REWIND, Borealis' covers album, is out now
Since 2015, I make music under the name Borealis. In the absence of a more precise definition for the sound I've been pursuing, I like to say that Borealis is a noisy electronic instrumental music project. Working at home, alone, on a laptop, I try to reinterpret the main references that inspire me: shoegaze, electronica and krautrock (but not limited to them). I've released four albums and six singles, which can be listened to on Bandcamp and on the main streaming services.
In fact, cross out that “four” from the last sentence, please. REWIND is Borealis' fifth LP, which has just come out on Bandcamp (https://borealis1.bandcamp.com/album/rewind) and on streaming platforms. The new album is a collection of covers, a tribute to the artists who have influenced my music and have been with me for decades. True to the format I've been working on for years, I selected 100% instrumental themes by Pink Floyd, Joy Division, Spacemen 3, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, The Bad Plus, Kraftwerk, Durutti Column and composer John Barry.
REWIND is 33.33% play, 33.33% personal challenge and 33.33% “conceptual work”. It was fun choosing the repertoire and racking my brain to create new arrangements. (There are still at least a half-dozen outtakes left, shelved for various reasons and at various stages of completion.) It is also a joke with the “institution” of the cover album, which has already yielded banal works and inspired and sincere tributes.
Track by track
“Storm (Lift Yr. Skinny Fingers, Like Antennas to Heaven…)” , Godspeed You! Black Emperor— This had to be the opening track, as it was on the record that features the original version. This song has a simple harmonic structure, but it is based on an “orchestral” arrangement full of counterpoints, crescendos and details that transform the simple chord progression into something monumental. I didn't even try to get close to the gigantism of the original version: I looked for a more “cameristic” and lo-fi arrangement.
“Messidor”, The Durutti Column — It's the most beautiful track on the beautiful LC, the Manchester band's second album. Durutti Column is one of my teenage passions. They have an incredible discography that deserves more attention. I transcribed the original composition (made for guitar) for the keyboards. I mean, I am able to play the song on guitar, but the best I could do would be a poor imitation of Vini Reilly's unattainable style.
“Incubation”, Joy Division — One of my favorite bands, they need no further comment. It's one of the songs that most influenced my personal style of composition and arrangement: minimal, repetitive, kinetic. My version is similar to the original, but not the same.
“Suicide”, Spacemen 3 — Another of my favorites that summarize my writing and arranging approach. I tried to reproduce the obsessive sonic chaos of the 1989 recording, even using (for the first time) a VST plugin that simulates a wah-wah pedal. A lot of fun.
“Kometenmelodie 2”, Kraftwerk — One of the most memorable songs of the initial phase of the German group. Another simple, repetitive and beautiful theme. Borealis' version is half electronic, hafl rocker.
“Lost of Love”, The Bad Plus — TBP is a contemporary group that has a solid discography combining jazz (post-bop) with rock and avant-garde influences. This amazing composition was released on their best album, Suspicious Activity? It took all my meager keyboard skills to reinterpret the song. It ended up simple and effective.
“Rano Pano”, Mogwai — The last song to be recorded. In fact, the record was alreday finished, with just eight tracks, when I decided to re-record this song from 2011. Between the decision and the final result, it took me less than 48 hours to learn how to play/transcribe/record/mix/master the song.
“Interstellar Overdrive”, Pink Floyd — My take on the 1967 psychedelic epic. Don't be surprised at Borealis' association with space rock and classic rock; they also fit in the basket. It was the first cover to be recorded for the album and, by far, the recording that took the most work. I've never used so many FL Studio mix channels.
“Fun City”, John Barry — Probably the least known track on the record, this theme is part of the soundtrack to the movie Midnight Cowboy. Barry (1933–2011) is one of my favorite score composers, a pantheon that still houses Michel Legrand, Bernard Herrmann and Elmer Bernstein. I put it to close the album as a “digestive”, with a lighter and less noisy atmosphere.