Rising electronic producer DEFSET has released his debut album ‘Proximity’ via EMK – the new electronic music platform launched by Kartel Music Group on October 29 .
The album follows the release of a string of singles, ‘Deadlines’, ‘Shira 2’ and ‘Bathtime’ which have demonstrated DEFSET’s mastery in using modular synthesisers and outboard gear to create a pallet of evolving melodies over syncopated, glitched out rhythms, delivering a deeply accomplished sonic blend of immersive techno and atmospheric electronic music.
Inspired by DEFSET’s memories of the UK rave scene from the early 90s, ‘Proximity’, explains the producer; “it’s an homage to the incredible times I’ve had throughout the decades in the UK party scene. While making this album I rediscovered electronic music and rediscovered so many happy memories.”
Although new to the electronic music scene, DEFSET is the moniker of Leo Neelands, known for his work as VFX Supervisor and VFX compositor, creating visual effects on some of the biggest VFX movies of all times such as ‘Harry Potter’, ‘World War Z’, ‘Gravity’, ‘The Hobbit’, ‘Iron Man 3’ and ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’. “Music came first,” he explains, “I was making music in 1993, on an Atari ST with Cubase and a little drum machine. I was obsessed with making music, more than DJing, I have always been interested in the process behind creating the tracks.”
Written entirely in lockdown, DEFSET’s upcoming debut album ‘Proximity’, was mixed and mastered remotely by Tim Pennells (Floating Points, Nyx, Gazelle Twins, Tourist, Honne). Talking about the album creative process DEFESET says; “I started by buying some modular gear just before lockdown in an attempt to get back into creating stuff again, something I hadn’t done for about 5 years. I loved the hands on, computer free approach of modular synthesis. The lack of presets and the need to create every sound from scratch was hard to learn but completely liberating. I became obsessed with everything modular. If I wasn’t twiddling knobs I was watching YouTube tutorials or reading books and forums about it.”
Through the album DEFSET experiments with field recordings, modular synths, live drums and hardware analogue synths, creating every sound from scratch. The producer’s analog and modular approach to electronic music results in lush, energetic and enigmatic textural sounds.
Opening track ‘Islands’ sets the tone of the entire album, DEFSET’s use of modular drums and FM synthesis through Mutable Instruments’ Clouds granular audio processor, proving the producer’s ability to create music to affect mood through sound. Second track ‘Present’ is a powerful evolving melody built using the Arturia Modular V Moog emulator and heavily edited beats. In ‘Shira2’ field recordings captured during a trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro dance over a shuffling backbeat. ‘Bathtime’ shows DEFSET’s versatility as a musician – built around a sample of an acapella of legendary Jamaican reggae group Black Uruhu – the unique piece of slo-mo dub-techno features a section the producer wrote when drumming for a ska/reggae band with live bass and instrumentation. While ‘HoneySwede’ is a tough and atmospheric cut channelling 90s breaks.
“The electronic dance music movement and the acid house movement are hugely important in music and youth culture and I was lucky to be around at the right time. I can’t help but be affected by those times and my music will always have one foot in a muddy field at 4am,” he enthuses.