LAYERS: Daedelus Breaks Down His Collaboration With Austin Peralta In Tribute
For this week’s LAYERS, we bring you the DNA of a special collaboration between Los Angeles’ own Daedelus and the late piano prodigy and Brainfeeder artist Austin Peralta. Daedelus has become a figurehead for LA’s ever-evolving electronic music scene by fostering acts with his Magical Properties imprint and wowing audiences worldwide with a steady stream of releases and incredible live shows. For his Looking Ocean EP, released last year on Scion A/V, Daedelus tapped his close friend, the brilliant pianist Austin Peralta, whose work spanned across many collaborations and genres, before sadly passing last November at the age of 22.
Daedelus is known for his live sample-manipulation on the Monome, which he performs with the same ease as Peralta on the keys. Austin Peralta was known for his stunning intuition for jazz piano which he incorporated into electronic production. Live, Peralta performed with as much rigor as jazz’s greats, while in the studio he collaborated with everyone from Buster Williams to Flying Lotus. Read below as Darlington pays tribute to his friend, and breaks down the beautifully organic process behind “Looking Ocean”.
“Looking Ocean feat. Austin Peralta” is the title track from my most recent EP. From late last year “Looking Ocean” was themed by my close upbringing to the Pacific ocean in Santa Monica, California. The featured performer on this track, Austin Peralta, also grew up nearby as a kind of Santa Monica royalty. His father was part of the population that made up the Z-Boys, famed for their reinvention of skateboarding.
Who knew that stew would have birthed a Piano prodigy? I believe our mutual experience in Jazz and having the raging Pacific so close became the catalyst that produced this track. Sadly shortly after the EP was release Austin passed, far too young and now very much missed. I still have a bit of a hard time listening to this track as it has become a kind of last opportunity, but I am thrilled to share this in Layers today because now I can expose, in discreet pieces, how he and the parts made a kind of synthesis.
It starts with the drums. Unlike some of my other productions where harmony often leads, a recent borrowing of a cranky TR-808 (the storied drum machine that launched a thousand hip hop records), and the experimentation with, lead to this take. A single pass recorded with a Rat Distortion and reverb pedal effect on the output and lots of twisting of the small knobs that control volume on the individual parts.
One of the desirable features of the 808 is the option to have discreet outputs of individual drum sounds. But I wanted the glue that can come through putting all those different sounds into one mono 1/4", a bit of a beast. But the reverb at the end of the chain adds back some of the depth and spread that you lose. I fear you can hear my fingers play almost too much as I am trying to manipulate the drum machine as I’d play my Monome.
This is an edited take of Austin sitting down and interpreting my few instructions and previous 808 track into what ended as 3 passes which I’ve sown together. But really he already had a plan for the interplay, and left room in the part to be tossed and turned together.
We sat together in the studio and spoke of the ocean in its massive power and serene surface. He brewed a storm for this composition. Just as the distortion kicks in the TR take, Austin to allowed the upright piano to rage a bit. You can hear his footwork, both on the piano pedals and off, which under waves of drum machines became obscured, but here is revealed in its isolation as a window into his creative force, restless and pushing forward.
Also of course a moment of voice as he cheered himself on in the studio. We recorded in an all analogue studio on a particular upright piano with a bright sound and bounding quality in the action of the keys. Austin might have been more used to Grands and a higher order of quality, but he didn’t make any mention or reservation, just sat and played eyes closed with the audible spill of drums from the headphones also making it’s way into the mix.
This track has a lot of sub energy from the 808’s kick, but not so interactive with Austin’s performance, so it was in this layer that I tried for some underscoring. The bass was made with a SH-09, another Roland piece of gear. A precursor to the more famed SH-101, but with such smooth oscillators. It is a pretty constant bassline with a little TR-606 (yet another Roland drum machine) filtering through the audio input of the SH-09.
Propulsion. Distorted kicks layered far back in the piece which move the beginning along. This is a sound foreign to Jazz but the pattern is not, a little twist on something you might hear from a Surdo playing Brazilian Samba. A roiling sea.
A final twist in some breakbeat choppings to lift the piece away from the all digital percussive. Not as varied in its repetition as I’d normally program, but again the 808 pattern has a lot of motion, so taming rather then spreading out, counter patterning. Also the life in the drum sounds is important, the little ghost notes and breaths in the far back of the rhythm. Something to match the amount of life in Austin’s playing.
Fuse them all together, and here it is. “Looking Ocean feat. Austin Peralta” by Daedelus.