The Broken Divide: Fragments

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, Neffle, Obscurer, Pieces, The Broken Divide

I started writing what would eventually become The Broken Divide towards the latter half of 2013. This was coming off of the back of the release of Icarus (which was released in April 2013) and a couple of other production albums. For the first time in a long time, I was working with a completely blank slate. Being in a similar situation right now (although, as of writing, I’m currently working on another project which is keeping me very busy and sounds amazing), that particular feeling of starting fresh and working on something completely new is both incredibly exciting and daunting.

Generally speaking, when I’m working on a production album or doing some other kind of freelance work, I’ll be working to a very particular specification or purpose. That’s sort of the whole point. Over the past several years I’ve taught myself to be flexible in the face of stringent specifications, and nowadays I actually find having a place to start to be hugely beneficial. I’ve never experienced a creative block while working on a job, and I think having that initial direction is a huge part of why that’s the case.

This was definitely not the case with The Broken Divide.

In a strangely similar fashion to Pieces, a lot of the writing process for The Broken Divide was fragmented into clusters of tracks. Over the course of writing the album, I stuck to the same general source of inspiration (which I detailed in a previous post) that drove me to write the title track way back in 2013, but it was a tough process.

When the ideas were coming, it felt completely natural to want to express these ideas and emotions. It’s also worth bearing in mind that I was working on a lot of other audio-related stuff during the creation of The Broken Divide… I knew I wasn’t tied to a particular deadline, so I wanted to let it all happen naturally. I experimented a lot with different ideas during the creation of the album, which is why I ended up with releases like Pieces and Obscurer. It was a real reminder of why I enjoyed releasing music independently so much – when you’re working with audio for a living, there’s a wonderful sense of freedom in having a completely open creative outlet.

When the ideas weren’t coming, it was frustrating. I knew I was onto something that I wanted to release and put my name on, and after writing what I would consider to be the second “cluster” of tracks, it was particularly frustrating because I knew for sure that, with what I’d already hit, there was at least an album’s worth of further exploration in the source material. The clusters were almost forming their own narratives, and that was something that really excited me.

Having a clear idea of what you want to do and knowing that you’ll get there eventually is fantastic from the point of view of having something to strive toward, but it’s creatively frustrating in the sense that you just want it all to be out there. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely adore the creative process of writing music. I love it to bits, and when I’m really into it… I’m really, really, really into it. That’s why I do it! But there’s something incredibly satisfying about getting these ideas out, taking a step back and realising “yeah, that’s exactly what I wanted – and I made that”.

After completing this second “cluster” (which was around mid-late 2014 or so), things slowed down

This was nearly a thing.
This was nearly a thing.

for The Broken Divide. I did some more production work, was busy with sound design work, released Pieces, worked on the Neffle material… it was a fantastic time creatively, but during this break from The Broken Divide I started to doubt whether I would be able to complete it as an album. I started thinking about alternative release methods and, towards the end of 2014, gave serious consideration to releasing what I had as a series of EPs.

“So why didn’t you, then?”, you may be wondering. Well… for the past few years, I had an annual tradition of writing a load of music in October. I called these sessions “October Sessions” – original name, right? The idea was to write a load of sketches, and just see where it took me. It’s how I got started with Pieces, and in 2014 I had another really good burst of creativity during October. I started experimenting with the idea of mixing some of the ideas from these sessions into what I already had for The Broken Divide, and I liked the results… initially. I even sent this weird mish-mash of an album to a few people and said “hey guys, this is my album!”.

After a couple of months had passed and the new year had settled in, I realised this was a terrible idea. I love what I already had for The Broken Divide, and I loved what I already had for my October Sessions – but the two were not supposed to completely co-mingle, and it was tonally jarring to listen to it like that. But! It made me realise that I knew for sure that I could finish The Broken Divide, and that the parts that worked as an album worked really, really well for me from the point of view of continuity and narrative. It just needed one final push. Knowing that I wasn’t in a rush to release it, I made the decision to hang onto it until it was a complete album. As far as I’m concerned, that was a good idea. As a whole album, there was a really solid sense of coherence and progression that would have been missing from a series of EPs. That said, I still like the idea of releasing EPs while working on an album – I’m glad I held off this time around, but next time around it might be cool to release a series of EPs in advance of an album… as it transpires, albums take a really bloody long time to write!

