Interview: AnD – Kundalini EP [EDLX]
When we think of Manchester, what usually first comes to mind is rain, Oasis, a bygone industrial-era city, and more rain… But really, what was lost was a city that was once at the zenith of music, the pinnacle of hedonism and night-culture. By the early 90s Manchester (or “Madchester” as it was quickly coined) was the place to be, fuelled by the rise and dominance of Ecstasy; all eyes were on this mecca of golden-age partying. From the infamous Haçienda club, to groups such as Joy Division, New Order, Chemical Brothers, 808 State, A Guy Called Gerald, The Smiths – Manchester had formed a localised scene that had feverishly taken the city by storm. Such was the prestige of this short period that the city still cannot escape its own legacy, and many candidly look back on what Manchester once was. But we love to reminisce, people love dwelling in the yesterday. Manchester has moved on in various ways and the city is a different organism today than it was ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. However, the city has questionably come back to the forefront of electronic music in the UK with the commercial (albeit controversial) success of mainstream schemes like The Warehouse Project and Parklife Festival, and seems to be riding the wave of house and especially techno that has rippled across the UK in recent times.
AnD are a Mancunian duo that came to prominence back in 2011 upon the success of a number of notable releases on labels such as Horizontal Ground, Black Sun Records and perhaps most significantly Idle Hands; in addition to this they also set up their own techno label with fellow UK producer Tom Dicicco called Inner Surface Music during the same year. Last year saw releases on their own self-titled imprint (‘002‘ – gnarled and deformed cuts straight from the dungeon), Delsin sub-label Ann Aimee, and their brilliant ‘Bow‘ 12″ out last November on Modal Analysis. In addition, an appearance on Resident Advisor‘s podcast series (RA398) certifies their ever marked presence. They are fast becoming recognised for their tight production and focussed sound, and look set to be ready for a busy year of gigging and studio time.
The duo open 2014 positively with a debut release on techno establishment Electric Deluxe. This five track EP, named ‘Kundalini‘, was out back in mid-January and is a powerful, uncompromising statement that pushes its listeners over the edge. The EP title is derived from Yogic philosophy and is the name given to an innate, corporeal energy that lies within us. This spiritual energy can be called upon to bring enlightenment to the “seeker of Truth”. Diving straight in, the A-side, called ‘The Jellyfish‘, arouses the listener with two minutes of mobilising kick-drum and distorted syncopations. A numbing venom permeates each and every kick, the assertive and aggressive percussion exerting a fiery dominance. Definitely a sea creature not to be messed with, the energy in this track is electrified with brittle synth loops and relentless meter. This track serves as perfect peak-time chaos.
The rhythmic lilts of ‘Dysekt‘ are equally commanding, the title equally sinister. The jolted drums are almost schizophrenic in their mild congruence with each other, volatile and unheeding. The momentary silence half-way through proceeds to an unwavering yet subdued breakdown, all the more dramatic for the colossal drop that follows it – one that will leave listeners utterly breathless and weak-kneed.
Signature AnD distortion features on ‘Dtadtmat‘; airy, brassy loops form the motion for this track, while a haunting screech echoes above the texture. The track opens with a quiet, underlying groove that is quickly overtaken by rigorous percussion, biting hats and a punishing bass-line. The track continuously builds for five minutes until it drops into full swing at circa five minutes.
‘IcDbyc‘ slows things down, stepping back from the anarchy that has preceded. Drawing upon dubstep influences with its augmented time signature and a synth hook that is as mysterious as it is ominous; the track is a selective, minimal collection of distorted sounds, with great placement of hats and background atmosphere. A rattling click continues to unwind in some corner of the mind, slowly scraping away at what remains of our sanity.
‘DTR‘ closes this strong, abrasive EP with a conversely low-profile presence. We wander across barren, snow-covered wasteland, floating through the aftermath. Sub-bass frequencies swell suspensefully into gentle rotations. The air is thick with questionable motives and satiated frenzy. The chaos has retreated but yet we still walk in fear and apprehension… It should be noted here that ‘DTR’, as well as ‘Dysekt’, do not appear on the vinyl release.
There is a focus and immediacy to AnD’s music that makes their discography attractive. Techno can quite easily drift into realms of sound-art and industrial noise that quickly becomes inaccessible to listen to or properly understand. The duo manage to tread artfully between hard, brutal 4×4 and the subtler, ambient side of the genre. To really make the contrast check out ‘Distance‘ from their Noncompliant 12″ (INNER002) as an example of their wonderfully atmospheric capabilities. The ‘Kundalini‘ EP is a behemoth destined to shake foundations and break audiences. Kundalini, the dormant serpent within our own beings, comes to awakening in full force here, and we are at once reminded of the great and infinite power that resides deep inside…
AnD were kind enough to give us some time for an interview, read it here:
We first got into electronic music when we were teenagers in the 90s. Electronic music always made more sense to us than more traditional methods. It always seemed to be more exciting and contemporary aesthetically and sonically compared to listening to a band.
