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Keyboard Choir: The Electrical Unity Blogs - Goodbye! [Jun. 7th, 2009|12:58 pm]
Keyboard Choir

This week has been amazing, we've all really enjoyed blogging, and hopefully you've enjoyed our Electrical Unity EP. Big love and thanks to John @ Brainlove Records, Rupert and Stefan at last.fm and Jack and Larry at The Independent. Cheers guys! Hopefully we'll do some more blogging for The Independent in the future.

In other news. We've got a host of remixes either completed or in the pipeline from Seaton, Bangatang, Bill Eff, Hot City and Napoleon IIIrd. Watch this space, we'll be unleashing them on the world in due course. Me and Alex are also working on a remix of our cosmic Brighton mates Maths Class, it's totally incredible. And we will get it finished! I promise!

Finally, We are playing at Kings Place, Kings Cross, London on Tuesday (9th June) and will be performing a brand new piece, a collaboration between Keyboard Choir and top notch incredible contemporary piano sextet pianocircus. The piece is called Turing Test and you can find out more info/buy tickets here.

Keep an eye on our last.fm page / myspace page for gigs and news, and if yu want to hear the album we've been talking about so much, you can get it here.


Seb + The Choir

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Keyboard Choir - The Electrical Unity Blogs Pt. 6 [Jun. 6th, 2009|09:27 am]
Keyboard Choir
In this installment, Keyboard Choir reveal the equipment they each use to create their symphonic electronica, and talk about the live experience. You can download their 'Electrical Unity EP' free at last.fm. The debut album 'Mizen Head To Gascanane Sound' is out now.

Seb: For today's post, I thought it'd be cool for us to all geek out and spill the beans on how it is that we get those patented cosmic tones (picture courtesy of NASA - go to apod.nasa.gov/apod and get a cosmically profound picture of space every day). It's like the best homepage ever.

I use mainly a shit younger cousin of the legendary Yamaha DX7 - the DX21. Which any keyboard snob would sneer at for only being a 4 and not 6 Operator FM synth. Whatever the hell that means. Most gigs I only ever use the one sound, Gentle Pipes, but by the time I'm done with it it sounds anything but gentle. It gets fed through a chain of old pedals that half work. Thanks to Nobby, for fixing me up a pedal board and repeatedly bailing me out of trouble when the house of cards come tumbling down...

I guess what inspired me to play in bands so much was the fact that I'm a massive show off. When I was starting out in music it was all about the Brit Pop. I basically wanted to be Brett Anderson and Jarvis Cocker. What a knob. In fairness, I was only 15, I couldn't sing for shit, not a note, so I was forced to play keyboard. Blagged a synth from my music teacher (thanks to Mr Barton!) and started playing. I remember the first time I tried putting the shitty old 80s synth through a boss overdrive and thinking, "that sounds terrible". The gap between that thought and me ending up playing as I do, is a bit of a mystery. But I love it, playing hard and fast through distortion, wah wah and delay, it's amazing. It's weird, when I think about it, there weren't really any keyboard players who I came across at a young age who were particularly inspiring. Certainly not in terms of their performances anyway. The only one who springs to mind is the guy from Marilyn Manson's band, who I saw at Reading 2001. He was amazing. Big up Madonna Wayne Gacy, he had his keyboard on a massive spring:

Most of the musicians who inspired me were either singers or guitarists. Matt Bellamy has done some great stuff. Love or hate Muse's Radiohead-meets-Queen histrionics, my teenage brain was fried by Origin of Symmetry. I find them pretty naff these days. Bellamy's use of guitar-embedded Kaoss Pads is pretty awesome. Which brings me nicely to the other part of my live arsenal...

Aside from the keyboard rig, I also have a Boss SP 303 Dr Sample fed through a Kaoss Pad, from which I trigger a lot of the vocal samples and general weird atmospheric bits and pieces. Ady triggers vox samples from his laptop also, but they tend to be ones that need to be particularly edited into some sort of sensible timing. The Kaoss Pad is totally amazing. I was awestruck by Jonny Greenwood's use of it on Everything In It's Right Place by Radiohead, and it's no surprise I've ended up with one in my clutches.

Guy: I play two synths live - a Korg DW8000 and a Yamaha CS2x.

The DW makes some fat bass and lead noises - it's a hybrid synth with digital oscillators going through juicy analogue filters. It's gone mad recenty and only produces odd wibbling noises, which is good in one way, but not really very usable for playing actual notes.

