Islets in Pink Polypropylene

MG 132LP MG 132LP

Amazing and legendary 1994 album on the equally amazing and legendary Irdial Disc label, remastered at Emil Berliner Studios in half speed mastering. The whole album was composed and realized on the Roland R8 drum machine. It followed the same process as the Elastic Variations pieces, with the major addition of many, many hours of editing. Each piece was composed as a series of patterns, of varying lengths. The stock R8 sounds were embellished with one of several ROM sound library cards/ These patterns were created by tapping out a rhythm, then, in real time, using the pitch slider as the pattern looped, to create improvised melodies for each of the pattern's voices. The rough version of each piece was built by stitching the patterns together as a song, listening to each addition over and over, to make sure the melodies flowed into each other in a vaguely coherent manner. Once this initial rough structure was in place, Manning set about fine tuning every single note. Most of the percussive sounds, when pitch shifted, only sounded "good" over a reduced range. The first editing step was to go through the entire piece, and change every note's pitch to its nearest multiple of 400. The second step was to draw out the entire piece on graph paper, the Y axis being pitch, X being time. It was easy to see too many notes clustering around too tight a pitch range for instance, or a single note straying way down into the lower register while all others at that point in the melody were in the upper. Once these first "clearing-up" edits were complete, Manning could set about re-writing elements that didn't sound right melodically. Often this meant stripping out whole chunks of superfluous notes, to reveal a cleaner melody line, then shifting its shape slightly. If the flow of the line of dots on the graph "looked" balanced and sweetly sinuous, then often it sounded so. Slowly, a shape, narrative, starts to appear. Then, all of a sudden, somehow, it's done. When all the pieces were complete the R8 was taken into Irdial's studio where some simple effects were added, each voice recorded individually for clarity onto 8-track tape and mastered onto an ex-BBC half-inch tape deck. Included in Pitchfork's "The 50 best IDM Albums of All Time".