Acefilou is my first full-length album (as Nicolas Maeder), an 47-minute-long experimental techno effort created almost entirely in an audio editing program named Audacity. I was so obscure at the time of its release date that virtually nobody knew my existence. Being all abstractly structured songs generally made out of unusual, digitally manipulated raw data sounds, several complex distortions happen throughout the album, both quiet and loud. I was influenced by Autechre (including Confield, my favorite album), Nine Inch Nails (especially The Downward Spiral), Container, Pan Sonic, Aphex Twin, and Emptyset when this album was recorded.
Original title was “zer0peopl3mus7di3”, but for the sake of neutrality the finalized name is “0373”, an hard, intense song written after I got “Not Responding” to be done. Couldn’t finish it in one go: Despite saving the project files, it wasn’t what I expected initially. That’s why more than one tempo and time signature exists, thus the bass melody changes over the time as the song progresses while keeping the original E tuning. A near-static segment includes an aural recording of me interacting with wooden materials and a laptop body as if they’re drums. Another recording of my use of concrete materials became a drumbeat, and I repeatedly used reverse and normalize to do so. There is singing, screaming, and growling, but it’s highly distorted so that the lyrics are incomprehensible. The song is fast-paced, intense, complex, and abrasive.
Developed after “0373” (and before “‘rs’n’c”), the mono-only techno of “Germanium” calms down from the brutality of “0373”. There is an un-repeating melody created using my vocals, apparently inconsistent with the song’s tempo. A poly-rhythm of the 4/28 and 4/16 signatures prevails in the beats, drums that seem to repeatedly zigzag between pitches. A fading-out drone closes this sophomore.
Along with “Germanium” and “Boron”, “‘rs’n’c” had its name taken from the periodic table of elements. Against a droning bass (which sometimes moves on to other pitches), the drums sound like distorted composites of bubbles popping, clapping, breaking wood, and pickaxes touching metal, and at one point it changes speed multiple times before taking a rest, then appears again afterwards (albeit with usage of amplify, echo, noise removal, g-verb, normalize, and low-/high-pass filters). Was written after and is quieter and slower than “Germanium”. A 48000 bit rate in this track, just like in the previous one, is inconsistent with the rest of the album’s 44100.
Acefilou‘s second finished song was edited down from over 7 minutes to around 5 minutes as part of my failed attempt to have the album fit the 331/3 RPM minute vinyl LP length. Said attempt was a decision happening before the album’s completion. It was named “Not Responding” due to not completing it before the Audacity program crashed (it was finished after the program recovered data). Starts off with chaotic edits of imported raw data converted into audio and moves onto an abstract structure. The bass, originally resembling “Ruiner” by Nine Inch Nails, gets low-pass filtered and disappears while the harsh industrial house drumbeat is played with. A temporary segment of wah-wah’d/phaser’d synths and drums over distorted vocals lasts for 4 bars before a 8-bar part with a repeating bass-line and loudly echoing beats is followed by new melodies and drumbeat transformations. The final minute is pure rusty ambient sound.
Initially titled “Humans Are Dead”, the earliest recorded track on the album was born in Summer 2013 as a theme song for my cancelled educational YouTube-exclusive series called Conceptum. “Felty” was built over a variously distorted guitar sound out a audio sample package downloaded from the world wide web* and features a harsh drumstep beat constructed through echoes, wah-wahs, phaser, amplification, normalization, rearrangements, and bass boosts. It begins with birds chirping (originally a melody, now converted into innocent sound effects through noise removal) and somehow squashed by a machine. Like “Not Responding” I edited this track down from around 5 minutes to almost 4 minutes and reworked the ending as per my task to make Acefilou fit what I temporarily thought how long was a 33 1/3 RPM vinyl record (thought: 47 minutes / reality: 45 minutes). However, the album doesn’t fit an entire 33 1/3 RPM vinyl LP because in reality the format is 45 minutes long, so if it’s brought to vinyl then Side A contains tracks 1 to 4, followed by “Felty” and “Won to Free for Vibe” in Side B, and “Boron” is Side C.
“Won to Free for Vibe”
Final track recorded for Acefilou, written and recorded in one go. The first five numbers in the first 90 seconds’ stereo count-up to 64 (I voiced the count-up over a siren-like bass) are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The song title rhymes with those numbers. An increasingly abrasive mono drum and bass drumbeat comprises the rest of the song. With almost all effects in Audacity 1.26 used, distortion grows to a point where the song becomes completely different from itself.
This album’s longest song (13 minutes and 4 seconds) is the second-to-last completed track here, produced following the time spent on making “‘rs’n’c”. I did save the “Boron” project files (even after it was completed), but Audacity crashed a couple times when I was making it. An ambient drone techno with alterations happening randomly, it begins with a sample off Episode 2 from Geneon’s English dub of 2006 Fate/stay night anime against an ambient background. Then the sample is interrupted by noises and resumes from where it was left off after the main downtempo drumbeat appears… And leaves the song prior to its replacement by a peaceful, low-pass filtered, slightly wah-wah’d, and somewhat phaser’d droning bass that, like the drumbeat, faces several surgeries for over 10 minutes before it crashes into another set of noises.
Acefilou was luckily little-known upon its release to SoundCloud and YouTube via Qas Records, but its audience will sprout over time as my history continues. In fact, I’m considering signing up with an independent record label in the near future, and I’ll freelance the world to see if any critic likes the album.
* – Here’s why I don’t call the “world wide web” the “internet”. Unbeknownst to many people, the internet is widely and incorrectly confused with the world wide web, which is actually a fragment of the (by the time this post was published) 50-years-old internet. The internet can be accessed outside computers and smart-technology.
UPDATE (November 15, 2014)
“About Acefilou” initially stated that 44100Hz was only used in Acefilou‘s opener, and the album’s remainder was exported from Audacity to 48000Hz. This factual inaccuracy was corrected on November 15, 2014.