Panopticon

by Andy Pickford

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about

Running time is around the 122min mark, not inc. all the additional material.

It was always going to be a tough call to follow the staggering success of Biosphere. Sales may indeed have exceeded my age at the time of writing; a dizzying achievement. Still, with all the income pouring in there was no time to spare as this next project was already underway.
Intended as a sort of blend of Biosphere and the styles of the Harmonics -> Pareidolia series, Panopticon comes out as a kind of hybrid cross between the two, as it would since that’s just what I said and then paraphrased. Ah, but why, I hear you ask? Well, I did really enjoy Biosphere from a musical consequences approach, so I wanted to follow that up. Buuuut… then I’d end up with a Biosphere 2 and possibly a 3 etc. Okay, but isn’t anybody just a tiny bit sick of sonic sequels by now? I mean, sure I’d love to have a series which ends in every number up to 20 or so, all done in the vein hope that they’ll sound something like the ones before them in that series and exert a psychological compulsion upon those who bought the others, to keep buying the rest. That way I’d eventually be able to afford a shopping trip to M&S Food. Such trickery I wash my hands of! Thus, Panopticon is a… yeah you already know, blend of this, that and the other. Pretty much everything was produced in the same way ie: an improvised spine would then be added to until either done or I end up buried under shit. I laid off many of the tempting excesses like with previous works, choosing instead to stay firmly on an electronic path rather than add too many whistles and bells. A nice upgrade to the Omnisphere softsynth allowed me to do a ton more sequencer/arpeggiator work, to a much more intricate level than I’ve done previously. I can also use the created midi data on my analogue monosynths to great effect. You *know* how much I love twiddly noodly plinky sequency stuff ;-)

Apparently, a Panopticon is a literary term which you can look up on Wikipedia. So it’s clever, mysterious sounding and bullshitty like all Electronica albums should be. Actually I do like the concept of a panopticon, especially in terms of the ways one ought to observe various beliefs and suchlike. But I’m not a complete bell-end who’s sold an arse-ton of albums enough to afford a posh car and strong opinions. There are really enough of those around and no matter how clever I sound, it’ll never be as clever as them.

PART 1

Starts with a nice intro, the idea for which I had by wanting to have a built-in link to the previous album Biosphere. So I grabbed the end of that album and imagined some dude walking away from it as if it were in its own room. The dude closes a door behind him then clearly makes the inherent mistake of lighting a joint and getting shit-faced on the spot. Could have been worse however, as this hit brings on some nice sounding duelling sequences which make you think “yeah f*ck it”… Okay, so you made it to the next room, which as if by magic has this crazy cool sequency stuff going on. How incredibly exciting. Well, it does get better and turns into a rather PF-esque piece which was both a lot of fun to make and done pretty fast all told. Those sequences are Omnisphere (sorry analogue peeps… but do not despair!), my mellotrons are mere samples and I shamelessly imitate guitar solos! But ya gotta give me credit for trying :-D 

On the subject of Omnisphere, I thought it pertinent to let ya know I do program the thing. Nobody releases sound libraries which sound like my style that much and when the number of available patches exceeds any practical means of trawling through them, it is in fact quicker to start with one of the basic waveforms and just program your own sounds. Plus the effects are amazing, so once you’ve sprayed a turd with enough scent it’s as sweet as any grape!

PART 2

Not ready to throw you into the depths of The Abyss quite yet, this is a fairly bouncy piece with a rather TD-like melody. Rhythmically it reminds me of pieces like Gardenia and Akira, having this somewhat slowed-down DnB feel. The origin of this piece was another improvised spine. That would been spread out among Behringers Model D and Neutron, Korg MS20 and Vermona Drm1mk3, with an Omnisphere guide line. ‘Course I lay on some more bullshit and prat around with it until it’s what you hear. Generally, as in this case, I’ve got a good idea how I’d like the end result to come out, although when improvising the initial spine, I really have no idea in which direction it’ll actually go. Shit does its own thing in my head :-D

