The Presets are one of Australia’s best known electronic music acts. They recently teamed up with Golden Features to produce a new EP in Raka, out now. Here’s 5 songs singer/songwriter, keyboardist and Silverchair collaborator Julian Hamilton has been digging at the time of release.
These are a collection of tunes I have been listening to over the past couple of days in the studio. Old favourites I have dug back up in an effort to find inspiration for new Presets music – interesting vocal shapes and ideas in particular. Nine Inch Nails are really great at this. This song is an excellent example of good vocal writing over techno paced music. Every section of the lyric is strong and hooky. It is difficult to come up with good lyrical phrases when writing to 120-130BPM beats. Half time lyrics often sound too slow, whereas double time sound too fast. This is why with most EDM hits the songs generally ‘breaks down’ to a more chilled lyrical bit, and then builds up to ‘the drop’ which is usually just beats alone. It is very rare to hear performers sing over the drop or groovy dance bit – because it’s very hard to make it sound any good. Trent Reznor has no problems at this though, because he is God.
Nitzer Ebb – Let Your Body Learn
When we toured the USA for the first time in 2006 so many people would ask us if we liked Nitzer Ebb (we had not heard of them at the time, or DAF for that matter – another band we were always being compared to). We finally checked them out and I get the comparison to our early music. Industrial techno rhythms with this baritone voice booming over the top. It’s pretty great stuff. This punk vocal delivery over killer dance floor grooves is such a good combination. It is something I am itching to get back to with our band.
Jen Series, ANNA, Richie Hawtin – CLOSE combined (When I’m a Freakin Acid Dream)
Richie Hawtin is so dope. I have seen his live techno shows a few times over the years. Once in Sydney like, jeez, surely not, 20 years ago? Yikes. Then we saw him a few years later DJ in Berlin early one morning and it was tough and huge. Good honest rolling techno. This week I have been listening to this new live album of his, and grabbing a microphone and recording myself yelling along to it. I am trying to find good vocal rhythms and phrasing that fits well with this energetic style of music. This track is actually from a recent live set of his – the track is by DJ ANNA who is also amazing – and Hawtin mixes it with his own live drum machines and synths on stage. Good stuff.
Depeche Mode – Black Celebration
Every second review of our early music, the journalist would inevitably write “for fans of Depeche Mode” – which I take as a massive compliment. The whole aesthetic of the band is super cool and dark. Not dark in a sad emo way, it’s more dark yet really powerful and uplifting. I really dig it. There is a machismo dripping from Dave Gahan’s delivery – sexy and tough. He is such a great singer – definitely a good one to refer back to for inspiration. Ironically after I was digging this track the other day I saw my friend from New York post on Instagram that he was listening to the same song and loving it. Sometimes the universe sends you cosmic reminders that you are on the right track.
Barker – Paradise Engineering
This is easily my favourite track of 2019. The whole album is mad but this tune in particular kills me every time. Barker makes techno, but it never really bangs up front like most techno. It bubbles and shimmers and more kinda grooves along below the surface, or behind some kind of sheen layer. It is dreamlike, and a bit blurry – but still retains a crisp, tough edge in there. It reminds me of Impressionist painters in a weird way – those French guys who painted rivers and sunrises and they super exaggerated the haze, and the blur and the reflections – so the viewer got a way more realistic impression of the feel of a sunrise – rather than just what it looked like. That’s what Barker’s music feels like to me – luscious, dreamy, joyful techno – but not at all obvious. I love it.