The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Sonic Router

Sonic Router 012: Eleven Tigers And Free Download Mix
Oli Marlow , May 14th, 2010 08:49

We cannot stop him. His bass is too strong. Oli Marlow speaks to Eleven Tigers. Scroll down for a fine free mix as well

Through my research for this month’s column I believe I’ve developed something of an affinity for Lithuanian producer Eleven Tigers (aka Jokubas Dargis). Even though he doesn’t know me from Adam or the fact that we’ve never even had a conversation, let alone embraced each other in a manly display of gratitude; he, with his tendency to wander into improvised instrumentality, the imminent release of his frankly impeccable debut album, and his detailed writings that record his tangents (the internet being, in simple terms, a huge echo chamber is a personal favourite), an obsession with electronics and his passion for the music of Talk Talk, has completely beguiled me.

His album Clouds Are Mountains – due later this month on the Bristol based Soul Motive label - takes the rolling drum patterns of the current bass music chasm and refracts it through his own personal outlook, serving 2step bumps and 3rd-beat-of-the-bar-snares with a smattering of bourgeois atmospherics and a gloriously free sense of improvisation. Managing to sound as thick and atmospherically brutal as Suicide in places - though tracks like ‘Open Mirror’ and ‘Flux’ will illustrate my point purposefully - Dargis’ range and ear for dancefloor friendly melodies on tracks like ‘Stood Up’ and ‘Sparkles,’ combined with his super heavy drum breaks and deft effects processing really do make his debut stand out like a shining light.

“I was always surrounded by creativity as my parents are drama teachers," he tells me when prompted on his musical heritage. “They have an amazing youth drama collective in my home town and there was this guy, who played sax, piano, guitars and had some early acid-jazz and electronica CDs. I was about 12 or so and just hung around him; I wanted to be as cool as he was. He inspired me so much that I assembled some kind of DIY drum kit out of barrels, gaffer tape, cut metal sheets and all sorts of other junk. I practised drumming on this kit for months then finally decided to enroll to a percussion class at a local school of music.”

Even when describing his entrance to the world of music, the fact that it’s so hands on and simple as this, seems fitting when you let yourself get immersed in the world of Eleven Tigers. It’s a universe that feels simple and direct, like each new idea is fully nurtured and deemed possible just by the want to make it work. And his music simply sucks you in deeper when you listen.

“Back then, I was listening to Ninja Tune, Compost, !K7, and though all the music was magical, I just wanted to understand how it was made. My friend had this early [copy of] Sonic Foundry Acid so I spent nights with him learning, experimenting and dreaming about how we may become AIR... I didn't even have my own PC so I used every possibility to get on one and play with new software. I went to internet cafes, stealthily installed Rebirth on their PCs and sat there for hours trying to master the program. Afterwards, I would record my creations onto cassettes through a bulky JVC player I carried around everywhere...”

Freely admitting his love for computerised technology - “I was constantly away from home... and then finally, my parents bought me a computer and since then I became permanently attached to the screen” – his knowledge and immersion in the digital world has become a key factor in his music; using the full capabilities of Ableton Live and Max properly, coating his productions in swarms of reverb and echo at different intervals. His drums are also EQed perplexingly well, flickering in a driven manner at the top end and hitting with great measured force at the low.

“Technology inspires me profoundly every day and I want to understand it better so I can be part of this digital revolution… I honestly believe in humans fully merging with technology and my desire is to exploit this evolutionary change creatively,” he deadpans me. “Essentially, Japanese anime was/is a big influence on how I view the technological advance. The Japanese sense of aesthetics blends art and science so beautifully that it drives me to study technology much deeper. I am amazed when there is no clear distinction between art and science; that singularity point is what I am looking for in anything I do.”

Dargis’ artful tendencies might tend to wander through stages, whether it's designing and building his own patches within synthesizers or musing over the influence and prosperity of Talk Talk so much that a 20 minute live re-interpretation is born out of one session; but having recently rekindled his love of live instrumentation it feels like he’ll soon have gone some way to achieve his goal of fusing the digital with the human aspect of his music.

