“WHERE WE WERE”, the new album from GREG HAINES, may come as a surprise upon first listen. The cascading strings that played such an important role in his prior work have disappeared, and in there place are intricate layers of tape-worn synthesizers. Any recordings of piano have been transformed and affected until their sound is at times barely recognizable. Moments of quiet, slowmoving textures can still be found, but they are nestled between upbeat, rhythmically-driven tracks that at times could even be considered for deployment on open-minded dancefloors. Although taking a year to complete, the nature of this record is born in its spontaneity and impulsiveness. The acoustic instruments such as piano, vibraphone and other percussion that found there way on to the album were not the result of months of composing - rather they were entirely improvised and often left completely unedited and raw. At first the idea was these rough tracks, full of noises and hiss, would later be re-recorded, but as the process drew on, it became clear that these kind of loose, half-thought moments were what defined the album - often “out-oftime” or “out-of-tune”, but always adding another dimension to the hazy, analog world of sound. This hand-crafted approach led to almost everything being constructed in the old-fashioned way; not with mouse-clicks, but with two hands moving dials and everything running to an aged tape machine.
This album is the result of one person sitting alone in a room and creating something entirely personal, without the frustrations of organising large-scale sessions for other players or the laborious work of preparing scores. In fact, the few scored moments that were written were later disregarded, with a whole string session with PETER BRODERICK ending up on the cutting-room floor (sorry, Peter!), along with endless hours of other material. What is left is the condensed diary of a year of exploring old tape delays, analog synths and percussion - some of which played by percussionist/composer SYTZE PRUIKSMA (a member, along with Haines, of THE ALVARET ENSEMBLE, whose debut album was released in December 2012 by Denovali Records), and some of which played and recorded in a midnight daze at Haines' studio in Berlin. Working in this way led to a whole host of other long-term influences feeding into the music that had never found an outlet before. The experiments in dub conducted by the likes of KING TUBBY or LEE PERRY and continued by the likes of RHYTHM & SOUND had a profound effect, as did the iconic work of TONY ALLEN and other African composers. The spaced-out soundscapes found on early TANGERINE DREAM and KLAUS SCHULTZE had always had a subtle influence on Greg's work, but now armed with an arsenal of dusty studio toys, those sounds became warmer, richer and more prominent.
The influences evoked here may at first appear at odds with Greg's previous work, but an affinity between the dense poly-rhythms of Africa and beyond have long been an influence for contemporary composers such as STEVE REICH, and their reach and importance on western music is undeniable. But now the lines have been blurred, and its impossible to say where one “style” or influence stops and another begins – something that was perhaps the only concept for this record. The symphonic synth crescendo of “So it Goes” would not have the same impact if it were not following the head-nodding drive of “Something Happened”. The delicate arpeggios of “Wake Mania Without End II” only exaggerate the unrelenting, rhythmical explosion of “Habenero”, and without starting with the intimate piano of “The Intruder”, the album's cavernous ending wouldn't feel so otherworldly. Its all in there or at least whats left of it after the hiss, the dirt and the degradation of the tape machine destroyed it, reworked it, and spat it back out fullyformed.
Mixed and mastered together with NILS FRAHM at his Durton Studio, Berlin.
released May 24, 2013
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