PLAID

Plaid
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PLAID



Written by Alison Potter
11 Wednesday 11th January 2012

To accompany the release of the aurally superb album, the duo played a very special Videocrash show at Koko last weekend. We managed to grab a minute with Andy Turner and Ed Handley to discuss soundtracks, synthesis techniques and sexy body popping moves…


In what ways do the visuals augment the sounds?

Electronic music can sometimes be cryptic to watch, a moving image can help humanise the performance and make the stage area more stimulating. At their best they can help narrate and emphasise the audio.

Although it’s been a while since you’ve released an album, you guys have definitely not been idle, having worked on a multitude of various collaborative side projects. Do you think these creative adventures have changed the way you approach making music?

Working with other people really helps challenge and evolve the music making process. It's vital to keep it interesting and fresh after 20 years.

Did you enjoy working with other people, such as inventor Felix Thorn, video artist Bob Jaroc, and filmmaker Michael Arias?

They are all inspiring people, with unique ideas. Felix has an album of his robot machine music out now. Bob Jaroc toured with us for many years and really introduced us to the world of video. We hope to work with Michael Arias again this year on some new animation projects.

How does compiling a soundtrack differ from the process of creating an album? Especially as you are working with someone else’s visual ideas.

The main difference is that a soundtrack is assisting the telling of a story whereas an album is the whole contained story. Simplicity and restraint are essential with a soundtrack, an album has fewer constraints.

Tell me about the title of your latest full-length release Scintilli?

Listening to music can sometimes feel like sparks or electricity running through our bodies, the title refers to this effect.


What is your stand out track on the album?

They all have their own thing depending on your mood...

How has the sound on Scintilli developed from your earlier work?

We started out trying to make it with fewer layers and parts than previous albums but didn't always stick to this idea. There is always a desire to do something original, but it's hard to know whether this was achieved.

You understand the power and musicality of voice, yet the beautiful, harmonic vocals on your album are entirely synthetic, woven out of sine waves. What was the motivation behind mimicking the human voice?

We love 'computer music' and synthesis, it was just a challenge to see if an artificial voice could be used without sounding contrived or ugly. We enjoyed the process and imagine that, with some more work, synthetic voices could exist happily with the real thing.

French composer Claude Debussy was inspired by Gamelan music to create the famous 'Clair de Lune'. I understand you too have fallen in love with traditional Javanese music. How did you incorporate this into your sound?

We worked with the South Bank Gamelan players on a live project for much of a year. Its non-western tuning, harmonic richness and subtle, repetitive structures become very attractive after a while. We have been drawn to the sound of tuned percussion since we started making music. Working with such great and devoted players was a treat.

Writing music can be quite a meticulous process. How do you know when the composition of a song is finished?

With the recallable nature of electronic music, finishing is always a bit of a problem, it is tempting to try and refine it forever. Often things are only ever finished when someone else needs it to be finished.

Can you tell me a bit about the filter techniques and special software you used to record Scintilli?

We used quite a bit of a synthesis technique called 'physical modelling' where the acoustic properties of a body are mathematically modeled using 3D meshes or waveguides. It is basically a set of intersecting ultra short delay lines that vibrate and interact when excited by a force.

Do you use the same equipment when you play live?

We tend to write with Apple Logic and play live with Ableton but this set-up changes quite often.

Finally, you’re both fans of breakdancing. Do you still bust out a windmill or a bit of body-popping when the mood takes you?

Intoxication helps but the flexibility is missing these days. It’s hard not to twitch when one of those tracks comes on.

 

Find out more about Scintilli at scintilli.com

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