Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Digital Album: Radioatomic

At last, the album is complete. Releasing it in stages has been an interesting process, but I always intended it to be a cohesive work. Ladies and gentlemen, the first 'proper' album by The Manitou since 2008: Radioatomic.

Bandcamp player:

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that Radioatomic has been inspired by radioactivity and the Atomic Age. Production began in early 2013 and has taken over a year and a half to complete. That isn't to say it was my sole project during that time: two (as yet unreleased) soundtracks were tackled, and a handful of songs that didn't fit the theme are waiting in the wings for the follow-up.

The songs herein range from 'atmospheres' and experimental pieces to synthpop/electropop with a dark edge. They were created with a host of analogue and analogue-modelling synthesizers, virtual instruments, digital sampler software fed with 'found sounds' (field recordings, etc...), and a handful of drum machines and electronic toys (a track-by-track list of these devices can be found in the PDF booklet accompanying the release).

Track listing:
1. March Of The Rads
2. Electro Magnetic
3. Isotopes For All - Part 1
4. U235
5. Isotopes For All - Part 2
6. 96.1 MHz
7. Half Life
8. Global Warning
9. Nibiru
10. Radium Smile
11. Reactor Four
12. Atomic City
13. Cathode Ray
14. Fukushima Fifty
15. 96.2 MHz
16. A Robot In Every Home

These sixteen tracks all but fill an 80 minute CD, but the deluxe digital download on bandcamp includes seven bonus tracks: the single edits of five album tracks, an instrumental version of Half Life, and the electro mix of Atomic City. Thus every track released as part of the series of free singles is included in the package.

Also included is a 30 page .PDF booklet with liner notes, lyrics, and track-by-track artwork and instrument lists. For more detailed commentary on each track I suggest searching this blog for the keyword 'Radioatomic.'

The artists Atomic Shadow and Kraftwerk deserve special mention, as both heavily influenced this album. Specifically, it was #9 by Atomic Shadow that inspired me to browse the Prelinger Archive for public domain film reels, resulting in 'Isotopes For All' and 'Atomic City.' Kraftwerk have been an influence on my music from day one, but during production I realised that their 1975 album Radio-Activity had more than just its subject-matter in common with this project. If you haven't heard it I urge you to follow the link and do so.

Digital Single: A Robot In Every Home

The final free single from the Radioatomic project looks at the bright future promised by the advent of atomic energy that didn't quite live up to expectations. Sure, there were advances in many industries, but where are our personal jet packs, flying cars, and robot butlers? This was my inspiration for A Robot In Every Home.

Bandcamp player:

A Robot In Every Home [single edit] is drastically pruned down from the eight minute album version to serve up the essence of the track. It retains most of the intro, consisting of French horns, found sound, and a snippet of processed audio from a fun little film called 'Leave It To Roll-oh.' I was thinking of old RKO Radio Pictures black & white b-films, complete with a menacing mechanical man. Next come some synthesizer parts, the bulk of which were created with the Novation K-Station this time around. HS-60 is also present, and Gmedia M-Tron choir. The Korg Monotribe was used on the bridge, but that particular part was cut from this version.



Like Radium Smile before it, this song started with the lyrics. Then came the melody as heard on the intro: something to set the tone for the Radioatomic album's 'big finale'. I spent some time last year sampling an electronic game called Parker Brothers' Merlin (see this post) and this seemed a perfect place to use the sounds. As well as the usual DR-550 tom-toms and synthesized percussion, there's the odd found sound in the mix, including a hand-clap with tight reverb recorded in the corner of a concrete foundation, and a pebble being dropped (into a drain pipe, if memory serves).

A Robot In Every Home [electro edit] rather than include the album version on the single I created this alternate mix, which omits the French horns and some of the samples. It has the same shortened bridge as the single edit.

There's currently no video for this track, but it's forthcoming. (updated 12/11/14). This release is twinned with the full Radioatomic album. Stay tuned to the next post for details!