There are few techno tracks as influential as Joey Beltram’s “Energy Flash.” But it’s also a case study in form and influence – one you can learn from. To get started, listen to the tracks that came first.
I wrote about “Energy Flash” for Roland today. (Yes, the Roland, since they take 909 Day very seriously.)
Beltram himself says that he wanted to recapture the feeling he had when he heard another track – Master C & ‘J’s 1986 “When You Hold Me.” I think what’s not so important is to think of this as a template, as there’s the same focus on sound and form. It’s the kind of structure and discipline missing in tracks when people get started — or when any of us get stuck.
But it’s also worth saying, this 1986 track is just as hot.
While you’re training your ears, check for the samples used in “Energy Flash” in their original form…
Orbital’s “Chime” was a far bigger hit than “Energy Flash” (as far as I can recall) at the time and – uh, does this video predict the iPod commercials? Anyway, the music is really exquisite, too:
Those strings didn’t start there, though; they’re actually from the 1972 Johnny Pearson “Sleepy Shores” and, to hear them, I hope you’re ready to get retrograde and inverted in your mind:
Joey sampled “Chime” in another track on the same release:
“Ecstasy” is quite a lot easier to find. But somehow the woman repeating “rock to the beat” is way more hilarious:
WhoSampled is just one of the best sites and linkholes ever, basically.
Now who doesn’t love the ’99 remix – faster and longer and pitched up and more 1999ish?
I’ve never heard this mix and … guess it’s the “live mix”?
This is just… the best. From NYC trio Vinyl Life who … move Joey from Queens to Brooklyn! And actually this is the one I’d want to mix in, somehow, because it’s too much fun.
And yeah, I just was in love with this thumbnail image at top from this YouTube video – for no very good reason.
“Which TR is it?” or “how I remembered I love 6-bit”
So I just went along with my Roland editor here and – I’ll be honest, I have no particular ability to tell the difference between a 707 and 909 sound apart from the kick. More expert listeners did comment elsewhere that there isn’t a lot of TR-909 on this track. (Not that it would have helped – knowing me, had Roland assigned the article for “707 day” I would have been late and missed the July deadline.)
But we can say this:
Tambourine: 707 (since the 909 didn’t have one)
Ride/crash: either. The important thing here is, both machines shared a 6-bit PCM sample – and part of what glues this track together is that digitally squashed sound. (Sorry, analog lovers.)
Hi-hats: almost certainly also 707 sounds; these are different on the 707 to the 909 (though both 8-bit) sounds. Signal path is also different, but it’s the PCM waveform difference you hear most.
If you want to muse at the 707 ROM format, here’s where to go.
Let me just marvel at how well some clipped waveforms can work, especially when squashed into 8-bit or 6-bit resolution. But I’m the wrong person to ask, I just enjoy a TR most after it’s circuit bent, anyway.
I’ll make some edits with Roland, but meanwhile, enjoy the story!
And what you really need is to be at Tresor with Joey in 2005, because – wow.