A lot of things can change in three years. And that’s a fact that’s more than evident in the output of Critical Music’s Russian signee Enei. Leading on from the success of 2012’s Machines LP, Alexey Egorchekov returns with his accomplished second album project, Rituals. This spirited and varied body of work is somewhat of a technical showcase of the dexterity and imagination that this exciting producer has to offer. The Critical Sound gang are gearing up for another huge FABRICLIVE line up this Friday 30th October, where you can join Kasra and co. in toasting the newest edition to their LP catalogue. So, in light of his new album and the impending chaos that’ll bore deep into Room Two this Friday, we caught up with St Petersburg’s finest for a chat about all things Rituals…
You must be excited to be releasing album number two. How are you feeling right now?
Enei: Yeah, I’m feeling really excited as that’s a big step for me! I am very happy with every track. It shows absolutely every side of me on this LP!
You’re cited as having fortified Critical’s sound in 2012 with Machines. During this time of accelerated output and subsequent disposability of digital music, the album has endured with a number of tunes that are still on regular rotation in 2015. How did you approach writing the follow up to a hugely successful first album?
I am always trying to be outside of all trends, but taking a little bit from every current trend. Also, doing music from the soul and not from the brain. Never think about trends. Don’t think of how to become a trendsetter, or to be the most successful guy in any kind of genre and eventually you could be!
In the past three years, Critical Music have incorporated a wider, more diverse roster with an ever present emphasis on production value. As Critical’s first exclusively signed artist, how has the evolution of the label during this time pushed your boundaries as a producer?
I think the label grows with an artist, so it is kind of a productive collaboration. So, I think Kasra is doing it very well by inviting all of the talented guys across different genres! But it’s definitely all future thinking music, and it will never be boring, old fashioned or lacking in quality.
Machines was lauded for its uniform minimal tribalism, that perfectly captured the mood of drum &; bass at that moment in time. In comparison, Rituals has widened the parameters and plays with extremes; from the aggressive, jump-up leanings of ‘Bad Proof’ to new grounds of the jazzy and organic ‘Moment of Now’ with Frank Carter III. It seems like you have moved on from what is arguably a concept album of sorts, toward writing tracks with each a separate concept in mind. Why is this?
I like and listen to a lot of styles of music, from industrial noise to rockabilly, so it is the same with my own music. Yes, in 2012 I was trying to experiment with all of those dark and deep techy rollers because I really like the sound of ‘90s tech step and old neurofunk. Some people are still doing huge rollers in this genre, but I was getting a little bit bored and was trying to find myself in more complex and different sounds. It still has plenty of jungle, tech and dark atmospheres, but it’s a little bit of everything. I was also interested in vocals recording and processing, that’s why I collaborated with those guys.
Did an emphasis on variety benefit your writing process?
Yes absolutely! I’ve discovered so many new production techniques and so many influences. So now all my knowledge is in Rituals!
"I can sum up the whole album as 'listen and dance'."
What lessons did you learn from the process the first time around that you have implemented in the writing of this album?
I got my most important tricks from Martin Mefjus. Well… not exactly tips, but the approach to work. To work for the quality, but not the quantity. That’s important if you want to mature with the sound. For example, I’m now mixing drums and basslines for more than an hour, because back in the day, I only spent couple of minutes.
The title ‘Rituals’ doesn’t correspond to a track on the album. Where did the name come from and what’s the significance of it?
That might be a silly nerd thing but ‘Rituals’ has two meanings. First is that I really love the native and ethnic sounds from the world; you can hear it in a lot of my tracks, for example ‘The Artefact’. One day I’ll make the tune with old native Russian choral songs! So, the second meaning is that most people have their own rituals in their life. For example, to wake up and clean firstly right hand and then left. It sounds like schizophrenia, but that’s really interesting.
There is a more aggressive and high energy feel to this record in parts, pertaining to dance floor suitability more akin to your DJ sets. Was this a conscious move to be truthful to the type of music you enjoy playing out?
It’s true, I’ve been playing harder stuff during the past few years because I really love huge parties! Not the boring DJ bar gigs with 20 people. So, I decided to make more dancefloor stuff to play that and amaze people. Also, I really like what’s going on in that future jump up sound, so I took some influences from there and made my own vision on it in with ‘Bad Proof’, ‘Lessons’ and ‘Vertigo’.
The progression in the track ‘Vertigo’ showcases the multi-faceted nature of your music in one tune. Was it important to you to write for the benefit of the listening experience, as well as for the club on this album?
Yes, ‘Vertigo’ is kind a weird track with three drops. I’m pretty sure that no one people will play a third drop in their sets, but I made it just in case. The second drop harks back to 2012 a little bit with that sticky and heavy jungly roller, and then it’s jump up again. It’s funny. In three words, I can sum up the whole album as 'listen and dance'.
DRS joins you once again with Kasra on the track ‘Lessons’. At this stage, we’ve come to expect absolute fire every time you guys collaborate! Do you tailor tunes for his vocals? How does it usually go down between you and DRS when you’re making a track together?
We actually did this tune without any vocal ideas, but then we decided to ask Del to record something on it and we were really happy! That’s one of those jump up style tracks, when you’re used to hearing techy, deep rollers with jungle elements; so that’s quite an interesting collaboration and with such a legend.
Photo: Sarah Ginn