Melodic X Hidden Agenda present Nathan Fake Live

  • Norfolk born and bred heir to the UK electronica throne Nathan Fake has kept fans of fuzzy-edgedsynths and pounding acidic techno beats alike guessing ever since his debut release at the tenderage of 19. And now, having just reached his 29th birthday milestone, he is back with exuberant newalbum main event 'Steam Days', a breathtaking landmark on Nathan Fake's road to musicalmaturity which Nathan has rightly branded his “best work to date”, oscillating effortlessly betweenboth ends of the electronic spectrum to reprise both the soothing melodic indulgence and heavydancefloor assault of his albums of yore. And although a career that has been characterised bysuch deftly-executed electronic versatility may to the outsider appear chameleonic, schizophreniceven, one thing has remained constant throughout his decade at the electronica coalface: a veryreal sense of the artist behind the machines, no matter which production hat Fake may currentlybe sporting.It was during his upbringing in the rural English county of Norfolk that the first tell-tale signs ofNathan Fake's artistic idiosyncracies began to reveal themselves. When an early course of pianolessons threatened to stall at the abstract first hurdle of learning to read music, the young Nathaninstead took on the much more daunting task of memorising by ear with the aim of recalling duringpractice sessions at home, with considerable – and surprising – levels of success. His inductioninto the electronic arts would come a little later care of his elder brother's Orbital tape cassettes,their unashamedly euphoric melody lines likewise effortlessly assimilated by Nathan, providing awelcome lead to play along to on his junior Casio keyboard (little did he know that years later hewould end up supporting those same Orbital brothers on their 2012 comeback tour!). And to thisday, Fake retains an ability to recall, deconstruct and replicate music that is damn near pitch-perfect, which has come to him via this altogether natural and entirely unstudied route.This enviable raw, innate musical ability was given a cursory polish when Nathan left his sleepyNorfolk village of Necton at the age of 18 to commence an HND in Music Technology at ReadingCollege of Art & Design, although Fake would end up dropping out before graduation when hismusical career suddenly took off of its own accord – and in grand style. His debut 12” release - theBoards-of-Canada-do-techno of 'Outhouse' - came care of UK producer-cum-DJ James Holden'sBorder Community label in 2003 (the fledgling label's second ever release), making seriousinroads on the dancefloors of Europe. Following hot on its heels came that inimitable (though fartoo many have tried!) James Holden remix of Fake's 'The Sky Was Pink', confounding allexpectations to notch up 12” sales approaching 20,000 at a time when people were alreadyqueueing up to ring the death knell for vinyl. The Nathan Fake name thus found itself stamped allover a bonafide modern dancefloor classic, its soaring fake guitars reaching out into the realm ofuniversal consciousness, somewhat inescapably cementing Fake's club reputation in the process.But Nathan's brief spell at Reading College would not go entirely to waste: his course-basedexplorations of the influence of electronic music on rock and pop production would eventually laythe foundations of his 2006 debut album 'Drowning In A Sea Of Love', a melody-rich sweep ofshoegazey rocktronica further in the vein of Fake's epic, psychedelic original version of 'The SkyWas Pink'. This endearing collection of warm and fuzzy juvenilia translated effortlessly into fully-fledged home-listening album material, making good on the promise shown by his early dancefloorincursions to see through the transformation into grown-up professional worldwide touring andrecording artiste, thereby pulling off a feat that most of his then-peers could only dream of as hismusic broke out of the dance music ghetto to spin off into the record collections of album-buyingmusic lovers the world over.If his harder-edged 2009 stop-gap mini-album follow-up 'Hard Islands' then came as something ofa dramatic departure to this new army of home-orientated listeners, the process by which it cameabout was for Nathan an entirely smooth and natural one. As his extended album tour graduallygave way to the never-ending stream of requests from the techno clubs where he first made hisname, various 'Drowning In A Sea Of Love' era tracks were beefed up to complement his emergingnew material. Evolving gradually in the context of his live performance before finally being pinneddown to a fixed recorded form for their official release, these sweaty shirts-off 'Hard Islands' jamsbear the influence of his experiences at dance music's front line, infusing them with anincreasingly musically ambitious cerebral edge and a reactive response loop mechanism thatleaves them even more optimised for maximum dancefloor impact than ever before. “Playing live a lot has had a profound influence on the way I make music now,” Nathan explains.