Sounds of Isolation

A couple of weeks back we released Now That’s What I Call Quarantine Vol. 1: Lockdown Anthems, a compilation of 20 tunes written and recorded by some of our favourite Sheffield-based musicians. These songs were predominantly recorded live, with acoustic instruments, and so we sent maverick electro-queen Celestial Broc on a virtual quest to compile a second volume of quarantine-created ground-breaking music, this time with an electronic slant.

She curated the transcendent sonic robot which is Now That’s What I Call Quarantine Vol 2: Sounds of Isolation, a collection of 14 tunes spanning deep funk jive explorations, 8-bit dubstep, italo-acid breakbeat, junglist pop, click dub, goth house and more…

The compilation is out now on Bandcamp! Listen/download here!

It’s pay as you feel, so download for free if you’re skint, but if you can afford to spare a few quid all donations will go to Foodhall Sheffield to support their amazing work providing emergency food parcels to those in need around the city during the Covid pandemic.

In this article, Celestial Broc asked contributors to tell us a bit about their songs, but first, here’s the track list…

Now That’s What I Call Quarantine Vol.2: Sounds of Isolation

  1. Jackson Swaby – The Mirror Cloud Descends  
  2. Winston Hazel – Acropolis Eyes  
  3. Gold Top Baby – Too Far Gone To Cry, Too Hooked To Say Goodbye 
  4. HarleyLikesMusic – Silent Threat  
  5. FLZ – Morphing  
  6. Philippe Oh Papa – BFSB (Minimal Animal Rework)  
  7. Isis Moray – The Mirror  
  8. Dreams of Widnes – Dutifully Yours   
  9. Chris Peters/Nathan Blanchard – Sheffield’s Armpit  
  10. Louis Berlin – Isolation
  11. Xybots ft. Rachel E – Entropy (Sing The Spell)  
  12. PALAISEAU – IMMORTALISM, Pts I & II (abbreviated)  
  13. The Recording Angel – Eon  
  14. Professor Chill – Virus State

Enjoy my friends!

~ PROLE JAZZ crew

  1. Jackson Swaby – The Mirror Cloud Descends 

Jackson Swaby inhabits the world of art. His Fine Art background cultivated the way he thinks about music, seeing it as “a conversational tool of human energy”. He told me that “the medium of house music taught me how to express myself through feel and vibe alone, and it is where I truly began to respond to my existence”. 

Jackson

“This track was created from a time that feels like a movie. I think it’s the lack of something to act upon. It certainly doesn’t feel like I’m playing a role that could influence the story arc. I might be extra no.52001. My only interaction with it is when I catch a glance at social media posts or the news. From snippets of first-hand experiences made by acquaintances around the world to re-purposed videos of people ‘tearing down 5G towers’. Oh, and the queues around the car park for bread. This isn’t a track about Covid or even a response directly to my personal isolation experience – but I made it in this time so it will be imbued with my response regardless of what I intended. As with all these things, its relevance will become more potent over time as my experience gets appropriated to the track retroactively. The whole track is built around two guitar riffs which carve through the repeating cloud-like chords that show and hide throughout. For me, it definitely feels like one of those journeying tracks, with the rolling bass and solid drums acting as the city below”.  ~ Jackson Swaby

  1. Winston Hazel – Acropolis Eyes 

Winston Hazel is a tireless DJ and producer as well as a true originator. He helped gift house music to Sheffield and the North via his mid-eighties parties that pitched new American dance sounds up against his beloved funk, jazz and soul. It was an irresistible concoction, and from these early innovations grew a city-centric dance industry that continues to echo – and still has Winston at its heart. He’s DJ’d round the world and recorded for an array of quality labels, but his dedication to the dancefloor burns as fiercely as ever.

Winston

“This track is the product of a series of old records, where I took the various instrument elements and flung them together in ACID Pro to build an audio rhythm track. No particular style or genre was intended. I like to demo ideas this way, before going into the studio for finalising. The inspiration for this came out of nowhere, plain and simple”.  ~ Winston Hazel

  1. Gold Top Baby – Too Far Gone To Cry, Too Hooked To Say Goodbye    

Gold Top Baby is the latest project by Dorian Cox formerly of Sheffield sweethearts The Long Blondes. Man of few words, this is what Dorian had to say about the track:  

“I created this track in an attic room, inspired by peering through people’s windows and thinking about people isolated with people they don’t really like…” ~ Dorian Cox

Dorian (and Debbie)

  1. HarleyLikesMusic – Silent Threat   

Harley (aka HarleyLikesMusic) is a chiptune creator from Sheffield. For those that don’t know, chiptune is a style of music that uses the sound chips of retro computers and video game consoles to create music. Armed with only a Gameboy, Harley has played across the globe over the past 10 years, pushed by the limitations of the Nintendo sound chip. 

