Released: August 2023

Equipment: Modal Argon 8 synthesizer, Arturia KeyStep Pro sequencer


The process of writing music for Crafted had gone surprisingly easily (mostly) so I decided to stick with the Argon 8 and see if I could come up with another album's worth of songs with it. So once again I was using just a single instrument for everything. This seems to suit my creative process very well, as a hobbyist musician I often have long interludes between recording sessions and sticking to one machine makes it easier to remember its less obvious features & capabilities and make the most of them.

After concentrating on the 'pure' tones of the Argon 8 on my previous album I decided to let myself go with more distorted & abrasive sounds this time around. These ended up being moderated by my usual pads & washes but overall there's more of a robotic, mechanical and synthetic vibe to the collection. I found myself using cavernous echoes and 'watery' effects which led to the album title - hints of things lurking below the surface and unexpected undercurrents. This in turn inspired me in the choice of cover art which (to my eyes) implies something (or someone) rising from the depths with a human but yet also synthetic face. The uncanny chasm?

There's some nice variety to the tunes, although at the time I could feel ideas from one song being reused and developed in the next one. I found myself more comfortable with stepping outside of key signatures, breaking my usual song structures, and even using mixed bar lengths - all big & scary steps for my precarious grasp on musical theory! On more familiar ground I returned to 'disguising' my song structures, using uneven rhythms, unusual verse lengths, and changes coming mid- or across verses.

The overall effect, at least to my ears, is a more introspective & contemplative feel, even in the more uptempo pieces. Perhaps a reflection of the transitional state of my personal life, with several major changes coming towards fruition in the near future.

Nexus is a good example of my 'journey' style of song construction, very different verses (& middle eight) but leading back to a reprise of the first theme at the end. I was particularly pleased by the chords in the chorus.

With Machination I went for a very robotic sound and contrasted quite 'smooth' chords with unexpected note choices.

Regretless developed a sort of nostalgic atmosphere, looking back at past events and forgiving myself for the 'mistakes' that led to who I am now. I like the sparse sound & simple structure which really suits the song.

Wayfinder has a sense of exploring into an unknown land, helped by my deliberate attempts to blur & hide the chord structure. It's very unusual for me to use interrupted time signatures but these just seemed to work. I'm rather proud of this one!

Tinkerbell came out of a sequencer pattern that I 'played' by modifying it on the fly. Very unusual for me to write something in a major key! I hear a bit of a Christmassy feel in there.

Mirrormere came out of a very specific image, gently rowing out onto a large lake. There's a nice timeless quality to it, accentuated by the transition into the middle eight and its meandering chords.

Hotwired was lots of fun to write, starting with an uneven time signature and layering fake organ lines over the top. I like the overall 'arc' of getting started, cruising, and running down through the piece.