We were both DJs before we started to produce our own music, it was a natural progression. You start to DJ because you have fallen in love with the music and you enjoy mixing records, but after a while you really get the hunger to start making your own music too.
/ Has it always been techno or did it start somewhere else?
We have both always been into a wide range of genres and sounds, but techno has always been a true love from the start. It always seems to be the centre point and where our focus lies; no matter what direction we take, it always seem to have a techno feel to it.
/ Your techno is orientated around strong analogue production ethnics. What are your two favourite pieces of gear?
At the minute our two favourite pieces of gear would be our Korg MS20 and Pittsburgh modular synth, but these things tend to change when you buy something new!
/ Is there a reason why your allegiances lie with hardware as opposed to digital?
Our allegiances don’t really lie anywhere when it comes to production, we use both hardware and digital as much as one another. We think certain things can be done better with hardware and others can be done better within the computer. It really just depends on what sound you are wanting to make, as to what tool you use to make it. There are many times we use Reaktor to create a sound rather than hardware as it’s such a creative and powerful tool, due to working like a modular system.
We use Ableton as a DAW and we love it as a programme, it is so versatile and the workflow with it is very intuitive. But then there are other times that you just can’t recreate the same sound digitally as what you can make with hardware or outboard rack effects.
/ The Jellyfish is my favourite track on the EP. What inspired this track, was it a fictional story or from a real life event?
We are glad you like the track! There is no real story behind the title of the track other than when we were making the track it had this subterranean feel. It almost felt as if the sounds were wobbling and floating about on themselves, which made us think of a jellyfish floating around in the ocean.
/ Does the Jellyfish have a name?
We were not quite sure what his name was as we never actually got to meet him in person but he seemed to be from the Aurelia Aurita family from his appearance.
/ What do the weird/obscure song titles mean? Why have they been named like this?
The weird track titles are abbreviations of words and other times they don’t stand for anything they are literally an arrangement of letters.
/ Your techno is typically pretty hard, but you give room for quieter moments too (this is also shown through the digital EP). Do you think there needs to be a balance?
Yes we think there should always be a balance, a lot of people always see our music as harder edged techno but when you listen to it the dynamics are designed to be hard but there is always a lot of groove. We like the idea that there should be tracks to play in the club and tracks to listen to out of a club environment. With the Electric Deluxe release we wanted to show people that we don’t just make heavy techno and that we have a depth to our sound. There are tracks for the dancefloor (The Jellyfish / Dysekt), some more experimental moments (Dtadtmat / IcDbYc) and more ambient moments like DTR
/ How did you decide which tracks to put on the 12″?
We had sent music back and forth to the label and we had numerous discussions as to which direction we wanted the EP to go in. It was a really easy process for us to work with Jochem, he is a lovely guy and really supportive of what we are doing. So everything seemed to fall into place really easily!
/ What have been your reasons for staying in Manchester? Many leave to go to London, Amsterdam or Berlin to pursue their muse/careers…
Manchester was one of those places that just worked for the two of us for quite a long time. It has a real down to earth attitude and a very strong musical history as a city, it has really allowed us to grow as artists in our own time and to be part of the scene. There are so many talented producers in Manchester it’s ridiculous, but the good thing is that everyone sort of leaves each other alone to do what they want to do. Everyone is working in a slightly different area to one another but yet everyone inspires each other.
/ How is progress with your Inner Surface Music imprint going? How did this collab come about?
Inner Surface Music is going really well, we have been collating a whole host of new and exciting artists to the label over the past few months and we have been planning releases that will take us well into next year! So we are all really excited about how things have developed since we started the label with Tom Dicicco nearly three years ago. The next release will be from a new artist called Angus Tarnawsky and will feature an AnD remix as well. We are really excited to have Angus onboard, we think he is immensely talented and his EP is a bit of a new direction for the label even though it is still pushing the techno sound that we have been showcasing with the label.
/ And what are your intentions for your own AnD label?
The AnD label was created for us to have an output to release music when we want to and also to push music that we feel might not be suited elsewhere. It’s nice for us to use the label for this purpose, we can release music that we love when we want to, rather than thinking that we should have a regular release schedule with it. We are looking to release AnD003 soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
/ Do you feel that you’re settling in comfortably with your sound or are you trying to keep pushing it forward? If so, where do you want to take it and how?
We don’t ever want to feel settled in a sound, as artists it is important to always be moving forward and improving yourself. We are always focused on how we can develop and learn more knowledge in other areas that we might of lacked before. If you are an artist and you are settled in what you do, you should fuck off and let other people do your job as you obviously don’t care!
/ What have you got in store for this year? Anything we should watch out for?
We have quite a few projects we are working on for this year that we are both really excited about, we don’t want to give too much away! Over the next few months we have some new remixes coming up for Inner Surface Music, DSNT, Decoy and Trensmat.
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