I was asked by Michel Banabila to contribute a remix to Marilli Remixed, a collection of reworkings of tracks from his very first album, Marilli, released in 1983. I selected the fourth track on the first side of the LP.
The original was elegant, but had percussion throughout. I wanted the ambient quality more formalized, and the percussion a little more muted and arhythmic.
The full list of contributors to Marilli Remixed is: Andrés G. Jankowski, Andrew Lagowski, Arno Peeters, Bogumil Misala, Mike Kramer, Hanyo van Oosterom, Hero Wouters, Jos Smolders, Koos Derwort, Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek), Marc Weidenbaum, Martin Hoogeboom, Naoyuki Sasanami, Peter Van Cooten, Frans de Waard (QST), Radboud Mens, Roel Meelkop, Theo Calis, Wouter Veldhuis, and Lukasz Szalankiewicz. The full album is available for download at banabila.bandcamp.com.
Here are some notes on my remix. I’ll note in advance, they’re fairly technical, as a notebook entry on what went into this, and what I learned in the process.
I used the my modular synthesizer (mostly filters, and a little triggered live sampler), the software Audacity (to sequence it, and also for some effects), and my Monome (running the mlr patch in the software Max).
First I stretched a relatively percussion-less segment of the original track to get an ambient bed, yielding in the end something about 30 seconds long. I set it to run eight times in a row, overlapping to varying degrees at each repeat.
Then I extracted a small percussion loop from the original. I did a “live performance” of that percussion loop with the Monome (four simultaneous tracks: one straight through, two running tighter sub-loops against each other a little quieter, and one in reverse even quieter still, though it’s also the last bit to fade out of that sequence, so it has a little moment in the sun). The loop ran a little slower than the original, and I used a small Novation Launch Control to manage the relative volume of the four tracks within mlr.
And then I used my modular synthesizer to create variations on the ambient bed, which I layered in at various stages.
In the end I had eight tracks in Audacity:
The 1st and 3rd tracks are the eight sequential repeats of the ambient sound bed, each intersection overlapping to varying degrees.
The 2nd track is a filtered version of the ambient bed, which has a slow LFO on it (giving it a light Laurie Anderson””ish “ha ha ha” feel) and some echo. This was done on the modular using a filter (either the A-121 or the A-136 or the Z2040 — my notes are unclear — influenced by a digital LFO, the Hikari Sine, and then run through an Eko module).
The 4th is the “live performance” on the Monome of the percussion loop, running mlr. It has four tracks of the loop doing different things. I used a Novation Launch Control to balance the volume of those four tracks.
The 5th is a copy of the ambient sound bed, pitched lower for the full length of the loop. This gives it that deep vibe for the penultimate repeat of the ambient bed. In track 1 at that same stage the volume of the original ambient bed is a little quieter, to let the deep version sound even louder than it is, in relative terms.
The 6th track is a copy of the ambient bed but pitched higher, and I just use it for a very short moment, a final peak before the track fades out.
And the 7th and 8th are two different instances of the same tweak of the ambient bed, which I did in the modular using a Harvestman Polivoks. It’s a tingling, slightly irritating sound, a momentary breach in the ambience.
The whole idea is it opens with this expanse, and then goes to something a little tribal, and then returns to the expanse. I’ll be honest about my influences here. The ambient bed is striving toward Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon, and the rhythmic part has Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ in mind. The first appearance of the Polivoks “irritant” is then repeated toward the end to provide a sense of reflection on where the piece started, but in between is that percussion performance. The deep vibe in track 5 gives an orchestral sense of closure, and the peak in track 6 is little filigree, like the clouds breaking, before it all ends.
At least that’s where I ended up. It wasn’t where I started. When I started, it was all gonna be about this firecracker/rattle sound in the original, but in the end I went a totally different direction.