If you’ve listened to my shows before, or if you’ve come to/know of New Atlantis, you’ll know that I often play music which is considered ‘background’ or ambient etc.. I chose the term ‘muzak’ to represent that but I also wanted to look at background music in a more abstract way.
At the time I was thinking about a theme, my friend Joe (JQ) sent me over Nakayama Munetoshi’s Echo Location EP and I read up about him and his incredible music & process. I was so chuffed to have him feature as a guest for this show, I couldn’t have thought of anyone more suited!
My mix is a combination of what you’d consider to be background music, but also music and sounds that you’ll often just hear in the background of everyday life. Such as trams, the sound of a coat ruffling, sniffing, birds chirping etc., how those sounds feed into music and how you can make so much from background sounds.
Of course, I play some original muzak tunes. One of which is from K-Mart in 1989, I’ve played it slowed to 33rpm and with some reverb/echo on it, which makes it sound pretty cool, and a tune that I found that’s just called ‘Elevator Music’.
A lot of this mix features field recordings I’ve done recently. Going in order, these are:
By the lake in Zeeburg, the last day of my recent trip to Amsterdam. (First Tune)
You can hear lots of birds and some ducks, it was the start of spring and it was the longest I’d spent outside in ages, I wanted to remember this holiday through sound
Walking through the airport in Frankfurt (9mins)
I recently played at Elevate Festival in Austria and had a connecting flight via Frankfurt. Walking in-between gates there was this lovely muzak being played along really long walk across the airport. Most of the recording is muffled by me walking but you can hear the tunes played along the way. I was stood still in this long corridor with my phone pointing up to the ceiling so I probably got a few weird looks!
Recording of a helicopter from my bedroom window (14 mins).
I was playing Spatial– Doping Conductor in my room and I heard a helicopter outside, for a second I thought that it was a sample in the tune because the sounds blended so well together. So I left the tune playing and recorded them both. During the show I mix out of the original tune, into my recording, and then back to the tune again. The Spatial tune has so much low end it’s amazing, I love that it sounds like a generator or something you’d hear buzzing in the background around loads of machines.
Recording of rattling pipes in an Amsterdam toilet (20:45mins)
I spent a good couple of minutes stood over the toilet with my phone next to the wall recording these pipes. When someone flushes the chain they make this great rhythm that gradually slows down.
I made an edit of this recording and sampled the pipes to make a beat for a few bars, and then let it run into the original recording again. You can hear the actual background music in the toilets later on too.
I made this edit to represent how I often hear background noise and make up melodies from it in my head, or link it to bits of music.
Recording of a tram in Amsterdam (53mins)
Another Amsterdam recording! I let this one run for a while and filter out the tune playing beforehand (Ross From Friends – Talk to Me You’ll Understand), so both were acting as background sounds to each other. I’ve found that, often whilst away in other countries, I pay more attention or I am more present and aware of the background sounds around me, particularly on transport. I also often listen to house when I’m travelling and want something to that I can zone out to.