Sunday, December 16, 2012

“Diving rhythms, constant bliss, spacing out, reverb, and sunshine”


//orangenoise discuss their debut album, A Journey to the Heart of Matter

If you have an eclectic musical palette and haven’t heard of //orangenoise yet, then you need to rectify this oversight immediately. The psychedelic shoegazers - or chappalgazers, as they prefer - from Karachi made an impression on listeners with their appearance on Uth Records, and now their debut album, A Journey to the Heart of Matter, impressively displays their talent.

A Journey to the Heart of Matter is an experimental marriage of different genres. The most apt description of its sound, according to band member Daniel Arthur Panjwaneey, is “textured”. It exudes “driving rhythms, constant bliss, spacing out, reverb, and sunshine, all part of the formation of a new star,” says Talha Asim Wynne. Why were they drawn to this sound? “It was more like the sounds chose us,” he explains. “We only played whatever was coming to the heart and mind; it all ended up sounding like it should.” “Doing what you love is about having as much fun as you can,” adds Daniel, “and we enjoy what we’re doing. It wasn’t anything we made a decision on. Anyone who has been to some of our live shows may have experienced bits of jazzy somethings amongst some of the noise in the past too.”

The album’s cover is both artistic and very expressive once you delve a little deeper into the concept behind the imagery. “It is an image of the particle collision (white stuff) that takes place inside the Hadron Collider,” he explains, “which has been overlaid on some of my photography. We designed the album cover ourselves.”

The album art isn’t the only thing the band members did themselves; much of the recording process was also a home effort. “The album took about one year in the making,” tells Daniel. “Initially we had recorded the first demos in the summer of 2011 track by track, conformed to a metronome and put down basic structures. We kept fiddling around with the mixes, but it just didn’t seem to fit right. Earlier this year we finally figured out a proper setup and system to record the drums, guitars, and bass together live and without a metronome as one-takes; those takes ended up becoming the entire rhythm section, after which we overdubbed a layer of synth, vocals, and additional guitars, and then mixed and mastered all on a trusty, dusty laptop at home,” he says about Journey’s recording. “We finally agreed on a setup where we recorded a basic “juice” layer which consisted of the drums, bass, and guitars being recorded at the same time as a one take jam to keep the essence of our live sound alive,” Talha says. “This technique worked really well with us and we ended up recording the entire album like this. It was mostly done at home - everything, from recording to the final mastering.”

The album’s release was also independent, and the set was made available online as a ‘name your price’ download on the music platform Bandcamp, a strategy that many indie bands use to spread their music and reach a wider audience. “Being a band that isn’t signed to a label, we manage everything ourselves,” elucidates Daniel, “so in terms of the cheapest way to do this, digital is the way to go! Besides, music will always end up on the Internet and this is music that is meant to be shared. We do intend on and want to make a physical release of the album, and since this is, once again, something we’ll need to do on our own and need money for, it’s only going to be possible with support from people by coming to shows or donating towards the album online. It’s a ‘name your price’ release on Bandcamp, and you may also enter 0 to download it for free; we don’t mind either way! Share it with everyone!”

A Journey to the Heart of Matter comprises of 11 songs, each of which are special for the band. “They are all our babies,” says Talha. “These songs have made it so far and they’re out there now. I guess it’s because they all have a particular significance, each song in its own way.” The tracks that make up the album are shrouded in layers that take multiple listens to become apparent. The group cites ‘I Don’t Know’ as the most immediate song on the record as it “kind of lays down what you’re about to go experience with the rest of the album”, and they think ‘Hopeful Creatures’ is the most different and experimental piece on the set. “‘Hopeful Creatures is the last song we ended up composing for the album and a very late inclusion,” reveals Daniel. “The timing and progression was quite a workout. Also, three of us ended up singing on the track.” “It has a weird time signature switch,” elaborates Talha, “and we got Danial [Hyatt] to sing on it as well. It’s definitely something we haven’t done before.” ‘Hopeful Creatures’ was also the toughest to perfect for the band, “mostly because of the odd time signatures and shifts in key that occur during the track.” Conversely, the song ‘Children’ was the easiest to make, and it only needed one take to come together. “The second track, ‘Children’, was a track we hadn’t jammed out properly, but we had an idea of what it was going to be like as far as the structure was concerned,” continues Talha. “So when time came to jam it out, we just happened to get it right on the first take. That was a moment of relief and joy for the band, I feel.”

The one song on the album they most want everyone to listen to is ‘Clipped’. “It’s probably the easiest to hook you in and sing along to,” thinks Daniel. Talha agrees; “it has to be either ‘Clipped’ or ‘I Don’t Know’, because those two package the whole //orangenoise deal pretty well in one song. Also they might incite you to look further into the band’s sound.” But with a vibe so different, where does A Journey to the Heart of Matter stand in the current Pakistani music scene? “It’s a tiny speck on a great new generation of music coming out in the country (hopefully),” replies Daniel. “I guess [it stands] in the corner somewhere. You’ll obviously have to dig to find it; it’s nowhere near the surface,” says Talha.

So if you haven’t heard //orangenoise’s music yet, then now would be a good time to “dig”. Download their album - it’s easily available online - and, as per Daniel’s suggestion, “enjoy listening to it, repeatedly if you need to”. Better still, the band recommends you see them live. “Our live shows are better than the album,” professes Talha, “and I’d suggest fans of the album to definitely come out to our shows and discover other fantastic bands in the Karachi circuit and beyond.”

- By Sameen Amer

Instep, The News on Sunday - 16th December, 2012

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