Harley

“The track describes a feeling of paranoia and the unknown around places that we would normally feel safe, combined with the driving force of nature. It reminds us that we are only a witness to a greater power”.  ~ Harley

  1. FLZ – Morphing   

FLZ wishes to remain anonymous. The track was posted on a USB stick through my letterbox. I honestly have no idea where it came from or what the inspiration for it was. It’s dead good though!

  1. Philippe Oh Papa – BFSB (Minimal Animal Rework)   

Philippe Clegg has worked with dozens of Sheffield artists over the last decade: Oh Papa, Mzylkypop, Universal Tree, Rhiannon Scutt, K.O.G. and the Zongo Brigade, and plenty more, as well as studio work for several major label artists. BFSB is his debut release as an artist, having spent years as a “bedroom producer”, although he has plenty of experience as he previously produced four tracks on Franz Von’s Escapism EP

Philippe

“This track is the result of me experimenting with samples of Jack Oh Papa’s contribution to the first Prole Jazz Quarantine compilation, and many hours spent at home using a drum machine, guitars and synths to build a sonic world around his re-pitched and disembodied phrases. There is a duality in the two distinct halves of the song: the first part moves at the pace of these long days of isolation, chords lending an air of both optimism and melancholy, whereas the second section rips that apart into the ominous dread and despair we’re all entitled to be feeling right now. The Rework comes courtesy of Minimal Animal, AKA Nicholas Alexander of Screaming Maldini and my colleague in The Sheffield Beatles Project. Nick has brought so much energy and power to this track, as well as the intricate and intimate touches which are a cornerstone of his work as an artist and producer”. ~ Philippe Clegg

Minimal Animal

  1. Isis Moray – The Mirror   

Isis Moray is the solo project of artist and musician Jade Lauren. Utilising various hardware boxes and vocal processors, she creates a hypnotising blend of electronic melodies, ranging from deep, dark ambience, to more hard and rugged techno. 

Jade (Photograph by Josh Fowler)

“‘The Mirror’ is a song about having the courage to see yourself through another in a relationship, which can be both painful and beautiful. I wanted to create an atmosphere of openness and vulnerability, both within the sound and the vocals. I tried to create sounds that could somehow express a mirrored feeling – like reflective or transparent, and then to eventually build up on these sounds to express a sort of transcendence; a relief, or hope. I created the song in Logic Studio, using drum machines and added synths”. ~ Isis Moray

  1. Dreams of Widnes – Dutifully Yours    

Dreams of Widnes is the stage name of a long-lost and beloved compadre of Captain Jack Avery, he channels Sheffield through his veins, even though he is based in Japan. One day friends, we will witness him playing live in Sheffield, one day.

Day dreaming of Widnes

“The second week of home comforts brought an opportunity to fiddle with some new instruments. Always wanted a 303 but was reticent to pay the prices, so plumped for a VST that sounded pretty good to my lugs. The fact that the figures added up to the original number of townships in Sheffield was an accidental plus. To work. Harnessing the historical census classification issue of social status, occupation, and industry interweaving, I wanted to present a mixture of 808-style hip-hop, dubstep and acid-house. I hope you like it. I am purely an Ableton user, but usually record hardware. It was a nice change to do all of this in the DAW, with some added third party VSTs. The 303 is D-16’s Phoscyon, drums all Ableton’s own, and the bassline synth is called August Synthesizer by some fella in Japan”.  ~ Dreams of Widnes

  1. Chris Peters/Nathan Blanchard – Sheffield’s Armpit   

Another out of town entry courtesy of Captain Jack Avery’s nomadic lifestyle; Nathan Blanchard and Chris Peters told me that they used to parallel play, as kids did back in those days, by skating prairie parking lots in the Mennonite heartland of sunny Manitoba. But that was many twisted ankles, Export As, and RC Colas ago. They are now long-distance collaborators, separated by 1000s of kilometres of Canadian Shield (and an excessive amount of social distance).  You can check out other hotly ignored tracks by Chris Peters and his label mates/collaborators @Tonchinkan Records

“Sheffield’s Armpit originated when I asked Nathan if he had any lost or neglected tracks that I could ruin/work on. Nathan shared a folder named Rejects which contained nine of his B-side basement recordings. Using my MPC to cut, edit, and add layers to Nathan’s dusty gems, Sheffield’s Armpit became our firstborn. The title is a mash-up of Nathan’s original title, Carol’s Armpit, and a lyric/sample from Captain Avery & the Cosmic Triceratops’ track, Hippies. Note about the Sheffield connection: Chris and Captain Avery were bonded as brothers from different mothers in Nagasaki, Japan in the early 00s. Talk to our lawyers”.  ~ Chris Peters

  1. Louis Berlin – Isolation

Louis Berlin is so exclusive that he just won’t talk about himself. He is so exclusive that there is not much to say about him. His music speaks for itself. I chatted a little with Louis and have included only his words below and not mine – better that way. 

