Horse Time is the first release on Phonopsia’s new label – Horse Category. As a statement of intent for the sounds to come, this debut record shows the breadth of Phonopsia’s craft in the studio looking to not be limited by genre or tempo. Across the EP he delivers a slow techno track with housey leanings, a room shaking minimal techno track, up-tempo electro wigged out with oddball elements, and a down-tempo finale that abuses time.
The first and last tracks on Horse Time are siblings, products of Covid, and homages to our new post-temporal existence. Trace Signals from a Temporal Dimension and Memories of Time are connected by a shared twinkling melody line – one has all the house music feels of dancing in the day time and the latter offers up a more quirky and playful take on the hook.
Deadline: Gala was recorded as a production demonstration for the Georgetown Film Festival gala in Washington, D.C. in 2002. It was created live with an audience in a two hour window – start to finish. It’s a track that people have enjoyed in his sets now 18 years later will be released on vinyl.
Nuba Tuba was made in 2009, and while it is a bonafide electro track it also brings in influences of early Hemlock/Hessle influence on the large tuba-like bass.
Phonopsia has been making and playing music for a good number of years and was Süd Electronic resident from 2007-2009 and regular guest for Bleep43 from 2002-2010.
The Soundcloud link here includes clips of all four tracks. The Bandcamp link below that offers full streaming of Nuba Tuba , and is the first place where Horse Time can be ordered.
The second of the recent resurrections, this track was originally “finished” the day before my older son was born in 2010. Unfortunately I rushed the arrangement and there were a couple of parts I wasn’t happy with, and this was when I working entirely outboard. Last month I managed to re-create the stems and got back to work on it.
Lots of digital synths on this one. Supernova II, Nord, MS2000R, Microwave XT. I love the synths of the late ’90s, and spent months on the synthesis for this track. This track probably represents my interest in synthesis better than anything else I’ve done. Also a bit of last minute Pro-1 thrown in for balance.
Originally recorded with the entirely outboard setup in 2008. This is fairly synth-heavy, with a lot of Waldorf Q, Micowave XT, Nord and MS2000R. The original mixdown was severely lacking low end, aside from the occasional boom, which was fairly overwhelming and chewed up all space for the main kick. Now fixed up with a functional kick and some changes to the hats.
Zero tracks in nearly ten years, then two within a month. It’s like London buses here!
This track started as a variant of Memories of Time, but it was always my intent to take the bits wherever they wanted to go at a higher tempo. And so we have here a track that includes one or two bits that are time-stretched or just sped up MIDI from the original recordings, some bits that have been slightly re-written, and more than half net new parts (although some of those parts use the same sounds from Memories of Time). Is it a reprise? It’s definitely not a remix. I reckon it’s a new track with some common bits. It really doesn’t matter, but having finished another thing does, and hopefully the name establishes sufficient commonality. In any case I hope it is well received.
For the first time in nearly a decade, I’ve found my feet in the studio, and have actually managed to finish a track (embedded below). There are so many contributing changes, including:
Removal of the massive 32-channel Soundcraft mixing desk.
Replacement with a set of sound interfaces that can meet my needs digitally and the right control surfaces to retain tactile control.
Acceptance that I work better with a screen, even if I don’t want making music to be fully synonymous with looking at a screen.
Adding some simpler analog synths to complement the more complex digital synths that have been my primary focus forever. I’ve discovered that the immediacy the analog synths afford is incomparable, even if I don’t subscribe to digital vs. analog sound quality dogma. The TD-3, MS-1 and Pro-1 work for me because the sounds they make work, always have worked, and are incredibly effective for creating a foundation. They are lovely machines. I probably should have embraced this sooner, but the raft of cheaper clones has finally made this more possible without so much risk, and I really love them.
The time spent late last year with MidiQuest to gain control of the external kit was an essential foundation I’d discarded for far too long. Particularly, the time spent working with them to create a Jomox AirBase 99 module was critical, as a mechanism for engaging with the instrument and learning how to manage it, but also MidiQuest taught me how to use the Jomox, even if that eventually made me less reliant on MidiQuest.
I’m old enough to be pretty comfortable with my own creative idiosyncrasies.
Ultimately, I finally have a way of working that allows me to start and stop without so much fear of volatility, I have the sound quality I need, I have the inputs I need, I have learned how to handle this complex arrangement of disparate things, and I feel like the things I’m making are of a quality that doesn’t make me feel like I’m trading on past glories.
A few years ago, before things went quiet here, I uploaded an older track (2001 IIRC) to Soundcloud, because I’ve always liked it and I’ve unfortunately lost the parts. I was pretty meticulous about saving/backing stuff up at the time, but this was a casualty of some mistake or another. I still have a .WAV of the track in its final state, which I like, but a lot of people have told me they’re not massively in to the distorted 909 kick (there are two 909s – one of which seems to be a bit on the Lenny D side of things for some people). Anyway… this song did a lot of things I was happy with at the time, and if the kick is a blemish today, so be it. Track now removed. May re-emerge at some point.
