“It’s the way the sounds affect each other.”
Los Angeles-based music resource The Astral Plane launched their Astral Plane Recordings imprint in January with the ghostly debut from SHALT, Acheron. After a wildly successful first year, the producer returns to the label with his sophomore effort Inertia.
While Acheron saw SHALT begin to explore ideas of ecological destruction, the consequences of inaction, and stasis vs. velocity, it is on Inertia that he is really able to expound on these themes to their fullest. Flitting between the dancefloor and something far wider, SHALT’s vision is on full display throughout with a sensory assault of harsh electronics, hook-like riffs and knife’s edge sound design.
An element of SHALT’s music that jumps out is its intense physicality. Gut-punching synths and bass lines transpire to create a weighted presence in your headphones. SHALT now explores this theme below, giving us some of his favourite examples of physicality in music and their influence on Inertia, including Tim Hecker’s seminal ‘Live Room’, Fis’ gloriously understated Deptford Goth remix, and tracks from Lorn and Moro.
“I just want to preface this by saying that to me physicality in music isn’t necessarily how hard something hits; it’s more the way that sounds affect each other, how a sound can impact the track and alter any other element in there. That’s not to say that the weight of tracks isn’t not important (clearly it is) but basically this isn’t gonna be a run down of my top 10 heaviest kick drums.” – SHALT
1. Tim Hecker – Live Room
Hecker has this really intense contrast in his music that no one else can really create – the contrast between the fragility of the piano and the constant plague of feedback from the bass and grit embodies this perfectly.
2. || FLORA – TX 4 (2)
This one’s pretty recent, and although there’s definitely a trend in recent music that just feels like sound design with no real ulterior purpose, the way FLORA manages to keep this track’s rhythm intact even whist sounds are constantly being ruptured open and split apart is really special.
3. Raffertie – Window Out
This one’s v slept on, and I think it captures the idea of physical music perfectly. Raffertie’s voice hangs on a knife-edge throughout, and elements appear from nowhere and rip the fabric of the song apart at any moment.
4. The Haxan Cloak – The Mirror Reflecting Part 2
The Haxan Cloak’s an obvious choice probably, and in reality I could have gone for any of the tracks off Excavation. For me, it’s the way those synths bleed into the track and then get sliced apart that really stands this one out. (side note: when I saw him live it felt like I’d been punted in the chest after, so that works too)
5. Moro- Caretango/Valentina
Everything Moro makes feels entirely fluid as a structure, with elements shifting and breaking through at any moment – it’s so captivating to listen to. This organic feeling to the tracks, combined with these pummeling elements gives his music a really physical edge.
6. Lorn – Ghosst(s)
Obviously couldn’t not mention Lorn in this list, and there’s so many that I could’ve gone for here. It’s that throaty bass, grinding all the other delicate elements down that really sets this one apart for me. (That open hat’s really nice too)
7. Wolf & Witnessing – Acapulco (KABLAM Remix)
The way the percussion on this one can cut through the track at any given moment and open up the structure, whilst the synth grates away from the outside – it all works perfectly together. KABLAM’s music is obviously incredibly physical, and while this is almost a more subdued side of it, it just showcases this power in another way.
8. Deptford Goth – Guts No Glory (Fis Remix)
Fis has this ability to create these amazing physical atmospheres, even in really dense tracks, but the stark contrast between the percussion and the vocals hit really hard here, and make the synths at the end so welcome when they arrive.
Inertia is out now on Astral Plane Recordings. Get it here.