Adam Marshall and XI reunite as Graze for <em>Soft Gamma Repeater</em> LP

The Toronto-bred duo ready the follow-up to their debut album.

Toronto’s Christian “XI” Andersen and Berlin’s Adam Marshall came together last year as Graze, fusing Marshall’s house and techno background with Andersen’s jungle and dubstep influence, releasing a series of “upfront dance-floor tracks” that culminated with Edges.

Less than a year later, the pair are back with the Soft Gamma Repeater LP: “six dance­floor bombs and one bittersweet comedown track” that were forged in one “chunk” of time and explore a series of dichotomies — sampling versus synthesis, body versus mind, etc. — while never losing sight of their club-borne aspirations.

Soft Gamma Repeater is due out on November 1 (triple vinyl) and November 17 (digital) via New Kanada. To mark the announcement, we caught up with Anderson and Marshall about their evolving creative process, their backgrounds… and aerogels.

Edges was released less than a year ago. Did you expect to have another album worth of material this soon?

Christian Anderson: By the time Edges was released, we already had quite a wealth of new material put together; it seemed at the time that having another album ready for the following year was a realistic goal.

Adam Marshall: Yeah, we already had the seeds for a lot of these tracks planted by the time Edges was released. We didn’t expect to have another set of tracks ready so soon, but they happened quite organically, so we rolled with it.

What was the goal this time? How has your process evolved?

CA: For me, this has been quite an exploratory project. The goal is to push my ability and imagination always. Discovering new facets of performance and creation has been central to the conceptual and mechanical processes of putting everything in this project together, so it follows that evolution has continued organically.

AM: As the tracks just crystalized together during a period, there was no overarching goal or intent – and with that no expectations or assumed directions. But as we worked on specific ones, they started to form a narrative and work well together as a unit.
 

“The last record was a collaborative effort; this one feels much more like fusion.”

 
CA: The process has become more robust in some ways, such as fleshing out and refining the A/V aspects of our stage show and pushing the limits of our live machines. The process has also become more streamlined and concentrated in others, as can be heard in the way we are narrowing in on what is becoming the core of our sound and warming up to the aspects we each bring to the table so that we can both bring our complimentary strengths to the fore. I think a good indicator of our continued progress as artists and as a team is the clarity and impact the music translates.

On Edges, you seemed to split the difference between your backgrounds — does that still characterize your approach?

CA: It is clear that our ideas, and stylistic approaches are becoming deeply cross-influenced. This record is a new chapter in the convergence of our creative personalities. On SGR the creative struggle is expressed in a completely different way than on Edges. Where the last record was a collaborative effort, this one feels much more like fusion.

AM: I think our difference in backgrounds really keeps each of us on our toes, and we avoid getting stuck in the same stylistic tropes. The fact that we trust whatever each of us does to a track, as it evolves, is definitely a key element here.

I have to ask about the ‘Coax’ press release: is that a riff on something like “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” or are you really into aerogels?

AM: Haha… Good eye. Of course we’re both down with aerogels…. who isn’t?

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