Exactly 2 years since its foundation my wee band (Sounds of the Slaughterhouse/SOTS) is coming to an end (or at least a hiatus) since my friend and main bandmate Cole is moving back to the US soon. Im a sentimental person so I wanted to do lil writeup about the band, the history, and what lessons I learned from it and share some of my favorite choons we made along the way.
I had been dabbling with makng choons myself for a while. Once a year or something I would open FL Studio and make some goofy sounding 30 seconds loop and be frustrated at how I couldn't really write good melodies or make good drum beats. then at some point 2,5 years ago I was reading about this Roland groovebox in a videogame magazine of all places that got me more interested in making music.
it was the monthly column in Edge Magazine where the guy talked about how he just got the device and he wished there were game style tutorials for IRL devices like this groovebox. he argued that just reading the manual can be kinda frustrating and boring experience, and a more gamelike way of learning something would make things a lot easier I was really intriguied by this groovebox concept though, bc you could do basslines, drums and synth melodies on just one device without a computer. I liked the idea a lot and got the cheapest Groovebox, a Novation Circuit, shortly after from Willhaben (Austrian Craigslist). The synth sounds and preset drums sound kinda bad on the Novation Circuit but I quickly fell in love with the hardware synth workflow, how you can just turn a mfer on and make craaazy sounds within seconds by pressing random buttons and turning knobs where you dont even know what they do.
On New Years Eve day of 2020 Cole and I had the idea to get really drunk and go on a hike and bring our synths and just make an entire album in one day So we brought our tiniest synths we had (Korg Volca and Kaossolator) to Lainzer Tiergarten and drank beers and stopped once every 30 minutes to record a little New Age-y/Ambient Jams. I had no idea at that point what a mixer or proper recording equipment was so everything was just recorded with my iPhone voice note app and that evening it went straight to bandcamp as "Sylvester". Cole suggested the name Sounds of the Slaughterhouse and I thought it was really funny bc it is really the exact opposite of the sounds that were going on on that album lol. I actually didn't (and still don't lol) know how to play Piano or any other instrument at all, but the Volca FM has a really cool arpeggio function and just pressing random chords on the synth will actually create really cute melodies. I have gotten a little sick of the sound of the Volca but I still love how you can just create these random melodies Listening back now the songs are really basic and kinda boring & too long maybe, but i do like some of the the melodies on there and the general comfy vibe of the whole album. If I had to go back to the album, I’d cut it down in length James Ferraro style deepfry treatment and add a lot of static and noise and artifacts to it and maybe some additional field recordings.
The weeks and months following the debut album Cole and I had a big creative spurt. I think we both had a lot of time (Cole just broke up with his gf and probably enjoyed having something to district himself with) and one of the ideas we had at this point was to invite as many different people to jam with us as possible. We invited all our friends, made a funny band flyer and at some point I asked every Tinder match I had if they wanted to come jam with us lol. We also slowly started hoarding a bunch of gear like effect pedals, a field recorder/audio interface, a microphone, a mixer (no more iphone recordings) at this point Maybe the most important piece of equipment we bought was the Korg Monologue, which can do some crazy acidy basslines. The Monologue has a lot of preset patterns (melodies + synth settings) already on it, where most of them sound pretty good and you can use them as an easy starting point and just change just knobs and notes around and you already got a sick bassline to use as a foundation of your song.
Some of my fav songs we made at this point are these:
afant gartee is maybe our most Hype Williams-ey song. Cole was playing guitar, I was playing the Novation Circuit, and my friend Laura whomst I invited from Tinder was shouting crazy stuff Laura moved to Berlin unfortunately but her screaming on this song is sooo sick, wish we could do more jams fr.
Rave 3 is one of the first songs where you can properly hear us recording the direct signal instead of using the iphone lol. I think it has a nice wonkey vibe still.
Elisabeth who was also invited from Tinder that day, brought her viollin and we made some kinda wacky experimental sounding jams. They're honestly not very interesting or good but it's funny to hear how we were fuckign around with all kinds of instruments and inviting random folks. Cole's "Justin Bieber is DEAD" line still cracks me up though.
first date was, as the name implies, also a tinder jam lol. Actually I think this is one of the most ethereal and best sounding songs we ever made. Really beautiful and serene! Chelle ended up being featuring on a lot more songs after this one also :)
The uncompiled piano album is one of many recordings where I thought, "damn this sounds cool, good concept to take and expand upon with more practice and thought behind it!" but then we never did put more work into it and just released the first take lol. There's this nice phrase I learned from reading a book about Arthur Russell "First Thought, Best Thought" that says that the first idea you have is usually the best one. I'm just gonna tell myself that that is what's going on here. The song title paperplains is a reference to the MIA song but also Brian Eno's Music for Airport which Cole's piano improv here reminded me of.
