Monday, June 07, 2010


The story behind the track "Chainsaw" came during and after its recording, which is usually normal for me. I often leap blindly into a production, naively piecing the bits and melodies together and discovering fresh mental imagery from the sounds during the process. I always find it hard to explain this important part of my working strategy, but basically it's about leaving all my options open at the outset and letting the 'muse' (or whatever you'd like to call it) take over. I never really know where I'm going to end up when I'm at the starting line.

With "Chainsaw," midway through putting beats in place and coming across the main melody line I was reminded of a particular low-budget horror film (I'll let you guess) and placed a couple cheeky samples from said film to cement the association. Thus, the project took on this horror movie theme, referenced in the title.

There are five tracks in the project. I created a separate "Loose Version" that changed the mood towards a more Italian fright flick feel (inspired by a recent viewing of Argento's Tenebrae). Remixers Ajello and Jota Wagner captured this same vibe in their versions, Wagner even adding his own cheeky sample from a different film, without knowing the theme that I had come up with for all of this. My belief is that a contextual thread in a song can be felt by the listener even if they aren't aware of it, and these additional, somewhat unintentional 'horror show' remixes give evidence to this.

So, we now come to my third version, the "Balearic Version." With other versions exploring the darker edges of the soundtrack I felt that my imaginary film should have a lighter resolution. Honestly, I also thought that it would be funny to take the dark theme and wild melody and make something gentle and light-weight from it. I knew there needed to be piano chords in this, so that became the starting point. Some drum machine beats and a jazzy breakbeat undertow followed, as well as the bouncy, almost 'drum n' bass' style bass line. I attached the crazed, overridden Juno-106 melody from the original but it didn't quite seem to fit. This element added too much frenzy and darkness. I didn't want to lose the melody, so it's low in the mix (you can still hear it). Then the defining element came to me: to replay the melody with a bit of Spanish-sounding guitar. This idea was originally a "wouldn't it be funny if ... ?" moment, but I've learned to trust my instincts as moments such as these usually yield the happiest results. Guitar in place, extra percussion and some subtle synth embellishments added, and I suddenly had what there was no choice to call anything else but the "Balearic Version" (tongue firmly in cheek). It's like the end credits to the "Chainsaw" movie, where the killer's been stopped and the heroes are in a warm embrace as the screen fades to black. Of course, the film the original track drew from actually doesn't have this upbeat ending. By the end of this "Chainsaw" film, though, this is where my own ghostly 'muse' led me.

q-burns abstract message - process part 211 (chainsaw (balearic version)) by modyfier

Also, you can isten to the entire "Chainsaw" EP here.


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