Track-by-Track: Sunken Foal – Hexose
Track-by-Track: Sunken Foal – Hexose

Track-by-Track: Sunken Foal – Hexose

Sunken Foal - Hexose

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 Irish musician Duncan Murphy aka Dunk aka Sunken Foal aka Press Charges.

It can be hard to keep up with Dunk Murphy aka Sunken Foal – he always seems to have some new piece of music coming or just released either himself or via the Countersunk label. – The Point of Everything

Hexose is out now on Countersunk

Over the past few years I’ve been composing some very serious, moody pieces for various projects – I needed to inject my own practice with a bit of colour so I’ve been writing a lot of melodic synthesizer pieces – Employing some algorithmic processes to generate melodies has opened up some phrasing I wouldn’t have written or played otherwise – Hexose is a collection of some of these works where I found that the resulting beguiling moods of this approach drew a parallel with my childhood obsession with chocolates, candies and desserts.


I began voicing a sequence of triads across three analogue monosynths – it was hinting at a simple ascending and descending arpeggiated melody but settling on something repetitive wasn’t gonna cut the mustard – so I build a simple algorithmic system in the Logic Pro MIDI Environment to give me a perpetually modulating stream of 8th measure notes and fed them into a couple of Oberheim synths – it reminded me of the nauseating over-sweetness of a Caramac bar

Lustre Calaois

This started as bassline and four four rhythm messing around with building groove templates – looking for a particular swing I’d heard in Sega records from Madagascar – I still had my Jomox drum modules back then and I miss their brutal funk – I then built a polyphonic generative patch in the Nord Modular to skitter around the key signature – Lustre are a brand of tinned fruit absolutely soaked in sugar syrup – one of your five a day!!

Yazd Pashmak

This started out as a discarded melody for a Latin American beverage advertisement commission – Fecking around with the time signature, I deconstructing the melody and redistributed the notes to three different synths as if they were fingerpicked on a banjo – a drum pattern on top added measure but juxtaposed the mood too much so I fed it through a vocoder following the chord structure – more generative meanderings were added on the Nord Modular – I like the curious mood in this one, it’s not really about the overall emotion for me but more segueing from scene to scene – Something seemed middle-eastern about this one but I’m not sure why


This began as a live jam on an Elektron Anolg Rytm – programming 16 rhythm patterns of different measures and lengths and then jumping between them to infer a collapsing disjointed funk – all thrown through a vocoder with some ascending algorithmic patterns playing on a Mutable Instruments Shruthi – I bought a vintage Roland TR77 with a homemade MIDI mod and you can just about hear that in there too I think


I wonder will the hum of the Korg spring reverb annoy me on this one when I listen to it the next time in 2034? This is an excerpt from a perpetual generative installation piece from 2015 that would never repeat … except it kinda does in its mood – there’s a library of chord pads being randomly cycled through as the basis – then I built four Nord Modular sound design patches that could flicker and pop eschewing any sense of regular rhythm – it kinda sounds like my wife Ann’s stomach after dessert

Barley Stick

I setup a simple repeating trigger on my beloved CS30 and started playing the bass riff for about 5 minutes in a bit of a trance – like Caramac, it seemed to call out for a simple ascending and descending arpeggiated melody so I build another system in Logic Pro with attention paid to pauses and velocity – I added some realtime controls across the density and range of notes and farted about with my Matrix 1000 until it seemed to follow the dynamics of the bassline recording – I was reminded of the burst of happiness I received as a child when I was given a sugar laden Barley Stick from the Pharmacy as a treat after having been to the doctor due to stomach issues relating from too much sugar

Gesponnener Zucker

This one started as a composition for two nylon string guitars – I found that sonically, the thick buzz of my Siel Orchestra really suited the modulating chords and stood there playing the riff for hours – I got pretty tired of the floating waltz vibe and found a kind of Krautrock rhythm pulled things together nicely – I’d found a CT401 on eBay for 50 quid – I’d been after the percussion sounds for a while and after receiving this hazelwood laminate beauty I began making a ridiculously meticulous multisampled library to play back the said rhythm – There’s a sweet ‘knock’ from the woodblock and clav sounds on this thingy – again, more generative melodies built in the Logic Environment triggering the Oberheims – I was keen to get something melodic to ‘spin’ and counterpoint the regularity of the main riff but playing it by hand would require standing up – I found the lyrics to an old sea shanty sung in the time of the Caribbean Sugar Trade and quickly set to work blurting them out

Dark Bounty

This started again with playing the CS30 – Just improvising into a WEM tape delay – I edited the jam down and programmed some tuned percussion on the Jomox modules – then came all the generative melody stuff for the Oberheims – this time focussing on harmony and midi echos jumping between time divisions to give a kind of flutter effect – I found an older Nord Modular patch of mine with a high pitched undulating lattice of dots that seemed to float over the thick washes of pulse wave – everything about this track said ‘Luxury’ to me so of course it had to be called ‘Dark Bounty’

Petits Philippe

This is two of me playing my old piano – It’s just a few bars of a bigger synth piece I’ll be putting out later this year – there’s a very different reward from playing an acoustic instrument I find – it’s less surprising but more meditative – in first year in school when I was thirteen there was a rotund kid called Philip – one day we were informed his dad was coming in to give us a talk on the importance of eating Yoplait yogurts – He worked for Yoplait – after he left I called his son ‘Petits Philippe’ (a pun on the popular unhealthy Yoplait snack: Petits Filous) – unfortunately this nickname stuck – I was a hurtful, evil child and I’m sorry

Instant Whip

This began again as voicing a sequence of triads across some analogue monosynths: MS20, CS30, Moog etc. – I found reversing the recording revealed a much more evocative phrasing – I had played a gig in Brussels some years ago and shared the bill with a group of digital Hip-Hop instrumental live performing mad geniuses called Herrmutt Lobby – previously keen scratch merchants, they had configured the crossfaders on their midi controllers to trigger drum samples at particular intervals along the crossfader’s path – it gives their music such an incredible swagger as it humanized the rhythm of their chunky, glitchy drum samples – I decided to give it a go and synced up a MIDI fader to trigger a arpeggiation of notes across its path and distribute the notes out to some outboard synths – it was incredibly satisfying and I don’t know why I haven’t done it again – When I was a kid I’m not sure I ever ate any food that wasn’t heavily laden with sugar – I was totally obsessed with the powdered gelatinous blancmangey delights of Bird’s ‘Just Add Milk’ dessert products and could happily inhale a whole packet’s worth of chilled servings – Angle Delight always overshadowed the lighter texture of the Instant Whip puddings but I haven’t forgotten

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