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Keyboard Choir - The Electrical Unity Blogs Pt. 4 - Transine [Jun. 4th, 2009|02:13 pm]
Keyboard Choir
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[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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