The Director's Cut: Heathered Pearls - Cast

Heathered Pearls breaks down his beautiful new album 'Cast' out now on Ghostly.
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Heathered Pearls

Heathered Pearls

Jakub Alexander aka Heathered Pearls has released his new album Cast via Ghostly. The Polish-born, Michigan-raised and New York-based artist has explored the edges of ambient music using loops, hypnotic melodies and bridging the gap with techno over the past decade. He continues to expand his sonic palate with his beautiful new album that uses spoken word as a device for delivering messages on life, change and just stream of conscious thought.

The LP features an impressive cast of features like Nick Murphy and Terrence Dixon who deliver spoken word segments on top of his smooth and soothing instrumentals. We had him break down the record, track-by-track, in a new Director's Cut feature to get a better idea behind the ideas and concepts on this album. Some of these songs were just loops sitting around for the past several years that needed a little nudge from outside inspiration, while others are inspired by ASMR. In this feature, Alexander explains why he went with spoken word for this record, something he never expected to do, but hey its 2020, anything can happen. 

Listen to the album now and get your copy here.

Background:

First off I need to thank Adam Brocki aka Newborn Jr (additional production / mixing) & Joshua Eustis aka Telefon Tel Aviv (mastering). If I turned the album in without those superior talents this release wouldn’t be sounding the way it is now by a long shot.

1. Missing Highs

So the Heathered Pearls releases since 2011 have been heavily on the hypnotic lo-fi ambient delivery or on a melodic deeper 4/4 side. That’s a pretty good amount of time with a lot of the same so I needed a palette cleanser intro: a hi-fi glossy non-synth approach that still felt like me. I wanted it to sound like a large dusty-dry studio with mics sitting millimeters from the strings. Never ask me to play this live “unplugged” because I can’t ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2. Caveat Emptor

This song was written second to last after I lost a large chunk of some songs. I hope I find those lost boys one day because melodically I loved them. Now that I look back at this song it has this visual for me of sending out a signal and not hearing back anything in return. The melodies fade out nicely and in the end it resolves better than I expected it to.

3. Ultra Blue (feat. Newborn Jr)

The original draft was an attempt at capturing this visual (I hope you’re seeing a pattern here, every song is a little scene you could sit in on, go look at the song titles for Body Complex) of standing in a massive wind tunnel high in the sky out in some misty lush green terrain. Adam really added the atmosphere here and the Robert Miles sort of piano. If you want more of something like this, look up the artist/album Pub: >Singles.

4. An Obstruction In The Clear Plastic

So not all Detroit techno is bangin’, soulful, or speedy like some of the outside world thinks.

If you look up "Abandoned Building (In Mono)" by Underground Resistance, Juan Atkins or a ton of Terrence Dixon you can see some of the heart of Detroit techno to me at least is alien non-dance music, just mechanical abstractions. I feel like I wanted to capture that here, my only regret was this cut is too short.

5. What Else Do You Want? (feat. Baltra)

Michael is gem of a human, he really perfected the ask I had when it comes to adding some words over my music. When I first heard that he said “...and old!...” I was completely content. That small glimpse of humor, but delivering a clear message throughout was above and beyond.

Okay, one track needed a bassline too.

This is why there’s spoken word on this album. Sure “Basic Needs feat. Nick Murphy” was the catalyst for it, but this delivery made it feel like I was working on art again and not feeding people singles and playlist plugs. I’d definitely lose that retail battle since there’s soo many talented musicians out there that know how to deliver that.

6. Utica

Imagine being able to create the beginning of “Halycon On & On”...yeah I can’t either. Just kidding, there’s something special with being able to press down keys and getting angelic chore voices.

7. Salvaged Copper (feat. Terrence Dixon)

I’m not the best at writing out emotional music so there was an attempt here. Originally written in Berlin, I reached out to Terrence Dixon over Facebook messenger and asked him to just send a voice memo. This bit of it that I used is actually 2 different pieces molded into one phrase. He’s an absolute underrated legend in my book.