In any case – the final push came in 2015. I ended up with a mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks during this final push, and once I slotted those into the existing collection of tracks it just brought everything together in a ridiculously satisfying way. I started sending out this pre-mastered version to a few friends, and I knew this was it. At the end of the year, I set myself a release date that would give me plenty of time to get things finalised – after all, I still needed to sort out mastering, artwork, bonus materials…

The Broken Divide is available NOW through Bandcamp. You can listen to it in its entirety and download it from my Bandcamp page. Bandcamp subscribers also get access to an exclusive audiophile master, along with bonus tracks and instrumentals.

Live stream tonight, new Neffle, and new subscriber goodies!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Apparitions, Collaboration, General, Music, Neffle, Reason, Subscribers, Tom Pritchard, Traces, Tutorials

Hey all, just figured I’d post a quick update here to let you know that I’ll be doing a live-stream TONIGHT (17th Feb) at 7pm GMT over on Twitch. My plan is to write a quick & rough song, so come on over and feel free to pester me in the chat while I’m making some noise 🙂

Watch live video from adfielding on www.twitch.tv

Also, there’s another Bandcamp subscriber-exclusive goodie out there – ApparitionsApparitions is a series of abstract ambient sketches written during January this year, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Always nice to start the year off in a productive manner, I feel! You can listen to a few tracks from Apparitions here:

If you like what you hear, feel free to susbcribe to my Bandcamp page. There are currently TWO releases (Apparitions and Traces) available exclusively to subscribers, with more to come later in the year.

….aaaaaaand there’s a new Neffle release, called Assistance which is available to download RIGHT NOW. Neffle, as you may or may not know, is my ongoing hardware jam-collaborative project with Tom Pritchard, and we’ve been sitting on this one for a little while now. After much deliberation, we finally agreed to release Assistance in its current form. I hope some of you enjoy it!

Hopefully I’ll see some of you over on Twitch later on. Should be fun!

Obscurer: From Play-Time To Album

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in General, Music, Neffle, Obscurer, Tom Pritchard

In the first half of 2014, I decided to pick up a few hardware toys to play around with. My original intention was to give myself a bit of a playground of sorts to mess about with when I didn’t fancy staring at a screen which, given the nature of my work, can get a little bit tiresome. I already owned a Korg Monotribe and had recorded some solo hardware jams over the past couple of years (albeit using software for drums – primarily MicroTonic), and decided to expand upon that a bit. I had no intention to ever release any of the material I wrote using this “playground”, and it was strictly a means to give myself somewhere to have a break from other projects while still remaining creative in some capacity. In that regard, it’s similar to what I had done previously with AdFi, but I wanted to make myself less dependent on software… not because I consider one to be “better” than the other, but because I appreciate having the choice and variety that the vastly different workflow of hardware presents.

Around the same time I was still putting together Pieces – my AdFi project had been on hold for about half a year (and wouldn’t see a public release until the end of 2014), and I was busying myself with various sound design and production work. I was having a lot of fun with my minimal setup, and while the results were a far cry from what I would eventually release as Obscurer , I think some of the tunes had a certain charm to them, and there was no software involved in their creation – which is what I was going for.

Shortly after I’d started messing about with hardware, my good friend and long-time collaborator Tom Pritchard suggested that we get together and spend a week or so writing hardware-centric music. Neither one of us had any idea how it was going to turn out nor, while we share a lot of similar tastes and ideas, did we have any initial plans to release our hardware experimentation. We’ve had live hardware jams in the past (something I can highly recommend with two people – it’s a lot of fun), but we’d never dedicated such a prolonged block of time to focussing on nothing but song-writing live with hardware synths & drum machines. It was a great idea, and it was an amazing experiment… I’m still kind of amazed we actually got anything done, to be honest! A little slicing and dicing and tweaking later, and we ended up with two albums which we released as Neffle. I was thrilled with how it all turned out – it was honest, spontaneous, and hypnotic.

That got me thinking… Neffle seemed to me to stand in stark contrast to my own hardware experiments – it sounded so much fuller and complete, and that’s something I wanted to try for myself. Obviously I wouldn’t be able to record similar material live by myself, so I decided to start sequencing my hardware using software. At the time it felt like a bit of a strange compromise, but I loved the results almost straight away. Again, I had no intention of releasing any of this material.

I started sequencing synth & drum parts which I would then record individually live. Sometimes I’d record more than one part at a time, sometimes I’d stick to recording everything track-by-track to give me a little breathing room for tweaking later on. I still wanted to keep everything going through the same mixer with the same minimal selection of effects, so I tended to record as much as possible as one pass, and then overlay that with anything I couldn’t record at the time – for example, I’d use the same synths for multiple parts, so I’d have to record those separately… well, it was either that or buy more synths, and that seemed a bit akin to breaking a walnut with a sledgehammer.

