Elegant Manoeuvres


The first release on ARC's sister label ARC(ANE) came out in February 2000, was titled "Elegant Manoeuvres" and had the catalogue number ARCN01. All the tracks were at least 2 years old when released. It was distributed by Prime Distribution which had agreed to take on my labels following the dismal performance of Metropolis described in the previous post. By that time I'd had another release on the Chicago based High Octane label, which was arranged by DJ Rush who acted in a sort of A&R capacity for them.

The differences between ARC and ARC(ANE) were always quite subtle, but were probably most audible on this and the two subsequent "Elegant Manoeuvres" releases. They had more of a groove to them, I think, and were more house-influenced even if they didn't sound much like house.

The first track, "Passenger", is quite pacy at about 140 or 142bpm. It was recorded in late 1997, immediately after the track "Ambrosia" which was released some years later on ARCN07. It uses the same sample or synth loop as its main riff, but it's sequenced differently. Derrick May played it once at a Lost party in Vauxhall. At the end of the night I approached him to say thanks for playing it. He asked me which track I meant, and I mentioned the title. He said "I only have white labels". So I described the logo which would have been stamped on the copy I posted to the Transmat office in Detroit. He said "oh yeaaaah....I thought you brought the hi-hats in a bit late". Cheeky bastard. I told him it would make more sense if he played more of the track. "oooh, yeah!". Anyway, it was nice to hear him play the record, it certainly buffed my ego a bit. I once heard Kevin Saunderson play another of my tracks at a much later Lost party...and I didn't like the way he used it at all. In fact I rarely enjoyed the way other people played my records, but I was always interested to observe from the dancefloor how a crowd would react to the tracks. I doubt I'll ever hear the other member of the Belleville Three do the same but two out of three isn't bad.

I seem to remember having problems with the bass sound distorting in the next track, "Hunk". This track was recorded in January 1998. The sound that echoes throughout is, I think, a sampled TR-909 snare that was messed with and put through loads of effects. I've never played this track in a set or heard anyone else play it. It's not particularly exciting to me now, and not one of my favourites of all the tracks I released, but I'd be interested to hear it on a big system one day.

"Picnic Cut" was recorded in July 1998. The main riff was a sample from a track that Tommy Gillard and I made together in January 1996 called "Life's No Picnic" (that track can be downloaded here if anyone is interested). I used the dysfunctional time stretch function on the Roland S-760 to mash it up a bit and processed it through the sampler's rough sounding filter while messing with a few simple percussion sounds. I like this track a lot, it was always my favourite track on the record.

Recorded in late 1997, the title of the last track, "Break The Laws" came from the vocal sample used, although I don't think that's what's actually being said. Like "Hunk", I never played this track in a set. I like the chunky beat it has, the shuffled sampled closed hi-hat and the low synths that appear a couple of times. I'm less sure about the two sections where the sequence of the vocal sample changes.

All of these tracks were sequenced using the Alesis MMT-8.

Files are in 320kbps mp3 and lossless FLAC formats. Both are compressed from the same WAV files which in turn are taken from the original DAT recordings. I’m willing to provide WAV files to individuals who specifically request them and for whom FLAC isn’t sufficient. If requesting WAV files, please let me know which tracks you want.



See further comments on the label art concept and track titles here.

Please get in touch if you have any problems downloading, unzipping, or playing the files.

Joyrage



This is the first of a series of posts offering free digital versions of old ARCart releases, previously only available on vinyl, and in which I will waffle on a bit about the original releases.

“Joyrage”, the first ARCart release came out on ARC in May 1999. It was my third vinyl release, coming after “Watch As We Now Drift” on Meta, and “Beyond The Pale” on Kne’Deep. Those two previous releases helped provide some momentum and recognition from distributors. Not enough, though, for Prime Distribution, the main movers in the UK when the label was originally conceived and proposed.

