The making of Imago
Imago was set out to be a schizophrenic record in the sense that there is a constant balance between subdued, nearly ambient tapestries and outright industrial noise.
Its overall sound aims to blend both an organic controlled feel with electronics on the verge of spiraling into chaos in an effort to convey universal human emotions such as anger and paranoia. The end result classifies as "dark ambient acoustic industrial cabaret", for want of a better term.
Production took place from February to August 2019. While some tracks previously existed (Scarabeus for instance had been written ten years prior), the majority of the album consists of new material written within this period or existing drafts re-recorded with new instrumentation.
As a record often reflects the material listened to during its creation, citing the artists that were on heavy rotation during this period might prove surprising as they were St. Vincent and Donna Summer.
Apart from using more traditional acoustic/electronic instruments and units, the more esoteric hardware featuring on the record are among others: the Ploytec πλ² (a favourite for low fidelity, tearing bass riffs), the Make Noise 0-Coast (a patchable modular synthesizer) and the Elektron SID station.
Another sound design tool that featured heavily throughout production was the custom built degenerative delay software known as "Regrader", which is a VST/AU plugin both freely available for download on igorski.nl as well as open source.
While a variety of hardware and software products were used, the standout was DAW of choice Bitwig Studio, being the main tool for recording, sequencing and mixing / mastering. Majority of mixing time was spent matching levels in mono using a single Avantone speaker to avoid the pitfall of phase cancellation side effects when listening solely on a dual monitor setup.
As time pressed on, there were plenty of moments to test one's discipline with regards to both musical performance and fidelity. Imago should however reflect a moment in time, being the best it could've been under the circumstances of its creation. A time capsule rather than an unreachable sonic ideal. Kill your darlings.
Imago / Undercurrent
The first 30 seconds (titled as first track "Imago") are made up of a self-oscillating drone created by feeding brown noise into the Regrader processor.
The second track "Undercurrent" starts with a classical guitar motif which follows the aforementioned drone. The guitar was partially capo'ed at the 2nd fret across the first to fifth strings, keeping the bottom string open and in E.
Made up vocal sounds provide glossolalia.
Is in the time signature of 7/4 and employs the Promotheus Napolitan scale throughout for the harpsichord-like themes.
Last track to be written. The main riff takes the last variation of the Scutterblotch bass line and performs it on double tracked, lightly driven guitar. The guitar was a custom built model by Dutch luthier Pelle Kuipers.
One minute intermezzo to separate the relative violence of the preceding track from the more ambient tracks following it. Its progression will recur as the albums theme.
Vertically composed as in it having a single motif repeating throughout and its intensity increasing only by addition and transforming of layers. The opening drone sketches an organic, natural ambiance which eventually culminates in a pseudo supernatural choir backed with washes of noise.
The second of the vertical compositions. Echelon segues Numen by duplicating its tempo and key (140 BPM and A minor) while providing a more human feel as opposed to the otherworldly climax experienced moments before.
The plucked opening provides a motif, which like Numen, is once more repeated throughout where the rhythmic emphasis shifts from a sloppily picked pattern executed on a single instrument to a ska-style bounce provided by addition of multiple polyrythmic percussive layers.
Vexed employs the diminished scale (in the key of E) and the 5/8 time signature.
The melodic patterns of Vexed were algorithmically generated through a custom built program (based on work by Duncan Lockerby) that generates MIDI instructions.
Each pattern is executed by a unique Ploytec πλ² configuration leading the track to build up to white noise over the course of little over one and a half minute.
A re-iteration of the earlier piece now played at twice the speed on barroom-style piano, accompanied by sardonic lyrics.
Featuring the most time signature shifts evident on the record. The chorus revolves around a waltz motif alternating with 5/4 time while the verses feature odd bars of 7/4 to constantly give a push and pull feel.
Originally written in 2009 as a meditative piece performed solely using flagiolettes/harp harmonics, Scarabeus has been reinterpreted and augmented by electric bass and modular synthesis to provide weight as it builds and flirts with time signature changes.
The electronic overlays weave in and out as an antithesis to the organic ambiance of its opening and verses.
To purposefully round the album off open-ended, Botfly is written using the augmented scale (in G#) which lacks a sense of resolution and introduces itself abruptly after Scarabeus' faded epilogue.
SID Station chirps and leads provide retro computing input while the middle section features an arpeggiated solo performed by multiple layers of 0-Coast modular synthesis.
You're not allowed to form your own opinion,
reality is not yours to choose
(we boss over you as you've never learned to think for yourself).
Being stupid is a virtue.
To remain stupid is a bigger virtue.
Well, tip the balance in your favour!
Yesterdays opinion is now irrelevant.
An unwelcome truth falls on deaf ears.
You can either download or stream Drosophelia by following the links on the Drosophelia website.