Rupert Lally (based in Switzerland) and Espen Jorgenson (Norway) are set to release a 6th album on their No Studio label. Their latest release Paradise Once - is due on 17th August 2015 and represents their 9th collaboration- and you know what?
They have never met.
Paradise Once - is released on 17th August via Bandcamp
We've been able to quiz them on how they managed to be so prolific working remotely.
Rupert Lally (RL): After 6 so albums of the same working method of Espen sending me sounds or vocal ideas and having me turn them into finished tracks, I decided we needed to discover a new way of working this time around.
Espen J Jörgensen (EJJ): This album wasn't supposed to be. We announced that This is Art would be our last album, so when Rupert asked if I wanted to do this I was really on the fence. It feels a bit
awkward "to be back", but, I thought to myself "ok, let's give it a stab. It'll either be crap, or onto something." Well, it's really up to the audience if we hit a nerve or not, but..
RL: There was a brief period where we tried reversing the process, where I would send Espen a track and he would remix/re-arrange the results; but this didn't lead to anything that either of us were
particularly happy with.
EJJ: Well, this isn't entirely true. For this album, yes, but I reworked some of Rupert's material earlier which was basis for some songs on This is Art. I think I was messing with a remixed version of File Under Guitar, but anyhow. The material I reworked for Paradise Once might be reincarnated for The Dark. Outside. Time will tell.
RL: In the end, it was my experimenting with the demo of Arturia's Matrix12V and coming up with a track based around some of the sounds that really "started the ball rolling". The finished piece (which
would become the track "Home" on the new album) seemed to have a more obvious "song structure" than a lot of our previous material. I suggested to Espen that perhaps, for once we should try a more
traditional way of working, where I would be responsible for the music and the arrangement and he would concentrate on the vocals and the lyrics. Of course, nothing we do is going to be a "straight-forward songs album", but it was fun to take that framework and see how we could bend it to suit our purpose. The only rule was: Espen had to contribute some sort of vocal line, be it singing, spoken word or whatever to each track - they couldn't stay as instrumentals.
EJJ: I believe that you should have a really good reason to put vocals on a track. The vocalist is often a self-obsessed snob who doesn't contribute with anything really. There´s so many lyrics which ruins a good song. Lyrics which doesn't say anything. So, some of the songs I didn't really feel like adding anything to, or I didn't get a real connection with, but you can't expect to connect with everything you
work with. Sometimes distance to the work is good as well. I'm not dissing Rupert´s work here, but, I think you should really strive to make something worthy - be it vocal or instrumental work.
RL: As with our previous collaborations, each of us worked on our separate tasks in isolation: Espen had no idea what sort of music I would send him and likewise, his vocal or lyrical contributions would
come as a complete surprise to me, often taking the song in very different direction from where I thought the music was heading.
EJJ: I tried to give the song a voice, not really sing on top of it. I think a lot of lyrics out there doesn't really connect with the songs. I like contrasts, yes, but, I try to really listen to the song - what does it tell me? What secret does it keep? But, lyrically, to me, it´s about seeking paradise and never finding peace.
RL: It's led to a very different-sounding record from anything we've attempted previously and it pushed Espen to deliver, what I feel, is some his best vocal work to date. He tends to record his vocals in a fairly improvised fashion, and rather than try and "clean up" the vocal takes I tried to find interesting ways of processing them to enhance their lo-fi quality. In some cases, the processing was so radical that the vocals blend into the track with the rest of the instrumentation, leaving unsure as whether you're hearing vocals or synths or a mixture of the two.
EJJ: I think that is better, and I think that vocals can be so low, or put in the background, so people will really listen, or say "is that singing?"
RL: The fact that I had sole responsibility for the musical arrangement this time around, encouraged me to take more risks with the sound design and choice of instrumentation than on some of our
previous releases. I tried as much as possible to give each track it's own, distinct sonic identity. We have strings on a couple of the tracks which is very unusual for our music and the use of Brass and
woodwinds on the track "Folds" was inspired by seeing a video of Tyondai Braxton working with Alarm Will Sound.
The music was all recorded at home, in my little basement studio. I used Ableton's Live for all the recording and mixing and it's time-stretching and warping capabilities came in handy for adjusting
the timing of some of Espen's vocal takes. The alternate firmwares for Sonic Charge's Permut8 were released a few weeks into the making of the album and they were used extensively for processing drums, synths and even vocals. Native Instruments' Molekular and Driver were used heavily for processing as well. I also really like some of the Reaktor fx ensembles made by a guy called Boscomac - in particular, there's a really simple stutter/glitch fx that he made that I use a lot. For
synth sounds, I mostly stuck to the aforementioned Arturia Matrix12V and U-He Bazille and a couple of Native Instruments synths like Rounds and Massive, as well as my Eurorack modular system. I also used Heavyocity's Monoboy2, a Reaktor-based chiptune drum machine, for a lot of the more lo-fi drum sounds. Most of the guitar parts were recorded using my Jazzmaster going into a combination of Native Instruments' Guitar Rig and Reaktor, plus some Ableton plugins. The exception was the side guitar parts on "Noise For Nothing, which were done using my Strat, tuned "Ry Cooder-style" to open D and then capo'd on the 2nd fret.
We did the whole album in about 3 months, which is pretty quick by most people's standards but for us it's fairly leisurely (we did "Postcards From A Used Future" in 2 weeks!). There was even a period
where we had about a break of about a month when Espen had a throat infection and couldn't sing - during which time I recorded and released a modular synth album and an e.p. (The Orange and Blue EP) Made solely with two Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators, because I had nothing else to do!
Paradise Once is release on the 17th August - you can buy it here
We sat down with Rob to discuss the creative process and what lead him to using a modular