In Waves: The Recording And Production Of “In Waves”

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Geekery, Music, Neffle, Tom Pritchard

In a similar fashion to The Third Space, In Waves began with us both attempting to figure out exactly what sort of mood and tone we wanted to go for with the album. Both myself and Tom settled on a somewhat lighter mood as a counterpoint to the more bleak sound found on The Third Space and, through a series of personal references, we both had a solid aesthetic in mind when it came to actually writing material. It certainly helped that we both share a lot of the same inspirations and influences.

I pencilled in a chunk of time at the end of March/start of April 2019 to spend some time with Tom to actually record the album. Prior to the actual recording sessions, we both started working on a series of loops and ideas to really nail the aesthetic and to get some ideas going. This essentially took the form of Tom putting together a series of reasonably fleshed-out loops using an Elektron Octatrack which he then sent over to me, whereupon I embellished them with my collection of Korg Volcas to round them out and get some sequences ready to roll. After sending several ideas back-and-forth in this fashion, we ended up with eight ideas ready to record – a pretty solid starting point, even if we would eventually drop some of these ideas from the album.

We also decided that, in a first for a Neffle release, we would track the album as a series of multi-track takes – not a revolutionary approach, all things considered, but a change to our usual flat-mix-per-take approach from previous albums. Although this previous approach had been somewhat beneficial from a creative standpoint, it was far more restrictive in terms of what we could change after a single take was recorded; while it’s somewhat freeing to know that, once a take is recorded, you can’t continue to tweak it endlessly after-the-fact, this typically resulted in us spending more time during the recording sessions getting the mix balanced correctly and recording multiple takes. Recording multi-track takes meant that we could separate the mixing process from the recording sessions, and it also meant that minor edits could be made after-the-fact.

As a result of this preparation, as well as the separation of recording & mixing processes, the main bulk of the recording took place over three days. We decided that I would take on mixing duties for the album after recording was wrapped up, though we ended up putting together a series of rough reference mixes along with extensive notes to make that process smoother.

In terms of the performance set-up, we took a similar approach to prior Neffle albums whereby each of us was responsible for a pre-determined selection of devices.

Tom was primarily using the aforementioned Octatrack, which – thanks to its focus on performance and excellent time-stretching capabilities – allowed for a plethora of performance and sample manipulation options: the crossfader functionality in particular proved to be extremely useful, as it allowed for dynamic performance changes during recording without sounding too jarring or out-of-place. The ability to time-stretch elements while preserving transients was also invaluable to the album, and imparts a particular character throughout In Waves that I’m particularly fond of. The Octatrack output consisted of two channels (main stereo output & cue stereo out) which were both fed into stereo inputs on the mixer – one of these channels would typically consist of drums, and the other would typically consist of more melodic elements.

A bit of NeffleStation ’19

I was using a series of Volcas – namely the FM/Keys/Bass, all of which had been pre-loaded with a series of sequences prepared beforehand. The FM was also pre-loaded with a custom bank of patches; rather than programming the patches from scratch on the Volca FM itself, I decided to use Dexed to export a series of patches to the Volca FM via Sysex transfer. Although patches would sometimes sound rather different on the FM, this gave me a solid starting point from which to further tweak the sounds on the synth itself. I had also brought an Alesis Nanoverb 2 with me which I had fully intended to use, but – alas – I’m an idiot and didn’t bring the correct power supply to use with it. Derp. In lieu of this, I ended up using a BOSS RE-20 as an insert on various Volca devices throughout (as an aside: I ended up using the Nanoverb 2 all over my Bandcamp subscriber album Liminal last year, and you can hear it in action here).

Everything was recorded using a Zoom LiveTrak 12. This mixer also operates as a multi-track recorder and USB audio interface, and allowed us to record individual multi-track takes and reference mixes with minimal fuss. Tom’s Octatrack was routed to the two stereo inputs on the L-12, and I was typically using between one-to-three mono channels for my parts. The L-12 also features a series of in-built effects, EQ, and compression. The multi-track recordings were recorded pre-EQ & effects processing, which meant that these would not affect the multi-track recordings – perfect for creating reference mixes without baking anything permanently into the multi-tracks. On-board compression was used sparingly as this was baked into to the multi-track recordings.