I started setting time aside every week to record one or two ideas, and not tweaking them too much. Some of the ideas worked. Some of them didn’t. By December, I’d ended up with a pretty healthy selection of tracks to compile into one collection. It was only when I put them all together that I started thinking “you know, I’m really happy with how this turned out”. Despite being written and recorded in a rather sporadic fashion, by sticking to a very particular palette and not modifying my setup during the six months or so I was recording ideas I ended up with a surprisingly coherent collection of ideas. Needless to say, I was pretty thrilled!

Even so, I was still wary about releasing another album so soon after Pieces and, to a lesser extent, AdFi… which in itself is quite interesting, as both of those albums started out as projects that I had no intention of releasing. In early 2015, after much consideration, and in the cold light of the New Year, I decided that now would be the perfect time to release the album. I mentioned my vague intentions again to Tom who, ever the talented bastard, put together a cover art idea for the release. And that was it, the final push – the music was ready, I was happy with the aesthetic, and the cover art was ready to go. How could I not release it?

“Obscurer” – an album of hardware electronic compositions to be released on 28th February

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Music, Neffle, Obscurer, Tom Pritchard

“Obscurer” is an instrumental album by UK-based electronic musician Adam Fielding, written and recorded in 2014 and released in February 2015.

In a departure from his more densely layered approach to production, “Obscurer” was largely produced using a modest selection of live recorded analog synthesisers & drum machines. This stripped back approach to production results in a deeply atmospheric listen wrapped around an intensely emotive core, reminiscent of Fielding’s earlier works.

From the deeply comforting embrace of “Safety” through to the dark playfulness of the title track itself, “Obscurer” is an album that revels in reflection and introspection.

On the 28th February, I will be releasing an album of instrumental hardware-centric music called Obscurer. In all honesty, I had originally planned to release it a little later in the year but, hey, it’s finished, and I think it complements the current climate here in the UK rather nicely. As has become standard for my album releases, it will be PWYW upon release, but you can pre-order it for £1 or more right now and get the first two tracks right away.

This is an interesting counter-point to another project I’m currently working on, which is a much more vocal-oriented album which I’m hoping to have completed later this year. After spending some time with Tom Pritchard last year working on our Neffle material, I was really inspired to try something more hardware-oriented for myself, but I didn’t want to burn myself out on it. If anything, I wanted to keep it as a completely separate project that I could escape into when I needed a break from my more densely-layered works. As such, I spent about 6 months sporadically writing music of varying quality, and this album is comprised of what I consider to be the best picks of the lot. It was incredibly interesting to work with such a different set-up than the one I’m used to – I tend to work primarily in software when it comes to production, so working primarily with analog instruments was an interesting experience. I hope to elaborate a little more later in the month with regards to the ideas and writing process behind the album itself.

It’s a bit of a departure from my usual output, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out as a complete body of work.

You can check out the first two tracks from Obscurer and pre-order it from Bandcamp.

http://adamfielding.bandcamp.com/album/obscurer

Neffle

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Collaboration, Music, Neffle, Tom Pritchard

Neffle is a collaborative project created by Adam Fielding and Tom Pritchard. Neffle was recorded in a series of jam sessions, using an array of step sequenced analogue synthesisers and drum machines.

Earlier this year, me and my good friend/partner in crime Tom Pritchard decided it’d be an excellent idea to hole ourselves up in his studio for a week, and record as much music as was humanly possible. We had no idea whether this idea would work or not, but we set to it regardless and isolated ourselves from the outside world. After an incredibly inspiring week of recording using a variety of analogue synths, drum machines, and effects, we ended up with a huge selection of music.

The original plan was to compile our favourite material into one album, or potentially an album and an EP. After sifting through the vast selection of recordings we decided that the best thing to do would be to compile our music as two full-length albums, each with a different feel to it. So that’s what we did.

It gives me great pleasure to present the fruits of our week-long collaboration/social isolation/sometimes co-op Halo sesh: Neffle!

While being very different to my usual output, Neffle represents a very particular moodset and, aided by the spontaneity of recording, is a remarkably honest collection of music. Due to the nature of the live recording process, there is no micro-editing, no obsessing over every minuscule detail, no ridiculous production wankery: just a selection of steadily evolving, hypnotic ideas put to disk. We decided an October release would be best due to the heavily autumnal feel of the album, and I’ve got to say… I think it suits the current climate incredibly well. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

The artwork for both releases was very kindly provided by Charlotte Davis, whose photography is well worth a closer look. Cheers Charlotte!

You can download both Neffle releases via Bandcamp.