After an introspective hiatus, Analog Cabin is back with a new release from label affiliate Simon Mann.
The Four Directions EP manages to strike a fine balance between the home listening experience and solid club material.Four solid cuts showcase his trademark textural detail while exploring deep synthetic dub techno alongside breakbeat electronica and concrete dance-floor rhythms.
Hi Simon, Thanks for taking the time to chat. What a great E.P. Great to have you represented on the label.
Hi, Thank you! I’m super excited to have the opportunity to release music with Analog Cabin. And I love supporting local labels so it’s great to be repping with a Sydney crew.
I know a lot of Analog Cabin fans are particularly interested in the production process so let’s talk shop for a bit.
The first thing that jumps out at me in Cathartic Rhythmia is the solid kick drum playing against the rhythmic side stick pattern. The constant tick tock of this rhythm is contrasted by sparser elements such as rich gongs and swelling pads. Talk us through your approach to this track, was there an inspiration behind it?
I guess with Cathartic Rhythmia I wanted to break up the 4/4 pattern a bit and play with polyrhythms. The side stick you mention is the MFB Kraftzwerg being CV sequenced by the Analog 4’s arpeggio. From what I recall I used a weird timing on a few instruments so the percussion moves around over the length of the track. The overall vibe I was going for started with the pads, which are the Minilogue, which I played live. I wanted the laid back ambient sounds juxtaposed against a heavy but organic beat to get a sort of spacey new age feel. I find a lot of inspiration in the space and ambience of this track.
The title track Four Directions is a return to classic four on the floor complete with jacking hats, sci-fi blips and bleeps underpinned by a classic steady rising chord progression. When the melodic toy piano type riff kicks in midway through it has an almost eerie quality overplayed over the top of the filtered vocals. It is a really builder of a tune. Did you envisage this as more of a dance floor number when you wrote it? What kind of sound sources where you using on this one?
Four Directions is a homage to House music. It’s got that Detriot-ish lead chord progression, vocals, albeit disembodied, and the scratching, which I’ve always felts appropriate to deep soulful house. And what is a House track without a piano? I'm not sure I ever write music for a dance floor. Surely different vibes would be more suited to dancing but I generally frame my production around a sound rather than a purpose. As far as sounds go, the chord progression is the Korg Miniologue, The building acid line is a Roland TB-03. The synthesized scratching, bassline and toy piano are the Analog 4. The percussion and beats are the TR-8 and Drumbrute. Finally the sample is Ekhart Tolle talking about the nature of addiction, though it’s heavily processed.
Ordinary Life is another deep and steady offering. Really dubby and probably the deepest cut on the E.P. You have put out a few dubby numbers in your time. Compared to your older stuff, how has your sound evolved? Do you find yourself revisiting certain production techniques in the studio? How do you keep your production process feeling fresh?
Regarding my dubby explorations, I guess because Dub Techno is all about the delays and reverb tails, I am always trying to use a different reverb or delay technique to get a more spacious atmosphere. It’s very easy to find one dub technique and stick to it, which was a bad habit I’ve had in the past. Ordinary Life has 3 different chord patterns playing at different times, they each have a common delay and reverb chain, then each channel has a unique effects chain again. I’m using unsynced LFO’s linked to cutoff frequencies and reverb tails to change the patterns over time. I like evolving movement in my tracks and in the past, have relied on a single loop, whereas now I generally use a lot of loops, more sparsely. My older stuff was very linear, I find these days I like messing with trigger probability and layering odd length patterns to give my programs an unexpected/random element.
The name Ordinary Life is there meaning behind that? Would it be safe to say your music transports you to another place and gives you an escape from daily life? Tell me about the feelings you get when you produce?
I called the track Ordinary Life because the original sample I’ve used was Terrence McKenna talking about how his upbringing had been such an ordinary life. Anyone who knows Terence’s work will know it’s far from ordinary. I do use my music as an escape from normal life, both when I make music and listen back to it. I live a pretty normal life, married with kids, in suburbia. I find my music is so far removed from that life, I can’t help but travel somewhere else when I make it. Electronic music and the places it gets played is so far removed from my ordinary life, it’s actually a blessing to be able to have my feet in two worlds, one where the love of a family is so nurturing and one where escapism, freedom and creative expression are the sustenance I need in both worlds. I guess you could say that making music and being creative fuels my ordinary life.
Finally, Primal Space. A really percussive groove with a cheeky swing to it. It has a low end that almost growls at you like an animal. I really like it. And the acid squelches and cinematic string elements really bring you into the environment. Talk us through your process for this one. Are you using the same instruments through the E.P.? Or do you change it up with each track?
That low end growl you mention is the ‘primal’, the strings and pads are the ‘space’ Primal Space is all about the minimalism for me. Sparse elements and minimal beats, the swing and the acid, the atmosphere, this is pretty much was minimal house music means to me, but I wanted a bit of a darker twist so there’s that tribal element too.
Thanks for the interesting questions and of course the release on Analog Cabin, I can’t wait to share the music and the label. It’s a release I have been looking forward to for a long time, so thank you.
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