The CS2x is a late 90's 'Dance Synth' which means it should proabably be full of cheesy and unusable sounds, but actually sounds great. The CS is also the source of the klaxon sample that Seb loves so much.

This is me, probably pissing Seb off somehow - possibly with a klaxon, possibly not....

James: Every time we play Electrical Unity live. It's the track that has undergone the most severe re-organisation from my point of view since Freddie left last year. At the point when this was recorded, I still wasn't 100% happy with what I was doing in the end section but there are flashes of it shining through. Recorded with an MS2000, we now use twin MicroKorgs to fill out the pulsing delay through the end section and add to the arpeggiators already running. When Woody stopped playing live so much we lost a lot of potential for a lot of noise- he was something of a genius with it, but since then our sound has become more clinical and at the same time more organic- with Alex and myself taking on more of the noisy bits, as showcased here.

If only I looked this amazing whilst playing a Micro Korg:

So for the beginning of this track I'm using the previously mentioned 'arctic voices' patch on my Triton. It appears several times through the album but hasn't been used much on the new material. It's strange to think that when we joined the band, me and Guy were pretty much beginners at Keyboard playing. I'd had the odd Piano lesson when I was younger, but I was pretty much rubbish. Now, I'm still no Chopin, but being in this group for nigh-on five years has really improved my abilities by many times, and whereas before it was Ady and Seb writing most of the tunes, now all of us have a strong input. Part of this improvement has been my acquisition of the MicroKorg. I learnt more in the first year with that thing than I had in three with the Triton. It's a very common synth for good reason- it's usable and cheap. For the end section I play a pad patch on the Triton (usually 'pleasestaycalm') whilst making some beautiful noise on the micro. It can be a really amazing live experience, when it descends into machine noise, there is still structure. It's random structure, but it's still there- it sounds like millions of moving parts talking to each other to achieve a simple movement.

Ady: Live, everybody feeds into a little Mackie mixer that sits on my rig. It seems everyone always wants to be louder. I sometimes wonder if things would sounds better if we had a proper sound person doing the mixing, but because everyone changes their sounds between, and during songs, any sound engineer who wasn't very familiar with us wouldn't stand a chance of knowing what's going on. That channel that had a delicate pad suddenly has a distorted bass line...

I've included a picture of my macbook running Ableton live, on the off chance the buggers send us free shit. Thanks!

Apart from that, my rig is a macbook, a novation sl controller keyboard, and a motu audio interface. The mac runs ableton live which I use for triggering beats and samples. On most songs I'm also playing a plugin synth. The GForce impOSCar (a recreation of the OSCar, an obscure, yet brilliant, early 80's british synth) seems to get a lot of use, along with a few others (Ohmforce Symptohm, Ableton Operator+Analogue, Camel Audio Alchemy).

Here's one I found on google image search earlier:

One of the biggest thrills we've had in the live arena was being invited to play at Brian Eno's 60th birthday party. It was a bit intimidating to play for someone who's blatantly had such a massive impact on the band's collective approach to making music. We often struggle to agree on things. Eno is not one of those things. The whole thing must have actually happened, cos I took this picture....

Alex: On stage I divide my time between my beloved microkorg, and a N364 Korg workstation. It seems to be all about the Korgs in Keyboard Choir! On the microkorg I use almost exclusively original, programmed-up sounds, taking advantage off its much-celebrated ability to sound different in the hands of every player. Too much fun, overall. I put the N364 through two pedals - I've already mentioned the Watson DEQ2 (cheers Freddie!), and the second is the Boss DM-3 analog delay pedal, which is a superbly dubby instrument. Props to John Brainlove, love you, love the pedal! The workstation tends to get used if I actually want to simulate more 'classic' instruments, such as the electric piano or organ. Though with the Watson on you really can't tell! The strange sound I use on 'Transine', that James very kindly compared to Eno, is the N364 with its volume at the lowest possible point before no sound emerges at all, running through the distortion pedal, which creates a weirdly fragile effect. The microkorg plays multiple roles: as an atmospheric noise generator, punchy synth, or phat bass.