Thanks to this workflow, we would typically get a rough mix going before recording anything. All of the tracks were recorded live, with each track typically consisting of one or two takes. Once a take was recorded, we would take some time out to listen back and tweak the mix for reference purposes while taking notes. Once we had something we were happy with, we’d record a reference mix with any required tweaks and move onto the next track. For the most part, these reference mixes were pretty rough around the edges, but were more than adequate for the purposes of providing a frame of reference for the actual mixing process. Thanks to this workflow, we were able to maintain a decent sense of spontaneity in the recordings while allowing us a greater deal of flexibility further down the line.

The first day of recording took a while to really get going. The first track on In Waves, “The Shimmer”, was the first track we recorded, and it was the only one of the three or so recorded during the first day to end up on the final album. Having listened back to the other two tracks, I actually like them a lot more than I remembered… but leaving them off of the album was the right call.

The first session served as a bit of a learning experience and a means to familiarise ourselves with the recording setup, and over the course of the next couple of days things progressed smoothly. We hit our stride on the second day, and once we had finished recording our pre-existing ideas we decided to sequence and record two more tracks from scratch. These two tracks would become “Phantom Channels” and “Lands Known”.

It was around this point that we started thinking about where to take the rest of In Waves. What we had so far was eight tracks that flowed satisfyingly, and we started to think about how we were going to order the tracks and what else we could do with it. After listening to the reference mixes a whole bunch we decided that, actually, the order in which we’d recorded the tracks provided a satisfying pace to the album, and because it was recorded in a short space of time it all sat well together.

After recording two short vignettes (“Under The Red Sun” and “Sleeping Machines”), we decided that we had the makings of an album. Our intention was to record a few more ideas and swap tracks in-and-out of the album as we saw fit but, after some thought, we decided that we were happy with the feel, progression, and tone of the album we already had. In total we ended up recording fourteen tracks, four of which ended up on the cutting room floor. With a running time of just over 40 minutes, we both decided that the recording of In Waves was complete.

From out-of-the-box to in-the-box…

After a bit of a break (during which time we ended up playing an awful lot of Halo and recorded some cool unrelated stuff) I returned home to sunny Huddersfield and started cracking on with mixing the album. As mentioned previously, Tom’s Octatrack recordings were typically split across two stereo channels, with my parts occupying between one to three mono channels. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot to work with, but this allowed for considerably more breathing room than prior Neffle releases!

In contrast to the recording process, mixing was a strictly in-the-box affair and took place entirely within Reason – which should come as no big shock to anyone familiar with how I generally work! One thing I was keen to do when mixing the album was to maintain a natural, rounded feel to it – I tend to take more of a subtractive approach to mixing generally, so I was careful not to make any unnecessary boosts throughout the album unless it was absolutely necessary. The first track I mixed was “Distant Flame”, as I felt with its vast sense of space and deep bass that it would serve as a perfect blueprint for the rest of the album.

The first thing I decided to do was to set up three aux send effects to roughly correspond with what we were using on the reference mixes – these consisted of a Uhbik-A plate-type reverb, a DR-1 space-y reverb, and an instance of Valhalla Delay. I ended up using this as a bit of a template for the rest of the album. Using these three aux sends across the album and across both the Octatrack and Volca channels helped to lend a sense of coherence that was somewhat lacking on the reference mixes. Additionally, although the L-12s effects are perfectly solid, the jump in quality afforded by these effects alone helped to give the album more of a polished sound.

For the most part, I was using the LP/HP filters on Reason’s mixer to scoop out any unnecessary frequencies on individual channels – this is something I tend to do quite frequently, and the built in channel filters are something that I always miss when I’m using a mixer in another DAW. It’s a quick and easy way to sculpt a mix before getting a little more into it, whether that’s via the mixer’s further built-in effects or (my preferred approach) via additional rack effects.

A few regulars during the mixing stage

A little trick I used across the album to smooth out some of the drum tracks while giving them a little bit of punch was to use Kilohearts’s Disperser, which was super useful in this regard. On “Distant Flame” I ended up using Disperser around 60hz to round out the kick a little in the lows while also helping it to pop a little more in the mix. Due to the nature of Disperser, this did not affect the amplitude of the kick – which was pretty damn useful, it must be said!

