A little over a month ago, we decided to take a short hiatus from our weekly mix series. The series is the crown jewel of our operation and as we get busier, it gets more and more difficult to maintain. In this case, it became something of a burden and the fun of placing mixes from our favorites artists every week almost felt like a hassle. Luckily, we’ve got the verve back now and will actually be expanding the series by including interviews with as many of the mixes as we can. Hope you enjoy.
The marriage of the pristine and the rugged can be throughout the history of electronic music, everything from acid house to hardcore to bassline smashing together beatific vocal samples with clattering breakbeats, roaring sublo frequencies with exquisite keyboard work. Some of our favorite music takes that ethos to another level, blurring the lines between traditionally beautiful sounds and unadulterated noise, forcing the listener to face the scraping, banging, dragging characteristics of computer music. Arca, Fis and Rabit achieve this with particular aplomb and it appears that a whole wave of producers are willing to not only include, but embrace, industrial characteristics, whether derived from the hardware and/or software they use, the urban environment they reside in, or the literature or film they imbibe.
Across two EPs, for Slime Recordings and Clubwerks respectively, York-residing artist SHALT has built up a strong case to be mentioned in the aforementioned conversation and his forthcoming work should only cement that place. Built around crackling, disintegrating percussion and widescreen melodic work, abetted by disembodied vocal samples, SHALT’s work has a distinctly tactile feel, building out from techno, the darker side of garage and other UK club forms into an aesthetic distinctly his own. SHALT refers to science fiction as a means to investigate themes of life extension and extraterrestrial exploration and it’s not difficult to imagine tracks like “Callisto” or his edit of Tim Hecker’s “Stab Variation” soundtracking those advancements. That being said, SHALT’s work isn’t just some bland futurist statement or appraisal, its function as much body music as it is a science fiction statement. His Astral Plane Mix acts as a prologue for future work and considering the all-encompassing nature of the originals within, alongside work from Fis, Pinch & Mumdance, Cristobal Tapia de Veer and more, SHALT’s next step will be a further example of how to match the dissonant and sonorous forms.
Hit the jump to read our interview with SHALT and to check out the full track list…
You were living in Bordeaux, but now you’ve moved back to the UK. Where are you living these days and what drew you back?
The year in Bordeaux was actually part of my uni degree. That time was surrounded by years in Bristol, and at the moment, I’m living in York, which is where I grew up. As an artist it’s quite a weird place to be, it feels entirely insulated from anything exciting musically. Probably as a result of this, I don’t attach much significance to location when it comes to music.
You edited Tim Hecker’s “Stab Variation” a few months ago and the Canadian artist’s work definitely comes across as a touchstone on your past releases. Besides Hecker, which contemporary artists do you look to for inspiration?
They’re possibly a bit obvious, but a lot of Arca, Call Super, Fis & The Haxan Cloak’s work is really inspiring. Cristobal Tapia de Veer makes some incredible music that I’ve been listening to a lot. The latest Helm album is great too.
On the flip side, what do you listen to outside of the electronic music sphere?
Genuinely nothing. It’s not intentional, it’s just not something that’s ever resonated with me, and I just don’t feel I’m going to discover anything interesting by delving through it. That’s probably completely untrue, but I just don’t have any knowledge of it, or any desire to change that really.
Where do you see your music getting played? What is the optimal space to involve oneself in the SHALT experience?
I guess it mostly has characteristics of club music. That term doesn’t mean too much anymore, but I think the structure and impact of what I’m trying to create is derived from that. It’s not as if I’m explicitly trying to create club music though – that should become clearer in future – I’m just trying to find the best way to express the idea behind the music.
The ideal environment would be one where I can try and create an experience that helps transmit a message greater than just its music, and you tend to get a lot more freedom to do that in a live space, both on a control level, and in terms of what people are generally looking to take in.
Your productions have an incredibly physical, textural feel to them. How do you usually test them out? In your studio, on headphones, or elsewhere?
I just try and listen on as many different systems as possible. I spend a lot of time obsessing over details and listening to the music away from the computer to try and figure out what the tracks need. It’s probably not the most efficient way, but it works for me.
I like to set up modulations on elements in the tracks to such an extent that the song sounds different on each rendering I make of it. I imagine this adds to the physicality, because the end result isn’t perfect (whatever that would be), but feels more “alive”.
Your last release, Jovian (on Clubwerks), refers to the planet Jupiter and your next project heavily interpolates concepts from sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson. When did you start reading science fiction and when did you decided to work into your music?
I’m not sure really. To be honest, it’s not what I enjoy reading in general. However, a lot of the topics touched on in those books are things that really concern me anyway, and I read them at a time when I was starting to create music as a discussion around these issues (in the case of Acheron, the next project, this being the extension of life through technological means, changing both the physical realities of life, and ideas around the concept of life itself). So they helped me focus as a sort of visual guide for what I was creating, an additional way of seeing things, as well as being another source of information on the topics.
Do you often play out? Would you like to?
It is something I enjoy, but I’m just trying to pick the right nights. I think I’ve got quite a good idea of what I like to do in a club space , but there’s no point being on a bill with a load of (for instance) unrelated techno artists because people aren’t going to care about what I’m trying to do, and it ends up just being a compromise for everyone there. In fairness, it seems to be becoming more common to think about the club as more than that now, so I imagine/hope that’ll change.
Do you have any interest in working on a film score?
For the right project, I’d love to. But I’m not sure if anyone else would love me to do that though.
Is there an overriding concept to the mix you recorded for us?
I don’t want to give a narrative to songs that aren’t mine, so probably the best way to view it is an introduction to the forthcoming Acheron EP, a selection of songs that to me capture the same essence as the EP.
SHALT – ???
SHXCXCHCXSH- Wadin Guise
Raffertie – Courage Boy
Helm – I Exist in a Fog
Fis – Kal
SHALT – Hypermalthusian
Logos – Glass (Shapednoise Remix)
Lee Gamble – Jove Layup
Kuedo – Eyeless Angel Intervention
Imaabs – Voy
Batu – Cardinal
Pinch & Mumdance – Big Slug (Instrumental)
SHALT – Acheron
Amon Tobin – In Your Own Time
SHALT – Still Primal
Cristobal Tapia de Veer – Meditative Chaos