2019 was a productive year since I finally got back to music production “in the box”.I think for a long period of time I kind of avoided approaching music-making from this angle, being obsessed with art as a performance, rejecting all kinds of manifestations that involved minute detailing and painful programming. For almost a decade I experimented with all types of creative fields that didn`t ask for complicated resources, like freehand drawing, photography or writing. I guess in the end I decided to give electronic music a new chance, since I was still curious about the extent it could lead me to new experiences and insights.
So I jumped with no further delay into Ableton hoping that I could somehow tame my impulsive character and lack of patience, things that always made me run from sustained work, long hours of concentration, etc. The question still remains : what type of craft is this, the one that requires days of continuous repetition and tweaking in order to deliver a product that will be consumed in 4-5 minutes by an almost unaware and mostly uneducated listener ?
I guess this was the question that tormented me for years, making me doubt the artistic value of such creative product. But again, we might not be able to answer it, since the phenomenon is so complex and present, and yeah, people seem to enjoy it`s “artefacts” without too much debate, analysis or criticism.
I guess I re-thought my entire work process without knowing while working on architectural renderings, wich require the same amount of attention to detail, and maybe I got more mature in the past 2-3 years, but something told me I should start treating a piece of music as a symbolic/cultural-scape rather than a simple piece of popular entertainment.
My first pieces of music were, as expected , a bit basic. The learning curve for music production is steep, at least for me, so I approached this new project with caution and a minimalist attitude. After all it was my first attempt at tweaking midi notes and composing a beat section on my own. The “Shore” EP came out as a personal take on deep house, giving it a balearic twist. Not a complicated project, but still keeping inclosed some of my nostalgia for summerish vibes in those january days of 2019.
The next project I started was a long awaited personal take on downtempo. The “Synthesis” EP contains 5 tracks centered around the beautiful vocals of Alena Avenax, who released a very solid pack of acapellas for producers to tweak further and make their own. I started timidly to construct a bit of a chilled sound and vibe around some of her songs, and came up with, well, somesort of a synthesis of my previous years spent listening to the whole Cafe Del Mar series. Again, the final product is far from being perfect, but it was another part of my experimental stage with music production.
After all of this said and done I felt the need to push the BPM a bit higher and pay a small tribute to the end of my
90s, with all their progressive trance/house music and my dusty college memories of non stop clubbing. I felt a bit like changing the lanes too quickly, but the freshly bought Dune synthesizer was winking at me with some really fresh patches. I only released 2 tracks in this new EP, called "Nightlife", wich was published by old friend Xplore`s label, Subspace Transmissions, wich focuses on progressive house/electronica.
It took me a bit of time to reconnect to music makers around the social media channels, but in the end I started to really enjoy the newly appeared genre out there, the Lo-Fi/Chillhop sound that conquered so many people`s taste in the late 2010s. You might think I am approaching too many genres, and I often think that is indeed true. But at this stage I just left myself be carried away by any creative ideea or mood I was in at the moment, for the sake of production flow and experience, so I came up with some new material, a personal approach to the genre. I thought of producing a small chillhop EP, I called it “Lo-Fi memories” because I remodeled the concept around a bit of my old school vision on downtempo, creating a more personal hybrid. The rather conservative approach comes from a humble realisation that I must, somehow, imprint some of my own mature touch to a piece of work that was supposed to fit the day
s trend. The final product is, in my opinion, a bit nostalgic, dusty melancholy combined with steady chilled beats, lots of sampling and, again, a minimalist note coming from someone that wasn`t that familiar with new production techniques.
Moving further fastly, I bought an ambiental piano sample pack from my favourite sample market, Loopmasters. I wanted to see on what extent I could use sampling as a base for a new downtempo album, that came out in the same spring of 2019. I chose to lay down an acoustic piano backbone for every track i made for this EP, enriching the sound with the newly aquired Omnisphere. Still in training mode, the 5 pieces are maybe a bit scarce in arrangement, but still contain some of that moment`s feel.
The last coherent material I produced last year was finally an LP that concluded my year
s research concerning downtempo songs structure and vibe. Using the acapellas from Alena Avenax and Amy Kirkpatrick, both released as sample packs on the Loopmasters website I finally formulated an 8 track album with a more complex harmonic content but still accessible from a sound design`s point of view. It also marked me ending the subscription to the emastered.com mastering engine, wich finally became a bit too much for my projects. Sadly the material could have been more carefully handled in the hands of a professional sound engineer, but, well, mistakes are there so we learn from them in the future.
Last but not least, I put together a few remixes done during the year as competition entries on the Metapop.com web platform. A few eclectic ideas used to re-work the originals into something completely different are grouped under the album “Remixes – Volume 1”. I mostly liked to play with a retro twist on the majority of the tracks, especially the 80s feel/vibe that became so popular with the reviriment of synthpop/synthwave/retrowave. I enjoyed working on every piece and give it a distinct character, and I think I managed to make some good progress productionwise.2020 will come with more remixes and some of them are o nthe desktop as we speak.