Additionally, on a lot of the drum channels I ended up applying a very light limiter to tame some of the more errant transients. I figured this would give me a bit of extra headroom without compromising the rest of the mix, and I was careful to make sure I didn’t go in too heavy with it – the last thing I wanted to do was completely squash the drums, but some of the snappier drums on the album needed a bit of taming. For the most part I ended up using Newfangled Audio’s Elevate limiter for this purpose.

I ended up using the DR-1 reverb as an insert across certain parts of the album to help smear some of the more spacey elements, such as a few of the Volca Keys lines. Although I tend to prefer not to rely too heavily on stereo widening plug-ins, I did end up using NUGEN Audio’s Stereoizer Elements to widen a couple of channels here and there as well. All of the mixes were checked for mono compatibility and, thanks to not applying said widening to the entire mix, this was maintained.

One thing I wanted to maintain across the album was a solid low-end presence without the necessity of a sub-woofer – there’s a fair amount going on in the lows throughout the album, but in a couple of places I felt as though the deeper bass parts were getting a bit lost without the presence of a sub-woofer. In these instances I ended up creating a parallel channel for the offending bass part and processing it with some sort of saturation, just to give it a little bit of a crispy touch while rolling off the lows. What this means is that you still have the satisfying subby lows that were present initially while adding a little bit of presence higher up in the spectrum. I was careful to use this effect sparingly, but it helped to give the bass a bit more presence on certain tracks.

On top of being able to help the tracks gel a little better with one another, mixing in Reason also allowed me to add a bit more variety here and there without compromising the original performances. The most obvious example of this is toward the end of “Phantom Channels”, during which I ended up using a DC-2 chorus on the Volca Keys channel to give a bit more of a sense of depth and variety as the track progresses. Another good example is on the title track when the drums drop out, giving rise to a DR-1 focussed filtered reverb insert before everything launches back in again.

I ended up applying a very (very!) light amount of master bus compression on the tracks, just to help glue them together a tad. For this I ended up using Reason’s built-in master bus compressor, which is always a very handy thing to have. If you don’t happen to use Reason, the Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor is a pretty solid alternative.

By the end of this process (and much back-and-forwarding of mix revisions and feedback between Tom and myself) I ended up with a pre-mastered version of the album that we were both happy with. Due to having a pretty good idea of what I wanted from the album in general, the mastering stage was incredibly straight-forward. I ended up mastering the album in Studio One which, thanks to its marvellous project view, is perfect for mastering whole projects.

My “mastering” chain (I feel like a bit of a fraud referring to it as a mastering chain, to be fair) consisted of a bit of EQ and a limiter. And… that’s it. Both myself and Tom had decided that we were keen to master the album with a view to preserving the dynamics as much as possible, so I ended up using a pretty light touch at this point. Due to some forethought during the mix-stage, there was plenty of headroom to play around with and very little need for any heavy-handed processing – just the way I like it.

So, that’s a brief overview of the recording & production process of In Waves! We’re both incredibly happy with how it turned out and, much like The Third Space, really scratched a very particular creative musical itch for both of us. If you have any particular questions about the recording, mixing, or mastering of In Waves then please feel free to get in touch and we’d be happy to explain in a little more detail. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the album and we’d love to know what you think of it!

In Waves is available to pre-order now – pre-orders will gain immediate access to two tracks from the album. In Waves will be available to download in the format of your choice as a pay-what-you-want release on the 17th May via the Neffle Bandcamp page, and will also be available to stream & download from a wide variety of digital distribution outlets.

In Waves: What Is Neffle? (Guest post by Tom Pritchard)

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Geekery, Music, Neffle, Tom Pritchard

What is Neffle? In a nutshell, Neffle is a collaborative project created by myself (Tom Pritchard) and my good friend Adam Fielding. We met on the now defunct Propellerhead forums, way back in 2003, and got to know each other through our shared love of electronic music. Over the years we’d collaborate sporadically on the odd track here and there, typically exchanging Reason files back and forth, working remotely.

