Instinct and Memory is released on April 29th, 2016 on vinyl and digital through BL_K Noise. All purchases come with additional photos by Emilie Elizabeth and Briana Gonzales. I understand my music is unpredictable and demanding and want to thank you for all your support through the years! Interviews, reviews, and articles don’t do it for me, the most humbling part of releasing a record is shipping the records out across the world – to you!
Instinct and Memory
A great amount of effort was put into the physical release of the vinyl and it has always been the intended format for Instinct and Memory to be released and experienced on. It includes embroidered patch and logo pin, you can hold Emilie’s incredible artwork on heavy tip-on gatefold jackets and listen to Instinct and Memory as it tries to turn your sound system into dust. It definitely will test the limits of your sound system.
The centerpiece to Instinct and Memory is compression and the L-1 Microcompressor is the primary weapon of choice. This small, often looked over, dynamic processor served as the main aural centerpiece to the album. The past few albums has had the same focus, just on different tools. Every sound on Instinct and Memory was run through the L-1 as well as the Thermionic Culture Vulture Super 15. While the microcompressor is relatively cheap and accessible, it is immensely powerful, aggressive and stereo. It also features envelopes out so you can control a VCA with a similar effect.
Most of the straight forward drum programming was done with the Tip Top Audio Circadian Rhythms using Tip Top Audio 808/909 modules, Noise Engineering Basimilus Iteritas, Steady State Fate Quantum Rainbow, Synthrotek Dirt/Dly, and Make Noise Optomix/QMMG. The tracks that veer off a BPM grid or followable structure were either controlled by instruments that have random or patterned tempos, like the Harvestman Zorlon Cannon MKII, or the Cylonic TT303 gate outputs as a master clock source – this really messes with the timing and creates unstable tracks that play out differently on every take.
The Sequential Circuits Prophet-6 has its hand in several tracks as well – its been a few years since I’ve used a synthesizer with those white and black things so its been an interesting experience returning to them. Processing included 4MS Spectral Multiband Resonant Filter, Doepfer 12 Stage Vactrol Phase, L-1 Microcompressr, Serge Resonant EQ and Thermionic Culture Vulture Super 15 which everything was run through then recorded into Logic, and moved into Pro Tools for editing.
Arrangement & Mixing
All audio sources began on the modular and then arranged in Pro Tools, which I recently migrated to for work. Live served as a stand-in at times whenever I forgot my iLok somewhere. Logic has been used solely for recording in the studio.
The usual suspects of my plug-in arsenal are UAD, Valhalla DSP, Soundtoys, INA-GRM, Soundhack, and Izotope. The tracks that feature Annie Hall were created with the modern call and response structure. Annie Hall provided samples that served as a foundation for Wolves and Stars as well as Lust Designed. Annie put her trust in me and communication was limited, I kept her updated with new versions and she responded by sending additional samples to include. This process continued until they were completed.
After a general mix was established, all tracks were pre-mastered through the Thermionic Culture Vulture Super 15 to cut out some of the bass and reassign the energy to the mids but Shawn somehow managed to put back into the tracks with his mastering. The average of harmonic processing these tracks went through is an average of 4 or 5 times between Shawn and I.
Shawn Hatfield of Audible Oddities, “For each record I work on, I first experiment with which gear to insert into the signal path and in which order, as each piece of gear can change slightly in tonality depending on what piece of gear it’s feeding, and which piece of gear is feeding it. For Surachai’s ‘Instinct and Memory’ I came up with a signal path that sounded complimentary to the material, and after running an analyzer on the system, I could see there was a small bump in the highs from an interaction between some Carnhill output transformers on one of my compressors and the input of a Class A tube pre-amp. I really liked this little bit of air it was adding to the material in a way that I couldn’t achieve with EQ alone. I drove the inputs of the tube pre-amp to do some saturation and analog rounding of the transients which helped take away some of the edginess as well as adding triode tube harmonics to add weight and detail. This was followed by some subtle EQ and compression to help balance and add cohesion to the overall sound. A small amount of ‘tape’ harmonics was applied as it was captured with the Cranesong A/D convertors and then final limiting in the DAW.”
The masters were then sent to Roger Seibel of SAE Mastering to make lacquers which were then sent to Gottagroov to be plated and pressed. This has been the signal flow for the past few records and the results sound extraordinary.
The talent these women possess is not subtle – its something you see and feel immediately in all their work. The artwork process of Instinct and Memory was beautiful to watch unfold and was excited to be involved. I believe we created something beautiful and memorable from the culmination of a few artistic visions and its weight feels incredible in my hands. You can read an extended Instinct and Memory artist statement: HERE
Photography and Art Direction
Emilie Elizabeth and Briana Gonzales. I reached out to Emilie again because her work has elegance and sensitivity that I thought this project required. The imagery and narrative of sex magick and the occult was the main reference and Emilie understood immediately and got to work. Emilie enlisted Brianna Gonzales to help with art direction and together they created something that I couldn’t be happier with. The original idea revolved around a single model but somewhere along the conversation and Briana’s contacts, six more joined. Publications, websites, and reviewers are distancing themselves from the album and its artwork. Win/win.
Hvnter/Gvtherer. After seeing Laura’s jewelry and metalwork through social media, I discovered she was in Chicago. I reached out to see if she would be interested in accessorizing the shoot. She invited me to her studio where we talked about creating a centerpiece that would summarize the project into a single piece, quite an ask! This centerpiece served as the aesthetic reference for all of the artwork. Laura is incredibly talented, driven, and speaks through her artwork, I feel very fortunate to have worked with her.
Wulfka. The idea of finding a customized cloak seemed like a nightmare so I reached out to Kate to see if she would be interested in creating a 12 foot long cloak specifically for this project. Creating a cloak for a photoshoot required it to be able to be flexible but at the same time, retain a shape for photos – something I still don’t understand how it is achieved. After Emilie and I approved a design, she sent some photos of the actual cloak and I was speechless. Unfortunately, I still haven’t seen it in person – though we have plans to burn it soon.
Simona Noreik. Watching Simona navigate her way into video work while keeping her voice and style has been inspiring. I pestered her into doing some visuals for some upcoming shows and already I feel like her skill set has surpassed the assignment. Her visuals were used for the Instinct and Memory teaser. Nothing like holding back an artist from growing!
Type and Layout
Francis Kmiecik. I tapped Francis because of his undeniable artistry and stylistic eye. We’ve known each other long enough where I handed off the assets and he filled in the blanks. He calligraphed the font and stitched together the artwork for the vinyl and digital releases.
180 gram, full color tip-on gatefold! This album is sonically heavy and the physical representation of it was intended to reflect that. The total shipping weight is around 2 pounds. There are very special limited editions that Wax Mage Records created, we tried to create a look of old metal being unearthed – flawed, used, but still functional. They were sold out after a few days of being announced! I ship every single order out myself and it humbles me to think of the places this music will be experienced. Thank you so much for the support, truly.
As with everything on BL_K NOISE, Moe and I will do whatever we want. We talk about it briefly in this interview.