INVOLVEMENT IN MATISYAHU'S NEW EP "RELEASE THE BOUND"
US singer Matisyahu just released a 5 tracks digital album entitled "Release the Bound", and we consequently took part in it by creating the music and producing the first 3 featured songs, called "Wanderer", "Shade from the Sun" and "Crash Landings".
Our contribution includes:
Music composition; playing of all the instruments; sound design and artistic direction; music arranging, vocals arranging; recording, editing, mixing.
About one year ago, Matisyahu suggested that we make songs together after hearing some of our music, and more specifically how we get to play across diverse cultural influences in ways differing from the framework he is used to work in. He then passed by our studio, here in Strasbourg - France, and we freely chose to bring him in certain musical environments where we thought his vocal style could be integrated in a way that brings out sense, borrowing from genres we are familiar with and relate to on a personal level.
As a result, we were able to come up with songs which, rather than being centered around usual vocal chorus hooks, find their dynamic in a dialog- navigating between the singing parts and musical parts. It came about organically and we went for it, feeling it also allowed for less conventional progressions while still staying within the realm of pop music suiting the singer.
Opening with "Wanderer", here is a music piece directly evoking Tuareg's blues music from the Sahara, which resonates with us singularly above all for its mesmerizing depth, and also on another level in relation with our own Berber origins running deep.
We had been taking inspiration from it on several previous tracks and that's actually one of the things that got Matisyahu's attention, so when he came over we showed him some more, particularly from the influential band Tinariwen. As these excellent musicians like to point out , "if music may not change the world, its ability to touch the heart can still facilitate understanding between seemingly distant populations, and greatly encourage to get to the point of learning about, even meet people" all the way through what might have appeared remote parts of the world.
Hence, when we get into playing such music, it's also a way of expressing we do hear them, and wish to carry on that wave from this particular place where we stand. While a lot could be said about the implications this music carries, we'll simply touch on how we believe the topic of nomadism has relevance not only in its several forms but also beyond its literal meaning, which are all worth reflecting on. We aspire to acknowledge it and hopefully, give a sense of that movement through sound. As for words, Matisyahu played the game and gave his take on the theme with his lyrics.
Following up is "Shade from the Sun", actually the first song we came up with during the recording session, and built around one of the few common grounds we share with Matisyahu: Jamaican music.
While his initial request was a straightforward Dancehall rhythm which he was going to infuse with his pop-reggae singing, we departed from typical Dancehall aesthetics, starting by mainly relying on live instruments. While keeping this basic rhythm idea, we took inspiration from various influences dear to us to drift toward an organic sound, more in line with what we care to do, and we let ourselves be driven by feelings and images rather than considerations of musical genres. As Matisyahu was coming up with his lyrics, the boiling sun on the sand, also many contrasts, between ground and sky, hot wind and water, power and sweetness… inspiring both hope and gravitas, were among the elements that emerged and set us into motion with the instruments in our hands, afterward serving as guidelines throughout the production process we took care of once he went back on the road.
Finally, the music crafted for "Crash Landings" takes root in ideas and atmospheres first developed for a remix of Matisyahu's song "Live like a warrior" that we had done before, and which we wanted to further explore. Unsurprisingly, from that point on we ended up in a much different place. This track allowed us to also expand our work on an idea we've been playing around for several years: the balancing act between elements reminiscent of the past, be it retro or even traditional, and current electronic sounds and trends, in an effort to merge them in ways that feel cohesive and lively, hopefully refreshing.
As Matisyahu wrote a lot of lyrics (therapy?), one appeal of working on this song was finding ways to create breathing areas, out of where the words would form, in order to make it all flow with interesting dynamics.
All in all, these music creations, each in their own way, mark a natural continuation of our prior work, and of our ongoing exploration, dare we say traveling, through music.
It matters to us always, when we delve into a genre invented and shaped up by people at certain times in their history, that our own interpretation of it is imbued by the weight of authenticity and dignity that has been expressed in the form of sounds, rhythms, music. That way, we can echo how it impacts us, let our own initiative follow up singularly on what has been passed on to us.
Hence, at the heart of our approach is this back and forth tension between what is distinct and universal, a notion often tricky to comprehend, as most of the music we choose to play originate from places indeed far from where we grew up and live, yet on the other hand have proved to be intimately part of us, being with us for as long as we know music, thanks to their power of reach that goes far beyond institutionalized borders.