From small boxes, big sound, and enormous fun…
Something has happened in the evolution of electronic music production. What was once so often a slow process has become a jam, what was carefully orchestrated on screens finds itself embodied in gear. And small and affordable “toys” can often deliver the greatest “switch-on-and-play” satisfaction.
Helsinki’s Recue and Jolea first found their way to their album by playing live, so it’s fitting we start with a live set from them. Their fusion is beat-driven, left-field pop – settling into moody, experimental grooves with effortless hooks over top. It’s melancholy surfaces with sparkling edges.
See video below; embed is now fixed!
Recue brings the soundscapes and beats, while Jolea adds her songwriting and vocal talents in really nicely-balanced collaboration. (Jolea also does production and manages the label Audiobaum.) The result is dreamy and evocative, layered song craft with endless production details.
Their aptly-named We’re Not Like the Most LP is out now, but let’s chat about the process of making this hardware jam of the cut “Tempo 17” – especially as that’s the distinctive, grimy growl of our MeeBlip cutting through the mix. (That’s an SE, but I really appreciate that our engineer James Grahame managed to change the architecture and filter but maintain a particular personality.)
The track is “using various quirky little synths including a Yamaha ”toy” keyboard, an awesome DIY kit synth, a ”hackable digital synthesizer” and a drum machine that looks like a pocket calculator,” they announce. Here’s more:
Recue tells us:
The live jam is kind of a byproduct of testing out different live setup options. I wanted to test a small Mackie mixer, out of frame, as I’ve run out of soundcard inputs, plus I just scored the little Yamaha PSS-390 for 60 bucks, which includes a two-operator FM engine and a few sliders for control. “Lately Bass” for kids FTW! The Shruthi is a recent addition as well, and this is actually our first encounter with MeeBlip and it certainly was a positive surprise. All of them a little quirky in their own ways, MeeBlip having weird grunts with extreme env settings and Shruthi occasionally scrambling its display due to bad soldering I guess. But fun stuff nevertheless! Ed.: yes, some of those weird envelope grunts are resolved on MeeBlip anode, actually, along with some other manufacturing improvements that explain why we discontinued SE and replaced it with anode! But we still enjoy playing with an SE now and then.
The jam set itself is just a really simple three scene Ableton setup pushing midi to all the toys. Ramp things up, jam jam jam, bring things down again. The little beat part in the beginning is actually for syncing the beats with the rest as the Volca/Pocket Op are running on Volca’s clock, which annoyingly is 0.45 BPM off an even value so I have to nudge Ableton for exact match.. you can hear a little drift in the end.
A little bit of us. We both produce music on our own as well, and are both actually working on our solo albums at the moment. A while back we started doing live sets together and begun by combining our solo tracks for performing, but eventually ended up with an album worth of completely new material so the collaborative project Recue X Jolea was set up. We just released the material on Audiobaum which is a label run by Jolea herself.
In an interview, they talk about their approach to the record, production, and playing together:
And for more live action, here they are with a live session recording for the radio program Sunnuntaikooma:
Have a listen to the record:
Studio photos: Henry Söderlund, live photos: Jari Saukkonen.