Phat bass, analog delay... I love dub.. respect to dub hero King Tubby:

Download 'Electrical Unity (Live)' free from last.fm.
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Keyboard Choir - The Electrical Unity Blogs Pt. 5 - Bugs [Jun. 5th, 2009|11:38 am]
Keyboard Choir
Part 5 talks about Keyboard Choir's members past and present, the writing process, and the dramatic exit of a former member taking a hammer to his instrument onstage. You can download 'Bugs - live @ last.fm/presents' at last.fm.

Ady: I love synthesizers. There are vast fields full of cheesy imitative brass and string sounds, but when synthesizers are allowed to be synthesizers there's a universe of unique and beautiful sounds to be found. In some ways I'm surprised there aren't more bands like us, a bunch of key-fondlers all playing synths together.

A lot of electronic music creation seems to be a solitary affair - one man and his machines. I guess this is partly the attraction for electronic artists, it's possible to conjure a complex and layered soundscape entirely at one's own volition. However, the technology also has many characteristics that dissuade working collaboratively in real time, such as sequencer programming and sample editing.

We usually have at least a couple of us in the room when we're writing, bouncing ideas of each other, but only one person can operate the laptop at once. Whilst we do have songs like Transine and Depths in Meters, which are based on recording collective improvisations, many songs only really start to come together when we begin to play them live.

This is one of the joys of Keyboard Choir - we exist within an electronic sound space, but we're able to continually respond to each other as we play through the piece. I think this does, mostly, come through to the listener, and it's certainly a far more satisfying experience as a musician.

This is us creating an electronic sound space at Rotator studios, Oxford. From Freddie's perspective, that's the doomed D-50 keyboard:

Alex: Of every track we play live as a band, this is the one I feel most debt for, since my part in it was handed straight to me (at least metaphorically) by the Keyboard Choir member I replaced: Freddie. The doomed chord progression is his, as is (I believe) the nasty bastard that is the Watson EQ Distortion pedal that largely accounts for the incredibly gnarly 'rhythm guitar' section in the chorus. Of course, I can't play it exactly as it was written, since the electric piano was originally written on the Roland D-50 that he smashed to pieces with a mallet in spectacular style as the finale of his swansong gig at White Heat. It was the most rock-and-roll exit a keyboard player has probably ever made. I saw it from the audience and believe me when I say I couldn't actually believe what I was seeing. The danger of electrocution was real. In the aftermath Thomas Truax could be seen wandering around the floor picking up bits of shattered circuit-board and muttering 'mmm, keyboard manna'.

Freddie mid smash vibe, I'm pretty sure that that's me behind, on the left with the darker jeans and brown shoes...

The track also contains some of my favourite of Seb's signature screaming high end, awesome dubby sub bass from Guy, some of Ady's most abrasive beats and James largely creating the intangibly haunting atmosphere with some wonderful melodic lines on an eerie setting. I enjoy the freedom the chord progressions give us to throw in variations so that the track can never sound the same twice. The EQ on the distortion pedal inevitably means that the distortion sounds subtly different every time anyway. The overall effect is pretty bleak, so its placement in a set list can make or break a gig. But it's totally worth it when it comes off.

James: Shortly before this show, Guy’s Korg broke, so those weird alien noises are the sound of it on its last legs. That was the only sound it was capable of creating.

“Bugs” has always been a bit of a white elephant for us. We never really captured it on the album- it needed to be a bit more edgy and less polished. It’s probably the most standard song we have in our arsenal but somehow it’s very unpredictable when we play it. One day it can be amazing- that C-Major swell at the end can sound like the end of the world, and the next day it can sound flat and empty. This recording is the former- how it should have sounded on the record, with all the strange little noises intact, the odd "jazz" note and the scream of DX at the beginning as terrifying as initially envisaged.

From the Last.fm video (below) you can see we are performing in front of the film “Heaven’s Only Daughter” provided by Bang Productions, who also made the promo video for “Bugs”....

Shout out to Simon and Diveen!

Interestingly for me, the original soundtrack for that film was written by Mike Watt of fIREHOSE and formerly of one of my favourite bands, the Minutemen, so it was nice to be indirectly involved with something he’d done! Here's the live video:

Seb: Over the last few months our live line up has been varied, to say the least. Long term mainstay Guy is away traveling at the moment, and we've had the tremendous opportunity to have some super top notch amazing human beings who are also ridiculously talented keyboard players stand in. Shout outs to: Jody Prewett, Oli Horton, Adam Whitley, Jon Ouin and our long suffering and totally incredible car driving, directions reading genius Alistair Kenny. We love you!

