Antwood - 'Sponsored Content' (album stream) (premiere) (interview)

by Sarah Zupko

6 September 2017

Antwood returns with his second Planet Mu album and it's a brilliant, experimental one bursting with ideas. Tristan Douglas gives us a track-by-track of the record as well.
Photo courtesy of Planet Mu 

Tristan Douglas a.k.a. Antwood released one of last year’s most intriguing electronic albums, Virtuous.scr, which showed him to be a deep-thinking producer with immense compositional skill and imagination.

Now, Antwood is back with his second record for Planet Mu. Sponsored Content takes a slightly more melodic approach and Antwood heavily edited his work to reduce any extraneous elements. The music is focused and lean with aural white space giving the songs space to breathe. Like Venetian Snares, Antwood is creating his own musical vocabulary.
  
The story behind the album is quite interesting as Antwood discovered one ASMR YouTuber inserting subtle advertising into their videos. In this new media world, advertising is finding its way into absolutely everything. Brand and product placement is king, and it’s everywhere in the media products we consume on a daily basis. Antwood was rightly disturbed by this and wanted to explore the idea musically.

Antwood says that “it’s obviously about the ubiquity of ads and the commodification of online content. The unlikely placement of ads in the music aims to force the listener to become hyper-aware of being advertised to rather than passively internalizing it.”

Antwood’s Sponsored Content releases 8 September via Planet Mu and below Antwood takes us through the entire album, track by track.

TRACK-BY-TRACK

DISABLE AD BLOCKER

This track is about websites requesting that you disable ad blocker to view their content. The loud parts consist of loud bass, the PlayStation 2 Start-up sound, and a little Rihanna voice sampler I rigged up. Later there is a funny yet powerful meme, a descending, sustained whammy bar note from the Van Halen “Eruption” solo, and the beginning of Mark Zuckerberg’s anecdote. 

THE NEW INDUSTRY

I’ve worked some heavy industry jobs, like at a pulp and paper mill. They are always so loud. Even with heavy duty earplugs, I had a kind of physical stress reaction to this type and volume of sound. I would get all crazy from the constant industrial clamour, I’d need to go hide out in the bathroom and want to weep. The hardware used here was a bit of x0xb0x.

FIJI WATER

FIJI water is a ridiculous company, and they have some pretty lofty, sensational ads. So, I made this track about this brand of bottled drinking water as melodramatic and stilted as they are. The little Mike Paradinas Easter egg at the end was ripped from him teasing this track on his podcast last December. He and Lara also did a pretty good piss-take of the record’s concepts, it’s worth checking out.

WAIT FOR YENGI

Working on Wait for Yengi was refreshing. It is the type of track I want to keep making. It’s simple. It has a simple melody, written on finger picked guitar, direct but off-kilter driving bass kick, and swelling layered cello, sampled from a long nighttime session with a friend (not chintzy MIDI strings, PitchFork). And a good climax, I love a good climax. You find out at the end Zuck is keeping the arch of the record alive, really pulling his weight.

SUBLINGUAL

Last year I played a sit down show in Montreal and took eleven 1mg sublingual Ativan tablets and drank 375 ml of Wiser’s Deluxe throughout the day, leading up to the event. I can’t remember playing, I only have dream-like fragments of untrustworthy flashes. I was assured by the audience that the set went well, despite me pressing “stop” on my MPC at one point near the end. I think they figured it was intentional. I just hit “play” again… like a rewind, right? The organizers, however, were very worried about me. I felt bad, I sent them a letter.

ICU

Is it “I See You”, or is it “Intensive Care Unit”? Considering it sounds like the most horrific version of a FEMA camp routine surveillance check I gravitate towards the former. (Please don’t sue me, Drake)

THE HYPER INDIVIDUAL

Quiet-loud song dynamic, two opposing extremes akin to the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy. Is a fully functional person in a constant, steady state of duality, or can one save up “prudence points” and use them to vindicate a chaotic, instinctual bender? Maybe you can “prudence mine”, and add prudence activity data to prudence’s global public ledger of past activities – which can only be spent on red wine and prostitutes. I don’t know…

COMMODITY FETISH MODE

I needed a trap track on here for it to recoup the manufacturing costs of the physicals.

DEREALIZATION

The most depressive piece of music I’ve made yet. It was initially supposed to conjure the feeling of summiting a mountain, being in the windy stillness, bearded, thinking like Kerouac about mountains crumbling, and how the universal essence of mind never will crumble because it was never born. But last time I climbed a tall mountain, Mount Albert Edward, Strathcona Provincial Park, BC, I had horrible vertigo, sustained panic and severe heat stroke. As I get older I tolerate heights less, but am more drawn to them as a therapeutic tool.

DON’T GO

Yeah, it’s a break-up song.

HUMAN

This is me showing off my MIDI soft-synth piano chops. The piano was run through VHS, that’s why it sounds like that. I used Freeware AlterEgo for the singing, which is pretty annoying to use to be honest but sounds cool if you modulate tremolo and volume like a real singer. I tried to crowd-source real singers, but I only got one submission and it was unusable (sorry). I find this quite an emotional piece of music, as far as I’m capable of.

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