The Lausanne-based producer talks about sci-fi inspirations, remixing Tim Hecker and what’s next after Acheron.
Last December, we learned that The Astral Plane, responsible for our For Club Use Only series, founded a new label. Next week, Astral Plane Recordings will drop their debut release: Acheron, the new EP by SHALT (aka Jack Taylor).
York-born, but currently based in Lausanne, Taylor drew inspiration from sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Anderson’s Mars trilogy as well the recent experimentations in club music by artists like M.E.S.H.. That showed last year when he remixed ‘Stab Variation’ by Tim Hecker, one of his favorite artists, and it’s even stronger here. Acheron is sharp, angular and beautiful — like a cluster of jagged gems. We caught up with Taylor recent over email to ask him about his latest work and what he plans to do next. Stream the EP’s closing track, ‘Unconfined’, and read our conversation below.
Last year, in the wake of records by M.E.S.H., Arca, Lotic and more it seems like the playing field has shifted for music in this style. What do you take from that?
Besides all of those being really unique, enjoyable records, I think it’s helped in the respect that there’s a lot more freedom to push boundaries, and to show that you can make music without compromise and still see it widely embraced. It’s inspiring that you can be seen as a conceptual artist, as well as someone who makes/DJs club music without any real dissonance between the two anymore.
You were living in York, your hometown, but now you’re in Lausanne. What brought you there? How does that environment influence your work?
Unfortunately, I’m not really in a position to be devoting all my time to music, so I’m here just for work! I was under the impression beforehand that my location wouldn’t make that much difference to my music, because there’s no real electronic scene in York anyway (I think we’ve just discovered house there…), but honestly the environment has altered my viewpoint a bit. Although my personal situation here is probably a bit more detached than others due to my work, the environment feels entirely insulated from reality in a way, which gives a different, if often frustrating, perspective.
You turned Tim Hecker’s ‘Stab Variation’ inside out in your reedit. What drew you to his work? That’s an interesting album for him because he embraced a lot of live instrumentation despite coming from such a heavily electronic place on earlier releases.
Virgins is still one of my favourite records actually. It has this great sense of instability and decay, which is something I’m really drawn to and have tried to develop on the Acheron EP, and I think the live parts definitely add to this feeling of physicality. I guess the track didn’t really need an edit, but they’re exactly the sorts of sounds that I enjoy hearing in a club environment, so it felt worth it!
You said Acheron was influenced by reading Kim Stanley Anderson’s Mars trilogy. Is there a conceptual arc to the record you envisioned?
The EP is inspired by the idea of artificial life extension and the issues and effects surrounding it, which links in with a lot of the ideas put forward in the Mars trilogy; for instance, the inequality of life extension treatment between the privileged and the disadvantaged, or the hypermalthusian scenarios resulting from prolonged life spans. Whilst he is looking at a (hopefully) exaggerated scenario stretching 200 years into the future, I was considering the issues focused more on the current global situation. While there is an arc to the books, and I guess you could interpolate one into the EP from that, I intended the tracks more as an exploration of four different issues arising from life extension, all of which tie into events or places from the books.
With Acheron out this month, what’s next for you in 2016?
I’m in the process of developing the follow-up EP to Acheron, which is dealing with a different concept but one that ties in quite strongly with the focus of this EP. There’s no point giving away too much yet, but it feels like a natural progression of ideas (to me at least).