Saturday, July 02, 2005

Gerald Donald production style

It struck me at the time of James Stinson's death that for years we had no idea who was behind Drexciya and suddenly we knew everything about him, from his name, his age, his job, even down to how many children he had. It just felt strange at last to know, but at such a price. At least this knowledge didn't spoil what he had created, the vision had been so full of detail and depth of thought, complete; the music timeless, often peerless.

It's also easy to forget in hindsight that he had a partner, equally as talented and very much alive and still creating his own mystiques to go with his own wide range of music. Somehow managing to explore the limits of electronic music and in parallel working within the conventions of electro, often bridging the two.

It would appear that it is reliable to identify this man as Gerald Donald aka Heinrich Muller, aka Dopplereffekt, aka Der Zyklus, aka Japanese Telecom, aka Arpanet, aka Glass Domain.
Unless he wants to explain himself it is impossible to know if some of these projects were under-taken in collaboration with Stinson or others. The female vocals on early Dopplereffekt stuff does of course point to one collaborator for certain.

I never wanted this site to be about solely the past, research goes on and Gerald Donald has more than proved himself worthy for further thought and study, his music and concepts have all the qualities that made Drexciya so interesting.

For now its worth teasing out the Drexciya tracks that bear the touch of Gerald Donald’s production hand more firmly than usual and there are far more than you might think. Its a strange concept at first to listen to such a unique and original band as Drexciya and find yourself saying, ‘Hey, that doesn't sound like Drexciya!’, but there are some oddities, all pre 1996 which make you wonder. I've picked what I feel, in my opinion, are the most obvious ones because there are some borderline cases and hey, it is still all Drexciya music for sure but if you want to go a bit further in understanding the band I think its worth the effort.

1994’s Drexciya 4: The Unknown Aqua Zone boasts three tracks that would have fit a Donald solo project. The primitive ‘Aquabahn’ with Donald on vocals would not have been out of place on the Glass Domain EP from 1991. And while ‘Lardossen Funk’ certainly sounds like a Drexciya track from the title, on listening it sounds more like an off-cut from the first Japanese Telecom album, a taste of things to come as Donald didn’t start mining this seam till 1998. Lastly ‘Take Your Mind’, again with a Donald vocal, it sounds quite unlike Drexciya and more like another Glass Domain track.

It might be worth pointing out here while I am dealing with origins that the Drexciya blueprint can be found most fully realised on 'Radius of Infliction' on the L.A.M. Balance of Terror 12". Originally released on Detroits Hardwax label in 1992, which Stinson has referred to as the false start. There are plenty of other touches throughout this release that are recognisably Drexciya in waiting. Clone rereleased this in 2003 along with the already mentioned Glass Domain 12". Its illuminating to see Glass Domain solely credited to Heinrich Muller, meaning he was working independently even at this early stage. Its certainly a primitive production on the whole and bears little relation to Drexciya but does signal his future work with Dopplereffekt. The standout track being 'Interlock' and if you wanted to stretch it a bit maybe 'Shatter Prone' could be seen as an early template for the harder more dance floor driven Drexciya sound.

This isn't the definite article on the subject and of course is all just speculation but it's worth understanding how pre The Quest there was some crossover here and there. Hardly chinks in the armour but clues to the real people behind the mystique, which makes it more real if anything. Pretty much from when they came back in 1999 with Neptunes Lair, all through the Strom series to the end they managed to keep the music separate from Gerald Donalds solo productions and certainly different from everybody else. Although a little crossover did happen between Transllusion L.I.F.E. and the second Der Zyklus 12", which is really a subject for another day! I'll just get back to enjoying the music for now.

4 Comments:

Blogger Timofey S. said...

Hey!
You do a great job, man!
Thanxx.

11:01 AM  
Blogger tomato_djuz said...

is it me, or do some of the tracks from The Quest sound like they were mastered from vinyl?

7:58 PM  
Blogger Clint said...

Nice insight on these classic releases!

1:18 AM  
Blogger Lardossan said...

Thanks for all of this great information and insight! Keep up the good work, join my Drexciya tribe at http://drexciya.tribe.net if anyone wants to talk more, this blog is fantastic.

1:14 PM  

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