Rudi Zygadlo is a Scottish producer whose knack for synthesizing nostalgia through sweeping melodies has come to stunning fruition with his LP Tragicomedies, out now on Planet Mu. With the album, Zygadlo brings dissonant sounds of the past like a creaking piano or a haunting accordion into the grand arena by using techniques that could only be implemented so effortlessly by the UK veteran. In the music, you can hear the range of his influences, from UK Dubstep to Brian Wilson.
For this week’s LAYERS, Zygadlo breaks down one of the LP’s best singles, “Melpomene”. It presents melody and structure at its best, highlighting the producer’s most distinguishable feature: throwing classic ballad songwriting into a sweeping electronic cauldron, side-chained into a beautifully wide and cinematic finished product that grows, falls, and spins into a majestic conclusion. To match, Zygadlo pushes sentimentality to the forefront of his lyrics, as he hearkens on a past lover who has moved on to find someone new. Read below to follow Zygadlo’s reasoning, as he helps us understand how he achieves a sound that feels beautifully aged while remaining stunningly modern.
This is the complete Accordion track. The escalating crescendo, in the middle, which connects the verse to the climactic theme was fun to record. Ross Fleming, the player, came up with a good harmony to the piano melody. I was really happy with the result.
These are the swelling chords which lie beneath the vocals in the first verse.
Verse vocals. About an ex-girlfriend, of course, and her moving on.
The main melody. I actually recycled this from a previous track that I never quite wrapped up. It was happier/major affair. I appropriated it for this track, stuck it either side of the piano stabs which became the verse of the song. The verse stabs; i think I was listening to a bit of Brian Wilson at the time.
This the bass arpeggio which looms beneath the intro/theme and climax/theme following in to the chorus/outro. Pardon my terminology. You get my drift. Its in triplets.
The single note bass pulses which beef out the chords.
‘Melpo many many more’. The outro chorus harmony. Repeated twice, the latter with a higher octave.
Put it all together and here’s what you get. “Melpomene” by Rudi Zygadlo.