“Just tell the crowd this: ‘Louis Berlin says “Think of me”’. I want everyone to close their eyes and just imagine. Pretend all of the shops have shut. Pretend you don’t need to go to work. Pretend you don’t need to shave. And attach those fond memories to this track. My profile picture is a picture I took in Oslo. It’s important you know that for my image. The fashionable place. Oslo. Stay calm. That’s my advice as Louis Berlin. Be cool. This album is so good”.  ~ Louis Berlin

Louis (in Oslo)

So, we will never know how he made the track, but we know he has been to Oslo for a portrait sitting. 

  1. Xybots ft. Rachel E – Entropy (Sing The Spell)   

Rachel E is one of those Sheffield faces you’ve probably encountered under one guise or another via many musical projects and collaborations. The track was produced together with Michael Curran, one half of DnB outfit Xybots and man of a thousand projects. You can check out his wealth of releases anywhere online under the following names: Copius / Copiusbeats / Xybots / Ill Tribe

Half a Xybot

“This tune was born under lockdown. I love Mike’s D&B tunes and when he said he’d created one just for me I was well excited. As soon as I heard it, I could hear what the vocals would sound like. It’s called Entropy to describe the natural gradual decline into disorder. The disorder that we see around the world today where everything seems like a surreal episode of Black Mirror. It’s about, on the one hand accepting that everything happens in cycles and follows natural laws. We see this unfolding in front of our eyes, but at the same time we have the power to ‘Sing the Spell’. We are powerful beings far beyond what we’re really conscious of. We can connect with the divine source and create power. Some may call that praying, some may call it chanting a spell. We can own our situation and ‘lift them up’, lift up the spirits. One could also say I was just trying to fit as many vocal dance music clichés as I can into one track”. ~ Rachel E

Rachel E

  1. PALAISEAU – IMMORTALISM, Pts I & II (abbreviated)   

Word on the street is that PALAISEAU started making music after liberating some old equipment from an ageing uncle’s studio in the suburbs of Paris. An Eminent 310 String Machine, Moog Taurus and Korg Minipops were among the relics dusted down for this recording, tracking the analog synthesizers directly to a Fostex A-8 through an AMEK TAC 16-8-2 Blue desk, occasionally employing his beloved Roland RE-201 (rumoured to be on loan from Brian Ferry’s collection) in his custom-built home studio. He is apparently a known worshipper of New Age music, refuses to listen to anything made after 1979, and insists on CAPS LOCK.

Oh, PALAISEAU

I asked PALAISEAU about the track, and this is what he said about himself (in the third person): 

“On 04/13/20, PALAISEAU finds himself drawn to a question – in what form will mankind’s legacy take? PALAISEAU is notable for turning down any gigs outside of South Yorkshire and does not maintain a website, though can be reached at ohpalaiseau@gmail.com. When not practicing social distancing, he can sometimes be found contemplating Locke in Create Coffee”. ~ PALAISEAU

If you want to know how he made the track, email him… 

  1. The Recording Angel – Eon   

Graham Fialkiewicz is the man behind The Recording Angel. He originates from Sheffield, but currently resides in Hull, and hosts Hull’s EMOM nights. Graham is behind a wealth of electronic projects: Feasibility Study with Robert Barlow, Bloom with Daniel James Dolby, an ambient experimental group called Dolby Fialkiewicz Jovet [DFJ] with French musician Eric Jovet. He has released two ambient solo albums Romantic England and The Forgotten Heart.

Graham @ EMOM, Hull

“The Recording Angel takes its name from a quote about Andy Warhol and is an Avant Garde experimental noise project in which I use a Japanese noise box called a MASF 003 to make the music. This track also used a Korg Novation Mininova K oscillator over the 003, to make the white noise you can hear building through the track”.  ~ Graham F

  1. Professor Chill – Virus State  

Prof. Chill is mostly known for his downtempo material, but due to the current situation he said he decided to make a track that was much harder sounding. He told me he wanted to reflect the apocalyptic universe we have all found ourselves in. He bought his first Technics decks in 1989 and started to make dance music in 1990. He’s released electronica as Professor Chill, and his last album Dub Archaeology included sounds from ancient musical instruments.

Chilled

“I sat down to write a piece of music, and usually I write things that are pretty chilled out, but I just wasn’t in the mood for that somehow, so I started to write something tougher. I started with the bassline and thought I would create a rough, edgy, hard bass sound. I built drums on top of the bass line and started to add distortion to the drums and other tracks. The whole track emerged from that, it’s zombie apocalypse music, music to bang your head on the wall in time to when you are feeling frustrated, music that expresses all the anger and annoyance I feel about the whole state that we are stuck in right now” ~ Prof. Chill

So, there you have it!

~ Celestial Broc

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