Moving (not very) swiftly on...
"Bliss Within Agony" was the fourth release on ARC, coming out in July 2001. The title refers to the concept of deriving pleasure from pain. I should point out that I have an extremely low tolerance of physical pain, so this isn't about being bound and whipped for fun. It's more to do with the idea that the music was meant to stimulate sensations, thoughts and feelings in a dark, loud environment that weren't necessarily "nice" but were nevertheless enjoyable.
The release starts with "Sticky Fingers". A very basic track recorded in October 2000, it remains one of my favourites. It leads in with a kick drum that's quite heavily limited on the attack so it has a nice sustain. The vocal sample that filters and echoes once per bar caused some issues in the cutting room, I seem to remember, and on some decks can cause the needle to jump if not weighted correctly. All that really happens in this track is an off kilter synth line fades up and gradually gets more aggressive. It feels like it's constantly getting higher and higher but I'm sure that's an illusion, as the range on the EMU Audity synth probably wasn't great enough for me to be able to keep increasing the cut-off frequency for four minutes. The synth was sequenced using the Latronic Notron, hence the odd pattern, and an LFO causes the pitch to waver up and down giving that seasick feeling that I tried to create with many of my tracks. I love this one. It has a relentless, single-minded vibe.
Next up is "Eastern Rumble". Some might recognise that this track contains elements of the remix I did for Takaaki Itoh. The rumble referred to is a sample taken from his track " Step To Makin'". I recorded this track in September 2000, immediately after finishing the remix that made it onto the Electracom 12", while the sample was still loaded in the Roland S-760.
This track has a disorientating, chaotic feeling, created in part by the pitch LFO I constantly used on the Audity and also the pitch shift sequence used for the a cowbell sound on the Boss DR-660 drum machine. Also, it fades in rather than starting from a set point. I can't remember exactly why I did it that way. It's not the "DJ friendly" method of starting a track, but perhaps it sounded rubbish starting any other way. After the event, I liked the idea that - although an audience on a dancefloor would probably never be aware of it - the fade in signified that the track was coming "from" somewhere; that it didn't start at a specific moment, and when it fades out at the end it went back to where it came from. Or perhaps the listener did, after a brief glimpse into the maelstrom; a place / feeling / memory of something... heavy. OK, that's all a bit mystical, but a lot of what I was always trying to do with music was to induce in others feelings that I had personally experienced at one stage or another, often while listening and/or dancing to techno. As the record title suggests, these were not always "happy" or "nice" feelings, but intense, powerful feelings that afterwards one understands as valuable, even if one is doubtful as to whether a repeat experience is desirable.
See further comments on the label art concept and track titles here.
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