LAYERS: Get Trapped Inside The Sounds Of Lawrence Grey's "a" From Claustrophilia
Among his contemporaries in the Proximal Records crew, Lawrence Grey is the almighty keeper of the four-to-the-floor beat. Although it employs the same pounding, driving energy of club music dating all the way back to days of disco, Grey’s work is slightly more abstract, trading in long durations and the synthetic adrenalin of a mid-song build up with sheer quality sounds.
Another distinct part of his portfolio is his work with vocal collaborators, who tend to be little girls. That’s right—a lot of his boogie, synth-heavy productions are graced with the high-pitched flow of kids who seem to have an advanced grasp of mic control, something plenty of fully grown rappers could learn from. Check out some of these sounds on his other Soundcloud page, starting, naturally, with a song about teamwork.
His new EP Claustrophilia is akin to his first love, returning to four-to-the-floor beats and the purest elements of acid house. Powering through the syllables in its title, the five-track collection is pure, hedonistic, unapologetic music from an era of indulgence that rushes back to mind when you hear the first beat in “Clau” drop. Here are a few words from Grey describing the track.
This is the last track of the five on Claustrophilia. The first four are called “Clau,” “stro,” “phi,” and “li.” I wanted “a” to do something with the momentum that these four tracks built up over the course of the EP. None of them have had a drop anywhere near as hard as the one that finishes this song.
In terms of gear, I used an Access Music Virus B for the bass synths, a Roland JX-3P for other synths, the Ableton Operator VST, a Tascam 246 Portastudio, an FM square wave circuit that I made for all the noise, and several manipulated drum samples from classic drum machines.
The drums in this track are fairly straightforward. Having a strong four-to-the-floor allowed me to do a lot of 3/4 rhythms in the synths. Many of the drum samples in this track appear in others on the EP as a way to bring a continuous feel to the drums of the record. I recorded the rides that start the track in a classroom that I was working in at the time.
Several layers of my Virus B went into making this sound. During the first part of the song, it just jumps up three octaves on one note. Rhythmically, they change on every third 16th note, creating a 3/4 with the drums. It starts playing notes other than just a D during the next part. The line repeats after four bars and one 1/8th note, making every repetition feel different. It returns to the three octave pattern for the build-up and final drop.
These synths are ultimately there to support the bass synth. By accenting and playing off the rhythms during the first section and doubling it in the second, they work together to create the thickness that characterizes this track. During the breakdown, these synths continue the melodic line while the bass synth goes back to the three octave pattern.
The majority of the noise came from an FM circuit I built with square wave oscillators. I used 7555 timers to create the square waves, then routed their outputs into the inputs that control their frequencies. I recorded a bunch of it and then sampled it up. I also ran some synths through a Boss delay pedal to make some more of the tonal noise elements. There are also some Operators contributing to the atmospheric noise, including a rising tone that grows throughout the build up.
Put ‘em all together, and here’s what you get. “a” by Lawrence Grey.