In his Scene Noise debut, Egyptian electronic music producer Hatem El-Chiati reviews David August's 2014 release, Epikur.
A mainstream niche has been created inside the techno and house scenes where actual 'music' or composition, such as harmony, melody, and basic concepts of writing music, are looked upon as unimportant. Many producers are trying to recreate a specific (stale) sound that we nowadays hear in most clubs that involves lots of high hats and no REAL music and no creative methods of production.
David August starts the journey through this track with the base pad, a very groovy rhythm line, a hypnotic arpeggio, and another pad which acts as a melody. The richness found in the pads is based on the main synth, inside of which white noise is layered to mimic the richness of vinyl that many people strive for in this era. This track’s chord progression and its melody create a harmonic juxtaposition that resembles classical music, much like the producer’s background and education.
Emotive, layered, and simply deep, the melody keeps rising throughout the track, creating tension through rising octaves and doubling of the line to create a harmony of sorts. This is done by having two melody lines simultaneously playing the same rhythm but using different notes. It gently introduces its sound; a deep, layered pad with high frequencies and reverb that creates the feeling that it is in a hall or a large room. This compositional method is rarely used in this genre, which is why August has such an edge over other producers. His harmonies are calculated therefore creating a consonance that would make the listener empathise with what the producer is trying to say.The main synth comes in with a low velocity and filter cutoff playing the melody and disappearing every two bars, coming back more and more intense, escalating to a small peak as the arpeggio strengthens and opens its frequencies for the world to see. Every single detail in this part is perfect, it gives the right intensity and then gives you room to breathe and recover from the tension. The pad becomes more and more layered as the main synth detunes, creating a certain chaos before releasing its tension into a groovy beat with a simple disjunct, swingy bass line playing the progression and its harmonies; because, after all, this is dance music.
What I like is that effects separating and structuring the different parts are not the traditional white noise effect (shh) but a synth with a strong delay and reverb creating a strong chaos that releases with the tail of the effect. This is followed by a breakdown where the chords are playing in the air; spaced out. Then the high octave melody comes in, reminding you of the chaos versus the serenity which is portrayed by the mood of the chords.
With August, every melody, rhythm, and harmony has a motive and is part of the little aspects that make up the magnificent big picture that he shows in his music. When one creates sound, on what does one base one's sound design? Surely there must be something in mind that influences or draws the attention. With this track, every sound design, every delay, every sample is chosen with a purpose to create or touch an emotion inside you. August is determined to breathe life into his work by recording, sampling, and having real instruments in his music. That is production, when sound becomes the medium in which you transfer that emotion that you feel and share it with people.