There are two sides to every story. Different points of view, different points of intersection...
Duologue formed whilst studying at Edinburgh University. Initially focussing on Tim Digby-Bell and Toby Leeming, the pair fuses a sense of songcraft borrowed from the indie sphere with glitchy, forward thinking electronica.
Ideas quickly spiralled. Expanding into a five piece, Duologue became an actual, proper band - with opinions, viewpoints soaring all over the place. Using this dynamic to drive themselves forwards, the material Clash has heard thus far has been buoyed by a palpable sense of invention.
Working with renowned producer Jim Abbiss, the band laid down tracks for their debut album last year. The results are gathered on 'Song & Dance' and - if we dare say so - Duologue have evolved into something quite complex, quite beautiful.
The dynamic is reminiscent of post-punk, in the group's ability to see beyond preset boundaries. There's an excitement in progression here, with Duologue accepting and denying new ideas as they see fit.
Out on February 25th, ClashMusic have managed to grab a pre-release stream. Listen to it now, then read a track by track guide written by Tim Digby-Bell.
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This song saved us really. It was just Toby and I at that time. We’d written a few songs to see how it felt and came back for another session to see if anything else came out, and to see if it was worth carrying on I guess. I’d made this beat out of computer noises and printers and Toby walked in and played the chorus riff on it. Then I sang the vocal and the whole thing was done in about 20 minutes. We’d originally recorded it much heavier but Jim made us strip it back and I’m so glad he did.
I had this line from a Bernard Marie Koltes play about being zeros that I always liked. We wanted a really wide palette in this song – that kind of dancefloor bass and I’m sure there’s some calypso thing happening in the beats. Toby must have been up at dawn with the programming on this one. He tends to wake up impulsively at 4am and do his stuff in the pre-dawn dark.
Cut and Run
This was when our guitarist Toby Lee just joined. You can tell by the beat I’d been listening to a lot of MIA. You can also tell by the guitars there were some Zepplin fans in the room. We were in a basement flat in Clapham and my neighbours came round to ask us to keep the doors open so they could listen.
I wrote this beat as a kind of joke, 170 bpm Aphex rip off. Toby changed all the sounds on it to glass samples and we started playing with a guitar and piano on it and it turned into a weird lullaby. Seb had joined by this point and we got the strings together somehow. We each now think we wrote the break bit ourselves. The lyric was kind of an apology to my parents. If I fucked it up, I just could not stop. I think it’s perfectly natural for parents to shit themselves when their children say they want to go into music. And perfectly natural for musicians to feel they had no other choice.
This was the first thing we wrote as a full band once Ross had joined on bass. We just looped a 4 4 kick and played for about 4 hours straight, twice a week, for about a month. I like the way the song sounds like it’s being jammed. I also find it a really positive song which I’m really happy about as it’s much harder to write a positive song than a negative one. It’s also confirmation for us that we found all the parts we needed to make the band whole.
We were about to go into the studio with Jim to record the album when I demoed this. Originally I just had the beat and the synth part but I’d been singing it with a guitar and thought that might be a better place to start. We put it together with Jim and I’m not joking we must have gone through about fifteen variations of it, changing the order of the sections. At one point we were about to drop it as we just couldn’t agree but I’m glad we struggled on.
This one speaks for itself really. I was heartbroken and had written the lyrics first which is something I never usually do. I thought the saddest part of the whole thing was that I knew I’d be alright in the end. That made me feel even worse somehow, that I could just get over it eventually. I found the guitar line when I was trying to play something else. Most of the stuff I write is purely accidental. You’ve just got to hope the accidents keep happening I guess. Although I could do without the heartbreak bit.
This was the very first thing Toby and I ever wrote. We were in his bedroom at his parents’ house. We didn’t know each other all that well and it felt slightly like we were each doing our best to look busy in front of the other. He made the beat and I was messing around on a synth, so he picked up a guitar and found the riff, and by that time I’d laid down the synth and was demoing a vocal, after which he’d put that siren sound on and then we were saying goodbye.
Sounds silly but this originally came from a sample of a slave song. There was a quality to it that is so outside one’s own writing that it pushes you in a new direction. That is such a strength to computer music – you can find things you would never have found on an instrument. There’s a church organ that comes in at the end which we recorded in a little village in Suffolk. I can’t remember what we told them we were doing but we put some money in the collection box at the end.
Snap Out Of It
We wanted the album to hit certain points as it went along and this is probably its most extreme. When we started writing a lot of our stuff was this heavy. We have a huge range of music we listen to as a band and playing with electronics means we have no limitations in terms of what sounds we can use. We wanted our first album to have big guitar moments alongside more intimate stuff.
We were playing with the idea of repetitive dance music on this one, trying to write an intimate song around those ideas. Toby is big into his minimal techno. He's so reverent, he can literally listen to a kick drum on loop for a good hour and you don’t want to be there when the snare comes in. I wanted the lyrics to feel unfinished and fragmented, I wasn’t just being lazy.
This was about 2am in Suffolk. Toby had sampled these horns and we put it together in three tracks. Push It had something like 170. I did the lyrics and we recorded it there and then. I like how close and relaxed it feels. We knew we wanted to end the album with it straight away.
Photo Credit: Dan Wilton