Elektrisk Gønner “Panoramic Targets” (Influenza)
Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: Influenza, Music.
Approach Influenza as a series which serves to offer insight into the birth of a song; these are the thoughts, influences and the inspirations directly from the mind of the artists.
Roughly translated from the French site Student After All, “Panoramic Targets” is described as a “small ball of platinum electro-rock remix with two more balls into the charger.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, or how accurate the interpretation is, but the reference to platinum is an interesting one because of the slick nature of the song; without effort it seamlessly shimmers as if it were, in fact, made of a precious metal. The track has a sleek mystique and a relaxed approach which only furthers the feeling that it’s far from your run-of-the-mill “electro-rock.” In this edition of Influenza Benjamin Gønner of the Barcelona/Toronto/København/French collective Elektrisk Gønner details the origins and development of “Panoramic Targets.”
Actually I started this song like seven years ago. I was involved with a lot of other different projects (musical or not) and I thought this song would perfectly fit for my band Oslø Telescopic. As a kid my father was buying me a new 7″ single every weekend, so I have a huge collection of ’80s hits and I was regularly using them for some samples material. Among this amount of vinyl sounds, I was recording some “loop-sessions” on my old iMac, collecting libraries of rhythmic or melodic loops. Though I’m playing some electronic music, I never really used “real” electronic music software. I’m working my electronic tracks in an old-school way, made of layers and collage, the same way I’m writing rock, folk or whatever songs.
For this track, I found a very famous European ’80s hit song, and I just kept the intro voice, reversed it, pitched it and twisted it until creating an abstract rhythmic material, so that you couldn’t recognize the original song. So originally I only had the very beginning of the song with the squirrelly-sounding loop and some cheap electronic drum parts but I couldn’t finish it. I knew there was a potential behind this short beginning, but I couldn’t find the key to finish it. I have loads of unfinished tracks like this and from time to time, I’m listening to them again, trying to feel inspired but most of the time, I’m just delaying the process again.
I had a hard time in 2008 plus Oslø Telescopic was dying after five albums and 10 years of weird-cult-indie-fame-unfame, and I needed to launch a new project as a new beginning. At the same time, by a lucky chance, as I was visiting an old friend, I discovered a dusty vintage monophonic Korg in his cellar. I convinced him it wasn’t the best instrument for his son to learn piano, and eventually, I could get it for free. It’s always inspiring to have such a new toy, and listening again to some early demos, I tried once again to record something on “Panoramic Targets.” This time, things were getting easier. I recorded a bass melody with the powerful tacky-sounding vintage keyboard, and then I started improvising a lead singing, trying to imitate some bluesy female voice through distortion, somewhere between Nina Simone or Beth Gibbons on ecstasy. I often have a sharp picture of what I want to do when it comes to singing, but fortunately, I’m a pretty bad at imitating, and at least it would sound like something rather unique. Later I tried to record a few other takes but I kept the first one because, despite of all its imperfections, it was sounding more authentic and more intense. The lyrics were inspired from an indie movie I watched in Toronto, but I can’t remember the name of the movie, nor the director… “Your head leaves your shoulder when you hit the ground.”
The temporary names for the new songs are usually the name of the sampled artist, or at least a clue to remember where I found the sample. So I was looking for a new name and didn’t want to use a word from the lyrics while at the same time I was editing a video for my other project Løzninger; that song is called “Moving Targets.” I found it funny to draw a parallel with the “Moving Targets” song, so slow and mellow, and this new more-dance-able “Panoramic Targets” song. Like a kinda schizo-twin-sister song, plus the name fits perfectly to the new aims of this new project. Elektrisk Gønner was born with this first song. At least, seven years later, I do know that there’s always a second chance for (very) old demos…