The line up has been rather flexible for quite a while now. I think this helps add a certain looseness to proceedings. In fact, the very original idea of the group was that it was a loose collective of musicians coming and going. To start with, this didn't work out, and we settled on more of a fixed line up, but then this started to slip, people came and went. The only ones to have played every single Keyboard Choir gig are me and Ady.

I think Woody and Freddie in particular deserve a proper mention at this point...

This is Freddie (right) with Guy at a boat party in Oxford (it was one of the best gigs we've played, absolute banger):

(Photo courtesy of Jill Nunuworld)

And this is Woody:

Freddie was involved right from at the beginning, and Woody joined a year or so later. Both were in Ireland for the Mizen Head sessions and were vital in writing and recording the album.

Though the recording session had it's low points (that's me, having a sulk):

I'm glad to say that, although Freddie has disappeared off into the proverbial woods, Woody still seems keen to make the odd appearance here and there (he's joined us at the last 2 gigs in Oxford). The man is a genius. He creates the most god awful noise one can imagine, and, for loud sets, it's like having a nuclear weapon up our sleeve. There's a track on our myspace called Free Lunch For Depraved Criminals that he put together and we can only do if he is behind the laptop, it's too shot away for Ady to handle.

Download 'Bugs (Live)' free from last.fm. And come by for the final journal entry tomorrow!
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Keyboard Choir - The Electrical Unity Blogs Pt. 4 - Transine [Jun. 4th, 2009|02:13 pm]
Keyboard Choir
[music |Brian Eno - Another Green World]

In Part 4 of their Electrical Unity Blog, all five full-time members of the band talk about the track 'Transine' and how it relates to the development of Keyboard Choir's sound. You can download the song at last.fm.

Guy: Transine is one of the fews tracks that we have played live that has no backing track. The human driven pulse drives the piece, and as I am not a human metronome, it is bound to wobble in and out of time, but in my opinion this this suits the track. You know when you go to a gig or a play, sometimes people try to clap along? Well this song sort of works like that. The more intense we get, the more likely I am to bash the keys harder and faster, to it is a postive feedback loop, which builds and builds. Another Green World by Eno is one of my favorite albums, partly because of the ambience, but also because of the track lengths; short and punchy, giving you the impression that although he has found a good thing, he doesnt try to milk it too hard, something that many musicians (us included) can lack. Transine also has this quality. It bubbles up and simmers down without dragging.

Alex: This track is all about the rhythm for me, which may seem an odd thing to say considering its flagrant lack of beat. Guy's plink plonk that sets the track and forms its backbone has a natural, human rhythm that is completely unprogrammable. The parts that evolve from it are the jekyll to ableton's hyde in Keyboard Choir: the spontaneous performance that actually makes playing in the band fun. The whole thing was one take; it's just us getting a bit excited.

Generally, I think its this duality that is the key to our band - the obsessive, intricate geekery of programming giving rise to the expansive, intuitive expression in live playing. That's why its important to have included some live performance on this EP (tracks 5 and 6, to come). The sounds may be synthetic but they have flawed humans forcing them into instruments through their own, unpredictable limitations. Fantastic.

Here's an example of some unpredictable limitations at work:

What a hero.

Seb: I think what I'm most pleased about with Transine is that it's so direct, so simple. I'm really into improvisation, and I know it sounds cheesey, but there's something so pure about spontaneously composing a piece on the spot. Something so powerful about capturing a group feeling at a particular moment, without layering things and sculpting things and doing all those things that happen when one's starts gradually piecing a tune together from the laptop up. I think, as our playing develops over time, we might get braver at working in this way. The laptop element of the band is amazing, Ady is getting really hot at making it like another instrument, not just something to be played along to, but more stuff minus laptop will be cool.

This is us jamming it out in my parents garden in Oxford, many moons ago... If only all rehearsals were so pastoral. That's Guy, with his keyboard. And my right hand. And some plastic garden furniture.....