Neffle’s humble acid-jam beginnings

One weekend in 2011, Adam happened to be visiting shortly after I’d acquired a pair of Korg Monotribes. If you’re unfamiliar with the Monotribe, it’s a small analogue groovebox that’s great for making squelchy acid techno sounds – a particularly hands-on machine that’s perfect for spontaneous jams. Working together with the Monotribes and an MFB-503 drum machine, we spent a solid afternoon banging out tunes for a laugh (one of which, Cellphone Acid, is included as a secret bonus track with the download of Brain Tub). It was great fun to work together in the studio, so we decided to do the same thing again the next year, and in 2012 recorded a mix on to cassette (MONO Side B, another secret track, this time hidden on the download for Futility Son). These recordings have a certain charm, despite their crude quality, and so we figured perhaps it was time to embark upon a more concerted effort.

The first two albums, Brain Tub & Futility Son, were recorded back to back in a week-long recording session in June 2014. We’d start with a simple idea, maybe a bass line or a drum rhythm, and build on to it bit by bit, arranging the parts on the fly as we recorded. Despite working amidst the mild warmth of the English Summer, these tracks took on a decidedly bleak tone, filled with brooding keys and cavernous reverb, in part owing to the constraints of the equipment we were using, a limited palette of small desktop synths and drum machines. Given the Wintery vibe, we released these tracks in October that year – and so Neffle was born! We returned to these ideas again in the second half of 2015, recording late into the night to produce a set of nocturnal, ambient techno tracks, released as Assistance in early 2016. The Soul Anatomy EP followed later that year, an eerie beast with a deeply sinister tone.

Unfortunately, the Soul Anatomy sessions made for challenging recording: despite our best intentions, it felt as though none of the material we worked on would sit well together. The result is an EP with a distinctly loose, improvisational sound, to put it lightly. When it came to recording The Third Space, we took a different approach, working on material separately before coming together to flesh it out – a method that allowed us to work greater structure and depth into the music without losing the spontaneity of recording in jam sessions. The Third Space felt like a significant step forward for Neffle, an evocative lofi exploration of haunting, melancholy spaces. In the space of six years, our work had grown from sporadic improvised recordings into a coherent project with vivid intention.

Building on the foundations laid for The Third Space, we approached our 2019 recording sessions with an intense focus, resulting in an album that is considerably more refined and detailed than our prior efforts. After five releases of spartan, melancholy music, it felt like the right time to change things up a little. In Waves maintains the enveloping textures that characterise our previous work, but shifts the tone to a warm, psychedelic sound, with rich instrumentation and natural recordings layered in dense soundscapes. If The Third Space sounds like abandoned places and swirling fog, In Waves is the sound of warm evenings and fading sun, that ethereal, liminal atmosphere between light and darkness.

In Waves is available to pre-order now – pre-orders will gain immediate access to two tracks from the album. In Waves will be available to download in the format of your choice as a pay-what-you-want release on the 17th May via the Neffle Bandcamp page, and will also be available to stream & download from a wide variety of digital distribution outlets.

“In Waves” – the new Neffle album, out 17th May

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Music, Neffle, Tom Pritchard, Uncategorized

In Waves is a hypnotic journey through psychedelic soundscapes. Following on from the crusty, decidedly lo-fi sounds of The Third Space, we decided to pursue a similar vibe, but with a lighter mood and a more refined sound. The result is a downtempo trip, perfect for late night listening. In Waves maintains the spontaneity typical of Neffle tunes, but brings with it a little polish, tighter focus and an expansive, enveloping atmosphere.

Neffle is a long-running collaborative project started in 2014 by myself and Tom Pritchard. In Waves is the latest album to be released under the Neffle moniker, and is an album that we’re both proud to be releasing on the 17th May via Bandcamp and most other major streaming & digital services.

In the meantime, you can pre-order In Waves from Bandcamp – although the album will be available as a pay-what-you-want release from the 17th, pre-orders will gain immediate access to two tracks from the album (“Distant Flame” and “In Waves”, both of which can be played via the player above).

In a first for a Neffle release, both myself and Tom will be talking about all things Neffle via a series of posts coming shortly. We took a rather different approach to producing this particular album when compared to prior Neffle releases, so we figured this would be an excellent opportunity to talk about what exactly Neffle is, and how the album was put together – among other things.

In Waves is available to pre-order now – pre-orders will gain immediate access to two tracks from the album. In Waves will be available to download in the format of your choice as a pay-what-you-want release on the 17th May via the Neffle Bandcamp page, and will also be available to stream & download from a wide variety of digital distribution outlets.

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.