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Bintus returns with Live And Locked

Seven track album due on Power Vacuum in late November.

Founded by Milo Smee last year, the Power Vacuum label has proved a worthy outlet for rave-fuelled techno, with incendiary contributions from UK veterans EDMX and Mark Broom as well as Smee himself as Bintus and Invincible Scum, the intermittent project done in cahoots with World Unknown overlord Andy Blake. Having expanded the label’s remit into the long player format with the Frozen Stomp album from EDMX, Power Vacuum will unleash a more extensive demonstration of Smee’s current creative direction with the forthcoming Live And Locked.

Some seven tracks long, the album is so named as it consists of live hardware jams recorded directly to stereo and subsequently edited down to fit across both sides of a 12″ LP, and each track is followed by a locked groove “designed to increase the playing time and therefore value to the DJ.” Despite the wonderfully outlandish standards previously set, Power Vacuum have really outdone themselves in the press release department with some equally distinctive cover art too – both can be taken in below. For more of an idea of what to expect from the album and the label in the next few months we got in touch with Power Vacuum CEO Milo Smee.

How long have you been thinking about recording a Bintus LP for?

Here’s the long answer – Dopplereffekt’s Infophysix mini-album which came out in 1996, I think is the best single piece of dance vinyl I own. All the tracks are killer, there’s seven of them – it pretty much hasn’t left my record bag since then. You have to be pretty quick if you wanna mix in & out some of the tracks because they’re short – but you wanna play the whole thing anyway, there’s no fat. I wanted to own more compact dance albums like that. This was still in my mind when PV started, and I spoke to Ed (Upton) about doing one a while ago, which ended up being Frozen Stomp.

Something else was lined up for the release after that, the music and video was already done – but I had a sudden urge to document the Bintus live set as it’s changing all the time. So that was the new plan, but once I’d set the studio up for live, jamming from scratch was more fun so I carried on with that, which was at the end of August.

Were the tracks recorded over a short period of time and how much prior planning went into them?

Yes, I had all the music done in a week. The edit-down to get them to fit the album format took more time because most of the tracks rolled for about twenty mins. It was tight as I booked the cut for September 16, acting as a hard deadline. The only prior planning was patching everything together that I wanted to use and setting the MPC to 133.3 BPM for each jam. Not having time to reflect and question decisions you make as you go along means you don’t get too precious about it, and most of the time you do spend working like this can be filed under ‘joy’.

The turnaround from firing up the machines, to the release date will be about three months – so liberating compared to the usual of having tracks/albums clog up your subconscious for years before they’re released.

What sort of hardware was used during the recording process?

An MPC1000 for the sequencing. A lot of the drums were trigger boxes (Tama / Ultimate Percussion / DDrum / Simmons) so used the MPC’s 6 audio outs with rim clicks assigned to trigger those. Then a little MFB analog box, modified EX800 and DX100, RY30 and some FX boxes / pedals, all through a couple of desks with bits of EQ and compression along the way, I think that’s about it.

The computer was the stereo recorder. I would have preferred a 1/4 inch tape machine for that but sold mine recently – though I now know the guy in the room next to me has one.

The inclusion of locked grooves after each track is an interesting one – what was the motivation behind this?

It was basically a question of getting the most value out of a single piece of vinyl. I wanted a loud cut, but enough music to make a dance album. Only being able to do about 13 mins each side for a loud cut meant the LP would only be 26 mins or so. I thought I needed about 35 mins to call it an album. A restless night led to the idea that if every track had a useful one bar lock groove at the end, and seeing as lots of potent dance floor music is a simple one bar loop for ages anyway, I could increase the playing time and value – at least for the DJ.

For the digital release I extended the last bars so the actual running time is just over 34 mins. Vinyl users can go beyond that of course, if inclined. I tried to use last bars that would be useful tools in themselves – you could think of it like that but with a three minute tune on the front. The restriction with this was that every track had to be 133.3 bpm to end in a lock, though once it goes to vinyl / CD you can modify that with variable pitch of course; so if your more of a 125 bpm’er – you get even more time out of it.

How much input, if any, did you have into that press release?

I just edited down what was written by a friend. He does all of these and we’re getting into a groove with the process. Initially there’s some back and forth with potential scenarios etc, then he writes a load and I’ll try and keep the best bits with it still scanning OK. Not sure if it always does – but we have a good time.

And where did that cover art get sourced from?

The stylish German dude looking for a fight? That’s a picture by Joe Dilworth – a legend in many ways, but photography and drumming for the purposes of this. When thinking about what to use for the artwork, I remembered the intensity of this photo and the guy satisfied the title of being ‘live’ and ‘locked’ (he’s actually grabbing someone’s collar but we blacked the person out for several reasons).

Joe managed to snap an action shot which could have set him up as a target if noticed; his professional surreptitiousness was probably of too high an order though. The other option was a boring picture of me in the studio, so it was a no-brainer.

What’s on the horizon for Power Vacuum next year?

The first various artists EP is due in early 2014, no disclosure on who at this point but it’s the first time any of the four have released on PV. The idea came about because some of my favourite producers are too busy to commit to a full release (for me at this time anyway), so I just asked them for one track each which was more realistic – now I can get on with the release pretty quickly.

Power Vacuum will release Live And Locked by Bintus on LP and Digital formats on November 26.

Tracklisting:

A1. Stellar Drain
A2. Paracelsus Beat 2
A3. Cylinder-Bop
B1. Giza Plateaux
B2. Toyota Henge
B3. Basket Case
B4. Des L’ambiance

“A column of bull ants moves across the rain forest floor, constantly moving limbs shift like the tidal flow of a river. Each carries a large bright leaf in its mandibles maybe twenty or thirty times its size. The column swerves around a tendril-like air duct that services a chamber below. One strays too close and slips down still carrying its leaf. It flies down the air pipe and is projected into the interior of an anechoic chamber.

Beads of sweat ooze down Bintus’ grizzled brow as he continues experiments into noiseless ultra bass. If applied correctly this acoustic energy can have devastating effects. The bull ants legs start to quiver as invisible frequencies levitate it to the centre of the room where it briefly remains; suspended like an insectoid phantasm. The pressure becomes too great and its whole body explodes, shattered limbs deliver the unaffected leaf to rest. The ants above loose their trail and start to circle the roof of the compound, following the invisible symmetry of looping frequencies. A swarm of giant hornets blaze in, dive-bombing individual ants in sync to the bursts of acid noise that crash the jungle ambiance. A great swathe of rain breaks over the scene cooling the roof and creating clouds of steam which billow and rise.

Bintus activates the microphones he placed across the forest floor, pulling its sounds down into the mix. Amplified at maximum level, the ants movement and the low dismal drone of the hornets sound like a psychedelic catastrophe. A smile breaks across Bintus’ face as he cherishes this moment of chaos. For its in the eye of an infinite techno storm that you will find Bintus finally at peace with himself.”