Note: track now removed. May re-emerge at some point.
Since not too long after finishing Nuba Tuba, I’ve been working on a new song. There’s been much disruption in the studio during this process, as I’ve upgraded my mixer and added a few other pieces of kit that I’m still getting to grips with. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been moving on to the arrangement of that track but on Tuesday night I decided to divert completely and write something new with the same sounds that I’ve been working with forever. To my surprise I “finished” something in two or three hours. On Wednesday night I revisited the mixdown and tidied up a couple of sloppy notes, etc, but basically just re-recorded Tuesday’s work.
I reckon this is far from my best track, but it’s an interesting result given that I intentionally thwarted all of my normal tendencies in the writing of it. Rather than thinking of it as a separate version or mix, it’s more precisely a “rewrite”. I left all of the sounds unaltered, save the tiniest of level/envelope tweaks. When I wrote it I started playing one part until I decided to stop. Then I played another part on top of it intuitively. And then the third and the fourth. There was some minor editing and quantising along the way, but the approach was completely linear, rather than assembled, and I didn’t really pay attention to an 8-bar structure other than once or twice. I certainly left it behind a few times. In short, I let my ears do the writing. It’s kind of sloppy and some things are rough but these are things that I normally omit and I’m fairly pleased with this antithesis. It sounds completely different to the still-unfinished original.
The result is more repetitious than my normal stuff, although the synthesis itself goes some way to conserving novelty over the fairly brief 4:15 duration. In the name of trying something new I thought I’d post it up here. Hope you enjoy.
I’ve finished a new track called Nuba Tuba. It’s the first thing I’ve made public in three years. Hannah’s the only person who’s heard it so far, but I reckon it’s pretty done.
No idea how to characterise it in a word. The beat is fast electro with intermittent tribal drums and the melodies probably just sound like melodies that I’d do. There’s some dubby keys (I guess???) with lots of synthy stuff around it and a pretty big bassline that wound up sounding a bit like a tuba to me.
A remix of one of my tracks, ‘Frosting’ is out soon on Andrew Duke’s Consumer vs. User album. I finished it in 2001. He finished the remix maybe a year or so later, and finally it’s made its way on to CD. Mastered by Mark Gage of Vapourspace no less! Here’s the blurb.
I am thrilled to announce that my Consumer vs. User album is out now and available on CD on California’s Phthalo:
Phthalo has always been one of my favorite electronic music labels, and it is a priviledge to be on an imprint with faves of mine including Phthalocyanine, OST, Kit Clayton, Vladislav Delay, Massaccesi, Mimi + Boyd (ie Vapourspace and Punisher), Eight Frozen Modules (ie [a]pendics shuffle), Blectum From Blechdom, and many many more.
Consumer vs. User is rugged and rhythmic and raw, yet detailed and open and spacious, sort of like a distant cousin of my Sprung album–which was released on Bip-Hop and went on to be nominated for Album of the Year (Electronica) at the Canadian Independent Music Awards. There’s even DJ-friendly material on here, too (some straightforward, some more adventurous).
This album is mastered by Mark “Vapourspace” Gage, one of my early techno heroes, and features two collaborations with the USA’s Massaccesi and a remix of a track from the UK’s Tristan “Phonopsia” Watkins (a long-time 313-Detroit mailing-list member).
In part, the album is titled in a nod to I-F’s wonderful and inspirational Fucking Consumer album released in 1998 on Disko B. The album is dedicated to the memory of three whose artistry touched me
deeply: Aaliyah Haughton, Jose “Chep” Nunez, and James Stinson.
Here is what Phthalo’s Phthalocyanine writes about this album:
“Consumer vs. User is Andrew’s first appearance on Phthalo. It is a focused study, filling out unlikely accent schemes with abstract DSP techniques. The aesthetic is semi-derived from something reminiscent of classic Detroit minimal techno (I think of Terrence Dixon, Kevin Saunderson, and early Plus 8 stuff like the stark, controlled acid bass stabs of Heinrich Tillack AKA Sysex). I also however hear our label, Phthalo, embedded in this work, particularly references to the extensive exploration of heavily processed, raw, beaten-up drum machines given to us by O.S.T. (Chris Douglas) (e.g. Phthalo#09: O.S.T. Live @ Static) and Phthalocyanine (e.g. Phthalo#05: Phthalocyanine: Zacks e.p.) in the late 90’s. These ideas work here as the point of departure for a music that is meticulously arranged and much richer in variation than vernacular minimal techno, though much more ‘moderate’ than O.S.T.’s work. ”
Stay tuned for details on a remix contest that will involve remixing one of the tracks from Consumer vs. User. The best remixes will be released and there may even be some prizes.
You can hear one of the tracks from this album–an electro/idm-ish song–in the player on http://myspace.com/andrewduke