A Islândia vira e mexe sempre nos brinda com espetaculares novidades, daquelas que não é possível não se curvar, vide Singapore Sling, Dead Skeletons entre outros, e das cinzas de um predileto do submundo dos bons sons o Two Step Horror nasceu e cresceu, o psicodélico, hipnótico, climático e por vezes angustiante, a & e sounds.
lp lançado em junho desse ano é uma preciosidade, que resume basicamente todo o conceito do TBTCI, poderia apenas ser resumido, como "uma viagem ao submundo dos bons sons", note que a viagem tem apenas o ticket de ida, a volta meu amigo, fica a seu critério.
Psicodelia moderna, com toques de décadas de boa música, esqueça rótulos, e mergulhe profundamente na viagem proposta pela a & e sounds, sua mente e sua alma certamente agradecerão.
***** Interview with a & e sounds *****
Þórður: Hi Renato and thanks for having us. The project originally started when I took a semester in Weissensee Kunst Hochshule in Berlin last year, I wasn’t really trying to start anything new, I just needed a project to categorise some new tracks I was doing at the time. The school didn’t really care if I attended or not so at some point I just stopped going there and stayed at home recording.
After I came back home I teamed up with a good friend of mine Kolbeinn Soffíuson and we decided to take the project further as he was finishing his sound engineering studies at Studio Sýrland here in Iceland. We took our top 12 pick of the bunch (8 made it to the record) into Control 1—recording studio at studio Sýrland—and recorded drums with Orri Einarsson (from the Dead Skeletons). We recorded a male choir called Bartónar, pianist Þóranna Björnsdóttir and re-did some guitars and bass. We also recorded in Hallgrímskirkja; a landmark church that lays over Reykjavík on a hill, like an Egyptian Sphinx. Then we spent about a month mixing and mastering.
Kolbeinn: Like Þórður says I was studying sound engineering at the time and for my graduation project I needed to finish a 10 track LP. I had listened to some of Þórður's demos and really liked them so there was no doubt in my mind that this was the right project. I think we were able to maintain the raw character of the demos to some extent, but to me the overall sound of the album is very smooth and dreamy. We worked very closely together in the mixing process and I am very proud of the final outcome.
After finishing the album we had gotten so connected to the project that we decided to put together a band to start performing live. We had played together before with Two Step Horror so this was a very logical step for us to take.
Q: Who are your influences?
Þórður: I’m influenced by a lot of things, I think I am a fairly impressionable person, at least to a certain extent. I was for instance very influenced by the fast moving rhythm of Berlin. The songs I recorded since last fall are hugely influenced by that steady, electronic techno beat of Berlin in some interlaced flow with minimalistic melodies. It’s built up with more focus to the progression of each layer rather then to have some sort of narrative.
I think it would be a cliché to list a bunch of musicians and say “these are my influences, here my creative fire is born” you know? it’s a subjective ongoing study. And I think you are influenced by a feeling rather than something else. I mean I don’t listen to Michael Rother and think, I’m gonna make a Michael Rother song, but perhaps when I’m making a song in a certain mood, I will think to myself “that song has a fucking Michael Rother feel to it”. Or something, I also like coffee, highly influenced by coffee.
Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
Þórður: right, I’ll just name the first 5 that come to mind:
Neu! – Neu!
Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby
Clinic – Visitations
Singapore Sling – Life is Killing my Rock’n’Roll
Suicide – Suicide
1. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
2. The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat
3. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
4. Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses
5. Spiritualized – Lazer Guided Melodies
6. Can - Tago Mago
Q. How do you feel playing live?
Kolbeinn: It feels good to play with talented musicians. A steady rhythm section backing you up makes everything much easier.
Q. How do you describe a & e sounds sonority?
Þórður: ehh, I had to google sonority, so are you asking about hierarchy within the music?
I think it’s the drums and the bass that lead the whole thing, then the two guitars come in with heavy delays and just ramble some jam on top, then underneath all that is maybe a synthesizer being modulated to create some sort of an ambient carpet.
Kolbeinn: Someone described our music as "hard to define". Maybe that sums up the sonority as well?
Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs ?
Kolbeinn: Þórður already had recorded the demos when we started working together and the arrangements were pretty much laid out. We did focus a lot on getting a good drum sound and Orri was very professional to work with. We had access to high end microphones and equipment at Studio Sýrland and did the drum recordings in a big space with nice acoustics. Although the album might be described as "lo-fi" where expensive equipment doesn't have as much to say I think we were able to find a good balance between these different elements. Of course you can only get so far with high end gear but we did our best with good mic placement, getting good takes thus making the post production much easier.
(Sunday driver, music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tidyeJdXkgk )
We had an interesting session at Hallgrímskirkja church where we recorded a huge pipe organ which can be heard on a few tracks. After mixing it in the effect of the organ is very subtle, an extra layer in the overall soundscape, but the sound of those takes is very nice and the natural church hall reverb combined with the warmth and clarity of the organ is amazing. Another memorable session was recording Bartónar male choir which is a very energetic bunch of lads. Also the sound of the grand piano in the final song of the album was something we put much effort into and Þóranna's playing is flawless in my opinion.
We learned a lot of good techniques in the process of making the record that we will continue working with although our next album will be very different for various reasons. All of the new recordings are made in our private studio Konsulat where we are always trying out new techniques, different microphones, mic placements and switching out gear. I think it's a never ending story searching for the correct sound for each track at any given moment depending on the mood.
Q. Which new bands do you recommend?
Þórður: I don’t know if they are all new—they are not old either—so this is my list:
Death and Vanilla
Pink Street Boys
Fufanu (we just did a remix for their song ‘now’)
Kolbeinn: russian.girls and Pink Street Boys are definitely two of the most exiting Icelandic bands at the moment. I mostly listen to the same old stuff so I can't think of any other new bands at the moment.
Q: Which band would you love to made a cover version of?
Þórður: Ghost-rider in the sky, Spacelady’s version.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
Organise a tour and get on the road.
Q: Any parting words?
Yeah we are finishing up lp-2 hopefully that will be out early next year, then we are doing an EP with russian.girls called russian sounds. Then there’s a 4 song B-sides EP ready and another LP that we will probably release online.
Check out Shields: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=annuLooVTU0
That one is a cannon.
Phase, lows and harmonics.