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The Allegorist – dark ambient thriller TEKHENU track by track

Deep thoughts to match the deep sounds, from Berlin’s Anna Jordan

Anna Jordan is The Allegorist, a Hungarian-born, Berlin-based producer of eerie, dark ambient techno and multi-disciplinary artist whose fifth album TEKHENU has just been released on her own Awaken Chronicles label.

Jordan debuted on Greece’s Kraak Records, with a sophomore LP coming on the keenly watched Detroit Underground and the third album through Awaken Chronicles prompted Jeff Mills to include an in depth article on her in his magazine The Escape Velocity.  She’s also a fearsome performer, as the film of her live spectacular at St. Marienkirche Church in Berlin – available on YouTube – showcasing her powerful, operatic-style voice and from last September ably illustrates.

So when TEKHENU arrived, we asked her to guide us through the album and treat us to her thoughts, track by track…

“I’ve written and produced the album TEKHENU between 2020-2021. The main elements in the album TEKHENU are my vocals. I put a lot of effort into the sound design of developing all these different voices only from my own voice. Somehow I have the feeling that universal memories can travel through the body. So I’m letting my voice be used as an instrument by perhaps another version of me. Sometimes it feels as if I would know a certain place for instance, although I don’t think I’ve been there. I think there is a lot of undiscovered or unpopular or forgotten knowledge about many things, and I’m trying to learn from what feels right. Also, I put a lot of effort into designing the low-ends and the mixing in general. Mixing is still one of my favourite parts of the music creation process and I was aiming for a clean, straightforward, cinematic, and airy mix. For the synth elements I mainly used my Elektrons, for the sub-basses, the Grandmother, and some plugins for sampled acoustic instruments. I shot the album cover artwork in 2020 and edited it in 2022 into the main character of the album.“

Whispers Of The Wind
“I wrote The track Whispers Of The Wind about following our inner voice and intuition. We are a part of the Endless, and the wind symbolises the subtle feelings that guide us. Technically perhaps this track was the most difficult to create for me. I find it quite mysterious how experimental vocal melodies work. There are very few cues one can lean on, unlike in the case of let’s say a hi-hat loop. It takes a lot of experimentation, and a process of trial and error to design the right vocals in such majestic ways. It’s a huge part of my workflow to work on multiple Ableton projects at the same time and this track was a result of merging the best parts of three different projects.”

Born In The River
“I wrote the track Born In The River about how we all were born in the river. When we are born, we aren’t in a stable situation, everything around us is ever-moving. The river symbolises that constant motion. My zodiac sign is Pisces, so there is a little of me in this track also. I created this track by creating my own vocal instruments first. I recorded a lot of different vocals, edited them, and dropped them into Ableton’s Sampler. I designed the sounds further until I had my Wavetable synths I was happy with. I think I layered around six melody and harmony tracks with this and also added two original vocal recordings for the main deep vocals.”

Trees Of Peace
I wrote the track Trees Of Peace about our ancestral memories in the past and future. Just as trees are connected through an underground network we are connected in a transcendental way as well. For the sub-bass, I used my Moog Grandmother, for the synth elements the Novation Bass Station, and for the acoustic instruments some plugins, such as the Kanun, Tombak, Frame Drum, and Middle East Strings from the Middle East Plugin by Native Instruments.”

Inner Dialogue
“The track Inner Dialogue is the most intimate track on the album. It’s about our thoughts that are floating around and how we weigh them up when making a decision. To birth this track I did a lot of sessions where I left empty-handed. It’s again one of those tracks, that need some sort of magic. It’s either there in that moment, or just simply isn’t. But I was there, waiting to receive the gifts of the universe so I played around with my Analog Four by Elektron. The playful synth elements that start around 1:10 were my first inspiration. I felt like some sort of Robot Baby was inside my Analog Four and was talking to me. I thought it was a bit sad and cute, and I talked to it too, it was an intimate moment. I think I recorded hours of that one very similar sound of the Analog Four, and had a very hard time afterward choosing which part to actually take in the track, I guess a lot of producers can relate to this, haha.”

Through The Forest
“The track Through The Forest is about a period where we cannot see what will come next. In those times we might feel lost. In those times we cannot rely on anything else, but what is within us. This is the only track on the album, in which I didn’t record vocals, as a subtle hint of being lost. Instead, I recorded some sounds with the Digitone for the higher mid-range and above, and for the basses, I layered three recordings with my A4.”

Howling With The Wolf
“The track Howling With The Wolf is about waking and freeing your inner desires. The Wolf is a metaphor for our relations of an animalistic origin and connection to nature. I actually deleted this project by accident, unfortunately. This track felt like such an essential part of the album. So I tried to recover the files and was so relieved when it worked out! Perhaps the flute is my favorite element in this track starting around 2:15. I recorded it with the software synth Massive. I also recorded vocals, Woodwinds, and the Grandmother for the bass.”

The Invisible
“The track The Invisible is about the forces that are invisible to our vision but strongly influence our lives. So I quite hid the vocals in this track, but it’s there. In the album Tekhenu I’m telling the story of a journey, being lost, and the way of searching. It is a vulnerable position to face the unknown and admit our weaknesses. I wanted to reflect this fragility and our connections in these voices. Naturally, I placed this story into a warmer, more organic, breathing, and welcoming environment that is alive as opposed to the more hostile landscape of my previous album Blind Emperor. In retrospect it’s a bit funny, that I used one built-in software synth by Ableton called the Fog Pad, before I knew where this idea would eventually lead, haha.” The Allegorist

Dreams At Dawn
“The track Dreams At Dawn is about the state of a beginning. About the innocents of a start. The start of a day, when we are still half asleep and everything seems possible, a start of a passion, a bond, or a dream. I tried to indicate this fading feeling of leaving the terrain of dreams behind with the bell sound at the very end of the track. I quite like to leave little secret hints and puzzles in my work for the listeners to find, like a treasure chest in a children’s book or a computer game.”

“The track Tekhenu is about all of us. About our desires, pain, and choices. We all have our individual paths and we are all connected to everything beyond. One of my favorite elements is the deep vocal starting around 3:50. I remember how effortlessly that just came to me, I just made one recording. It filled me with a cosmic positivity, that pushed me into a direction to build this dramatic arc within the track, with three parts. It is perhaps the most complex track on the album, with its unusual arrangement and its different parts. It could have been three tracks. But I love the idea of walking through those different ideas seamlessly, merging genres, following a thread, like in a real story, with a sequence of events and changing scenery. I think it represents well the album theme, TEKHENU. TEKHENU is an allegory for meaning, and purpose, something that we are all bound to and that connects us all. We all have our own individual paths in life, which are also intertwined. We have our own truth, one perspective of the whole, and our unique experience and journey in life. We all are sort of going towards TEKHENU and it looks different for all of us. So I dedicated this album to the Seekers.”

“The track Barefoot is about letting go the rules and dancing as wild creatures in the acceptance of what we are. Barefoot is perhaps the most rhythmic track on this album, and I enjoyed a lot creating this one. I made the Kick, HiHat, and Clap with my dear Elektron Rytm, built some more rhythmic elements in Ableton’s Drum Rack, and also chopped some of my vocal recordings to use them in a rhythmical way. I think I used the TC-Helicon Perform-VE initially as a first element of inspiration, but then didn’t use the recordings in the final tracks after all, but my clean vocal recordings.“

Ben Willmott

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