Electronic ‘musicians’ in the truest sense of the word, Gal ‘Juju’ Aner (first photo below) and Jordan ‘Jordash’ Czamanski (final photo), have only ever been notionally concerned with House and Techno convention. Meeting as teenagers growing up in Israel during the early 90’s, the two shared a love of ‘Bitches Brew’-era Miles Davis, Sun-Ra and Pharoah Sanders – three musicians who’s brazen disregard for accepted form and style is at the essence of everything the now Amsterdam based pair have ever done. From 2004’s debut ‘The Hush’ EP on Psychostasia up until this years’ ‘Waldorf Salad’ EP on Dekmantel, Aner and Czmanski have continually been exploring the potential of their arsenal of hardware via a heavily improvisational playing style that sees them apply textures and motifs rarely heard on dance music templates.
They’ve also formed a formidable trio with David ‘Move D’ Moufang, a venture which serves as an extension of their uncompromising ethos to production – with both live shows and the small handful of EP’s they’ve released collaboratively being highly acclaimed. Now with their free form approach being appreciated by a bigger audience than ever before, Aner and Czamanski have arrived at their fourth full length: ‘Clean Cut’. Their third LP for Dutch imprint Dekmantel, the record’s title bears an ironic inflection that has become the duo’s hallmark – with each track the exciting and visceral antithesis of fine-tuned, computer made electronic music.
Running through each tune and the wide array of kit used to make them below, Aner and Czamanski explain the process and methods behind ‘Clean Cut’…
This track was conceived during one of the last LP jam sessions. I think we had already around 15 jams recorded so we had nothing to lose. (actually that’s not true. I was still freaking out about the album up till the pressing. There is always a lot to lose!) anyway… I don’t remember exactly what went down during the jam, but I do remember thinking that the sick SP1200 beat together with the Pro-One baseline was fierce enough to handle anything on top on it, so naturally, we went for a classic roland D50 flutey sound. The thing about the D50 is that it always sounds beautiful on its own but has a tendency (due to it’s inner effect processor probably) to kind of uncomfortably try to dominate mixes. But all that wasn’t an issue here. The SP1200 (eternal thanks to Tom Trago for the long term loan!!) and the Pro-one are just such amazing sounding machines that they can handle any fancy digital synth trying to be pushy – Jordash
This track started off with the kinda simple, yet deep SC Pro-One bassline , Jordan’s Casio CZ melodic excursions and some SP1200 hats. The ‘jazzy’ pitch shifted guitar solo seemed like a surprising twist that complimented the synths (J.Scofield- in your face…). We spent ages working on the kick drum sound here, and finally found a delicate mixture of 3 machines that felt right. Further compression by our great mastering engineer Marco Spaventi took the whole mix to the next level – Juju
AKA ‘the baby track’… Probably the most uptempo track in the album. It was pretty much banging in the initial jam recording and rough mix but we did add – later on, some twisted (real) flute textures to make it a bit more organic and special (not to mention the signature baby moan that made all the difference). The main, marimba-like theme, and bassline layers were sequenced on the msq 700, and several drum machines (606, 707, Simmons SDS400) were used with different cycle lengths to create some fun irregularities – Juju
4. Swamp Things
We wanted to feature the amazing Yoni Silver in one of our tracks for years, and it finally happened on this album. This track felt the most suitable for this collaboration. Yoni’s haunting bass Clarinet lines gave this track a lot of depth. We kept it relatively low in the mix to make the whole thing more mysterious and paranoid sounding. In contrast, a hypnotic Roland D50 sequence , a soft eerie CS-30 drone (referred to as ‘the whiny cat’ while arranging the track ) and a long subby kick drum pattern were the electronic pieces of this swampy puzzle – Juju
5. Deadwood City
This track almost killed us. It was the first track from the LP that we thought we finished, but it became the last track we actually finished – so that’s like 6 months of torture right there.
We ended up totally ditching the second half of the original track and went on to exhibit some falsetto skills instead. They just sounded like something we would love to hear on a big club system. Another thing I’m pleased about in this track is that we managed to record the ol’ Yamaha combo organ all over this. Both the melodic theme and the chords are from that funky old machine that people are practically giving away these days. Don’t sleep on those cheap combos. Ours even sits on top of a super cool Leslie cabinet which gives it an awesome stereo tremolo. Anyway – bottom line: if you think a track is shit – it’s most likely shit, but there is always hope to turn that around. We love the track now – Jordash
6. Maharaja Mark
Initially this was a 30 minutes meditative jam which was chopped way down to fit in the album, and making it shorter actually benefited the track. The music revolves around a continuous rhythmic Yamaha CS30 sequence and feed-backing guitar that later evolves into a sprawling, raga-like improvisation, in honor of the Maharaja – our buddy Mark who popped into the studio during the recording – Juju
7. Wheeze Please
A stripped down SP1200/TR909 jam. I believe Juju was jamming on the SP1200 with some of our wooden flute recordings sampled in, while I was freaking the 909/707. Stripped down, simple. This is practically the Jam itself as recorded in real time. Not much additional mixing or editing. We kinda just left it the way we recorded it, FX and all – Jordash
This one started out as an instrumental digi-funk jam. It was in real danger of becoming a cheese fest unless we toned it down, so instead we added a bunch of vocals.
Anyhow, we had to work hard on the guitar sound for a couple of weeks. The end result guitar is a combination of the original guitar through an old tube pre-amp, a layer of the guitar ring-modulated through the Yamaha CS-30 and then through the filter of the Pro-one and one of the guitar parts was doubled at times with the CS-30 following the pitch of the guitar, then everything was double-dipped into the Eventide H3000. Jesus. It was really tough getting those two cool different guitar sounds working with each other. The vocals consist of several layers which Juju insisted on making louder in the mix. I was a bit shy about it but I’m cool with it now – Jordash
This was the second track we finished during mixdown of the album, but from the very beginning we knew that this would be the closing track (it was a much harder decision to place the other tracks) . It has a little bit of a Ryuchi Sakamoto-esque vibe to it due to the sweet sounding yet dramatic, digi keyboard/pad chords, and the laid -back basic tom rhythm. There are lots of pitch modulated Roland R-8 rides and percussion to keep it moving and some fretless bass-guitar notes to round off the low end. We called it eventide in awe of our lovely H3000 which was used all over the place – Juju
‘Clean Cut’ is out now on Dekmantel. Buy it here.