The sound that leads the piece (Guy's chimey sound) is also central to Mizen Head track, The Shiver. A track that couldn't be more different in style to Transine. I guess it's a bit silly to be so self referential, but maybe a few people will hear the sound and think of The Shiver, then have their initial expectations turned on their heads. I like the idea of this device as being akin to the mental process of trying to turn a very aggressive, negative feeling (The Shiver was written at a time when I was suffering really bad panic attacks/general anxiety disorder) into something that is, though a little sad and mournful, still an awful lot calmer. Although some of the tracks are inspired by very specific things, be they super epic world politics nuclear war terror etc etc through to super super personal stuff, it's about the feelings, man. And the beauty of instrumental music is when one manages to articulate feelings in a way that people can relate to, which is something we must be acheiving in some way, otherswise I wouldn't be sat here writing this now.

Over the years, we've had some help making music, from Robots. Seriously... Some got a bit big for their boots... Look what happened:

I think that the production of Transine reflects the difference between the production and release of the Electrical Unity EP compared to Mizen Head To Gascanane Sound. I'd say we produced the EP from scratch in less than half the time we spent producing the album version of Electrical Unity! Also, we only finished the EP a couple of weeks ago, and it's already out in the world, whereas, due to Pinnacle collapsing and a myriad of other dramas and failures it took Mizen Head literally years to see the light of day properly. Weird how these things work out.

James: Transine is one of those tracks that just happened. After we finished the album we had a period of writers block. This lasted a long time. Then one practice, all of a sudden, we had three new tracks. Transine was one of those. Guy started playing the beginning of our track ‘The Shiver’ and then, quite unexpectedly, changed the melody slightly. The rest of us began to improvise around him and this track was born. It’s particularly special because I think it’s the first time we’ve actively sounded like a real ‘choir’.

Sometimes electronic music can sound very dead and soulless but Transine is the opposite of that. There are no drums, it’s all improvised and played with feeling. I don’t think it would sound out of place on either Fuck Buttons’ ‘Street Horsssing’ or Eno’s ‘Another Green World’ and Alex has somehow made his Korg sound like that ‘Snake Guitar’ Eno used to play on early solo releases. I think we’ve been threatening to make music like this for a while, and this is the first time it’s really clicked.

Download the track free from last.fm. And come by for the next journal entry tomorrow!
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Keyboard Choir - The Electrical Unity Blogs Pt. 3 - Stagger [Jun. 3rd, 2009|12:41 pm]
Keyboard Choir

Part 3 of Keyboard Choir's Electrical Unity Blog reveals their use of lightning strike as a drum sample on 'Stagger', and how important sonic texture is to the sound of the band. You can download the song at last.fm.

'Mizen Head To Gascanane Sound' artwork by Simon Minter @ nineteenpoint

Ady: With Keyboard Choir tracks, it'll often be the atmosphere and texture that come first, with the chords melodic parts following on as the piece evolves. This was certainly the case with Stagger.

I'd recently brought a new synth, Alchemy, and had been been playing around programming up some sounds. I came up with a sweeping, almost orchestral swell based on a sample of an guitar note played with an e-bow, and after some noodling a chord progression emerged.

We then built on this together, adding various parts, but it wasn't feeling right - the problem was that the drum parts just weren't working. We'd worked on previous piece where I'd created a drum kit from recordings of storms and tornadoes. This piece had hit a dead end, but Seb suggested we could lift this drum part and drop it into Stagger. Bingo, everything started to fall into place.

The vocal part was taken from a single note, with the melody being created by pitch shift, cut and paste and envelope manipulation - all done in Ableton Live, a superb piece of software that feels more like an instrument than a computer application.

The final section is also derived from another tune - a chord progression James originally came up with for his other, decidedly non-electronic, band - We Aeronauts. There's a flute/organ part that Alex plays in this section that I really enjoy, emanating from the humble MicroKorg. The MicroKorg also does fine work for the bassline that runs throughout the tune.

I was pretty happy with how this one turned out as we preserved the original mood and texture, whilst developing the piece in an interesting way.

James in the studio / photo by Ady

James: This track is brand spanking new. Initially I was convinced it should have a big noisy ending, a la ‘Macondo’ from our album or ‘Electrical Unity’ itself. However, the restrained and calculated version we finally recorded does the job well. Random arpeggio from my trusty MicroKorg gives it a nice fluffy feel to it after the disembodied speech and operatic vocal of the opening minutes. I’m amazed that Ady appears to have created a ‘shoegaze guitar’ patch for this track.

