Italian DJ and producer Mattia Trani has released his new album SCENERY. Four years following since his debut LP The Hi-Tech Mission, Trani’s new album is a sprawling 15-track exploration of techno, jungle, drum and bass, breaks and more. Where there are energetic avenues of dance music for Trani to explore, he is seeking them out with this album.
It is at times frenetic and scattershot, but held together by a thread of blazing dance music, often with a melodic touch. We wanted to know how this album was created and the ideas behind it, so Trani stepped into the director’s chair for a new Director’s Cut feature. He breaks down the full album track-by-track, so saddle up with this one and get reading.
1. DARK MINDS (INTRO)
It’s always important to make a good intro. I don’t like to instantly put a rhythmic track. I prefer to go for an ambient soundscape.
In this track I can tell you that the main sound is the Moog sub 37, when I searched the preset on the synth in da studio I found a great sound preset called “dark minds” and I said: wow, this is the sound I want for my intro, so I recorded live without any cuts and it worked perfectly.
To finish the track I used my voice with an alien effect. First I recorded my voice with lyric about “there are dark minds that govern us,” ( a little bit occult meaning) then I processed into the Antares autotune efx that create a second layer on the voice with this alien/trippy effect.
2. ENDLESS OPTIMISM
When I finished the intro I said I still have the music of the intro in my mind so I want to continue the melody. That’s why you can hear that this track and “DARK MINDS” are connected. The Moog is still the main melody and sound here, but with a high octave. Then I decided to put more harmonies to give more power to the main melody and I played three more synth sounds all with the plug-in Nexus.
After creating the main sounds, it was the time to decide what to do with the rhythm. I didn’t want techno, so I went for breakbeat '90s-inspired 118 bpm. You can hear the classic amen break pitched and time stretched with my Analog Rytm 2.
This track reminds me the old stuff by Ken Ishii of the '90s and I’m really proud of this song.
3. JUNGLE BUSINESS SHIT
It’s the first DnB track I wrote for the album. The idea was to do a jam with my Analog Rytm with many samples like amen breaks and the classic samples typical of 90 jungle. After many attempts, the arrangement was not good so I recorded every single sound into my DAW and then I used my computer to complete the track.
The voice you can hear is an old sample of a movie from the 1950s called Bride Of A Gorilla. There’s basically this voice talking about jungle and for me was perfect because I wanted a vox that said, “this is jungle”! At 01:42 you can hear the Moog sub37 to reach the old school mood that I wanted. Another important sound is the lead at 02:17 that has been done with another analog synthesizer that I love: the King Korg!
After that I used plug-ins like the Distressor compressor, UAD's Fairchild Pro Legacy to create good raw drums and Valhalla reverbs/delay on the synth/pad parts. Another important effect is the flanger, an effect I used a lot of time in this album for create a special mood. This track in my opinion is one of the best jungle/drum n bass tracks I have ever done.
This is the first track I wrote (in 2018) in the making of this album and in fact got the album main title at the end of the process. I wanted a fast and strong techno track.
The arrangement was been done with a hybrid process because most of the drums were done with my Elektron Analog Rytm MK 2, but the synths and chords atmospheres I went for both analog and digital. The main chord was done with an Elektron Digitakt that I bought for doing live performances and I loved that space chord. The other parts like the acid patterns and the first bassline, I did with one of my favorite plug-ins in Logic x, Alchemy.
In the break at 03:37 I sampled and old movie voice from 1950 and I pitched with many effects. After that you can hear some leads that gave a really dystopian mood and I did it with the Korg Minilogue XD. I decided for 142 bpm because for me it’s the perfect tempo for this groove.
5. STRETCH TOYS
I started this project in 2017 because this track is a big tribute to the video game GTA 2. There was a radio inside the game called Funami FM. With this original big jungle psychedelic killer track called “Toys Are Real” by Flymutha, I sampled the pad and some acid sounds and I recreated it in a modern version with my techno typical big room stuff. After that, I created the arrangements and I completed it with some stretched voice sample typical of the speed garage UK sound.
6. SENSO CRITICO (FEAT. AADJA)
I concluded that I missed an “industrial and experimental” track for this project, so with the help of Hilary AADJA, we wrote “Senso Critico.” This was one of the last songs I wrote. It was in 2019 when she sent me some vocals as she’s a great singer and I created maybe the strangest song on the album, because it’s like a trip to nowhere with this irregular kick and her vocals going crazy. It was not easy to add vocals to vocals because sometimes if you listen there was too much, but we did it and we found the right way to do a crazy experimental techno bomb. 130 bpm was good in my opinion.