In late 2021 we went to Oslo to visit our friend Burja who has a radioshow on this anarchist norwegian feminist radio and one night we went into the studio to play the radioshow. right after we played the best (worst) chaotic dj set in existence we grabbed some guitars that were lying around the studio and recorded the best (worst) chaotic SOTS acoustic jam of all time. Inspired by Charli xcx and Animal Collectve's Sung Tongs.
The ethos the entire time was to record a whole bunch of shit and throw as much as possible up on bandcamp. I love how artists like Dean Blunt and James Feeraro have absolutely massive back catalogues of raw shit. While things are incredibly hit or miss, it’s cool to explore someone’s massive discography and I wanted to capture the same energy for my own music. This approach is also good imo for not being stuck too long on one idea and learning to let things go and move on.
In the beginning of 2022 we didn't really get around to recording a lot of new jams, but we had a lot of old recordings still on our harddrives, so we set out to go through a lot of old stuff and compile the best stuff for a year round up compilation called "Exercises in ethanol 21" I also took some of the previously released recordings and remixed them in Ableton and boosted the drums and tried to give them a more full sound overall. Some old songs like these:
turned into these versions:
Overall the album turned out quite ok :) I think it's mostly held back by sounding kinda muddy and quiet. Part of that is probably to blame on our inferior recording methods (using the fieldrecorder as an audiointerface I can only ever record one track at a time, so seperating drums and synths is basically impossible afterwards), but I think my lacking mixing and production knowledge is probably also holding back the sound of the album.
Probably the best songs on the album are the thicc sounding Wacław which has a vocal sample throughout that my friend Ben Africa sent me. My other favorite is Timeline 12 which Wujtah and I recorded in his van somewhere in France with just my Nintendo DS and the Korg game and his crazy multieffect pedal and a guitar amp.
For this album we also planned a little album release party. We rented out a really shoddy Techno club known for its afterhour parties bc it was super cheap because this was like during covid lockdown and all the clubs were officially closed except for private events. The party was pure chaos and probably the most stressed I've ever been in my life lol. We somehow quickly reached capacity since we were probably the hottest (and only) party in town. We set up our synths in front of the DJ booth and said that everyone could and play, but people were way too shy to actually come and do that. Also because of weird covid laws people werent allowed to bring their drinks to the dancefloor which made for a weird but funny atmosphere. Afterwards there were open deck DJ sets which went a lot better.
This was also around the time we started experimenting with physical media. We burnt Exercises in Ethanol on tape to give it out at the show. I wonder where those copies ended up actually. I have no clue. We also had the idea or ripping the tape audio again and using this as the master for the album on bandcamp, however this didn’t really result in my desired “lofi vibes” but just kinda muddied out the mix even more.
After this I made a compilation of (partly previously released) ambient jams called "Ambien Tape" (inspiring name ik...), as a sister album to the beats on Exercises and burnt it on CD. Each CD copy had a different photo I made as its cover to give each CD some unique personal flair.
We played another live gig at rrr in March 2022 shortly after as an opening for Chelle's bestie Mataya. We had a super cute live setup, because we thought "if the music is gonna suck, at least it'll be pretty to look at."
I think we did somewhat okay. But what I leared from this gig and another one as part of the
is that doing a completely improvised set is REALLY hard and stressful.
Having to entertain people and keep them dancing is hard enough as a DJ, but when you're doing it live...
When I do another live gig, I'll definitely prepare some like drum patterns and melodies and presets
What followed this were more jams, although with less participation by Cole (as he got more busy) and more partcipation by Wujtah, Chelle and Flo.
IdqllyI was recorded in Belgium when I visited Wujtah. He had this sick of organ with a big wheel inside that rotated and created a droning and tremolo effect (think it’s called "Leslie Speaker" ). I loved the sounds of it. The clear highlight is our avant garde masterpiece “kisstheflies”, which features me swatting flies in his dirty ass apartment and him playing the bass notes of the organ.