Sebastian: As Ady says, a big part of what led to the development of Stagger was the various samples that we had been playing around with, prior to coming up with a chord sequence we were happy with. The drum hits in section A come from an explosion, a lightening bolt and a penguin. Seriously. I'm a really big fan of using interesting found sounds where possible when producing percussion tracks, there's more to life than 808s! Me and Ady are big fans of Murcof and I guess one can hear his influence in the way we've used the operatic vocal sample. For another example of us fetishizing and mangling classical samples check out Skylab from our Mizen Head album.... It's chock full of choirs, strings and drum beats made from vinyl crackle.

Better than your average snare:

Another aspect of the composition that I think it quite interesting is how Ady tends to program drum patterns in terms of the rhythm. You can tell an Ady beat from a mile off cos it'll drag behind the beat, in a similar way to how Chopin drags things back... Beats made by the rest of us tend to be a lot more scatty and all over the place. To be honest, I've been obsessed for ages with doing a really mental woodblock piece, but Ady won't let me, one for the solo album I guess.

Chopin... He was pretty good at keyboard stuff…..

In terms of the theme of the track, it's fairly bleak, but the ending coda definitely suggests more than a hint of hope. It's a recurrent theme in our music, total bleak catastrophe contrasted with almost giddy glee and joy. I try not to watch the news any more, North Korea this, swine flu that, environmental meltdown inevitable, bastard politicians stealing our tax money to clean their moats. Things can easily seem totally fucked. So I don't watch the news, I go for a nice walk. Have a chat with a friend. Stroke a kitten etc etc.

Why get bogged down with masses of existentialistic crisis, when you can go for a lovely walk in the Welsh countryside?

Download the track free from last.fm. And come by for the next journal entry tomorrow!
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Keyboard Choir - The Electrical Unity Blogs Pt. 2 - Tokyo At Night [Jun. 2nd, 2009|11:09 am]
Keyboard Choir

In the second part of Keyboard Choir's Electrical Unity Blogs, Sebastian recalls some time spent in Tokyo as a young man, and Adrian talks about writing the piece. You can download the song at last.fm.

Keyboard Choir @ Brainlove Festival - photo by Sonny Maholtra

Ady: The track is an attempt to evoke a hot and sultry city night – where nothing much is happening but the there’s a sense of something mysterious and mystical happening just outside of one’s perception.

Composed to have a sense of things constantly evolving and standing still at the same time, the chord progression repeats and steps up a 5th at the end of every cycle. The plucked harp type sound is actually made from a re-pitched snare drum. We are big fans of processed organic textures, it's a theme we explore in almost all the music we produce. It was a rule from the start, we have only ever been allowed to use either electronic sounds or found sounds that have been processed. So, for example, if we find a random drum sample on an old record we can use that, but we wouldn't be allowed to mic up a snare drum and record it specially. Limitations and strictures force one to be creative, or that's what we've found anyway.

Seb: Many moons ago, I spent a summer in Tokyo. In the Roppongi district. Roppongi, in Japanese, means 6 Trees, if I remember correctly. Just down the road from the main, high street shopping district, Shibuya, it reminded me a lot of Soho, London. Seedy, grimy, full of strip bars and Starbucks. I remember a really funny night, waking up soaking wet in my bed, head to toe soaked. As the Long Island Ice Tea haze lifted from my booze addled 17 year old head, I realise I'd become so enamoured with the water running down the frosted glass of the restaurant next to my lonely flat I pressed myself against the glass, and stood there. And ran away. No one has any pictures. I was on my own.

Download the track free from last.fm. And come by for our next journal entry tomorrow!
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Keyboard Choir - The Electrical Unity Blogs Pt. 1 [Jun. 1st, 2009|11:01 am]
Keyboard Choir
[Current Location |London & Oxford]
[music |Napoleon IIIrd - Hideki Yukawa]

Hello Internet!

Firstly, I'll introduce myself. I'm Seb, I play in Keyboard Choir. We are a group of musicians who make electronic music. We are giving away our new EP, 'Electrical Unity', a track a day this week. You can grab the 1st track from our last.fm page.

This is us. The photograph was taken in Oxford by Ben Parks during a shoot for Amelia's Magazine.

(l-r) Sebastian, James, Adrian, Alex, Guy

I write this sat at my kitchen table, just about recovered from an amazing crazy weekend. I DJ'd at Koko on Friday night (our label, Brainlove, run the upstairs room at Club NME every Friday). Our good friends Hot City and DJ Wifey from Last Fm came down and absolutely killed it with some sick electro... Cheers Rupert!

