Podcast 653: Ital Tek
The many flavors of Alan Myson.
Podcast 653: Ital Tek
The many flavors of Alan Myson.
Before lockdown really hit the United Kingdom, Alan Myson, or Ital Tek, was under self-imposed isolation, working on new music. He found himself in a new environment, following a move out of the city to a quieter space, and the birth of his first child. While his partner slept, he’d sit up through the night with his newborn, listening back and making notes on how the new record should take form. Sleep deprived, he became prone to audio hallucinations, and tried to capture these through distortions in his perception of pitch and time. Eventually, Outland was born, released via Planet Mu in May.
Outland is Myson’s seventh album in a career that dates back to the ’00s. Raised in Brighton, on England’s south coast, Myson began releasing music in 2007, signing to Planet Mu as an 18-year-old. In the period since, he’s moved from the moody dubstep of 2008’s Cyclical and the more contemplative Midnight Colour through Nebula Dance’s, where he dropped the dubstep and hip-hop tempos in favor of jungle and footwork. In contrast, 2016’s Hollowed became abstract and elegant, a precursor to Bodied, when Myson turned his back on dance music altogether, embracing acoustic elements and ghostly choral arrangements, turning to rhythm as nothing more than a tool to give his sound a sense of momentum.
It’s difficult to anticipate Myson’s next move, but instead of bringing with it a new Ital Tek incarnation, Outland instead melds two existing yet previously disparate parts of Myson, with its roughened beats and detailed atmospheres. It does this while feeling adventurous and heartfelt, and with the same dramatic drums and restrained yet impressionistic synths that touch all Myson’s work.
His XLR8R podcast has one foot in the past and the other in the future. There’s a couple of unreleased cuts, said to be from an upcoming album project, but there are also several taken from previous album projects, contextualized among the work of artists like Lapalux, Blanck Mass, and Juliana Barwick, who have been keeping him company during lockdown. As with Outland, it mixes the rough and the smooth, the intense and peaceful, making for an immersive listen that sits between contemplation and the club.
01. What have you been up to recently?
I’ve just been finishing up my new EP, Dream Boundary, which is the follow up to my recent album. I wrote a huge amount of material for the album and this is five tracks that I’ve revisited and reworked from those sessions. It didn’t quite fit with what I was going for with Outland, but I think they complement each other nicely and have their own little world. I imagine there will probably be more to release from the bank of music I’ve written over the last year or two. Aside from that, I’m a fairly new parent, so lockdown with a baby has been pretty exhausting, but a lot of fun, too. Just cramming in music as much as I can when I get the opportunity
I’ve also been scoring a television series that will be coming out later in the year. It’s a lot of work but I’ve really enjoyed the challenge.
02. What sort of records have you been listening to in lockdown?
I kind of have an on-off relationship with checking out new music. When I’m stuck into making a record I don’t really pay much attention to what is coming out, and I don’t have much desire to listen to music as I’ve been doing it all day long. But when I’m coming out of that phase I try to catch up on loads of stuff, and there have been so many amazing releases because of lockdown. It’s a really hard time for a lot of musicians at the moment obviously, but conversely, it seems like there’s never been so much good new music!
Bandcamp has done an amazing job rising to the occasion to help out independent artists and labels as well as great causes in conjunction with Black Lives Matter. I’ve been checking out a lot of stuff on there and it’s been great to see so many people sharing recommendations on Twitter.
Off the top of my head, some new music I’ve recently been listening to: Blanck Mass, EOB, the Devs score, Skee Mask, Speaker Music, Alessandro Cortini.
03. You’ve just released Outland. How do you feel about the release looking back?
It’s only been a couple of months or so since it was released but time seems to be moving at a glacial pace so it feels like ages ago now. I’m really happy with the album; it was written just before and after the birth of my first child. so it’s a special and really intense time to reflect on. I didn’t think I’d be getting anything creative done so I’m pleased that somehow it went the other way and I ended up having one of the most fruitful music writing periods of my life.
04. It’s difficult to know what to expect with your work, because it constantly changes. What’s guiding you sonically?
I think over the years I’ve become a lot more content in just following my instincts and trying to do something I feel is honest in my music. I find there’s a strange juxtaposition of caring less makes you care more, if that makes any kind of sense. I try to keep things loose and experimental when I first start anything and just let it inform itself. Not being too precious or analytical in that initial phase and then switching gears when needed to actually get the thing into shape. It’s easy to start tracks, but not so easy to finish them. I write a lot of notes down about musical or sound ideas and refer to that all the time when I need an idea or feel stuck.
05. Your sound has gone through many iterations. What do you feel links it all together?
Because it’s just a never-ending process for me, I don’t really see it in terms of albums every two years or so. It just feels like a continuation because I know all the music that didn’t make it onto the records or inspired an idea that led on to something else. Recently it was the 10-year anniversary of my second album, Midnight Colour, so I actually went back and listened to pretty much all my releases from the start and it was really interesting to hear it all with some distance. I found myself thinking in equal measures: “Why the fuck did I do that?” and “how the fuck did I do that?”
I’m always interested in contrast, whether that’s blending intense parts with peaceful moments or melancholic/gnarly or whatever, and perhaps that is the link throughout everything I do.
06. Where and when did you record this mix?
All done in my home studio using Ableton Live.
07. What can we expect to hear?
There are a few unreleased and upcoming new tracks of mine. Some from the new album and then some great stuff from artists like Patten, Lapalux, Juliana Barwick—the kind of music I’ve been checking on Bandcamp or that I’m fortunate to be sent.
08. How did you choose the tracks that you’ve included?
Because I’ve not been playing live, doing a studio mix has given me a nice excuse to seek out some new music and also see how my new music works mixed or re-edited. It’s actually quite strange having not heard any of my new record on a proper big sound system, so putting it in a different context is like the next best thing I guess!
09. What’s next on your agenda as we move forward?
I’ve started work on a new collaborative project that is different to my Ital Tek music and something that I’m really excited to get finished as soon as we can. I’ve not really collaborated much with other artists to be honest and it’s not something I’ve been particularly drawn to, but this project has been really inspiring so hopefully I’ll have more to share about that sometime soon. Aside from music, I need to finally find the time to play “The Last of Us 2” which has been sitting there in my living room for weeks unopened, and I’m looking at getting a new studio built!
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to the podcast offline you will need to subscribe to our Select channel, or subscribe to XLR8R+ to download the file. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
01. Ital Tek “Untitled” (Unreleased)
02. Ital Tek “Dream Boundary” (Planet Mu)
03. Ital Tek “Deadhead” (Planet Mu)
04. Lapalux “51 Endless Pulses” (Brainfeeder)
05. Blanck Mass “Jack’s Theme” (Invada Records)
06. Patten “Heat Transfer” (555-5555)
07. Juliana Barwick “Flowers” (Ninja Tune)
08. Deft “Click The Snap” (20/20 LDN Recording)
09. Shades “Womb” (Deadbeats)
10. Ital Tek “Wintered” (Planet Mu)
11. Ital Tek “Leaving The Grid” (Planet Mu)
12. Ital Tek “Angel In Ruin” (Planet Mu)
13. Alessandro Cortini “Virgola” (Bandcamp, Self-Release)
14. Kuedo “Silver” (Music In Support Of Black Mental Health, Bandcamp)
15. Ital Tek “Reverie” (Planet Mu)
16. Ital Tek “Bladed Terrain” (Planet Mu)
17. Ital Tek “Cobra” (Planet Mu)
18. Ital Tek “Time Burns Heavy” (Planet Mu)
19. Ital Tek “Deletion Quarter” (Planet Mu)