Aware: Pangaea

"...bursts of nervous or excited tension"
Pangaea

When is an album not an album? When it's a double pack, presumably.

Part of the triptych behind Hessle Audio, Pangaea recently confirmed plans for his lengthiest statement to date. 'Release' contains eight tracks, with the producer clearly aiming to create a statement of intent. Split across 2 x 12 inches, though, that statement is defiantly non-album shaped.

Moving from heavy, slow-slung garage to brittle techno, avant electronics and more this is the producer's broadest effort yet, one that finds Pangaea simultaneously exploring experimental and dancefloor veins. Clash sent across a quick burst of questions to the producer in an attempt to get to bottom of 'Release'.

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Why is this a double EP and not an album? 
It just felt right to me, because I didn’t think the tracks had the level of cohesiveness that I’d want a debut album to have. For that, I’d want to approach it differently and have a stronger theme running throughout it

This is one of your largest statements to date, did you feel under pressure to deliver something substantial?
I guess I knew after the ‘Hex’ 12” that I wanted to do a bigger project in the same vein as the EP I released back in 2010. It’s only when you get into the thick of it and the weeks start flying by that you realise just how much work there is in order to make it good enough. Along with DJ’ing and another part time job I have it took a little longer than anticipated, so the pressure I felt was mainly just to get it completed. It’s great to have it done though and I’m happy with it. 

Was this recorded piecemeal, bit by bit? Or did you have an underlying theme, idea you wanted to explore? 
Mostly bit by bit yes, multiple projects on the go instead of making one track from start to finish then moving onto the next one. Hence not calling wanting to call it an album! But I think the music is coming from the same place, even if that area is pretty broad.

At one point you use the sample "Do your thing, just make sure you're ahead of the game" – how much attention do you pay to new trends, styles? Is it more important to develop your own voice?
I’m aware of trends (at least I think so?!) but it never seems to influence the music I make. Having my own voice is important to me and I reckon it’s a good thing to aspire to - for one thing if people follow their own path then they’ll be plenty of interesting music about as a result.

‘Game’ / ‘Release’ are both raw, aggressive in your face – where does that aggression come from?
I don’t think it’s aggression - I wouldn’t like to think of what I make or play out as hostile music. It’s more about bursts of nervous or excited tension, which could be seen as quite dramatic I guess. That’s the vibe of the EP as a whole really, and why I called it ‘Release’…

There’s a heavy techno influence, do you feel there is an identifiable UK techno style / lineage?
It’s not something I feel very well versed on, I don’t actually have much knowledge about UK techno at all. I’m sure there’s always been plenty of it being made but I couldn’t say where the good techno nights were being held in 2006 - I was in front of a speaker listening to Kode9 and Coki, etc. But in dubstep, there always felt that there was cross-pollination with techno. My first record had an ambientish 4/4 track on there, and producers like 2562 really started to bring that techno influence through around 2007/8. It just continued down that path to the point now where what I’m doing, and other people from a similar background are doing, is heavily weighted in favour of techno rather than dubstep.

What techno producers do you think are moving things forward? Who inspires you?
Obviously I’m a bit biased because he’s a good friend of mine but I think what Blawan is doing is pushing things in an exciting direction and has opened underground dance music up. He’s taken his earlier steppy percussive style and remoulded it into something that feels very fresh and raw right now. And I love that. I was at a night in Hackney on the weekend (Dystopia) to see Surgeon, Perc and Peverelist play and it felt so good – a warehouse space, some speakers and projected visuals, and a real mixed bunch of people listening to some raw dance music. It reminded me of how dubstep used to be in a way, just based on the vibe of it. Objekt is another one as well, I think his tracks are amazing. Very carefully engineered, but a real sense that it’s not just stuff that’s started life as a 4/4 kick drum. Also Kowton, Pearson Sound, Boddika and Joy Orbison to name some others…all setting the bar high and making stuff that sounds distinctly UK to my ears.

Influences seep through each track, with traces of Hardcore and Jungle appearing but never stated definitively. Why play with them like this? The approach is fragmentary, where does that come from?
Again, I don’t have an encyclopaedic knowledge about hardcore and jungle but it’s exciting music that inspires me a lot. In particular hardcore from around 91/92 as for one thing the speed of the tracks is closer to what I play at now. I love that feeling of using breaks and samples from whatever people can get their hands on to make weird and interesting dance music. 

None of the tracks feel like straight forward club music, have you played this material out? Do you use this to tweak production? 
Yeah I’ve played out tracks when it fits. I’d like to think of myself as a ‘proper’ DJ rather than a producer who DJs in order to cram in loads of their own tunes. So for instance I’m yet to play ‘Majestic 12’ out even though I know both Blawan and Ben Klock have played it, just because I’ve yet to find a point in a set where it would work! I’ve always taken a pretty laid back approach to the process of making music but I’d like to start bringing my productions and DJing a little closer together.

‘High’ - an avant garde way to end the collection. Where did this come from? Why place it at the end?
I wanted to end on something a bit different, which wasn’t centred around drums and captured the ‘tension and release’ vibe of the whole thing still.

Photo Credit: Sarah Ginn

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'Release' is out now.

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