Beloved Australian experimental stalwarts MY DISCO are gearing up for their long-awaited 2022 Australian tour by releasing another selection from their sixth studio album Alter Schwede. The radio single Folterkammer is another uncompromising slice of sonic exploration reflecting the fearless studio investigation that has made MY DISCO one of Australia’s most successful and inventive DIY exports.
Continuing the band’s recent immersion into dark synthesis and power ambience, Folterkammer is a thrilling ASMR dip into the wraithlike periphery. A blackened heat beat propels through flashback laden soundscapes. Longing for melodic redemption, the tempo lifts and the ether comes into tighter focus only to pass by without warning, distant in the rear-view mirror, beckoning a repeated expedition. The band takes Hi Fi Way through the album track by track.
Track By Track – Alter Schwede
A subjective look at low end detuned drum patterns featuring Aaron Cupples on a customised string instrument. Many of the tracks from Alter Schwede are outtakes from the band’s 2018 Environment album recording sessions, tracked and compiled by Boris Wilsdorf at AndereBaustelle Studios in Berlin, Germany.
Reversed and manipulated metal percussion outtakes recorded in and around the studio during the European winter of 2018. Occasionally these takes were performed in the stairwell or outside the studio for dramatic and aural nuanced effect. The Yamaha TG33 features as an instrumental overdub and is a 32-voice programmable synthesizer module featuring AWM and FM synthesis under vector control.
Repetitive drum pattern outtakes feature on this track to create an industrial pummel. The vocal idea was performed by recording engineer Boris Wilsdorf and features token excerpts from a German automobile training manual. The title of the song translates to Strassenverkehrsordnung (German: Road Traffic Regulations).
A translation of his words are as follows:
Endangerment of others Paragraph 3
100 80 60
Readiness to break
You must overtake on the left hand side
Total weight is 3.5 tons
Overtaking is not permitted
Firstly, if the traffic situation is unclear Or, secondly if it is prohibited by a traffic sign (sign 267277)
One who is operating an unadmitted vehicle over 7.5 tons, must not overtake, all other rules aside, if you cannot see further than 50m due to fog, snow or rain.
You can only drive fast for as long as you can ensure full control over the vehicle.
This was the first song tracked as part of the Environment recording sessions in Berlin. The strong rhythmic drum and bass sections, whilst of interest, felt disconnected from what eventually would become the Environment album, but were able to be re-developed for the purposes of piecing together Alter Schwede.
A detuned Timpani drum lays the bare focus for this song. Mallet work on gongs and a Soviet era metal reverb tank resonate over the top of the Timpani. Certain parts of the percussion were used on the Environment sessions, and Javanese Gamelan music became a strong influence for much of the percussion ideas.
A heavy, panning bass line with harsh noise elements make this track a favorite to perform live in the current MY DISCO touring set. The operatic vocals, performed by artist Berit Gilma, were originally tracked over another piece of music, but Wilsdorf had the idea of transposing her work (albeit adding effects such as hall reverbs and pitch resonators to her voice). Folterkammer in German roughly translates to “torture chamber” and is a phrase taken from a German promoter on a recent MY DISCO tour who described the band’s sound as “torture chamber ambience”.
This track is a recording of an air vent in the studio, recorded in 2018 on the Environment album sessions. “Lüftung” means ventilation, or air vent in German, and “Baustellen” is the first name of the recording studio. The band noticed the air vent during track of some particularly quiet parts, and decided to record it for later use. The hand bell overdubs are close mic tracked in Melbourne. The air vent recording is processed for effect.
“I don’t know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life – anybody’s life; my life. All he’d wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch”. Rick Deckard, 1982.
MY DISCO Alter Schwede is out now through Downward Records & Heavy Machinery Records
Catch My Disco on the following dates…