The Breakmagos Collection Vol.1 comprises of two EP’s I originally released under the Breakmagos moniker in 2014 & 2016: The Lovecode EP (tracks 1-6) & The Brinkmanship EP (tracks 7-11). The tracks on the Lovecode EP were created between 2011-2013, the name came from the artwork (see below). The Brinkmanship EP was created from some some files I found of finished tracks from before my laptop died in 2015. The original files were all lost but I’d uploaded these tracks to Google Drive so that I could play them through a BlueTooth speaker. I named the EP Brinkmanship because I felt that the tracks had been rescued from the brink of being lost. Several songs were in fact lost during this laptop death, though I recently recovered more on an old iPod which eventually made it onto another release, Shit From An Old iPod.
The artwork for the collection is a photograph of a safety sticker on a Low Level Order Picker (LLOP) truck where I work which I have digitally manipulated in a piece of software called Hyperspektiv and layered in another piece of software called SnapSeed. I thought that there was a quasi-religious vibe to the image & therefore named it, before selecting it for the cover of this album, Worship False Idols.
- Take Up Thy Plasma Caster & Vape
The groundwork for this track was begun in 2011 when I was trying to wrap my head around sidechaining in Logic Pro. Its original title was SidechainExperiment. As such, it is built around rhythmic patterns created by sidechaining kick drums to fuzzy pad sounds. The title is a homage to two disparate influences: Fallout: New Vegas (which I was probably playing at the time) & Pink Floyd (specifically their song Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk). I don’t think I was aware of vaping as an alternative to smoking at this point & definitely didn’t use it as a verb. I use the word here as Sci-Fi slang for vaporising someone (usually with an energy weapon).
2. Synaptic Disintegrator
I don’t remember much about the production of this tune except for the fact that the main bass tone is created by running a sampled 808 boom through a VST distortion effect called CamelCrusher. The track is named after a weapon from the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000. Synaptic Disintegrators are the sniper rifle-type weapons wielded by Necron Deathmarks, a kind of sentient robot sniper to the uninitiated. Think Joe Pineapples from A.B.C. Warriors. I remember uploading this track to Soundcloud as a free download/Christmas gift on Christmas Eve 2012.
3. Cyber Analogue Steam Punk
This track begun life as part of a suite of tracks I composed as part of a community music project centred around the concept of journeys. The suite was based on the journey from Earth to Mars in the Alastair Reynolds novel Blue Remembered Earth. This track was originally entitled Martian Railroad & did not include the vocal sample. The vocal sample is taken from a news broadcast about American politicians debating cybersecurity. The snare sound is sampled from the clack of a steam trains runners in motion & the main textures are sampled from the noise of a cassette tape. At one point the working title was Steamtape, but after adding the vocal sample, it became Cyber Analogue Steam Punk to encompass the disparate elements.
4. Reanimation Protocols
Another one I remember very little about, except for playing around with tiny slivers of noises loaded into a drum machine VST. The title comes from a rule for Warhammer 40,000 Necrons which allows them to return to the field after being destroyed, a kind of advanced autorepair. I remember the synths are all made with a VST called Magical 8Bit by YMCK.
5. Space Powder
I believe this was just an attempt to recreate some of the futuristic Hip Hop tunes I was hearing by artists like Flying Lotus & Samiyam. The synth parts are semi-improvised & the beats are intentionally a bit wonky. The title came from a poem I wrote when I was about 17.
Another one with little memory. The title comes from a table top boardgame/RPG which is a kind-of Sci-Fi version of classic dungeon crawlers like HeroQuest & Descent. I thought it was a great title so I stole it.
7. Cyber Swamp
Cyber Swamp is built around a swirling, evolving mess of sound which is created by a simple sine wave (generated by the aforementioned YMCK Magical 8Bit VST) played through a long, complex signal chain of filters & delays. I think I named it Cyber Swamp because it sounded like swarming cybernetic insects. I added a halftime beat and a squelchy bass synth because it just felt right.
This tune is a hamfisted first attempt at emulating the ‘phasing’ techniques pioneered by avant-garde composers like Steve Reich. The general concept is that you have multiple versions of the same part, usually a melody, playing on different tape players. The minute differences in speed between the different tapes would cause the parts to drift in and out of phase with each other creating interesting melodic & rhythmic variations. In this instance I created three instances of the same synth part & time stretched one to be a bar shorter than the original & one to be a bar longer. Despite not quite achieving what I set out to, I was still pleased with the result. Originally made for Week 8 of Weekly Beats 2014.
This is another track which began life as part of Weekly Beats 2014. Week 35 this time. This was a last minute experiment where I, with a massive case of writers block, cut up the intro to an older song into small slices & loaded them up into a drum machine. I programmed rhythmic patterns with them & treated each slice independently with delay, distortion etc. It was a satisfying, if random, experiment & I enjoyed it a lot. I was more pleased with the result than I’d anticipated.
10. Enigmatic Hive Mind
This is yet another song from Weekly Beats 2014, Week 21. This is a slightly more successful experiment with the avant-garde phasing technique. In this instance I have multiple versions of the same drum track playing simultaneously with the tiniest variations in speed. The drum tracks drift in & out of time with each other causing some fairly chaotic rhythmic variations. One Weekly Beats user described the sound as like ‘hesitant sandpaper’. I was, & remain, exceedingly proud of this comment.
11. While My Synthesiser Gently Bleeps
This was another experiment with the same wall of randomised, swirling noise as Cyber Swamp. Recorded entirely in one take, this track was just a fun, experimental jam I performed & recorded one night. I never anticipated that it would be good enough to keep. I think you can all guess what I’m satirising with the title.
Buy Tom a coffee?
Tom loves coffee. If you’ve enjoyed any of the content he’s created then please consider donating a few quid to buy him a cup.