Track by Track: Pinch – ‘Reality Tunnels’

Pinch's first solo album in 13 years finds him working alongside the likes of Trim, Killa P, and Emika...

19.06.20 Words by: Felicity Martin

It’s hard to believe that the dark and explorative ‘Underwater Dancehall’ album from Rob Ellis aka Pinch was a whole thirteen years ago. ‘Reality Tunnels’ finds the Bristol dubstep figurehead and Tectonic founder exploring a concept originally adopted by American author and futurist Robert Anton Wilson in his 1983 ‘Prometheus Rising’. A ‘Reality tunnel’ is the concept of every individual interpreting the same world differently via their own unique observations and values.

The album drafts in the likes of Emika, Trim and Killa P, fusing a dark blend of dancehall, techno, dubstep, jungle and grime into something angular and hedonistic, begging for loud system play. It’s an incredible follow-up to a landmark record and, ahead of the album’s release next week, we asked Pinch to take us through each track.

1. ‘Entangled Particles ft. Emika’

“From starting out with the Double Edged Sword remix, back in 2009/10, to working on ‘2012’, (which featured on ‘Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space’) and then to a more recent remix I did of ‘Eternity’ for Emika Records – I’ve always loved the graceful melancholy she brings to her vocal performances. ‘Entangled Particles’ originally started out life as a beatless track and at some point, came crashing into contact with a bunch of scruffy amen breaks. I wanted a vocal part that felt more like it was being used as a sample than a song – and Em nailed it.”

2. ‘All Man Got ft. Trim’

““Trim Trim Trimmy!” I love working with Trim, he’s really talented and fun to hang out with. We’ve had a few tracks on the go this last year or so – and the beat here was specifically written for him. It was meant to be a bit of an intro track for some of the sets we were getting booked to play together. A few wheel ups later and it was becoming clear this one was connecting. I wanted to have something on the LP to reflect the dubstep/grime part of my sonic background so it made sense to include it.”

3. ‘Accelerated Culture’

“Wanted some upbeat energy on the LP and found this track I’d made in 2018, with the (daft/draft) working title ‘‘ardcore Floor’. The energy is kind of frantic techno with a big nod to early ’90s rave. It’s my wife’s favourite track on the LP and we thought it would be a good one to announce the LP with as it’s a bit of a break from my usual production style. Cool, super-strobey video by Max Pearce too.”

4. ‘Returnity’

As I mentioned, I did a remix for Emika fairly recently and ended up using a sample of her vocals from the remix, pitched really low, in this track. I wasn’t super imaginative with the title and thought about renaming it, but it felt like it fitted after a while so stuck with it. I like its brooding nature, got a bit of tribal/witchdoctor vibes.”

5. ‘Making Space’

“There’s something about this one that makes me think of picking yourself up and getting on with things – that feeling of overcoming a bad or negative mood. It was originally called ‘Better Mood’ with that in mind but I prefer ‘Making Space’, as that’s a process that often lifts me out of feeling stressed. Ivan Hussey on the cello, which really sets the track off and brings an extra dimension.”

6. ‘Party ft. Killa P’

“I reckon Killa P is one of the most underrated MCs in the UK. He lives it, day and night – a man fully dedicated to his craft. The vocal for this track came about when he was over in Bristol one evening and called by my house before a show. We sat in the studio and I was playing him some of my more techno-y type tracks I had made. Next thing I knew, the mic was plugged in and I’m recording him on one of them! Done and dusted in about an hour, no drama, just instinctive energy. I built a new rhythm around the vocal and this is the result. Killa P also made the video for this track, just ‘cos he can!”

7. ‘Back To Beyond’

“This is the track that set me on the path to make the LP. I made the basis of it in about three to four hours and went into a bit of a trance while making it. It’s only really happened to me once once before, when I made ‘Qawwali’ – where at some point I kinda realise I’ve made a track without really noticing the process. I also became aware that I hadn’t been putting so much emotion into my music productions and this felt like an opening up of that. Ivan on cello again for the final version (tinkered with this track on and off for probably about five years now), giving it that 4th dimension quality.”

8. ‘Change Is A Must ft. Inezi’

“I was introduced to Inezi by someone I met on tour in Oz, called Monkey Marc, and love his tone and depth. I hit him up and explained I wanted something in a kind of sing-jay style track, a bit like the vocal style Rhythm & Sound tend to favour working with. Really pleased with the outcome and perfect lyrics for current times. Someone to keep an eye/ear on imo.”

9. ‘Non-Terrestrial Forms’

“Some jungle techno business with vague alien references. Can’t go wrong, eh? I had fun making this track. I’m not really sure what it is or what the point of it is exactly, but I like how it goes about its business and it builds to a strong crescendo.”

10. ‘The Last One ft. Nive Nielsen’

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to use this one ’til fairly last minute but am really glad I could! I initially heard Nive Nielsen & The Deer Children on a radio show about five years ago and was blown away by her voice. I found the band’s website and got in touch – which led to us swapping some sounds with a view towards collaborations – but nothing got finished. A few years passed and I rediscovered this project, got back in touch with the band, then finished it up – recording live drum parts and guitar layers, scuzzing them through various bits of analogue gear at Mat Sampon’s studio for that grungy rock outro. It’s basically Nive’s song, and I’m told, it was one of her first demos but never found a home on the LPs they recorded. Happy it has a home on mine as I love the song!”

Pinch’s ‘Reality Tunnels’ is released by Tectonic Recordings on June 24th 2020 – pre-order it here

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