Take Five: Rupert Lally

“I find lists like this extremely difficult,” says prolific Brighton-born, Switzerland-based electronic musician Rupert Lally. “Somehow the first couple of choices are always simple but then the last one or two, inevitably, end up being a compromise as to which albums make the cut and which don’t.” 

A year in the release schedule of Lally is an intense one. 2021 has been no different, his output culminating in the career high of Beyond The Night (SubExotic), a thrilling, noir journey into the shadows and fears of the night. Never one to rest on his laurels, Lally has no less than two albums scheduled for release on October 1, both imaginary soundtracks for Ray Bradbury novels – Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles – continuing an approach that has seen him produce scores for Frank Herbert’s Dune, J.G. Ballard’s High Rise and Lally’s own novella, Solid State Memories

rupertlally.bandcamp.com 

Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters 

I spent three years learning classical guitar making almost no progress whatsoever, with a teacher who refused to teach us chords. A friend encouraged me to switch to playing bass guitar around the same time as my musical interest began to shift from hard rock towards jazz and funk. More by accident than design I ended up playing bass in my school’s newly formed jazz band. One of the tunes we would regularly play was ‘Chameleon’ by Herbie Hancock and I became so synonymous with playing the (synth) bassline at school concerts that when I began playing the bass again after many years absence, a lot of school friends asked if I could still play the piece – I can!  

At the time the album was hard to obtain on any other format than CD, so it became the first ever CD that I bought, before I even owned a CD player, so I made a tape copy at my step sister’s house, which I played over and over. 

It’s difficult to overstate the effect that hearing this had on me. Not just the music itself but also the arrangements, the analogue synth sounds, Harvey Mason’s drum grooves, the cornucopia of percussion sounds and instruments used by Bill Summers on the album – many of which I needed to look up to find out what they were, thereby igniting my interest in percussion at the same time. 

A friend that I played the album to described it as sounding like the soundtrack to the 70s animations in episodes of Sesame Street. He didn’t mean as a compliment, but it’s actually a very apt comparison. Many years later, I realised how much those wonderful psychedelic cartoons affected me as a small child and it’s another reason why I felt immediately at home with this album. 

Peter Gabriel – Passion 

Peter Gabriel’s music from his early work with Genesis to his early solo albums, with their pioneering use of the Fairlight CMI, had already had a huge impact on me as a teenager, and I’ve already mentioned my burgeoning interest in percussion from around that time, so in retrospect it’s surprising that I didn’t listen to this, Gabriel’s soundtrack to Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ, until I was in my first year at university.  

When I did, it blew my mind – the fusion of traditional rhythms and instrumentation from the Middle East with synths, samplers and David Rhodes’ understated guitar work was incredibly influential. For a while, I would listen to a cassette of this whilst I drifted off to sleep, with the music seeping into my dreams. 

DJ Shadow – Endtroducing…..

My introduction to DJ Shadow’s music was the inclusion of the track ‘Changeling’ on Bleeping With The NME, a free tape compilation given away with the NME in 1996. As fate would have it, another student in my university halls of residence was a massive Mo’ Wax fan and he kindly made me a tape of this album, plus Shadow’s early singles. I was completely hooked. Not just with the music itself but how it had been made using already outdated Akai samplers like the MPC-60 and S612 

A year or so later I would get hold of an old E-mu Emax sampler and discover first hand just how difficult it must have been to make tracks like these on old equipment with limited sampling time. Shadow’s drum programming continues to influence me today, not only how I program my own beats but also how I play drums live. 

Boards Of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children 

When I went to drama school after university, I had a lot friends, who were heavily into Warp Records stuff, so I’d already heard a lot of (and subsequently bought) quite a few Aphex Twin and Autechre records. Somehow, while I’d definitely heard both Boards Of Canada and Squarepusher’s music during that time, I didn’t start to listen to them properly until the publication of Rob Young’s book on the label in 2005.  

Boards Of Canada’s debut album, in particular, with its deliberate lo-fi sound quality that harked back to the public information films of my youth, struck a particular chord with me and would provide a massive amount of inspiration for my own solo work which I was then taking my first tentative steps towards. In many ways this album seemed to articulate a feeling that I had been groping towards for some time without really understanding what it was. I’d been using YouTube to research old TV shows and adverts that I remembered from childhood, to try to gain musical inspiration. 

A few months after I heard this album, The Wire magazine published an article about hauntology, mentioning Boards Of Canada. It was the first time I’d ever heard the term used. 

Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself 

I first heard Imogen Heap’s music in the film, The Holiday and immediately bought both this and the album she did with Guy Sigsworth as Frou Frou. There’s so much I love about this album: her voice, the lyrics which often remind me more of poems put to music and, of course, her amazing arrangements, programming and sound design. While she’s done lots of interesting stuff since, somehow nothing else has come close to this record for me. It’s the perfect example of intelligent pop electronica and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for it. 

Interview: Mat Smith 

(c) 2021 Further. 

One thought on “Take Five: Rupert Lally

  1. Pingback: Dispatches from the Underground // September 30, 2021 - I Heart Noise

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