Over the past five years or so, Diynamic Music has become one of the premier labels for melodic house and techno, home to the mighty Solomun, and a host of other world-class talents. One such act is that of Tunnelvisions, a Dutch duo who's just released their entry into the label's Picture series. The mini-album is a combination of synth-pop, house, and electronica, and does a lot in a small amount of time.
We were curious about their creative process for their album, and as such, we invited them to break it down for our series 'The Director's Cut'. Below, the duo provides cliff notes for each track of the mini-album, touching on some of the gear used as well as the inspiration for each of the tracks.
How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.
Words by Tunnelvisions
Our picture series entry is the result of us coming together musically over the last couple of years. It’s a journey through our tastes and we try to combine our influences from house, indie, synthpop, and ambient into one project. The work started around 1,5 years ago and a lot of the tracks were made over a long period of time. Most of the time we work on multiple projects at the same time, basically resulting in one big demo list. At the time we had sent Diynamic some tracks and out of 8-10 tracks, a selection of 6 was made. These were the tracks that to us and the label sounded like the most cohesive together.
The base of the project was formed with ‘Forever’. For us, this could be seen as the title track of the project and it is the perfect Tunnelvisions sound. On one hand, it’s pop-oriented, with vocals that were inspired by bands like Pink Floyd and Talking Heads. The lead sound was recorded on a Buchla Easel with the Prophet 6 supplying supporting melodies and pads. When we had this track we knew it was a winner because it’s positive without getting overly happy, the vocals and lead melody get stuck in your head, and the arrangement is surprising. Mix wise this was the first track where we started using UAD plugins.
The process behind A Thousand was very fun. Emiel was recording a lot of synth loops and arpeggios, trying to make a sample pack to use between us. There was one sample he had, an arpeggio that was so strong it inspired Raynor instantly to make a track around it. However, Raynor was at home while listening to that melodic line. Instead of driving to his studio, he used a voice memo on his phone to record each element of the track. The rhythm of the toms, the bassline, the percussion, and all other elements were recorded in a phone voice message first. Then at the studio, we started producing each element, and for some reason, it just worked. We twisted around a vocal sample to make it not sound like any language, and then we had something fresh. However it was missing one thing, we had the feeling it needed a big switch at the end. That’s when we used the prophet 6 to record one big melody that would surprise everyone.
Who Are You
Who Are You was the result of trying to put together seemingly not fitting elements in one track. Raynor had an instrumental lying around that he couldn’t finish, but he realised there were some vocals that he wrote around the time he wrote Can’t Stop. We took those vocals and noticed they were in the same key as the instrumental. Then it was adding one and two together and it was a perfect match.
This is the only track that feels like it has some real indie and 80’s pop elements. The huge snares, driving bassline, and guitars all feel like it could've been done by a band. It sort of feels like a spiritual successor to something like Talking Heads or The Human League would’ve done, but then new again.
Tell Me When We’re There
In the process of Tell me when we’re there we used the Jupiter 8 for the main arp melody and the pads, the idea was to create a trippy mysterious atmosphere for the dancefloor. Next to the synths, a real piano was recorded and reversed so it would be in contrast with each other. In the middle part of the track, we recorded the SH101, which started to talk with the arp melody. In the end, everything comes together beautifully. It’s a sort of track that’s very fresh in the Tunnelvisions repertoire and the perfect contrast to a track like Who Are You.
Dust Till Dawn
The SH-101 is a synth we always would love to try. We saw Mathew Jonson perform with it on Wildeburg Festival and Sebastian Mullaert did the same at Fusion. When Behringer came out with the MS-1 we got it in Emiels studio and started experimenting with it. This track is one of the tracks where you can hear us mostly coming together. It’s big but has a lot of subtleties in percussion and fx. The MS-1 was used on the main lead sound, and we used the Digitone to make the kick. There was a lot of experimenting with each sound, trying to warp and resample everything in oblivion. Eventually, it’s a weird big track that feels trippy but also impactful.
Test Tone Control
Most of the time either one of us can’t really finish a track and we need each other to really push it to the next level. Emiel had the basis of this track which was still called Bella In The Bells at the time. The bells you hear are bells that were recorded live for the track. When Raynor got the track he decided to change the arrangement, add a hook, and add vocals. It gave the dreamy track a rawer happier feeling which made it feel different. Together we mixed the track so that it was nice and punchy, and this one came together really smooth.