“As I played my music live I found that best moments in my music happen unexpectedly… improvised… sometimes, they emerge from mistakes and frustration,” he concedes when I quiz him on this. “I am never bored and I don't think my tools can bore me - I love to start from scratch, learn the process once again… I don't really like planning anymore; I’ve become obsessed with the 'moment'."

This obsession with the here and now - or the then and there depending on your predilection for performance tenses - has also led Dargis to develop a ‘Social Sampler’ implicitly powered by twitter and the use of keywords within YouTube and other social media.

“I should probably thank one anonymous commenter on arstechnica.com expressing his view on some copyright issues (one of my favourite topics) and saying that the internet is full of echo. I could relate to his post quite deeply as I was reading Noise: The Political Economy of Music by Jacques Attali at that time. With my head full of thoughts I went to bed and kept visualizing things and this 'Social Sampler' idea popped into my mind.”

“It associates twitter "noise" with YouTube videos and other social media by comparing words, tags and additional metadata so that you end up with this amazing and hilarious set of resources which can be manipulated to create audio/visual mash ups and remixes on the fly. There is loads of work to be done until the 'Social Sampler' is working properly. I hope I will have more spare time to develop it this summer so I can start using it in my live performances...”

For me it’s this type of mind boggling manipulation of technology teamed with his musicianship that makes the Eleven Tigers project so vitally different to a lot ‘dubstep’ out there at this time. So indebted to atmosphere, in a similar way as Burial’s two long players are, ‘Clouds Are Mountains’ creates this sort of cathartic galaxy that’s as much pummelling drum work as it is excessive noise play; and in this sound set it makes complete sense that Dargis flips from the dark granular tides of ‘Flux’ to the circus inspired jaunt of ‘Atomic Turnip,’ in the space of a few seconds.

In a world where musical clichés can cement themselves over a handful of releases it’s wholly refreshing to hear a producer exploring every possible possibility in his work. Maybe it takes a person so committed to their craft, so entwined with their circuitry to produce such a thing, but I for one am glad there are producers like Eleven Tigers. People like him, and Rudi Zygadlo, are tearing up any kind of rule book, pouring their own personality and worth into projects that are frankly, frightfully impressive and endlessly inventive.

“A few years back I was really interested in electronic dance music and I really wanted to find my niche within it. I was inspired by early dubstep raves and by Burial especially. It was a great moment in my life as I felt that I finally found my sound and my people,” he reminisces thoughtfully before snapping out of the memory suddenly. “Well… this interest dried out as this unique sense of unity and freshness in dubstep just evaporated into the air. I didn't really care anymore if my music was associated with dubstep or not. I realised that I was finally able to create music for myself, music I could listen to all day; so, I just continue to look for inspirations and write the music I love.”

DOWNLOAD: Eleven Tigers – Sonic Router Mix

Tracklist:

  1. Insides – Yes
  2. Apparat – Wooden
  3. Hildur Gudnadottir – Elevation
  4. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions – Lose Me On The Way
  5. Arovane – Auben
  6. Autechre – Sim Gishel
  7. Efterklang – Chapter 6
  8. Bark Psychosis – Burning The City
  9. Biosphere – When I Leave
  10. Spyweirdos – Should Be A Spell
  11. Deaf Center – Eloy
  12. Tomas Dvorak – Mr.Handogate
  13. Pangaea – You & I
  14. Eleven Tigers – Autogenesis
  15. Caural – Cruel Fate Of Spring

Words: Oli Marlow for Sonic Router

‘Clouds Are Mountains’ is out on the 30th May on Soul Motive.

You can find ‘Stood Up’ on the second Wigflex compilation 12”, WF002, and a FREE EP, ‘Fold,’ is available to download for free here: http://eleventigers.bandcamp.com/album/fold

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.