Within the cavernous space that occupies the entirety of electronic music, occasionally it takes someone with a keen ear and eye to unearth precious gems — in this case the person being keen is Nina Kraviz and the precious gem here is the 1996 album from Russian electronic duo Species of Fishes, entitled ‘Trip Trap’.
Kraviz herself was giving listeners clues all along as to what she was doing when she put three of the duo’s tracks in her sensational Fabric mix, speckling clues of what was to come in the coming months; which came to be a reissue of the album in which the tracks were on, however this time on her трип sub-label GALAXIID.
The album — a journey that wistfully spans between the genres of acid, dark ambient, found sound, industrial, techno and microcosms in-between the aforementioned genres — is a bountiful display of creative catharsis towards the electronic music world itself, with tracks reaching the 12-minute mark with narratives that are melancholic and methodical at once. Other times, it’s a rush through skittering rhythms and acidic brushback, or cold snares and raucous noise signaling straight into the medulla.
‘Trip Trap’ is a record that sounds fresh and fortuitous in 2017 and captures a sound that was way ahead of its time upon initial release. Thankfully, with this reissue on GALAXIID, listeners can let themselves get lost in the unnerving and unequivocal narrative that’s presented on the record. The duo was asked to contribute a mix to Newtype Rhythms – and just like their record – they certainly found unique routes to take with their guest spot there too.
We asked Species of Fishes to have a chat on top of that, talking about how the reissue came about, the story behind the beginnings of the project and where they see the landscape of electronic music today. Check out the chat, along with the mix down below. As always with Newtype Rhythms, Sheepshead starts things off for the first 30-ish minutes.
Interview by Mitch Strashnov
"It was an attempt to create our own psychedelic world from samples, audio pieces and minimalistic pulsating rhythms from all sorts of genres of electronic music - a sort of alienated, extraterrestrial, studying view on the sound component of human activity."
Congrats on the reissue – it’s good to hear an album such as Trip Trap getting released nowadays and still sounding unique and futuristic even 20 years after the fact. It seems that your whole discography from the beginning has always been looking ahead and never really looking back in terms of sound. Which artists were your initial influences when you began as Species of Fishes?
Thanks. We began to engage in musical creativity in the era of the approval of electronic music as a predominantly creative tool. Early sampledelics, acid house, experimental and industrial electronics, as well as European minimalism were the main components, not to mention the music we grew up on – genres like glam, punk and post-punk rock, and even stuff such as garage and psychedelic rock .
While this reissue has been released on Nina Kraviz’s trip sublabel GALAXIID, it’s not like you have stopped making music since the initial release in 1996. How has the electronic music climate evolved in Russia in the last 20 years from your perspective?
The electronic scene in Russia has never been large enough; the number of venues, events at which it was possible to play, did not exceed five-to-ten per week. In addition to that, not so many people could afford expensive musical instruments – although with the advent of inexpensive computers, the situation changed somewhat and more people began to try their hand at producing tracks.
What’s happening now, we cannot say for sure, because we deliberately avoided appearances in public and instead of testing how our music affects people, we began to study how it affects us.
What has the production process been like for the two of you from the beginning – and how has it changed over time?
The first album was assembled from home sessions (from the very beginning we preferred to work separately and realize our ideas each by our own, organizing later home sessions, where these ideas interacted and mutated) was basically a sample-fest – we used a large number of tapes including voices of psychics, famous scientist enthusiasts, paranormal researchers, astronomers, wildlife TV show hosts, classic adventure films, etc.
It was an attempt to create our own psychedelic world from samples, audio pieces and minimalistic pulsating rhythms from all sorts of genres of electronic music – a sort of alienated, extraterrestrial, studying view on the sound component of human activity. At that time, it was interesting for us to work with loops, tapes, samples, rhythmically and musically organize them.
The second album (Trip Trap) paid more attention to the experimental component, sound design and computers. Then there was the album (Time End Place), where the possibilities of hard disk post-production were exploited, often tracks appeared on it as a result of incorrect work of computer software and “hangups” of programs.
An attempt to create a sort-of “lighter” album began with the recording of the 2000 album, where there are many elements of easy-listening music and minimal hip-hop. Perhaps on this album lies the largest number of composed themes and played melodic parts that we have crafted.
Nowadays we pay more attention to randomly generated sounds, trying to show their beauty and mystery — we try to reduce the human factor to a minimum, although we all understand that there are no accidents and in the end it is only a method for us, where we try to keep everything under control.
Considering that your music has a long-lasting effect over time — has there been any recent (or non-recent) artists that you’ve heard that have given you that same effect with their own material?
We listen to American and British psychedelic pop from the ‘60s – it’s an endless source of inspiration – when we hear it’s always like experiencing it for the first time, like it’s difficult to say when this or that type of music was made. Another great pleasure is music from the worlds of garage and acid rock; the groups like Troggs, Hawkwind, and Chrome.
What does the rest of the year have in-store for Species of Fishes?
We are working on new tracks, though we’re not sure that we want to do a big album all at once; maybe an EP – but that’s down the line.
Finally, tell us about this mix you’ve made for Newtype Rhythms.
This mix was made up of pop-experimental bands that we liked in the period of the birth of the DJ culture, which is undoubtedly related to the culture of remixes and sampledelics, there are tracks on this mix that are easy to trace back to the evolution of earlier electronics of the ‘80s and ‘90s. We believe made it as compact as we possibly could.
00:00-36:50 mixed by Sheepshead
01. Haruka Nakamura – Plus
02. The 7th Plain – Reality of Space
03. ??? – ???
04. Takasi Nakajima – Basicmath Two
05. Truncate – Terminal 5
06. Unbalance – Freedom
07. FJAAK – (feat. Rødhâd)
08. Peverelist & Kowton – Beneath Radar (Kowton Mix)
09. Headless Horseman – Haunted
10. Perc & Randomer – Igneous
11. Matrixxman – Process
12. Aleksi Perälä – UK74R1512020
36:51 – END – mixed by Species of Fishes
01. Clock DVA – The Connection Machine
02. The Residents – Krafty Cheese
03. Flying Lizards – Summertime Blues
04. Holger Hiller – Mosaik
05. PiL – Albatross
06. Butthole Surfers – Jimy
07. Ministry – Supernaut
08. Foetus Art Terrorism – Calamity Crush
09. Swans – Time Is Money (Bastard)
10. Einstürzende Neubauten – Yü-Gung
11. Cabaret Voltaire – Ghost Talk
12. Greater Than One – Everybody’s Crazy
13. Renegade Soundwave – Probably A Robbery
14. The Jackofficers – #6
15. Phuture – Acid Trax
16. Jack The Tab/M.E.S.H. – Meet Every Situation Head On
17. Cabaret Voltaire – Big Funk
18. M.A.R.R.S. – Pump Up The Volume
19. Carl Cox – I Want You (Forever)
20. Coldcut – Timber
21. The Stranglers – La folie