PART 3
This is a wee little piece I wanted to weave around some of Ben Davidson’s (suspicious0bservers.org) words on what, rather frighteningly, might be awaiting my 81st birthday. No worries, as the blokes in my family tend to croak with arse cancer in their mid-70’s so hopefully the rest of you can handle it while I feed the worms. You’re welcome ;-)
And presuming that pop music keeps on getting steadily worse, by 2046 knowing all those toss-rags are going to be under at least 200ft of ice for a thousand years you can rest assured it’ll be doing whoever survives no cultural disservice. Besides, while the lucky few are up top learning how to hang out in igloos and live off frozen cadavers, who wants to be the jerk who says “I really miss the X-Factor” :-D


PART 4
Now that I’ve likely depressed you, you’re more in the frame of mind for this next piece! Now, you know those choir libraries where you type in some words and the choir sings bugger all like them? So I’ve used one of those and actually used some phrases it came already able to use. I’ve reasonably mastered the thing and have thrust a number of profanities upon you during its previous outings. Because, why not?! Nobody can understand the thing any way; it just sounds as if there’s a choir there. That’s about the score with these words too, so really don’t lose sleep trying to decipher them. However… I have used them woven around a rather haunting tune, in what turns out to be an evocative and mysterious sounding piece altogether. As before, the initial spine of the piece was improvised using the three analogues and the Vermona, before being pimped up like a tart’s boudoir. They sometimes let me out at weekends you know.

PART 5

This kinda carries on the sombre, chilled mood in a similar mysterious vein. I guess I must have been feeling all mysterious at the time. Yeah I think this one might be a bit spooky with the lights off, it has inherent spookiness , as does its composer I’m sure :-D

PART 6

Here we get altogether a lot more cheery. Nice major key, 6/8 time, reasonably traditional approach ie: it has a tune! Generally the stuff I have a lot of fun doing. Got a nice summery swing in its step, so it has!

PART 7

This one also chugs along a nice chilled mid tempo. Really quite a simple sounding approach in terms of melody on this. Pretty much all is centred around the rhythm and in general this is quite a satisfying piece on the ears and won’t do you much harm :-)

PART 8

Hmmm… chilled to near the temperature of Captain Scott’s balls this one. Yeah well y’see, the internet’s full of wee little instruments featuring pretty voices. It’s all red rag to a bull I’m afraid, so such things, once they fall into my hands, get noodled with. It’s actually a random integer mapped out along the range of the voices and just triggering them in whichever order it wants. I improvised the sequence, pads, ambience and Vermona mixing before, naturally, adding some turd polish, cos I’m like that!

PART 9

One of my old tunes from memory - must have had the chord sequence in mind for about 15yrs or so, never bothered doing it until now. I think, aside from the sequence you can hear doing triplets, the remainder of this piece’s underpin (seqs, drums, bass fx) was improvised. Wasn’t a tremendous amount to add barring for melody I don’t think. Again a lot of fun to do and didn’t take more than a day. Actually, a good many of the pieces I do these days are produced with speed in mind. I’m a stickler for not giving myself all day to work out lines and sounds. In fact if I don’t have it inside of the 2nd or 3rd go I’ll move onto another approach. It either works right away or it doesn’t work. Added to which, at nearly 54, I’ll be buggered if I can stand farting about with the same piece very long anyway!

PART 10

Part 10 is of course Part 10. It just is okay. No, I thought if I ended a set of works with what sounds like another Ibiza Chillout anthem, I think I’d rather go and snort cinnamon. No, it is my urge to avoid being too similar to myself, so you’ve got a nice upbeat, sequency piece to wake you up with.

Enjoy, All :-)

credits

released June 29, 2019

Key proponents (in no particular order):
Andy Pickford.
His synths.
His cat.
His other cat.
Kim.
Thatchers Haze.
Volcano.
The local foxes.
Owl mixed choir.
The hedgehogs under the shed.
The bastard pigeon.
Coffee.

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