We mostly seem to consume music without context these days, which can be a positive, in that it affords us the ability to create our own contexts and string our own narratives around the sounds we choose to take in. However, when a lot of time and thought went into the creation of a record, it seems wasteful for all of that to remain in the artist's head. Sometimes, a release is complex enough that it's hard not to be curious about what was going through the creator's head.
Romanian producer Liar's Cybertime EP, released on Infinite Machine yesterday, is one such release, and we're pretty excited to have the opportunity to publish the deeper thoughts behind each track on this dark, highly-varied, harsh-but-seductive EP on EARMILK. You might recall a walkthrough of his Strange Love album here back in 2012, and Liar released a separate LP last year, Spirewards, on Symbols last fall.
With Cybertime, Liar continues explores novel sounds and themes, blending influences you might not believe work together until you listen to Cybertime. Read Liar's commentary as you listen below.
1. "Erumpo Ortus"
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The writing of this song followed an incredibly vivid dream in which night abruptly turned into day, with no sun in sight. We suddenly know, in the dream, collectively as a species, that an extinction-level event is upon us, and that’s it’s mystical in nature. As if guided by unseen hands, we band together, all across the planet. We dance, we stomp our feet, we clap, we drum, and we chant, our voices suddenly blessed with xenoglossy.
One voice is louder than the rest, that of an unseen diva. Her voice leads the choir, coiling and warping hypnotically, both pitch-wise and materially, as its sound waves envelop the world as if a flowing, aquatic membrane. As the worldwide chanting grows stronger, Elysian gardens erupt from the earth and puncture the sky, restoring the night and foiling the apocalypse. Hence the title, which is grammatically-incorrect-for-the-sake-of-phonetics Latin for “rising garden”.
Upon waking, I couldn’t help but be tickled by the profoundly religious subtext of the dream, which got me scouring several variations of the Bible for pertinent data, that I subsequently found in Job 17. I quickly Melodyne’d the “night into day” passage into the vocal flourish you hear throughout the track. Then, as I was thinking “grandeur”, I opted for the obvious and went with Don Davis-scoring-The Matrix, especially given the ever-present messianic symbolism in the trilogy. The cave rave scene in Reloaded came to mind, but I’d never felt the acid soundtrack to that moment was of enough gravitas, so I endeavored to re-score that scene (at least, for myself), and my dream along with it. The huge tribal drums I actually coaxed out of some very tiny and tinny drums from a Cure song.
The main vocal sample I’ll refrain from elaborating on for legal purposes. I forget where I got the soprano vox from, and I processed them so much I don’t think I would even recognize them upon hearing them in their original form again.
The rest is just a sturdy oldskool electro beat backbone.
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Obviously my favorite, given that it’s the title track. Started out as a remix for Pixelord’s upcoming “Videobar” that sort of just wrote itself, went out of hand, and by the end had very little to do with the original anymore.
Influence-wise, any seasoned listener can probably hear my fandom for the likes of Bok Bok, Surkin, Fatima Al Qadiri, et al in the DNA of this track.
The concept is amply expounded upon in the release notes for this record… no need to paraphrase that. Other than the vocal cuts, Pixelord’s drum hits, and the DJ Gunshot siren (which I’m infatuated with) – little to no samples in this one. Lots of analogue, lots of Korg M1. The sluggish grime bass, the neo-eski shit, the arp climax, the ambient jungle chord progression, the flanger clock at the end, the deceptive time signatures – when I listened to the finished track all the way through, the first time, at full blast, I felt like a sound pornographer rather than a producer/musician/whatever the fuck we’re called.
I’m gonna be chasing that feeling from now on, so this track is a good indicator of what people can expect from me in my future work (which, to me, given that I’ve completed two new EPs and a new album in the timespan between this record’s completion and release, is already my past work).
ツ Cybertime! ツ
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Don Davis-scoring-The Matrix influences again. Samples from the Ghost in the Shell soundtrack. This EP is just a super-obvious love letter to cyberpunk mainstays, innit? Really, a whole mess of samples and early influences went into this one. Devin Townsend. Enya. New jack swing vox.
That aside, the symphonic overture is an original composition. I slaved on the bass and drums for days. It never takes me longer than 8 hours to make a track, but when you’re trying to crossbreed Downliners Sekt beats, Noisia sound design and Amon Tobin found sound magic and get a Liar track, instead of some stillborn abomination, there’s a bit of trial and error.
I write shit all across the board, so for me this was a scholarly vacation, but I don’t get producers who exclusively make shit this dense. How do they not go mental?! So many bass patches, so many bounces, so much editing, so much fiddling, so much OCD, just to get everything moving as a single, congruous beast…
…Which was the whole point really, given the concept of the track – that of the Hekatonkheires, the hundred-handed giants that aided the Olympians in their titanic coup. The hundred-handed aspect struck me as quite an apt metaphor for the eclecticism I normally showcase throughout the entire body of my work, so I chose to try and showcase as much of it as possible in a single track.
It’s definitely an insane patchwork of track, especially in the context of today’s increasingly reductionist and pragmatist productions, but it works for me because all of it heaves and thrashes about as one. There’s a heaviness to this concentrated-fire-type approach to crafting a song, one that is used and abused in metal and in low-brow electronic music, but callously disregarded in what is generally deemed “high-brow”.
Alas, the track works for me, hope it works for everyone.
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So. Many. Samples. From. The. Fallout. Trilogy. Soundbanks. Some RiRi and some Art of Noise for good measure.
The foundation of the track is grime + genre-obsolete bass music as necromantically revived by cats such of Nguzunguzu, Total Freedom, Ynfynyt Scroll, Triple Six Sound Club, etc., spliced with my roots Venetian Snares' influences for good measure. And then I ride it into full-on ‘ardkore jungle because why the fuck not?
Conceptually this track was inspired by profound alienation in the wake of our current consignment, as a generation, to fucking computer screens. The working title was “Scorched Externet”, then I went with “MutaGen” on account of its brevity and wit. So… this is the closest thing to a “song with a message” that I will probably ever write.
Not that the song is going all geriatric on everyone and saying “go out more!” or some shit like that, I’m pretty much half-digital myself by now… But it was cathartic to musically explore the concept of an outside world that, in spite of the absence of any major cataclysmic event, nonetheless perishes when left in disrepair by a generation of mutants that have evolved a distaste for human proximity. And in this world (that is unfortunately increasingly less fictional), I’m seemingly the only one who can’t derive mental sustenance from exclusively-online connectivity.
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Quickest track of the lot. Samples from epic fantasy blockbusters, samples from Era’s “Ameno” (a track which is tattooed on the brain of any Romanian of my approximate age, given how much it was spammed here when it came out), a slowed-down footwork backbone, shameless trance elements… The concept started out focusing on the eponymous battle formation, but the rap cuts go “dick make of gold”… So, effortless, but crass (effortlessly crass?) double-entendre right there…
A cheesy, cheeky track that resulted out of a hearty, joyful session.
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Same endeavor as with “Hekatonkheir”. Getting a lot of moving parts to function as a single engine.
However, this one is more segmented, more 4/4, slower (obviously), a lot less action-oriented. Brimming with black metal samples and black metal feels alike. Gothic and proud.
This is a love song. A soppy, honest, desperately romantic finale to the record. And it’s not about anybody, not for anybody. I have no idea who I wrote this for. I doubt she even exists. This is getting emo.
Anyways, the Romanian lyrics go “it was raining infernally, and we were making love”, and it’s from a local ballad about love under the auspice of Mars. And that M1 piano line?
…I went full softie on this one.
- Infinite Machine
- May 12, 2014