GARETH JONES – ELECTROGENETIC
Album released 18th September via Calm + Collect
ELECTROGENETIC is the debut album by producer and noise maker Gareth Jones.
Gareth is perhaps best known for adding his distinctive studio technique to albums from Yann Tiersen, Interpol, John Foxx, Erasure, Grizzly Bear, Nick Cave, Depeche Mode and countless others. More recently he has collaborated with Nick Hook in the duo Spiritual Friendship and with Christopher Bono as Nous Alpha. After many years spent in legendary studios in Europe and the US realising other people’s projects, Gareth decided now was the time to record his first solo album.
ELECTROGENETIC is immediately and necessarily personal. Recorded over a year-long period following the passing of his mother and mother-in-law, reflections on life and death hang heavy over the album’s nine pieces. The emotive and stirring ‘Farewell’ and ‘Safe Travels’ were recorded in his mother-in-law’s home in Michigan during a house-clearing visit following her passing; his photograph on the sleeve shows a view from the desk in London where many of the album’s pieces started, containing his late father’s wedding ring and an ankh, a symbol of fortitude that Gareth has been drawn to from his teenage years right through to his recovery from cancer over a decade ago.
Across the record you hear delicate, simple melodies, each one fashioned from lovingly-tuned samples of his mother’s piano that he played as a boy. Here you will also find motifs played on the recorder, an instrument that the infant Gareth learned to play, evoking a sense of youthful innocence, and complementing sections of spoken word.
These naturalistic elements – piano, recorder, voice – sit on top of intense, writhing nests of searching electronics that unfold with an understated forward motion. Those pulsing, criss-crossing patterns acted as the starting point for ELECTROGENETIC’s tracks, which in turn inspired the album’s title. “The name embodies my creative interaction with the machines,” explains Gareth. “These pieces each started with me building a patch with my modular synth. Building a patch is a creative act, but in a way you’re not really in control of what it does. Each time I started a piece the modular gave me back something that I would never have done consciously, or deliberately.”
The process gave Gareth hours of material to work with, which was then edited down into the seamless sequence of far shorter pieces presented on the album, with the other elements added on top. Tellingly, the album’s logical opener, ‘The Beginning’, finds Gareth reading from the Book of Genesis in Wesley’s Chapel in Islington, its familiar creationist text acting less as a statement of religious belief but as an allegory for the creative process that he went through while developing these pieces – namely taking a modular patch that was without form, and transforming it into something exuding brilliant light.
‘Mercury’, the album’s dramatic, yet meditative, centrepiece finds Gareth ruminating on the dualities of life that he is continually drawn to. Here he toys with the idea of Mercury as the Winged Messenger of the ancient Roman religion, while also reminiscing about the thermometers of his youth, the mercury’s rise and fall representing our perpetual ups and downs, of our continually fluctuating emotional states. The piece ends with a poignant ode to Mother Earth, an offering of thanks to the planet we call home, but also an appreciation of the mother figures whose passing fed into the creation of ELECTROGENETIC.
“The record is about death, commemoration, celebration, separation and transition,” reflects Gareth. “I’ve always been conscious of mortality, and of course I’m more and more conscious of that as I get older. I turned 65 last year, and the symbolism of that, plus an appreciation of the ongoing cycle of life, is what informed this album. I wanted to make something that was authentically me, something that was utterly personal yet whose themes would be relatable to everyone. I like to think that’s what I’ve achieved with this album.”
ELECTROGENETIC will be released as a download, stream and limited-edition cassette through Calm + Collect on 18th September 2020.
For more information on ELECTROGENETIC, including Gareth’s notes on each track, visit the album website – electrogenetic.com
Visit Calm + Collect at Bandcamp
1. The Beginning
7. Safe Travels
8. I Believe
9. Alone Together
(c) 2020 Mat Smith for Calm + Collect