Today's Listening - 'Night Stories' by Amarta Project.
There's a good reason that today's listening is, well....me.
Thought you might like a little run through of the tracks on my album, what they're called, how they came about, the quirks they have, the heartache and equal euphoria they brought - that kinda thing. You in? Sweet.
'Night Stories' was initially born approximately three and a half years ago. Terrible parent that I am, I cannot remember exactly when. Tracks started ecreting themselves out of a few loops and samples, and as my knowledge of production grew, from actual seeds in my head. At the time I never really imagined that there would be an album at any point, it was just something more productive to do than sitting watching TV. I experimented with different styles of electronica, failing miserably in lots, succeeding in a few - aped as many of my favourite artists as I could (apologies to BT, Hybrid, Depeche Mode, Ryuichi Sakamoto and a hatload of others) and just sort of knuckled into it.
My 'day job' is working as wheels for hire by night. It all sounds much more shady and exciting than it really is, but it did involve spending great swathes of time driving around London by night, and almost (on quiet nights) as much time sitting in my car with nothing better to do than to sleep or gaze out of the window at whatever suburban nightmare/utopia I was parked in. Unable to sleep under the glare of sodium orange street lights I would often think about the tracks I was working on, and many ideas would formulate - at night. I was never a day person, have always been a nightbird. So inevitably when I was working on the tracks it would be at night, through to early hours. Anyone that knows me would know that a 5-6am finish in the studio would not be unusual. The tracks somehow take on a darker flavour by night - this would not be the same album it was if the only difference to my method was working during daylight hours. It wouldn't have the edge. And so....
Welcome to 'Night Stories'.
This track was a perfect contender for the album opener. It had a dark kind of energy to it that was a perfect capsule for everything the album would come to stand for. The title comes from a vocal sample I found lying about on my hard drive, and the track was built around that, mostly.
The actual writing of the track was very fast - maybe a week from initial idea and arrangement to mixdown. That's pretty quick for me, and I think it was the energy of the track that carried me through the process - it's upbeat without being glossy, beautiful and grimy too. Just like me really.
2. 'Science...And Other Things'
The text conversation sort of went like this.
Sal - What are you doing?
Me - Looking up equations on the internet.
Sal - Sorry?
Me - I'm writing a track that's got a vocal sample in it quoting Newton's laws, I want to make sure it's accurate before I include it.
Sal - Ant, what are you REALLY doing??
Sal probably doesn't remember this text conversation.
I'm a geek, and I don't care. I wanted to write a track that sort of summed that up. Having toyed with titles like 'God Particle' and 'Higgs Boson', and having dismissed both for being equally wanky, I was no further with my geek track. Then, this sort of came out of nowhere. Jumping on the opportunity to make THIS my geeky science track I decided upon a somewhat generic yet I think intriguing title (what other things?) here you have it, track 2. And one of my faves.
The last track to be finished. When compiling tracks for the album I found there was a gap. All the tracks were either too slow (80-100bpm) or too fast (140-175 bpm). There was nothing in the middle. So, this track was written to order. I've always loved the Above and Beyond sound - slick, fat and killer on a dancefloor. Figuring I could tackle this, and then realising I couldn't, I ended up with Pushka. I love this track but don't ask me where the title came from - it's too rude.
This track is the only truly instrumental track on the album - everything else has a vocal sample, a clip, a reference - this one, nothing. That's not by design, it's just a coincidence.
Hands down, without question - this track fought me every step of the way. It started as an idea based around a couple of melodies I had in my head - namely the opening riff you hear and the main melody you hear after the drop. Could I find a way to plumb them together? No. Bloody No. So it sat on the hard drive, safely on rotation. And it sat. AND SAT. Every time it came round on the revolving door, it abruptly threw its chin in the opposite direction like an errant child and stropped 'Nope, not ready.'
But I knew I'd get you in the end my pretty...
To this day, please do not ask me what key this track is in - it modulates to the point of confusion. E minor - maybe? A minor - likely. G major in the outro - probably.
Every time I hear this now, more and more I hear Depeche Mode. Early DM, ya know - when they put tunes in their songs.
5. 'Jenny Kissed Me'
'Say I'm weary,
Say I'm sad.
Say that health and wealth have missed me.
Say I'm growing old - but add
Jenny Kissed Me.'
For the record, she didn't.
A snippet from the poem of the same name by Leigh Hunt. There's no reason for this stanza to fit anywhere in this track. It's not romantic, soft, ballady in any way. Yet - it fits perfectly. This track was written pretty quickly, and again - I have no idea where it came from. I stumbled upon the groove purely by accident - one of those happy ones. Most of the time ploughed into the production of this track involved me shouting at my computer screen at stupid o'clock in the morning after it decided that it did not like this track and would not comply with whatever I asked it to do. I would tell it to freeze tracks, it would hear 'crash and burn like a motherfucker'. I would tell it to save the set, it would hear 'fuck off and open the task manager, I'm FIRMLY not responding'. But I won in the end.
Something to do with large amounts of resampling and huge reverb tails, though not nearly as quirky a title. Fully expecting a lawsuit from the Pet Shop Boys for this track. Oh well.
That's half the album down. Tune in for the other half soon.