Handing over the mic to artists/musicians who break down their new albums track by track/share the thought process behind the creation. Today we’ll hear from Matt Ackerman (aka moduS ponY) and Adrián Suchowolski (aka Suko Pyramid) whose collaboration entitled Watch Your Step is out now on Bumpy label.
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Matt (moduS ponY): This one was mostly written by Adrian (Suko). I just wrote the bass lines. I like how it just jumps right in to this ever-progressing thing, like a ride that just starts with no build up. We thought it made a good intro for an album with a fair amount of thematic twists and turns in it.
Adrian (Suko Pyramid): This one is about feeling detached from your tribe and starting to question the hopes that fuel it’s people, to the extent that these people have been detrimental to your well being “falling” and “running” over you, without taking you into consideration. One of the tribe’s hopes is reaching a Nirvana-like state of peace with the world and yourself that will make you levitate.
Matt: Started with the floor tom beat you hear in the beginning. I sent that to Adrian not knowing what he would do with it. The direction he took it in was a total surprise (in a good way). I like how it’s pretty dark but then it has this bright hook that only gets played once.
Matt: Started as an experiment to see if we could have 3 radically different rhythms in one piece. Ended up scrapping most of the experiment but the gem that came from it was the hook that Adrian wrote. A bit of the rhythmic experimentation from the original track carried over however that we used for the intro and outro.
Adrian: This song explores the different ways people can manage pain, either by blinding oneself from it (which can increase the opportunity for more pain to come), to take pride in it and think it’s there for a reason, like thinking that one deserves it (the idea of bad Karma for example). These are all ways we attempt to make pain enjoyable.
Matt: This one was mostly Adrian. I just added the lead guitar and a synthetic sitar type sound in the later half. This formula usually yields good results. Adrian will send me something that’s 90% done and I just add Guitar or bass. I like writing melodies for his chord progressions.
Adrian: It’s about a chicken that prefers to be led by an abusive tyrant than to be left alone to it’s own luck. Since the chicken doesn’t trust luck, the chicken doesn’t trust the river whose paths are unknown. So, the chicken, while going down the stream, dreams of a time when his owner grabbed it by the neck.
Adrian: This one is about not trusting anyone but yourself, and fantasizing about the dangers that relationships with other people might bring.
Matt: Mostly written by Adrian with Alex (Wou Wou and the Wormling, who also did the cover art). I just added the weird sampler solo in the middle. The highlight for me I think is Alex’s sexy guitar/bass melody in the last 1/3 of the song. So good.
Matt: This actually had weird origins. It started with a crowd sourced music licensing thing I took part in. The prompt was “write music to accompany someone eating dry pasta.” Maybe someone needed music for a pasta sauce commercial.
Anyway, I sort of read the prompt wrong. I was thinking “uncooked pasta” for some reason. So, I used a bunch of crunchy sounding percussion and made it super quirky. My track was the most oddball and unpopular of the submissions but I sent it to Adrian and he seemed to like it so we made a song out of it.
Adrian: This song is about someone who sticks dry pasta up his nose and acknowledges it’s a weird thing to do yet he can’t stop doing it. He believes the universe decides his path, and because of this he can no longer relate with people. It has themes of determinism, alienation, obsessions and weird reasoning.
Matt: This song (or songs really) probably took the longest to complete. It went through a lot of changes, a lot of sending files back and forth. It’s really two songs that just belonged together and we didn’t want that little second of buffering when played in Bandcamp so we made them part of the same track. It’s probably one of
the most adventurous songs on the album. Each part has a different vibe.
Adrian: The lyrics for One Gulp deal with fantasy, specifically about being taken care of and indulged forever to the point of almost becoming non-existent, about being eaten in just one gulp once and for all including all the sickness and pain one carries. A Whole Jungle is about seeing humanity as a jungle that functions mindlessly, and how understanding that oneself is part of that jungle can only be achieved via retrospection, since in the moment of action, one is as mindless as the jungle.
Matt: This was Zachery Zena Giberson’s contribution to the album. Zach does these abstract sound collages that I really like. They’re so bizarre to listen to. He did one such remix of one of our tracks a while back and we thought it would be cool to have him do something like it again for this album. So, we sent him a couple of tracks, “3
Tiny Bear Traps” and “Down the Stream”, and this is what he sent back. I enjoy the way he turns normal music into something completely alien. He really has his own language.
Adrian: It’s about failing to communicate, being unsure that other people are experiencing life as you are, not trusting they are alive at all, yet following orders from certain authority figures to a T to avoid loneliness.
Matt: Probably the weirdest chord progression on the album in my opinion. Songs like these are tough to play bass on. I sort of have to take it measure by measure. It’s slow going but the end result is super interesting to listen to, like taking a step back from a puzzle you’ve completed.
Matt: I think I like this one more than Adrian does, even though he wrote it. It’s got a laid back, catchy yet weirdly emotional vibe that I really like. The lyrics made me think of a surprise party in which the host reveals to everyone that he’s really insecure. I thought this was hilarious. We put a champagne pop in there at 1:46 to play up on the idea.
Adrian: The lyrics are pretty weird for this one. It explores the narcissistic imagination of an insecure person. It’s about revealing to someone you revere that you are actually quite insecure, specifically a “goddess” who has multiple voices. She responds in a bizarre and callous way, by simply asking “what day would be good to
Matt: I recorded this years ago with a cheap guitar I no longer own. Forgot about it until just prior to us writing for this album. I thought the whole tone scale suited the weird vibe of Watch Your Step and so I sent it to Adrian to flesh it out musically and write lyrics.
Adrian: It’s about a loving father named Will who becomes a waffle man while working in the waffle factory which uses radioactive waste as an ingredient to make the waffles. When becoming Waffle-O-Will he loses the ability to have emotion, so he no longer loves his family.
Matt: While we were discussing what to call the album, some joke names came up. This was one of them. We were talking about the mental/emotional angst conveyed by the cover art and the movie Anomalisa came up. In that movie the main character has something called Fregoli’s delusion in which everyone looks and sounds like the same person. I suggested “Frijole’s Syndrome” as a joke. We ended up using it as a song title. It has kind of a spooky vibe. The synth sound for the outro is a sampled rubber chicken.
Adrian: It’s about a world where everyone becomes an identical frijole, you included. There’s no difference between anyone yet one still needs the company of others.
Matt: This one is unique on the album because it’s pretty much the same chord progression throughout. We rarely do that. Hopefully we managed to keep it interesting despite that. It has kind of a melancholy vibe. It was Adrian’s idea to switch to double time after a few bars. I think it kind of gives unexpected life to a song that may have been kind of boring otherwise. It also has a unique, almost clashing mix of instrumentation. To me, it kind of feels like it’s a song that doesn’t quite know what it’s supposed to be.
Adrian: It’s about liking someone and thinking you know what they would like you to be and trying to be that way, and the inevitability of feeling ashamed or guilty about liking someone when you don’t know if the feeling is reciprocal.