Itch-E & Scratch-E Talk About ‘Other Planets’
“Other Planets” is the first single from the forthcoming album “Hooray for Everything!!!”
Paul: It had a twisted journey getting to where it is now. We used a couple of fun techniques to get it to there. As an experiment, I started writing a quick Eno-esque ambient painting with Andy outside of the room. We then traded places. I told Andy what key it was in, and what tempo it was but he couldn’t hear what I had done. He did his funky bass thing.
Andy: The bassline you hear is the kind of thing that I get from knowing the notes I want and being really clumsy with my timing. Then we quantize it – i.e., use the computer to make it really tight – and it sounds funky – in theory! But there was a twist to this one. Once I’d played in that one bar bassline, Paul suddenly heard the track in 3/4 instead of 4/4 – so he quantized it that way. It’s the first track we’ve ever written in 3/4. That is, it has three beats to the bar, which gives it a galloping feel.
Paul: We then listened to the two parts together and were surprised at the result. It felt very other worldly. Andy suggested the lyric.
Andy: Because it was so spacey sounding I was reminded of a phrase from a German 20th century poet, Stefan George. I know very little about his poems, but I do know from reading the book ‘The Rest Is Noise’ by Alex Ross that this one phrase ‘I breathe the air of other planets’ is a significant one for 20th century orchestral music. The reason is that the composer Schoenberg set the poem to music and, at the precise moment that line comes in, makes the music lose its tonal centre. So that line signifies the point at which Western music went atonal – and lost much of its audience, ahaha! (although it’s the kind of music that everyone is familiar with from horror and suspense movies, so maybe that’s not really true) . It’s a very beautiful and frightening line, in my opinion. The line had a lot of resonance for me. It suggested someone who was both alien and fully at home, fully adapted. Obviously, Schoenberg picked up on that. I had an idea to put that line down with a particularly weird, angular vocal melody, so I sang it into the microphone and Paul recorded. Obviously I couldn’t sing well so Paul had to treat it.
Paul: I had just discovered a new vocal/pitch technique and applied it. Awesome, we had a cool instrumental.
Andy: Yes, we had our space track, with the Enoesque chords, and my voice repitched by Paul so it sounds ghostly and inhuman. We even added a few shooting stars and particulate ‘space-cloud’ sounds. We were heading in a Pink Floyd direction.
Paul: So how did the rap get in there? About five years ago when I was touring Europe with The Dissociatives, I bumped into a 17-year-old fan of the band and had a crazy night out in Paris with him. Fast forward five years and I bumped into the same fan in New York. We struck up a friendship. On the final night, Fred (who goes by the recording name MDNA) played me some of his raps. I have an aversion to white rapping, but I loved his style and originality. On my return to Australia, I told Andy about this amazing crossing of paths. We emailed some instrumentals to New York and you are hearing the fruits of this collaboration.
Andy: When he mailed back his rap our jaws dropped to the floor. It was amazing. He’s added a whole screwed up lifestyle dimension to it. Even though he’d gone off on a tangent, it still somehow worked lyrically with the ‘other planets’ concept. The lost-in-space thing becomes a metaphor for a personal journey into isolation. Yet this narrator also seems perfectly at home and comfortable with his direction. It’s a track I find exciting and disturbing at the same time. The chorus in particular gets me, because he really puts his fists up there. You don’t expect a sexual freak to be ready to stand up and fight like that. The narrator is a freak with teeth, sharp teeth. You wouldn’t mess with him. Awesome.
Listen to ‘Other Planets’ at myspace.com/itcheandscratcheband