Fifteen years ago I had just completed my masters’ degree, and was working a short term data entry job in a bank in Birmingham, England. My listless and directionless personal life contrasted absurdly with what I was beginning to see and hear via the household ADSL connection. The unbelievable devastation of 2004’s tsunami in the Indian Ocean, 2005’s hurricane Katrina, as well as catastrophes closer to home in the form of the London bombings, all became part of the apocalyptic media collage of that age. YouTube had just been launched, and although the first iPhone had not yet been released, the pre-smartphones of the era still produced enough grainy, blocky viewpoints of the world’s events to fuel the site’s growth. This crowdsourced media became part of daily news broadcasting, giving it an urgent and visceral dimension that was worlds away from the usual polished newsroom coverage. It was simultaneously disturbing and intoxicating.
On A Midsummer Nice Dream, I’d largely avoided the use of samples, preferring instead to focus on wringing the most out the soft synths I had to hand. But for Lemodie, I tried to incorporate more of these lo-fi sample sources into the music, mostly highly processed and combined, to try and obscure their origins. News reports, phone clips and public domain collections like the Prelinger Archives would all feature in one way or another.
I’d also just got my first hardware synthesiser, a Dave Smith Evolver, which I was multitracking for many of the synth elements across the album. Far richer and organic than the crystalline soft synths I’d been using, it was a welcome expansion of my sound palette. Recording parts to tape and reversing them, creasing and crumpling up the tape, also provided a more analogue depth to some of the tracks (e.g. ‘Oneirist’), with a sound floor you could almost crumble between your fingers. On the software side, I was making use of physical modelling plugins like Synful Orchestra, which offered uncanny-valley string sections that, which not exactly realistic, sounded far more articulate than the usual sampled offerings of the time (e.g. ‘111’, ‘Lifewish’). After hearing and using some chopped up ‘Soundies’ from the Prelinger Archives (e.g. the intro to ‘Vegas’), I’d try and recreate the tone of these using my own equipment and plugins (e.g. Bluebottles). Of course, I was still also relying heavily on mainstays from the ‘Midsummer’ era, like Stomper and Waldorf Attack for drums (‘Sosacharo’, ‘Anomie’ and ‘Open Top’), and Zeta 2 for just about everything else (still love the pads and piano in ‘111’ – both Zeta 2).
I hope you enjoy revisiting this album, or perhaps discovering it for the first time. It’s been wonderful to give it a redesign (thanks to Nathaniel Reeves), acknowledging the style of the original, as well being able to add a few extras from the same period.
Available on double ‘marbled garnet’ vinyl, including a lithographic print, via Bandcamp and selected indie retailers.