nurse remained my favorite Oceansize track ever. Calm and beautiful, with haunting guitar delays, and the climax of epic proportions. The proggyness of New Pin was so natural, it certainly didn't feel anything was prog at all. And that was the point of the whole album. Mine Host had the melancholic wash of Radiohead, although Thom Yorke's voice was always more fucked up and Mike Vennart's more relaxed and ear-enjoyable.
Three guitars and a bass guitar Oceansize played, but they were never doing a mess of it. Proggy arrangements were helping the songs, not the other way round, something that most of modern progressive bands don't get, by thinking the most intelligent way of making a song should be the weird countings / measures and not the harmonies. Oceansize made a record they could be proud of and it won't be until couple of years later the metal underground would notice them too.
5. Queens Of The Stone Age - Lullabies To Paralyze (Interscope)
6. Ulver - Blood Inside (Jester)
I just couldn't help it. I was definitely hooked with this one. The production was the best yet, the marriage of the first two albums - the warmness and intimacy of the debut Parachutes and the piano and hymn-like songs dominating the second one, A Rush Of Blood To The Head.
I remember I was discussing with Vanja which song we liked more, White Shadows or Fix You. I think I chose White Shadows and he chose Fix You (or the other way round, can't remember exactly), and that was long before Fix You even started becoming a planetary hit everybody knew. Fix You had the climax of one Sigur Ros, but transferred to catchy chorus and the lyrics in English that could be sung by everybody else, and not just the band.
What If was this piano piece reminiscent of Lennon's Imagine and Talk was another single about broken relationships and stupid things that often led to them. Speed Of Sound reminded of Clocks a bit, although the definite similarity was only in the greatness of the two songs. The only downside of X&Y was the same as with the previous album, that the songs making the other part of the album weren't as good as the singles put together at the first half of the record. And that wasn't such a shame, because the hits were so huge nobody could touch Coldplay anymore.
9. Sunn O))) - Black One (Southern Lord)
The first time I heard of these loonies was five years earlier, when I bought ØØ Void promo CD rather cheap. I read in Terrorizer about these guys, not playing anything other than a guitar and a bass and making massive amounts of feedbacks with them. They even named themselves after the old discontinued amps they were using, so I was in a mood to experiment.
The buzz about them got stronger during the next couple of years, so enter Black One. This was the ultimate monstrosity that married drone, doom and black metal in a glorious unity. I loved the eccentricity of it and the other guys in this magazine we were in, Butcherian Vibe, laughed in a good way, although some others didn't get the joke and I remember we had a huge discussion about this album and this band. The old thrash metal heads were calling me a psycho and a sick person for liking something as sick as this was. I was just having a good laugh and gave this record's review a highest mark, just to piss them off some more.
In all honesty, Black One was a difficult record. It was not fucked up as was, say, Esoteric's Metamorphogenesis, but it was a bit rough to get into, it since there was no drums or rhythm the listener could cling to - only drones of sub basses and distorted feedbacks of old tubed amps. Dozens of tube amps. Orthodox Caveman was this perfect example of funny or serious debate that was surrounding the Sunn O))) camp. But the winner was clearly Báthory Erzsébet, where the guys took a guy named Malefic, put him in the casket and gave him the microphone to tell his impressions of the new flat he got. The other guys were outside the casket, droning like crazy.
Bad humor or not, the idea was great and the song really brought the atmosphere of death closer. (the Mayhem stories of old could really go on forever about those sort of experiences, have fun researching the net haha!) Being a good buzz or not, Sunn O))) rocked the shit and myself, Krang, Aca and a couple of others even went to Zagreb in February next year to see them live. I even managed to do an interview with Stephen O'Malley and he was such a nice chap. Oh and the gig was very, very loud. But our ears didn't bleed, unfortunately. But our guts shivered though.
These guys were really giving this postrock/postmetal thing a go. And they were good at it. They were playing instrumentals only and dealt with loud/quiet/louder dynamics. I have to be honest saying that I didn't listen to this record in the future years as much as I was back in 2005. The whole Isis thing was so huge back then and even though calling Pelican the Isis-that-went-instrumental was unfair, they had lots of stories to tell. I remember I even put The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw at the top of my 2005 list, since me and the couple of other friends (Vanja, Pera, Laki, Aca, Laza, Krang) were writing for this mag called Butcherian Vibe.
Too bad the later albums of Pelican weren't that good. Maybe they were, but it was me who lost the interest in checking every possible post- band, since the whole scene got over-flooded with them and it seemed like everyone could make a post- album as well. Damn hype.
Autumn Into Summer was a great track, and it is only now that I discovered I actually ripped one chord subconsciously for Consecration's Aligator. The first chord of it and the way it's played was the same one I played a year later when I was making this ambient, clean midpart of Aligator around 3.35 minute mark. Oh well. March To The Sea, on the other hand, was this disharmonic metal piece that showed that Pelican had their roots in hardcore scene. Slowed down a couple of times until the ending's climax showed some noise affinity as well. Like albatross, Pelican's wings were heavy but also huge and the image of its spread was magnificent for all the metal instrumentalists to watch.
Wow. I never liked hip hop but this one destroyed my sorry ass. Maybe because Absence wasn't proper hip hop per se. This was the mix of Public Enemy, Faust, My Bloody Valentine and Godflesh. The music was so good and the voice of Will Brooks was so heavy and in your face that every word he said seemed important as a declaration of war. Or a postmortem of post-apocalyptic imagery. Well, MC from hell he was. And the hell was here, on Earth.
Distorted Prose was this great opener but Culture For Dollars was the mega hit. The octopus music was vivid itself, grabbing the listener from eight different angles and the voice of truth was amplifying all this with witty commentary on today's dirt, filth and political (incorrectness) devastation. They were from New Jersey, the center of the fastest growing regression and the fire burned the concrete streets. No matter how dark the future was, it was significantly wonderful to listen to Dälek telling about it.
The biggest blow of the year was when Jon Spencer was playing a show in Belgrade's Dom Omladine with his Blues Explosion band and the anonymous support that was (not) announced were no other than Dälek. We wanted to eat our own balls for missing the show. Nikola Vranjkovic was doing the sound at the gig and reported that Dälek delivered some awesome shit. Fuck. Lazar even shed a tear.