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How It Was Made: Christopher Coe 'Mountains Of Silence' [Awesome Sound Wave]

Dive headfirst into Carl Cox's new label's first album by Christopher Coe
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Carl Cox, the big man of techno, recently launched a new record label called Awesome Sound Wave. The label's focus was to showcase album format releases from live acts in electronic music that have very few outlets for their music, at least compared to more traditional electronic music productions. The idea for the label came after friend Christopher Coe sent Carl his album that he recorded all live. Carl was so impressed and excited about the album, that he decided he couldn't let it slip away, and thus, Awesome Sound Wave was born.

What does it take to create an album that is good enough for Carl Cox to start a whole new label just to showcase it? Below, Christopher gives us the inside scoop. As you read about the process, listen to the album to get a better understanding of what's going on. 

Recording process:

I went home to the place I grew up, a town called Westport, in the west of Ireland and set up a temporary studio in an old building in the middle of town. The building is an 18th century stone stable house, and, when I was a kid, the room my studio was set up in was actually the art studio of my creative mentor and friend Wayne Harlow. He taught me to be creative above all else, so it was a personal journey of rediscovery. From there I went and climbed the mountains in the area, and took images and recordings of the atmosphere, the wind, rivers, the sea ... 

Ireland Studio building

My concept was to try to create a sonic image of the mountains, to translate the atmosphere and the drama of this mysterious landscape into sound, into techno. I also recorded live traditional instrumentalists on fiddle and flute ..The sounds of drinkers in a local irish pub.. the sound of the sea lapping against the gunwales of my boat as we pulled the lobster pots up from the depths with our hands.. I recorded the sound of the rain beating down sideways on a lonely hillside graveyard as mourners and parish priest droned a final prayer at the burial of a departed relative, and so many other sounds of the west of Ireland.

I used these source recordings to create atmosphere, by completely stretching, cutting and processing these sounds I was able to create new sounds and textural layers upon which I built the music. Then I used more conventional electronic instruments to build beats and harmonic structures, arpeggiated melodies and basslines ..

The Setup:

My Set up was very simple; laptop running Ableton, Ableton Push 2, Evolver, MOTU ultralite sound card, Mackie speakers, some microphones, Korg Volca beats, and odds and ends..

Ireland studio
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Korg volca

The Dave Smith Instruments Evolver featured heavily, it is an unusual hybrid of analogue synthesis and digital control and I found I could create so many unusual harmonic textures and unexpected melodies with this.

Dave Smith Instruments evolver

The Pittsburgh Modular gear I use in my live set and it allows me to expand further on the sonic repertoire started on the album.

Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms system 2
Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms system 1

After creating a sonic foundation in Ireland, I took the material and went to a remote studio in the middle of Sweden, and there, surrounded by obscure and exotic effect pedals, guitars, synths, drums and other odd instruments, I began to piece together the work. I played weird guitar bits, put the bass guitar through a Marshall stack and distorted it beyond recognition. Fed an un identifiable synth into a fender guitar amp and FX and recorded it with vintage microphones.. Played drums to create fills and capture live ride cymbals, snares, hi hats etc.. 

Upon returning to Ireland I continued to piece the album together.. creating over 20 tracks, each of varying quality and feel..

My friend Joost Swart, a talented musician and jazz keys player came to visit and added the wonderfully moody piano elements on the album. We recorded them at my friend Nick Seymour’s home studio in Easkey, near Sligo, an hour north of my home town.. we recorded piano into the wee hours of the morning each day.. we spent 5 days doing this.. it was glorious.

Fiddle Players

I spent from August to December 2016 working on this project.. each weekend climbing the mountains and each day walking the shores of empty and wild coastland..In March of 2017 I returned to Australia and to Mullumbimby where I invited mix engineer and producer Marco Spaventi to join me at Hydro Funk studios to mix the album.. we had a Neve 75 board to mix it on and Marco brought it together in a beautiful way.. he really captured the depth of the project and maintained the atmosphere I was so tenaciously trying to hold onto.. I hope it worked.. I believe it did. I would like to give you: MNTNS of SLNC.

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