Studio to Stage: Morphosis
Despite the minimalist nature of Rabih Beaini’s production as Morphosis, the background story to the music actually tells a very different tale. Through a purely analogue arrangement of synths, effects pedals, strings and keys the Berlin home studio that Beaini has built invokes an organic process of experimentation, which gives him an edge in the otherwise linear world of minimalism/ Ahead of his appearance in Room Two on 8th June for Craig Richards next instalment of The Nothing Special, we’ve been allowed to take a very privileged look at the different components of Morphosis’s equipment and production process…
Hey Rabih thanks for letting us into your studio for a closer look. How long have you been working in here? Is this your Berlin work base?
This has been my base for over a year now, the whole setup is in my house and I usually will finish up by going to professional studio for mixing and post production if I think it's needed.
Which records have you made in here?
Various remixes from 2012 like I used the the Korg Response for TM404 on Kontra Musik, the Fluxion remix on Echocord, the Albidaya album, the forthcoming double EP on Honest Jons, part of it was made here and part was recorded live in Cluj at the Transilvanian Film Festival, but using pretty much the same equipment and some unreleased private sessions with other musicians have been recorded in here as well.
It’s quite a bright and open space is that important to you instead of somewhere dark and underground?
Currently I enjoy working during the day, light is ok, but this is not a condition I really have for working, I actually am not too related to the conditions that are around me when I work on music or record it.
I’m really struck by the fact that your set up seems to be overwhelmingly analogue, what does the laptop have to play in it all?
The laptop is for checking internet and writing interviews like now, sometimes I record and edit some music on Cubase, a sequencer program.
Can you talk us through your production process, it all seems set up to be a very organic process from the outside, is that right?
Sometimes I just let the instruments lead it. They have their own voice and they somehow like to communicate with each other, via weird patching and unconventional connections. This is why it’s important for me to have at least some pieces of equipment that have a specific way of communicating, the language is more personal and solid, the method becomes more of a research project than a simulation and arrangement. My final output might end up being a little conformist and not too experimental, but this is not my goal, I like to experiment on stage or take it to wider audience when I have the chance to.
Can you educate me please, what’s the instrument that looks like a sawn off fret board from a guitar, I don’t think I’ve seen that before?
To be honest I found it in a music store in Berlin and I don’t know exactly what it is, but I’ve been told it’s hand made in India. It’s quite a curious instrument probably made for a specific use, part of it has the frets and the rest is in drone way, it has metal strings and the sound is really crunchy but very ethnic in its own way. I've used it for some recent recordings and I’m hoping I can manage to create a electro-acoustic project around it which is the initial idea I had when I first saw it.
I think it’s quite interesting your keyboards are an Italian make, did you pick those up when you were resident in Venice? What do you like about their qualities?
In the 60's and 70's there some small Italian companies who were producing quite an interesting range of instruments from guitars to amps and organ emulators, cheap but well built, some musicians at the time liked the fact that they had a very special sound, more on a cosmic tone tip, maybe because of cheaper components or maybe it was for some other psychedelic approach that the guys who built it took. I used to own a Eko Tiger in Italy, but the Duo (double keyboard version) here I found it in Berlin, n that same shop I found the string instrument, like most of my gear, it was a really lucky fiund, The shop Central Music is quite a regular one for me in Kreuzberg but sometimes they had second hand stuff which is interesting.
Where does tape come into your production process?
I used to record everything on a tape 4 track I owned in Italy, play it back and redubbing again, but now I don’t have it anymore. I’m thinking about buying one again, it had some cool features, I’m not using tape for recording currently but for playback of cassettes I eventually buy. Next steps will def include a diverse recording process.
What out of this makes it onto the stage with you when you perform live?
Most of the time the TR-808 is present. Sometimes when I have the chance, I take the analog synths and sequencer, but that depends on the travel arrangements and how much I can carry and my Pro-One is specifically racked for live performance usage too. Sometimes I’ve had the chance to bring even the organ and the whole setup, it’s quite a interesting thing for me to totally change perspective of setup and can make things completely different for the performance.
And finally this question has been a fun one to end with in previous interviews, if money were no object what would you buy for the studio?
Sorry to spoil the fun for you, of course the main dream of most musicians is to probably have the most advanced and wicked studio, with all the latest technology and others with vintage consoles and instruments, but it’s not the same in my case to be honest. I love some of the ultra-rare and special instruments that I've had the chance to get my hands on, some are hard to find, but to buy them is a different matter for me. I try not to become too emotionally attached to things, I normally like to find used and cheap stuff and try to make it fit in my small world and one day sell or trade, let them travel around and have their own story to tell.
Morphosis will be performing live in Room Two for Craig Richards' The Nothing Special with Mosca on June 8th, for more info and tickets go here.