8. Basic Needs (feat. Nick Murphy)

So the concept of a “spoken word” record for me is at the bottom of my list of things I wanted to do. BUT what I realized it’s far more enjoyable in my mind if it’s close friends casually reading out of their diaries like Nick did here or people leaving me voicemails, now that felt honest, non-theatre or non-performance, I can back that all day.

So I was on tour opening for Nick Murphy and he started playing demos of Run Fast Sleep Naked and “Harry Takes Drugs On The Weekend” came on, obviously Nick writes music that touches hundreds if not thousands of people in each major across this planet, so we’re not even playing in the same ballpark. But when I heard the intro I was like I want a whole album of this Nick, I want you literally talking over everything I make. Nick doodles and just has the creative output of a whole art school sometimes, so when I asked him to read something out of his diary or just send me anything I barely had to do a thing to it. So this song sort of helped me finish an album that was just a bunch of loops from days I was living in Berlin that were sitting around for nearly 3 years.

9. ASMR/Exhaustion

This is one of the reasons I like writing albums, you write these baby cuts to interrupt your album and hopefully keep people interested. I fall asleep to a lot of different kinds of ASMR, mainly food tasting or an unboxings because of the packaging sounds. Had throw in a little ode in since that’s kind of a consistent thing of my life that involves sound.

10. Cement Object, Vacuum Sealed

Another piano song but Jakub you don’t know how to play piano? I don’t but I do feel comfortable saying is I know how to layer sounds is what I’m realizing, which the majority of my sound is: making sure a loop I create can play on for 10+ minutes and feels hypnotic and still enjoyable.

11. Pain Tolerance

Maybe the best cut on the album because of the trailing synth sound, I wish I added more space and reverb and slowed it down a tad but it’s set in stone now. Adam did an amazing job taking this across the finish line and giving it a defining face to engage with.

12. Muscle/Maintain/Feen (feat. Danny Scales)

So Danny Scales is a well-spoken, well-read close friend of mine for nearly 20 years now. What he told me was that he would share short stories back and forth over email with my dad and this is one of those just read off. Danny is someone that can talk about a respected creative in such length and passion from 2am to 9am without filler; it’s pure experience. He doesn’t just skim along like many of us scratching the surface of interests; he forms deep opinions and gains knowledge from committing to specific loves he has latched onto. This addition he added took almost nothing for him to create out of thin air, sit in it for a minute it’s poetic sure but the confidence in the quick storytelling is just some sort of Olympic level effortless construction. Check out his music Tower Of Light.

13. Faith For The Weak

A last minute add-on to the album during the end of mixing because the album needed a decrescendo. Also somewhat of a revisit to what I like best about my other albums; drenched controlled noise with raw recording artifacts hissing while still being pretty.

14. Life Out Of Balance (feat. Santpoort, Shigeto & Krzysztof Wodiczko)

Koyaanisqatsi means life out of balance. If you’re going to go with that sort of title you better pick some meaningful words. And there aren’t many people out there that I’d call on for that than K. He’s the godfather of projection-mapping. He’s been giving a voice to refugees, the homeless and war-vets in his work before most of us were even born. The man has been making anti-Trump artwork for 30+ years, projecting controversial images on famous structures around the world so that’s a pretty solid grand finale. 

The message I used was from around 30 minutes of recordings he sent over, this small slice that fit in perfectly with what Julien, Zach, and I meshed together. The nice thing about having all these talented close friends & family on your record is they delivered stories and answers to each songs meaning which makes me feel more comfortable announcing new music because it’s not just me as one of those electronic musicians with a press photo with some outfit they bought the day before standing at my synth covered studio telling you I have some “big news coming” as I sling Gildan tees at you all week. Actually nothing wrong with that I do have a Bandcamp you should visit.

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