KOAN Sound, comprised of Bristol-based producers Will Weeks and Jim Bastow, has gone through quite a range of styles since their beginnings back in the late 2000s. From the dub-heavy bass sounds of Funk Blaster to the more intricately textured soundscapes of Polychrome, the duo has showcased their ever-evolving electronic experimentations over the years. Just before they headed out on an extensive tour, which they’re currently on, we caught up with the duo to find out about five of their tracks.
Currently on tour across America with Haywyre, KOAN Sound released their latest record Polychrome last year to great acclaim. The record proffered their aptitude for crafting soundscapes that feel at once like stepping through into a glistening, natural fauna and into a technological cosmos full of whirring oscillations. Quite a contrast to some of their earlier releases. Get to know the duo further as they talk us through five of their tracks below.
KOAN Sound – Chalk It Out
A track from our most recent album ‘Polychrome’, which features guitar from our friend/fellow musician Chalky White. Although the drums are programmed on the computer, we recorded lots of Rhodes, piano and guitar for the track, which contributed to the overall ‘live’ sound. Over the years, Jazz and all of its permutations has become more of an influence, some of which is reflected here.
Our 5 picks here might seem pretty self-indulgent, but as we only play our own music live this is a snapshot of what people can expect to hear at the show.
KOAN Sound – Hydroplane
From its inception, this track took about 3 years to complete, and we went through lots of different versions and variations before arriving at the finished piece. In the end we decided to focus on the Sci Fi element of the track and really expand on the cinematic synths.
Drum & Bass is a genre that has been a big influence since we first discovered electronic music, and the technicality is something that appeals to us, even if it’s really tricky to master.
KOAN Sound – Sentient
‘Sentient’ is slightly older, released on our ‘Forgotten Myths’ EP in 2015.
This was one of the first tracks we recorded instruments for. In this case it was Will’s dad playing guitar. We started using more foley around this time too, using field recordings of things like footsteps on gravel, city ambience and crunching cereal. These added a lot of texture to our tracks and we used these for the glitchy percussion in Sentient.
KOAN Sound – Funk Blaster
Probably one of our tracks that reached the widest audience. We met Skrillex in 2010 via our manager and he told us that he was starting a record label and wanted to release some of our music. The result was the ‘Funk Blaster’ EP. We’ve recently remixed Funk Blaster into a slower and wonkier (but just as heavy) version which we’ll be playing out at our live shows.
KOAN Sound – Viridian Dream
Another one taken from ‘Polychrome’. This track also took a really long time to finish. Originally it had started as a kind of breaksy funk thing, but we couldn’t seem to make it work in a way that was satisfying, so eventually we tried stripping everything back and focusing more on the melodies and harmonies. It completely changed the direction of the song, but we’re really pleased with the way it turned out.
For our new show, and with the help of a small team of creative people, we spent a long time creating a video for each of the tracks in the set. Our friends at Beama created the visuals for ‘Viridian Dream’, which turned out to be one of our favourites.
KOAN Sound is currently on tour across America with Haywyre. More dates coming soon.