Producer, electronic composer and remix extraordinaire, Arvo Party has made his name through engaging instrumentals, remixes and collaborations. Following on from the eponymous debut and the briefly named II, he released the beautiful titled Love Above All earlier in March (the longest month in recent memory).
The album may be his most expansive yet, as he explores all manners of sounds in his pursuit of the complete album. With incredible sounds and moods that range from the anxious to the ambient, it’s high time we got a glimpse into the thought process. So here is Arvo Party’s influences mixtape.
Bicep – Opal (Four Tet Remix)
This track had somehow passed me by until relatively recently but it sorta has everything that I like in an electronic track. Gated synths – check, dirty beats – check, melody hidden somewhere in between sad and hopeful – check. I love how the bass notes shift so when you think it’s just repeating, it isn’t, quite. Kern Hebden is a master of this. Lots of little plinky flourishes too, as you would expect but it still packs a punch. I definitely got addicted to gating synths against beats and whatnot on my new album and this is one of the inspirations behind that.
Susumu Yokota – Card Nation
I love this track for the general weirdness of it. What even is it? It’s quite meditative I think and that’s generally how I like my music to be also. No bangers here, this is a piano loop, vocal and reverb done perfectly. It inherits its own space confidently without being intrusive. I’ve always loved albums that take you into a room, if that makes sense. Downward Spiral, The Wall…when you’re in, you’re in. I was trying to take a little of that for myself on my new album.
DJ Baja Blast – Behind the counter
Again, I have very little idea what this track actually is but the melodies all seem to be snippets in different keys, even the piano seems to sit between where it really ‘should’ be and I love that. Those field recordings too, there’s something kinda vaporwavey about it even though it doesn’t sound like vaporware at all. I don’t know very much about this guy but I emailed him a little just to find out more. I could listen to that one piano chord forever. One simple idea is all it takes, if it’s pure enough. The title track of my new album basically consists of one repeating sequence which drops and rises and tracks like this let me know that it’s ok to do that, thankfully.
Floating Points – LesAlpx
My Floating Points intro was ‘Kuiper’, a sprawling prog-esque jam from a few years ago so I’ve been keeping tabs on Sam’s output anyway but this track came out when I was travelling back from the States and I distinctly remember being outside Charlotte airport in hurricane season and using the airport wifi to download this track. It’s too good. The bass sound, how it evolves. Those little Blade Runner drones in the background and THAT KEY CHANGE ugh, it’s so good. It’s a very simple idea done very well and in regards to my own work, tracks like this have prompted me to try and keep things simple, keep the idea pure.
Burial – Shell of Light
I will defend Untrue until the day I die. If any album ever inherited it’s own space and was an actual physical place that you can visit just by listening it is this one. For me, at least. This track is filled with those sad melodies that I love so much, he could release an album of nothing but vinyl crackles and it would break your heart. Don’t know how he does it and I almost don’t want to. Burial influences all of the darker Arvo stuff and I let it happen, I’m happy for it to happen.
HAVVK – 52
This was the first HAVVK track I remember hearing and I was just blown away by Julie’s voice and the use of melody in this track. It’s kinda goth but it also rocks like a bastard and that chorus is the biggest one I’ve heard in a very long time. This is easily one of my most listened to tracks of the last year. Timely, too.
Leon Vynehall – Trouble – Parts I,II & III (Chapter V)
This track almost feels like an exercise in what you can get away with in electronic music. Echoing 90s sounding pianos roll about for 3 minutes before the nastiest kick drum you’ve ever heard comes crashing through the walls and turns it into some sort of industrial track. I’ve been trying to replicate that kick/bass tone ever since. The album itself is sort of all over the place yet it’s so good and makes total sense but if you take the tracks out of context they almost don’t make sense and I like that. I like albums. A lot.
Luke Slater – Love (Burial remix)
Very meditative this one, for me anyway. I’ve always thrown so many things at my tracks that when it comes to mixing time I’m stranded in a shitstorm and tracks like this have helped me realise the importance of good sounds rather than lots of ok sounds to fill out certain frequencies. There is a lot of patience in this track too, a good thing in an age of people trying to get to a chorus in the first 45 seconds of a song. Somewhere in between the two lies a balance. I tried to find that balance with my new album too, I wanted the album to be no longer than 50 mins, which is easier said than done.
James Joys – Fugitive Wound
Now, I know this man (sort of) and I mastered this track but I still, to this day, have no idea how he made this or what he even made it from and it totally melts my head. This track is very ambient, very dark and very weird but then, all of a sudden, it kicks in to the dirtiest groove I may ever have heard. The man is a genius, give him your time and your money (he would probably prefer the money). This track inspires me to push further and try to go weirder and I know I’m only getting started in that regard but having people like James on the scene really helps.
Jon Hopkins – Emerald Rush
Anyone who knows me knows I am a big Hopkins fan, always was, but Emerald Rush is a whole other level of audio tomfoolery. Filtered arpeggios, a little piano, plenty of reverb and then oh wait, what’s this synth thing coming through then WHOOSH you’re in with the dirtiest bass synth muck that I have ever heard and it only gets better from there. Don’t know how he does it the cheeky so and so. I saw this live in Dublin recently and I actually lost my mind. I started in rock bands and always had an attachment to that but there I was, however many years later, on the verge of tears at a man playing with a laptop and some Kaoss pads. Unbelievable. It’s even better louder too, so crank it up.