After 18 months of dropping numerous singles and EPs on underground labels such as A Giant Fern, Amsterdam-based Shimmering Moods Records & South London’s Tenderly Surrender, UK electronic & experimentalist artist Specimens (real name Alex Ives) is kicking off 2017 with the release his first full-length, entitled ‘Sculptures’.
Sculptures, out via Specimens’ newly established imprint, First Terrace Records, sees the producer constructing serene, mellow (and rather lysergic) soundscapes, centred around distorted tape loops and long winding synths. However, there are moments when the soft synths are swapped for a more industrial, dissonant palette, flitting between the contrasting styles in a similar manner to the likes of Leyland Kirby or Lawrence English. It’s worth mentioning that as well as influencing ‘Sculptures’; the Room40 label boss also mastered this LP too.
Following the album’s recent release, we got Ives to talk us through seven tracks that influenced the sound, style and energy of Sculptures.
1.Lawrence English – Organs Lost At Sea
Lawrence English was one of the first artists I really started getting into when I began listening to more ambient & drone music. When his album The Peregrine was coming out, I remember reading an interview with him about the record and the process & I was completely enchanted. This was further cemented in going back and listening to albums such as A Colour For Autumn and Kiri No Oto – this track is the opening song from that album. He also mastered my album too!
2. Ron Morelli – Modern Paronioa
When I heard this track it kind of reminded me of Suicide, and whilst I didn’t specifically want to make a track that sounded exactly like this, I really enjoyed the DIY-sounding production of his record. The influence of it might not be immediately obvious, but I tried making some tracks like this for fun and although they didn’t come out so well, I thought the drum sounds I made sampling different metal objects for percussion were pretty cool, and used them on the track ‘A Marble Hallway’.
3. William Basinski – Cascade
I was introduced to Basinski through a good friend of mine, he was showing me the ‘disintegration loops’ and I instantly fell in love. Whilst processing tape loops & time stretching tracks has been made a lot easier these days with technology I think the way William Basinski manages to put his tracks together is so delicate and gentle it is completely hypnotising & certainly a craft and art form that is inspiring to me.
4. Fennesz – Chateau Rouge
This is the second track on the list that was released on Touch. I wanted to give a little nod to the label as they have released so much amazing music over the years – I named track six on the album after them as a little “tip of the hat”. This track itself just completely transported me to a different place when I listened to it, for me to be emotionally shifted by a song or album is pretty rare, and this track (and whole album really) did just that. The closing track on Sculptures is really inspired by a specific place and time for me, one that I vividly have in mind and this Fennesz track encapsulates what I hoped to achieve when making it.
5. Max Richter – Journey 2
I don’t think there is much I need to say of Max Richter, his music is exceptional. Infra has some really beautiful ambient moments which intersperse with the more classic piano pieces, as much as I enjoy electronically driven or fuller and heavier drone, the softer & more delicate ambient moments on this record are great, it can be hard to produce tracks like this sometimes without them feeling like they are meandering or like a film score…this for me is a good example of how to get it right!
6. Tangerine Dream – Genesis
I had a period where I was listening to a lot of krautrock & electronic experimental bands and artists from the 70s; Cluster, Faust, Neu etc., and this Tangerine Dream album is one of the best for me. It is super weird and noisy but in places for me feels like it could have been made today. There are these fun little moments in it with flutes and other odd instrumentation, but the noisy electronic moments are just great & I like the fact this was recorded just on two-track Revox tape recorder. I love recording to tape & use a lot of tape recorders in my work as well.
7. Throbbing Gristle – Beachy Head
This is such an ominous track. In a similar way to the Fennesz piece, it transports me to a place when I listen to it. I love the subtlety of it but how it still somehow “feels” heavy and foggy. The perfect example of ‘less is more’!
For more information on Specimens and to buy Sculptures head to: