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 Gavin Miller aka worriedaboutsatan, British musician/owner of This is it Forever label whose latest album Providence is out now on Box Records.
I started making Providence quite a while ago now. After my previous album, Time Lapse, was completed and sent off and all that, I sat down and just started putting a few bits together. A label I’d been talking to at the time suggested I submit some ambient techno to them, as they were looking at putting some of that stuff out.
So I agreed, loaded up my laptop and had a bash at making some. It didn’t go particularly well, as it took a while to get used to doing more dance-orientated music again, after so long of doing the more expansive stuff. Some bits worked, but others needed a bit of fine-tuning, or just deleting altogether.
Anyway, the label eventually agreed to do the album once it was finished a few months later, but then ditched it 6 months down the line. I wasn’t sure what to do with it for a while, but my old friend Matt Baty (lead shouter of the band Pigs x7) and I got talking one day about music stuff, and he offered to put it out on his label Box when I told him what’d happened. Relieved, I gave him it, and so here we are.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – wtf is that title all about? I like it, sounds like an old English folk song or something, about some renegade highwayman who’s somehow turned all of Norwich against him. In truth, it’s to do with this tweet I made a while back:
— worriedaboutsatan (@teamsatan) October 7, 2019
I was determined to dedicate a new album to one bit of skill by Scottish midfield maestro John McGinn during an Aston Villa match against Norwich City (we won that 5-1, which was great as our season was terrible). As the band is just me these days, no-one told me what a stupid idea it was, so I did it anyway. I’m a long suffering Villa supporter, but instead of a whole album, I decided to shout out Super John McGinn for the opening track instead. Much more entertaining. Anyway, musically this one’s all atmospheric drones which open up over the course of 4 or so minutes. I had some fun adding an outro section of just weird noises and rhythms from a record player’s arm hitting the turntable. Good fun! I got some of those from a sample pack I picked up. Bloody love sample packs – makes not being able to afford a ton of synths much less annoying.
I like how downbeat this one is – I’m not really sure what kind of angle I was going for with it, but it turned out to be this murky, half-techno-y thing that’s quite slow but quite brooding. Has loads of murk in it. I like murk – this album’s full of it. Nice and slow and weird and dark and dusty. The title means ‘bit by bit’ in German, which I thought sounded ace. I nabbed it from that show Dark on Netflix. Was obsessed with that for ages.
Again, nice title eh? As I was on my own for the first time in a long time with satan, this one was another from those ‘ambient techno’ sessions I mentioned earlier. Came out quite well though, and I’m a big fan of big, spirally post-rock guitar that just seeps everywhere. This one did that well – I just layered tons of the things! Plus who doesn’t love a nice 4/4 kick drum eh? Probably should’ve made it louder in retrospect, but I dunno – you can tell it’s there at least.
Another one with a German reference, but I really like the way the phrase looks written down, so thought I’d use it. This one started life a pounding techno track, but when I listened back a little while later, I thought ‘fucking hell, this is garbage’. So I do what I always do in that situation, which is to strip everything out it, slow it right down, and start again. Et voila! It ended up sounding like the mournful slow burner it is now. Those pianos were from another sample pack by the way – they were so good, and when I pitched them down to fit with the song, I just sat and listened to them on their own for ages.
This is just a one take looped bit of synth, processed (quite badly) by me during recording. It’s from the looper section of that Yamaha Reface CS synth – a really nice bit of kit, but the looper takes a bit of getting used to. I was trying to find that Boards of Canada sound, which I think I just about managed here, but then went a bit mad on the envelopes and filtering, which is where the other weird white noise stuff comes from – had to rescue it in Ableton afterwards, but most of it is just an untouched loop, bouncing around.
I like this one, it slides really gradually from spacey ambient stuff into a heads down 4/4 techno fest. I think I was just messing around, and the intro section sounded good alongside this little hardware drum kit thing I load up sometimes – all 808s and cowbells and stuff, so kept it and moved it to the end of the track. I definitely wanted to do a few more up-beat things on this, as Time Lapse was quite a big, slow motion record. The name means ‘big chips’ in Icelandic, as I just thought it was funny.
Another one built up from sample pack stuff, this one had a little loop I chopped and edited from a hardware synth pack, which was brimming with nice ideas, but didn’t really work in a lot of satan stuff. I got just about enough out of this one little thing and edited it fairly extensively. Added a little hi-hat pattern, but left a kick drum off as I like it when things tease you like that – no, no, no, no kick drums today, mon amie. Nice little ambient section at the end there too – that’s just layered guitars and some bass.
The last one is another attempt at ‘ambient techno’. It’s a good one this – I also strayed outside of my comfort zone to make a bassline that was longer than 4 notes long. Imagine that! Anyway, it’s one of my favourites I think, and I had lots of fun bringing back that old satan post-rock banger sound. The chopped vocals are from a remix stem of a song by a friend of mine. I *might* get in trouble if I say who it is though, so you’ll have to work it out yourselves. I like working with vocals, gives tracks a little more humanity about them, but I very rarely get the opportunity to do like, a ‘song’ song, or at least work with a top line on one of my things, so I have to get creative. This one I reversed the stem and sidechained it up so it sounds totally unrecognisable, but still fairly obvious it’s a voice. I packed in as much as I could, without it getting messy (sidechaining is your friend here) so it ends on this humongous river of reverbed noise and kick drums. A fine way to go out, I reckon.
On a Different Note:
- Track-by-Track // Salvatore Mercatante Presents Pistacchio Sessions
- Track-by-Track: Jilk – Welcome Lies
- Track-by-Track // Ffion – Unfurling
- Review: ShopLand World: Music for a Discovery Park of Miniature Supermarkets
- Compilation Highlight – Whore: Various Artists Play Wire (WMO)