“It's all quite improvised and I actually formulate a lot of my arrangements while I'm playing live. Iuse loops which I can put in depending on the mood, its all free form.” And the resultant NathanFake laptop live show is a much more intense, physical and visual experience than one hastraditionally come to expect from the one man genre, wherein Fake fits and jerks his way throughan unstoppable hour long assault with incredible focus, elbows flailing and body contorted toimpossible angles as he throws the noises at his enraptured audience.The almost autistic musical aptitude and incredible feats of memory of Nathan's childhood alsocontinue to inform his modern-day studio productions, as he wrings his astounding results out ofthe limited palette of a PC and millennium-era Cubase 5 software thanks to his encyclopaedicknowledge of every little detail – bug, quirk, malfunction or bonafide built-in feature - that lurksinside his chosen tools. “My approach to making music, physically and mentally, has actuallychanged very little over the last ten years,” he maintains, somewhat surprisingly. “I like to keep thetechnical side of things as simple and familiar as possible.” For Nathan, this absolute andcomplete mastery of a limited set of tools is essential to ensure the rapid, visceral translation ofinstinctive ideas into jaw-dropping musical reality. The method behind the madness may barely have altered, but as we fast forward to 2012's 'SteamDays' update of the Nathan Fake musical manifesto we find Nathan increasingly concerned with anew process he describes as “erosion of sound”, whereby an unpredictable organic layer of post-processing is added to the otherwise pristine and all-too-ubiquitous products of computer-bounddigital soft-synths. “The last two records sound really clean to me now,” Fake explains. “This onehas the perfect amount of grit in it, I think. I've put a lot of time into finding different ways to erodesounds, to make them sound wooden and earthy instead of plastic and metal.”The unconventional low-tech hotch potch that makes up Mr Fake's idiosyncratic home studio thuscombines the analogue richness of a rag tag collection of cheap drum machines with the infinitepower and possibility of his trusty PC's digital audio editing capabilities, all of which is flattenedand unified through the crucial final step of recording to one of his beloved vintage home cassetteplayers. “The way a cassette works when it records stuff is pretty unique,” Nathan explains. “Youcan get plugins but you can never really get the same results unless you use real tape.”The resultant 'Steam Days' album artefact is the considered response of an artist coming of age,drawing upon that self-same characteristic individualism to reach maturity in the full glare of thatspecial kind of musical infamy that comes attached to an insiduous club hit. A document of“everything that’s gone on in my head for the past two years”, the 'Hard Islands' techno tantrum ofNathan's mid-twenties has clearly now abated, giving way to a sophisticated organic blend ofpropulsive percussive body and warming pastoral bliss that effectively distills both sides of hisfractured musical personalities into a delightfully varied transformative trip. Long after his post-college move to the big, bad city of London, Nathan's rural upbringing in theNorfolk village of Necton continues to bring its influence to bear on his music, his pastoral rootsweaving their way through harmonious washes of synths and folky refrains, and running deep intothe mythology of his track titles. Farm fresh floorfiller 'Iceni Strings' is a nod to ancient Norfolk-dwelling Celtic tribe the Iceni, whilst local villages 'Bawsey' (outdoor swimming spot where theteenage Nathan once narrowly escaped drowning), 'Neketona' (the Anglo-Saxon name for hischildhood village home) and 'Castle Rising' (surreally-named sleepy Norfolk hamlet) all representpersonal landmarks in the Fake family folklore. Likewise the insistently anthemic 'Harnser' takes itsname from his father's handyman company, itself named after the local Norfolk word for “heron”.“I've got a really strong connection with the place I grew up in,” Nathan declares. “Norfolk willalways be my home, even though I don't have one there any more.” “London is also my home, but I still don't feel like I totally belong here,” he continues, havingadopted the British capital as centre of operations for his current campaign of touring and remixing(his string of illustrious credits includes none other than Radiohead, Domino's production youngbuck Jon Hopkins, Warp's PVT and Clark, and labels like Ninja Tune, DFA and Lone's MagicWire). Though he often ventures beyond the walls of his home studio to embrace the full throb ofthe city's ever-shifting musical landscape, every now and then a wistful eye is cast back towardshis long since sold family home in Norfolk, and Nathan somehow never quite manages to shakeoff that nostalgia for good times gone by encapsulated in his 'Steam Days' album title. But torn ashe is between town and country, between dancefloor hedonism and home-listening introspection,the lone figure of Nathan Fake together with his third album opus 'Steam Days' serve as livingproof that these seemingly polar opposite worlds don't have to be mutually exclusive.
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