I first set up distribution through a new London based organisation called Metropolis Distribution. They were, ummm…not very good. Nice guys, mostly, just useless at distributing records and even worse at paying labels for the few records they did manage to sell. Eventually they went out of business and I never did get paid what I was owed. It wasn’t enough to live on considering their poor sales performance but it would have bought a few very nice meals.

Before Metropolis collapsed I managed to get the unsold stock of this release sent to Prime, with whom I’d launched ARC(ANE) some months later. It sat in their warehouse for a while but when Prime offered up the bulk of the unsold stock of “Joyrage” (which was probably about 75% of what was pressed) they sold within a month.

The catalogue number differs slightly in format from all the other releases. ARC.MD.01 – this was partly down to a suggestion from Metropolis that I regret following, and possibly an error by the graphic designer, or by me, that compiled the artwork. It still irritates me for various reasons.

I’m still quite into the tracks on here. They’re all fairly simple affairs, especially on side A. I think that “Tinitus” (incorrect spelling, I know) was one of the first tracks I made after acquiring a compressor, hence the very low kick drum. The high pitched hissing sound is a sampled TR-808 snare playing forwards and then reversing on itself, filtered through the mixing desk with added delay. This was a possible contender when Oliver and I were reviewing tracks for the Meta release, but as it wasn’t used for that I put it out myself.

“White Lies” is as simple as it gets, just a relentless pounding loop, really, reminiscent of how it would often feel at 4am on the dancefloor at Lost during a punishing mid-90s Jeff Mills set (which was of course one of the major influences on all the techno we were making).

At this point in time my favourite track on the record is “Onslaught II”. I like the snare hit and the slightly woozy processed vocal samples that make up the main sounds of the track (all the non-percussive sounds are vocal samples). It’s the only track on the EP that has a hint of the slightly seasick wavering pitch effect which I later tried to inject into most of the music I made.

“21 Number 4”, titled in honour of my friend Tommy’s 21st birthday, also has a vocal sample stab throughout. This is layered with a filtered synth patch from the Roland JD800. The sequenced distorted percussive sound that fades up after a short while was programmed randomly using the Alesis MMT-8 sequencer, which is all I used to sequence tracks until later buying a Latronic Notron step sequencer.

As mentioned in the previous post, I’ve uploaded the files in 320kbps mp3 and lossless FLAC formats. Both are compressed from the same WAV files which in turn are taken from the original DAT recordings. I’m willing to provide WAV files to individuals who specifically request them and for whom FLAC isn’t sufficient. If requesting WAV files, please let me know which tracks you want.

download 320kbps mp3 version

download lossless FLAC version

ARCart website


See further comments on the label art concept and track titles here.

Please get in touch if you have any problems downloading, unzipping, or playing the files.


ARCart releases in digital format

Several years ago I updated a page on the ARCart website announcing that mp3 versions of all the ARC and ARC(ANE) releases would be made available. Some years later I removed that text as I realised I'd still not got round to fulfilling that promise and, like my vague ideas of ever making music again, might never actually get round to it. Well, at least on one of these points I've finally managed to make good on my word.

Over the coming weeks I'll be making available digital versions of every ARCart vinyl release. The intention at this stage is to make them available in two formats – 320kbps mp3 files, and FLAC files. Both are compressed from the same WAV files, which were created from the original digital recordings made on Digital Audio Tape and in some cases, CDr. The WAV files will also be available to anyone who really needs them but I won’t be putting them online in the same way. Those will be available on an individual track basis to people who specifically request those tracks from me.

The files will be posted in the order they were originally released. I expect I'll write a bit about each one as well, giving some background information as well as sharing my opinions on how I feel about them all these years later.

I don't know if anyone is really that interested at this stage, but it will at least serve the purpose of creating an archive that will sit alongside the bits of vinyl still floating around in various collections, bargain bins and landfill sites. And it will give me something to write about on this ever-sluggish blog.

Oh, and the files will be made available for free at this stage, although that's for personal use only. Anyone who happens to want to use any of it for commercial reasons should get in touch.