7. ONE MORE STEP
To be honest I didn’t want to put this track in the album, because I created it in 2018 and for me it was too mainstream. The original idea was inspired from a Dave Clarke’s old tracks of the '90s (you can hear a typical 727 tom) but when I played it times at festival and clubs, a lot of my friends told me: Mattia you must release it on your album, it’s so strong! For the compression on the kickdrum, I used the api2500, which is great for 909 kickdrums. The crazy thing of this track is that the loopy voice you hear that sounds like Nina Kraviz vox is simply a cowbell inside the Sherman filterbanks,
8. NO FUTURE
I remember that this track was really difficult to do especially the drum parts. There are a lot of hardgroove percussions and hi-hats/cymbals together, so it took me several weeks for create good equalizations and layers. After I finally found the right sound on the drums, I wrote the acid parts with a real Roland TB-303, but for having the perfect distorted sound I processed the 303 into the Elektron Analog Heat. Then I decided to put the main pad for creating a futuristic space mood and I did it with a classic exs 24 pad (basic and not expensive) but I used many UAD plug-ins like API channel strip vision and Pulltec.
I was inspired by Madonna’s song “Ray of Light” with this acid sound and a trancy mood and Underworld’s stuff of the 90s. 143 bpm was the right tempo to create the biggest impact. There’s a big pause with this magnificent pad I did with the prophet 6. Even the trance arp has been recorded with a Dave Smith Pro 2.
10. STRENGHTS AND WEAKNESSES
After doing two drum n bass songs, it was necessary to write the last jungle track. At the end of 2019 finally I finished this. If the other two are faster, this is a type of drum and bass track that is deeper and liquid. This song is one you can listen chilling at home or when you drive to nowhere with your car. I put some piano vibes inside because I have played keyboard since I was child. At first, I wrote more complicated melodies, but in this 155 bpm music it was not cool and it doesn’t work, so I did some good notes, but kept it simple.
11. THE NEW HARDGROOVE ERA
It was the start of 2019 and it seemed my album was taking shape so I thought to put some hardgroove inside. I am a big fan of late 90s / early 2000 hardgroove fast music and this track is definitely a tribute to that world, but with my new school vision. That’s the reason I called it, “THE NEW HARDGROOVE ERA.” I wrote the chords parts with Alchemy, the drum parts with an original Roland TR-909 and some percussion samples original of that hardgroove style typical of Marco Carola, Gaetano Parisio, Hardcell and Grindivk.
12. INNER HARDSHIPS (FEAT. 051 DESTROYER)
The flanger effect conquered every single snare in this track. I love the metallic snares and lot of delays on every drum. At 1:08, this part makes me crazy because it’s the type of electro I wanted for only one track in this album. Most of the tracks are drum & bass and techno, but I wanted an electro-funk, DJ Stingray-style track so I decided to write this with 051 Destroyer, an alias I used only for electro projects.
13. BIOLOGIC HORROR
I love this track. When I wrote this killer tune I was imagining this type of sound inside a big warehouse place like big Dutch festivals or Berghain. The key was to find a raw main sound and the Moog sub37 was really important. This time I didn’t use a preset, I started with default sound like a kick drum or the classic sinewave and I did the arpeggiator from the Moog. I used mod 1 and mod 2 and lot of oscillators. In the middle of the track you can hear a pitched voice and yes it’s me!
14. VIDEOGAME (FEAT. THEO NASA & LIZARD)
Since when I was kid I have dreamed of using sounds from my favorite 90s video game in a track. With the help of Venice jungle producer Lizard we did it and we sampled the sounds of the main menu of Gran Turismo 2, an old video game for PS1. I love the futuristic and crazy sounds, so we put them into our track. Then I decided for doing an arrangement more “pop.” In fact in this track there is a verse, pre-chorus and chorus, like a classic arrangement with singers. Theo Nasa speaks about our love for video games when we were “young, wild and free” like his lyrics said. This song tells the story of my life, a story about passion between music and video games.
15. END OF DAYS? (OUTRO)
This is the last track of the album, and of course the last track I wrote. When I do an outro, it’s important to have clear the entire lineup/tracklist of the main album for when I decide how to close it. My idea was to create a mysterious mood with some bomb effect (I was lucky because there’s a preset in my King Korg with them and it was perfect to record this inside this outro) to recreate a war /apocalyptic mood like a sci-fi movie when you don’t know what is going on.
In the first part you can hear these big bombs and after that there’s a big melodic part similar to movie or TV series music like Stranger Things or some animes like Cowboy Bepop but with more spacey touch to giving a great conclusion with this album. It’s cool because I decided to add the bassline at the end of the song and the progression with notes on the Moog is always to going up and never back down.