The Irish-born, Barcelona-based artist calls Before Silence a "concept album" on which new tracks are "deconstructed and recombined." It features 16 of his own new tracks, plus a slew of remixes by Gui Boratto, Terence Fixmer, Basic Soul Unit, Joel Mull, Jonas Kopp, Ramon Tapia, Donor & Tuss and Sam Paganini. He did not take the "deconstruction" part of the process lightly: the tracks were broken down into a total of 1,013 different parts, then woven back together into one continuous session. Chatting via email last week, he told us about why it's important to go through such great lengths when producing an album.
How did you come up with the idea behind Before Silence?
With the [Octopus Recordings], I'm always pushing the slightly punk ethic, the "Do It Yourself" vibe, you know? And I'm quite anti-tradition, so I came to the conclusion that electronic tracks, especially "dancefloor" material, don't really work in a traditional album format, since they are ultimately destined for a club. I hear so many albums sounding like a collection of retro singles lately, with no sense of a journey in listening. I felt that to do something quite new would be worth the sweat, tears and hair pulling. Also for me, electronic music is all about deconstruction and collaboration, no other genre has this interchangeable network of artists working on each other's material, right?. That's very new. Usually any format reflects the age, and as an imprint we are really pushing the new digital aspect in composing, playing and releasing.
So for you it's very important to play around with format?
Definitely, quite essential. Personally I think honest experimentation is an important part of "techno." I don't believe the old models of vinyl single, album, or even record shop and distribution are relevant anymore, and I'm always excited by what's next... This is what our beloved scene was built on, making edits, recombining things and cutting things up. I have zero respect for tradition actually. I think we will see more people messing with the album and single format soon,and not being afraid of it, since digital has made the business way more democratic for new labels to do these kind of things.
What does the title Before Silence mean? Is there an overarching theme to the album?
It hints at how my approach is new, both with my own music and the label, and how it's important to be outspoken against the "establishment" in the business sometimes. Also technically it is a different system to deal with and was such tough work in the studio–especially knowing there were 1,013 individual track parts to move around on a grid in Ableton, like a giant jigsaw–before I even thought in terms of structure, effects, processing or arrangement. The theme is also about stripping things down and focusing on parts. I'm always doing this in clubs, breaking things down to simple, open space, in order to build again. Reducing tracks down to zero can be a hugely liberating thing and I think so underestimated in this current climate,especially when nights can consist of very constant retro bongo-house wallpaper. Perhaps this economic slump will produce some more really emotive music. I'm very inspired by the building block structure of electronic music, I like to see things studio-wise in terms of just a couple of strong parts, silence being one of them.
Octopus Recordings will release three singles around the album: Purple Bang, Are You Reading This and Equus. These will feature unmixed tracks from Before Silence, plus exclusive remixes from Carlo Lio, DVS1, Dustin Zahn and Sasha Carassi. The album will be Sian's first in nine years, after Rhino Flowers, his debut release.
01. Moorish Idol (Donor & Tuss Remix)
02. Tomorrow May Never Come
03. Flood (Gui Boratto Remix)
04. Byzantine Conduit (Jonas Kopp Raw Mix)
05. Byzantine Conduit (Jonas Kopp Synth Mix)
06. Cleopatra's Suicide
08. Moorish Idol
09. Are You Reading This?
10. Coup D'etat (Xhin Remix)
11. Sacred Geography
12. Sacred Geography (Joel Mull Cove Mix)
13. Venomous Maiden (Basic Soul Unit Mix)
14. Venomous Maiden
15. Vigil Of The Crow
16. Sacred Geography
17. Tropical Sci Fi (Sam Paganini Remix)
18. Tropical Sci Fi
19. Nectar In Her Mouth
20. Beta Decay
21. Purple Bang
22. King Of Serpents
23. Let's Make Bonfires
25. Moorish Idol (Terence Fixmer Remix)
26. Are You Reading This? (Ramon Tapia Stuck In The Strobe Remix)
Octopus Recordings will release Before Silence in April 2011.