Adansonia cacatuidae was made in Chelle’s apartment by taping down some keys on their old ass organ and just kinda fucking around with some like percussion instruments I got at the world music store lol. one of them i used as the cover art (which im p proud of how nice it turned out tbh lol). we put a bunch of different recording devices in the room and then afterwards i mixed all the recorded files with different effects of ableton i also added some free bird sounds i found on freesounds.org to make it more of an interesting listen. there's a normal version and a version with a shittty ass bitrate- a lot of james ferraro's old lofi tapes has absolutely horrid bitrate and i think it actually for a cool effect, makes things sound kinda watery- Chelle prefered the normal version which is why the album upload features both recordings.
I’m gonna write a bit more about the final 2 SOTS projects Beneath Interwoven Lagoons Lies Year-long the Belligerent Ancient Sunken Salmon (->BILLY BASS) and shit jams, because they’re the last SOTS albums and, well, they’re the freshest on my mind. Also they have probably the most concept behind them tbh, are probably also the best ones and turned out to be a nice contrast to each other. I was going through all the leftover jam recordings we still had from the year and collected the best sounding parts. I ended up with a little collection of ambient songs and a lil collections of acid techno type bangers, so I decided to work on two seperate projects to round off the year 2022.
The Billy Bass album originally started with the song “submerge”. It was a really long and sounding ambient jam that reminded me of James Ferraro’s ambient stuff so I decided to lean until the lofi horrible bitrate thing again The recording had kind of an underwater feel to it so I put a whole lot of underwater recordings of aquariums and lakes on top of it. I liked the water theme so I thought it’d be cool if the whole album centered around different types of water field recordings. 13 Lakes was the last recording I I did with Cole. He came over to my place and we wanted to have one final jam before he moved back to the US. He told me about this movie called "13 Lakes" that’s just video recordings of the shores of different lakes. I thought it was cool that they actually showed it in cinemas and we had it playing in the background while we made the music Audio from the movie also plays during the song. Cave and Factory I just reused from the Ambien tape although I gave them a new mixdown and some additional water related field recordings underneath. The last song “Rain falls on Hoboken” is a reference to a Yo La Tengo track and for it I wanted to experiment with some William Basinski type sound degregation. I really like the concept of The Disintregration Loops , even though I’ve never actually heard that album. Anyway I didn’t have any tapes so I ended up reducing the bitrate, bit depth and sampling rate as the song goes on.
Shit Jams contains a bunch of like half finished banger type songs I had and forced myself to finish up. The EP is very heavy on the Korg Monolgue and its heavy basslines. Really cool synth fr. Anyway I had all these songs that I worked on for a while but were unfinished and I was quite unhappy with, so I decided to give myself a deadline (the end of the year) and just turn them into something as fast releasable as fast I could. “Redo” and “Cardcore” are probably the songs I put the most work in and also the ones I’m the least happy with still. Redo was actually a remix of a song of Mataya that we put a lot of work in and it was just kind of like polishing a turd for hours. In the end I cut out like half the layers and reduced the song length to like a third and put a ton of compression and distortion on it and then suddenly it was at least listenable lol. Nordic Bangers and Baldee feature vocals from a jam at Cole’s when Burja and friend Kjartan were visiting. Kjartan did a rly funny freestyle about his “bald, bald boyfriend”. It was too funny to not put under a song, and it also made the otherwise barebones instrumental way more engaging. I think it also captures the chaotic SOTS energy the best which is something I wanted for the last release. After some experimental I also figured out a nice combination of Ableton compression effects that really make the kick drums sound good in a bunch of these songs. It’s crazy how much better these tracks become like instantly when they just have a good banging groove…
But maybe the most important lesson from this making these two projects was how important it is to just cut down songs in length. Even when you’ve put a bunch of working into tweaking some sections you just gotta “kill your darlings” as they say… I think it’s way better for a song to end quickly and leave you wanting more than to get too boring over time. Billy album released on Christmas day while Shit Jams released on New Years Day exactly 2 months after the first album (Sylvester).. a nice and festive way to wrap up the project.
To sum up, SOTS has been a wild ride and a whole lotta fun I learned a lot of things about music, production, recording gear, etc and also made many new friends through jamming as well I feel proud to go on the bandcamp and look through all the things we published and each time I listen to old things, I cringe a little bit at how basic and boring some things are, but I also think that there’s some cool idea in each recording somewhere. While I think some of the crazy spontaneaity and IDGAF attitude we had at the beginning slowly faded as our standards in recording quality rose, the spirit is still there and I intend to keep the torch burning in further projects :) And who knows maybe SOTS will be back also for some cameos for when I visit Cole or he visits me.
Posted on December 31, 2022