In the Making Of section of the May issue of the German Groove magazine (#154), John elaborates on how he created After Below, the opening track on Trickfinger. The authors have been so kind to put the original, English version online and you can read it by clicking here. A sneak preview is below, with some commentary to those who might not remmember everything straight away.
Starting a recording with a pre-written song is an antiquated method of making a musical recording. Making music with no pre-written map is the new frontier technology has made possible, and I began my journey on this road with the Trickfinger LP. I have made records since that time with pre-written songs, but I nevertheless employed the work methods of modern electronic music, and found my way as I went along. That’s the kind of person I am. I don’t mind being lost, and I don’t mind having no degree of certainty where I am headed. I love exploration and investigation, and Trickfinger was when I began making music exclusively for these purposes. I would always begin with a simple element which required no ‘brilliant idea’, and move from machine to machine, until the track was ready to be performed and recorded.
To the best of my recollection, ‘After Below’ was programmed and recorded in one day. The instruments I used were: one stock 303, a 606, an 808, a 101, a 202, an ARP 2500 and an EMT 250 reverb. It was recorded through a 16 channel Mackie mixer, onto a Tascam CD RW-2000. There are other songs which took me as long as two weeks to make, such as ‘Sain’, where the Roland R8 drum part alone took me well over a week to program, but ‘After Below’ was me making it super easy on myself. I programmed a straight kick on a 606 drum machine, made the one bar 303 part which repeats throughout the whole track, made the main melody on some sequencer or other (probably a 202) playing the ARP 2500 heavily treated by the EMT, made a secondary melody on a 202, and made an 808 snare part which is kind of soloing over the whole thing. I also triggered a 101, set to a noise setting, with one of the 606s trig outs, and manipulated this sound throughout the recording. Sometimes it sounds like part of the kick drum, and at other times I opened up the filter so you just hear pure noise. There are no hi hats or cymbals of any kind in the track, but the noise does sometimes feel a little like a crash cymbal.
I rejoined my old band, and gradually started buying synths, samplers and drum machines. I soon discovered different kinds of house music, techno, jungle, and labels like Rephlex, Warp, React and XL. I also discovered electronic noise music and labels like Staubgold, Mille Plateaux and Mego.
Did you know that John was already featured on a Staubgold release? It was when a collaboration with Ekkehard Ehlers, titled Grissaise 1, found its place on a 2004 compilation Tempo Technik Teamwork
The magazine, containing the German version of the interview, can be purchased online. They deliver to all countries in the world, including North Korea and French portion of the Antarctica, other than two: Serbia and Montenegro, so we will have to rely on a little help from our friends to bring you scans of the physical version, or move to the South Pole in order to ensure proper delivery.
* Many thanks to Jon Speedy for the heads-up.