Etch: Altered Roads

Brighton’s Zac Brashill, better known as the bass producer and breaks wizard Etch, has teamed up with Soundman Chronicles’ chief Parris for his latest venture.

With past efforts hosted by the likes of Keysound, Lapsus, Wisdom Teeth and Purple City Soufflé, Etch’s ever-evolving palette draws from UK garage, dubstep, hip hop, jungle and beyond.

His and Parris’ new Altered Roads imprint is set to focus purely on Etch’s own productions, initially stemming from a series of ‘Altered States’ mixes he recorded that focused on alternative influences and obsessions, being perhaps most notably inspired by the audio-visual link to the psychedelic imagery of filmmaker’s like Ken Russell, Gaspar Noe & Stanley Kubrick.

ALTRD001’s four tracks are made up of weightless soundscapes, crushing breaks, kung fu samples and warp-driven hip hop. Said to have returned to the naivety of an ‘anything goes’ mindset, Etch’s productions show disregard for the confines of dancefloor function, with his twisted take on leftfield club music and deadly technique more sharp than ever before.

Set to be released with a limited edition cassette that features an 80min live mix of unreleased productions and live edits, we caught up with the man, asking him to share some of the bigger influences behind the project and the label’s future direction.

Hear both sides of the cassette and check his selections below.

1. Ibunshi – Hylozoism

This track, and to be honest a huge amount of the stuff on the heinously underrated drum & bass label: Pinecone Moonshine, is a massive influence on where my head is at in that sound these days.

Finding some weird middle ground between labels we all know such as Samurai Music and Sci-Wax; it’s truly a modern/futuristic take on the sound and has those chops that could put Photek to shame. It’s run by a guy called Nick TVG who is pretty much a scientist, he has a mad blog detailing all the mathematics and science behind sound design and production.

2. J-Zbel – Lauren Misogyn

Shout out my boi Joe Naitsri aka DJ Sports Direct aka Asuka aka Moon Presence aka Lil Thai for putting me onto this label and particularly this tune. I don’t really know the details of this record but it instantly captivated me, again it’s something with many far reaching influences attached to it from techno to jungle to gabber. Proper hard hitting business. I wanna make tunes like this.

3. Gnaw Their Tongues – Nihilism Tied Up And Burning

So when I was a teenager that hated everything that lived and had shoulder length hair and painted my nails black, I was a devout fan of anything loud, shocking and seemingly evil, it began with the obvious Marilyn Manson then moved more towards mid-late 80’s goth and new wave.

It’s only been in the past sort of… 2-3 years i’ve been revisiting the harder side off this stuff, which I wasn’t really aware of back then mainly because I didn’t know what I was looking for, and the internet being dial-up. But now i’m back in the game and this kinda stuff has been a huge influence, super drone-y sludge-y stuff, again these kind of influences will stand out more in the long run and on the mixtape.

4. Source Direct – Approach & Identify (Demdike Stare Cross Border Incursion Remix)

When I heard Non-Plus were re-releasing the Source Direct classics I was hyped, when I saw Demdike Stare were remixing the first release I lost my shit. I’m a huge huge fan of Demdike Stare and all their associated projects such as HATE, Millie & Andrea, Pendle Coven etc… My mum is massively into witchcraft and the occult of all that kind of thing, so when Demdike touch on these themes juxtaposed with their extremely abrasive and stripped back sound design, it just clicked to me. This remix is classic Demdike and actually bares very little resemblance to the original, its super bass heavy, really noisey, really dark and brooding. ALL THE GOOD SHIT

5. Ray Cathode – Waltz In Orbit

Shout to Bob West Norwood Cassette Library for putting me onto this one. Some absolute Radiophonic Workshop-esque madness, baffled this was made in 1962 its obscenely futuristic. I actually did a refix of this track on the mixtape called Cathode Waltz, it doesn’t do it justice at all but I had to get it in there somehow.

6. Pole – Fliegen

I was very late to Pole, I’ve been constantly encouraged to check him but was too concerned with other things. I got CD1, turned the bass way up and it proper zoned me out, proper hazy dread dub techno vibes, somewhere between like Emptyset and Rhythm & Sound type stuff but standing in its own corner. Big influence on my approach to space, as someone who typically way over-produces things it’s refreshing to hear things so open and so effective.

7. Jackal & Hide – In Bed With Hanin

As I mentioned earlier when I was entering my teenage years I hated everyone, i hated myself, I had long hair, all that shit. So the logical progression from metal (which I was starting to find cheesy in 2005) was breakcore and dark drum & bass, I mean this was essentially the post-internet pissed off youth music and it certainly had a huge spike of popularity between 2004 and 2007, until dubstep kind of took over.

This is a very early example of breakcore, think this came out in the late ’90s, it’s just super aggressive noisey borderline unbearable fast dark drum & bass, but it’s been hugely influential on my more abrasive tracks again which feature quite predominantly on the 2nd side of the mixtape.

8. Flying Lotus – Flattery (Sympathy For The Biters)

I could have picked any Flying Lotus track to be honest with you, but i’ll go for the first one I ever heard. This was on an old Mary Anne Hobbs compilation, the one after War Dubs i think? I remember being a dubstep diehard by this point and got this compilation basically just for that and I kept skipping past this flying lotus tune like “wtf is wrong with that tune it sounds completely out of sync with itself” but more and more I kept actually going back to it, trying to figure it out and eventually just fell in love with it.

Pretty much ever since then i’ve always been chasing after those kind of sounds and productions, a devout follower of the turn off the snap to grid, aka a DJs worst nightmare.

9. Madteo – Rugrats Don’t Techno For An Answer

Madteo’s productions have been a huge influence on me since the beginning. He comes with that hip hop leaning style of cratedigging to find those perfect samples and the way he manipulates them is so unique to him, tonnes of lush layers with no effort put into cleaning off the dust, probably 90% of the tracks on the Mixtape are made with that mentality, finding unusual charity shop records, twisting them beyond recognition to the point of it almost seeming like a synthesized/electronic sound. Also Madteo has collaborated more than once with ridiculously underrated MC Sensational.

10. Lana Del Rey – Elvis

Last but certainly not least, but definitely the most confusing one to decipher hidden amongst my influences. I’ve always had a lot of time for Lana Del Rey, she has a voice unlike any i’ve ever heard. Her major albums always seem to be a bit bright and over produced for my liking (still absolutely love them though), but then this track made before she was famous, under the alias ‘Sparkle Jumprope Queen’ is something else.

It’s super lo-fi and hauntingly beautiful, I imagine it was recorded in her bedroom with a piece of shit mic and just an acoustic guitar and obviously was just uploaded straight to myspace without any post-production. I love it, it’s just raw as fuck and while I know nothing about music theory and can’t play guitar, some tracks for this project such as ‘When The Soul Departs The Body’ and ‘We Can Be One’ veer towards this emotional territory, beatless melancholic excursions made actually largely out of string samples and vocal snippets from old 50’s and 60’s records that made up Lana’s modern persona.

ALTRD001 and Altered Roads Cassette are available March 2. 

Pre-order both here

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