ELECTRIC SUNThe album was released at the end of April, 2023 and reached #4 in the German Album Charts. Reactions to the album were unprecedented, earning it acclaim from fans and music press alike.
Two singles were released in the run up to the album release
The release had been planned for March but, production of many elements for the different formats was delayed by unforeseen global supply-chain, energy and labour related shortages, that had seriously affected EU based production towards late 2022 and remaining acute over the first months of 2023.
MAKING THE ALBUM(written January 2023)
Making this album was a different affair from the usual. I'd been building a new studio from the end of 2019, which the "lost years" turned into a frustratingly slow process. I focused instead on everything close to home. Starting work on another album had to wait until the right time, when the feeling was there. VNV Nation and the label are a solo endeavour so I used the time to change a lot about the label and how I work, which was time well spent. I moved distributors for physical and digital and was incredibly lucky to meet some great new people to work with. BUT .. if you've been paying attention these last years to how I write, you will know that ideas for songs, melodies, designs and more always appear in my head when I'm doing anything and everything except thinking about writing music. Coordinating and cleaning up a never-ending building site, cabling, discussing contracts or doing accounting are particularly productive. Whenever I had an idea, I'd make voice notes, record the screen on my phone while playing a synth app, add to a pile of paper scribbles or, if I was in the office, sketch out a very basic demo in some music software. Demos started to evolve in 2021, as well as the ideas for impossible orchestrations.
The new studio played a huge part in the production of the album. It was designed to enable a healthy mix of virtual and physical sound-making and effects, something that kept changing and growing throughout the production. Analog synths, both vintage and modern, and a lot of outboard, helped give the album an organic quality and depth. Andre Winter, who's been involved as an assistant producer on VNV albums since 2004, tweaked and maximised elements of the more beat driven tracks, while I worked on the more organic and cinematic songs. I recorded the vocals in the new studio with Benjamin Mundigler, who did vocal tracking. We tried a lot of Mic and Preamp combinations, to find the sound for different songs. The next part of the process was mixing the album with Benjamin Lawrenz at his studio in the countryside outside Hamburg, before he mastered the album. Going back to what I'd imagined when I'd started, the finished result far exceeded it. I'd set out to make an album and ended up with a soundtrack to an as-yet unmade film. For that, I have to thank everyone who worked with me making the album because those interactions and collaborations are what help you get into the flow and yield results.
Electric Sun resonates deeply. There were revelations and epiphanies while making it. When I got around to sitting down and thinking through the concept for it, I was living in a different world from the one I'd left in 2019. Despite having a very clear idea of the theme and content, the results were products of change and reflection, love, loss, toil, not-toil, learning and a pinch of soul-searching. I described it to my friend as impressions left on me, in the preceding years, by what is right in front of everyone's face but always seem to be missed - the truly important things in our lives and how superficial everything had been. There are sides to the album where I've expressed things in ways I hadn't until now. It's allowed me to explore and reach new levels in the kind of music I make. I said on stage a few times that the next one would be darker. It was more a feeling than a conscious choice. Now, I don't mean darker in an "alone in a concrete cellar at 2am on a Saturday" or "my hunchback brother fell down a well and now I'm sad" kind of way. You don't plan creativity but you can curate and guide it. You are a vessel for it and, if you're like me, you let it do its thing. It's not the tools themselves but what they enable you to do. I find this album to be more emotive than usual, at times reaching some intensity. A lot was waiting to come out, I guess. I think you'll understand what I mean if you've heard it. From the title track "Electric Sun" to songs like "Prophet", "Run", "Sunflare" and "At Horizon's end", there's a cinematic-size scale to what I've made here. I can't easily explain how that happened other than wanting the scale to get bigger, the further I went.
If you want, the album will make you dance, or ask you to think, or make you smile and, at times, it might well put dust in your eye. Sorry about that last bit. I seem to have a thing about wrecking someone's mascara.
p.s. If you're curious about the new studio, as well as an up-to-date studio gear-list, there are posts about them in the news section
14 Jun 23
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