Saturday was Brainlove Festival at the Brixton Windmill, I'm really fighting back the urge to gush and gush but it was literally the best gig me and John have put on over the years we've been dong this. Ever. All of the acts were amazing, a really rich and varied bill with an excited spirit running through all of it, and too many highlights to mention. But I'll try anyway - Napoleon IIIrd played an epic evening set, We Aeronauts played beautifully at sunset in the garden, 14-part all-girl choir Gaggle were fearsome, and Braindead Collective did an ambient electronica drone piece. Thanks so much to all the bands and punters who came down and supported it... We Love You!

So, for the next 6 days we'll be publishing a group journal talking through the songs on the EP. The first track is Electrical Unity itself, the closing song from our album 'Mizen Head To Gascanane Sound', which came out on Brainlove last year. You can read an ecstatic review from the venerable Norman Records here. Let the Livejournalling begin!

Track 1: Electrical Unity

Seb: One of the first pieces we wrote for the band, 'Electrical Unity' has long been a favourite of mine. The album version is 14 mins long - this is because, after the last notes of the track ring off, there's 4mins 33secs of silence, then a hidden track, 'Goats Blood'. For the EP release it's edited down to the track itself.

The vocal sample, taken from a BBC radio documentary about the beginnings of life on earth, is thus:

"The insects were forced to take flight, pretty noisy even if it wasn't communication. There would have been an explosion of sound, the insects would have had the air to themselves, so, quite early on, they got into a mutual arms race".

And the groaning, creaking sound that occurs during the finale is that of a glacier creaking, taken from the same programme.

I guess, in the context of the album, one could see 'Electrical Unity' as being about a rebirth of a sort. The closing 3 tracks of our album, 'Mizen Head To Gascanane Sound' (from which the track is taken), are 'Bugs', which features samples of would have been broadcast on the radio had there been a nuclear attack during the Cold War. Post nuclear blitz swan song, 'La Fin De Tout', which in french means 'The End Of Everything' and then 'Electrical Unity'. So, I guess the idea of referencing back to the insects at the very beginning of life on this earth is to remind ourselves that, even in the worst case event of a nuclear attack, life will survive, the cockroaches will carry the torch.... Life will continue, in some form or other...

Let's hope our mates in North Korea don't see this as an excuse to whack out a nuclear holocaust. Yeah?

We recorded the album in County Cork, Ireland, near Mizen Head:

Which is just next to Loch Hyne:

It was very very beautiful. A spiritual two weeks on a cliff top.

James: This EP has been coming for quite a while. It’s always been my favourite Keyboard Choir track, tucked away at the end of the album, probably unfairly. On LP, the overwhelming calmness conveyed by the ending of this track is brutally ripped away by the two-minute white-noise “secret track” ‘Goats Blood’, but here its seven and a half minutes are finally allowed to blossom alone.

The track is one of the only album tracks that has been constantly played live throughout the past 3 years, and it still sounds fresh. For me, it’s always a highlight - it works equally well as an opener or a closer live and here we switch it from last place on the album to give it first place on its own EP. I’ve always been fascinated by the machine noise generated at the end - we all switch from playing relatively simple chords to generating delay and white noise. I often find myself discovering new things in the end section when we play it live and always struggle to remember them - but in a way that’s the beauty of the track, it’s a scattershot insight into the Keyboard Choir world, which never stays the same. I can remember when we first recorded it listening back to the unmixed version lying on the floor in our studio in Ireland and being wowed by the pure simplicity and effectiveness of it.

Download the track free from last.fm. And come by for our next journal entry tomorrow!
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Electrical Unity - An Introduction [May. 29th, 2009|10:40 am]
Keyboard Choir
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[Current Location |Office Vibez]
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[music |Nomad Junk by Capitol K]

Hello World,

I'm Seb, I play in profound electronica ensemble Keyboard Choir. With the kind support of Brainlove Records, last.fm and Independent Online, we are giving away our new EP, 'Electrical Unity', a track a day all of next week from this here blog, linking back to our last.fm profile. It's way 2.0. Seriously.

In the meantime, you could have a little look at this amazing video of us playing the track live at the Westhill Hall in Brighton. It was a fun day.

There will be plenty more from us all next week.... Music, pictures, jokes, historical facts. The works.


Seb + The Choir

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