Bristol producer Ekoplekz has never stood still.
Continually adventurous, the musician's catalogue is imbued with admirable depth, with a willingness to venture into fresh realms.
New album 'Reflekzionz' once again finds the musician challenging himself. Solo electronics, it finds Ekoplekz ruminating on the sounds which initially fired his imagination, a kind of 'false memory' recovery of the innovation which ran through early Warp artists.
Out on May 18th, Clash is able to premiere opening track 'A Caustic Romance'. The beat recalls Aphex Twin, but there's a naivety here which shares the poignant nostalgia which ripples through much of Richard D. James' own work.
Zeke Clough steps in on visuals, delivering an entrancing clip which neatly reflects the distorted colour running through the production. Check it out below, then find a short Q&A with Ekoplekz after the jump.
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New album 'Reflekzionz' seems to dwell on the past - what's prompted this type of artistic reflection?
Like nearly all my albums, there was never a firm decision to go in a reflective direction from the outset. I just make individual tracks without a great deal of thought, then myself and Mike Paradinas sift through them all to select suitable tracks that would go well together to make an album. Over time, a 'flava' begins to emerge, and this one started to take on a nostalgic vibe. There is a very strong undercurrent of '90s electronica in the final selection.
'A Caustic Romance' feels almost Aphex Twin at times, is he an influence? Were albums such as 'Ambient Works' a big influence?
Yes certainly, the earliest Aphex Twin records up to and including 'Selected Ambient Works II' were all massive influences on me, along with all his AFX, Polygon Window and Caustic Window material - hence the 'caustic' reference in the track title and the 'King Of Clubs' imagery in the sleeve artwork, which was a visual calling-card of the Caustic Window releases.
Of course, since we finished putting the album together, Aphex Twin has been busily given away all his old unreleased tunes, and making me look like I'm jumping on his bandwagon, but when I was recording the tracks I was just going by instinct, drawing on nostalgic feelings related to those early records and my life back then. I think the album would've made a stronger statement in Aphex Twin's continued absence, but I'm certainly not complaining about the big SoundCloud give away - so many beautiful tracks he made back then, it's quite staggering to try and take it all in!
There's a playful naivety to the track, is this repeated on the full album? Why lead with this track?
Yes I like to have that naivety in my music, but also the keyboard parts were all played live, and overdubbed on multi-track tape, rather than sequenced, so you get that fragility from playing everything by hand. It goes back to listening to electronic music in the pre-MIDI age, when a lot of musicians actually had to play all the parts manually.
I like to think of 'A Caustic Romance' as a cross between early Aphex and the German group Cluster, particularly their mid-70s album 'Sowiesoso' which was full of all those naive, hand-played melodic keyboards. Several tracks on the album follow a similar line, but 'A Caustic Romance' is the most succinct, with almost a pop structure, so it made sense to lead with that one, and maybe get a bit of interest from listeners who aren't usually into my more experimental stuff.
Zeke Clough has crafted the visuals, did you provide a guide / outline? Are you pleased with the results?
Zeke is a personal friend of mine and I trust him implicitly to come up with something impressive every time. For the album sleeve, my only stipulation was that he should go for that reflective mirror effect, work with coloured pencils and include the aforementioned King of Clubs somewhere in the artwork. The rest came from Zeke's twisted imagination.
Of course I loved the finished art. Zeke and I have similar formative influences, reading comics like 2000A.D. when we were kids, so I totally get where he's coming from (most of the time, ha!). The video animation does make reference to some of the album artwork, but is mainly just Zeke running wild and doing his thing. And what a beautiful thing it is!
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