Tuesday, 12 March 2013

#1. Abstract Interference

Written and produced by Matt Neal.
Recorded at my Mum and Dad’s house, Ballangeich.
Year: 1997-1999?

GROWING up on a farm is great. You have an abundance of things to climb on, places to build cubbies, and dangerous pieces of machinery to play with.

When it becomes not-so-great is between the ages of 16 and 18 – that time in your life when all you want to do is go to parties, hang out with your friends, and drink illegally.

Between 1997 and early 1999 (when I was between 16-18), I was stuck living on my parent’s farm 27 kilometres from Warrnambool. I had no car, and no friends living nearby, but in between school, work and being a farm boy, I had an abundance of time in which I was able to not go to parties and definitely not go out and have fun. Ah, the tyranny of distance.

Instead of indulging in a quest for underage booze-ups, I spent a lot of time with a computer program called FastTracker II. My high school buddy and future bandmate Brendan Hoffmann put me on to it, I think. It was amazing.

FastTracker II was a program that basically let you organise samples to make songs. Suddenly my musical creativity knew no bounds. I could make songs that were more than just playing guitar into a tape recorder - I could create a whole band or a whole orchestra.

See that? That's music.

I was inspired by the tapes that Hoffa was making. His stuff sounded edgy and dark and interesting - he incorporated the sounds of goats bleating in with these crazy industrial beats and heavy guitar samples. It sounded awesome. The stuff I was making sounded derivative, out of tune, directionless and total shite.

I made a CD of my own electro songs in late 1997 and showed my friends at school. The CD was total shite. But one of the “interludes” on the CD was a 30-second thing called Abstract Interference, which is basically the first 30 seconds or so of this song. 

For ages I couldn’t figure out how to turn into a full song because it was too slow. It took me about a year to figure out that it might sound cool if I sped the rest of the song up. Duh.

Usually with most of my old songs, I can figure out what I was listening to or trying to do at the time. This one is a bit of a mystery. About the only electronic music I was listening to back then was The Chemical Brothers’ Dig Your Own Hole, which my Ted Dancin’ bandmate Gus Franklin (now of Architecture In Helsinki) turned me on to, so I guess this is me trying to do something like The Chemical Brothers. Probably something like this (I can definitely hear similarities):

On a side note, of all the hundreds of songs I made on Fast Tracker II back in those days on my parents’ farm, only a handful survived. A hard drive crash meant I lost everything, and it was only by sheer luck I discovered years later that Hoffa had saved eight or nine of them on his computer. I’m eternally grateful for that. Admittedly most of them aren’t great but Abstract Interference I’m proud of, even if it is a bit long – a direct response to my realisation that most of my electro songs where clocking in under two minutes.

On a further side note, me and my fellow Extreme Sprinkler Jade McLaren tried recording a new version of this one night. We got a fair way into the song, then decided to go to the pub, then invited a bunch of people back to where we were recording for a jam. In the process, we accidentally deleted some of our efforts. Sounded rubbish anyway.

Damn I miss Fast Tracker II. I’m going to go and download it again….

1 comment:

  1. I've got half a dozen .xm files. You've written song-notes incl. creation dates in the instrument list. I use the following random software still on my PC to see instruments:

    Tracks are:
    * 21st Century Ox Theme - 23/1/00
    * 500 Times One (remix) - 26/12/99
    * Tomorrow has been Re-Cancelled - 21/01/00
    * Sucking Stars Through your Nose - 01/02/00 - This is incl. on Peppermint Anth. I think. Nice tune!
    * Segue Morgue - 22/01/00
    * Abstract Interference - The Meadow Mix - 21/01/00 - Great piece.