Hailing from Dublin, Swarm Intelligence has been pushing relentless, distorted techno records for more than a decade. Honing in on his skills and style, Swarm Intelligence has contributed outstanding releases to labels such as Motz, Killekill, HANDS and now NEW YORK TRAX Import. Debuting on the label with a killer four-track EP, the release is a showstopper that highlights the best of his menacing productions. To get a better understanding of where his sound comes from, Swarm Intelligence shares with us some of the key tracks that influence his work.
Aphex Twin – Vordhosbn
As cliché as it is to state Aphex Twin as an influence these days, there is no doubt that he has had a huge part to play in my music. The first time I heard Aphex was a real ‘wow’ moment – he completely disrupted my musical tastes! I’d listened to progressive and trancey stuff up to that moment (I guess I was around 15 or 16). Hearing Aphex changed how I perceived music. The raw attitude of his beats, and the dissonance of his melodies definitely influenced my sound. It’s really hard to choose a single Aphex track, but this is one I constantly come back to.
Autechre – Parallel Suns
Aphex led to Autechre. I loved getting lost in the complexity of their music. It felt as though they had augmented their process with machines and algorithms, allowing them to work with levels of sonic complexity that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. This concept stuck with me – the idea of letting go of some control, and forming more of a collaborative relationship with machines is something I try to apply to my own music.
Clark – The Autumnal Crash
Another heavy hitter! If the studio is an instrument, Clark is a true virtuoso. I love his dynamic use of space and sound degradation as a way to build tension. His sound design is so immersive, especially the intricate micro rhythms he gets by layering in field recordings. I’ve definitely taken a few notes from him. I saw him perform this album in Sonar with a drummer. He had all the mics routed into effects and was doing all this crazy live mashing of the sound. A life-changing moment!
John Cohen – Human Distortion
John Cohen also releases under the name Dead Fader. I think I have every release of his! This particular album is stunning and one of my favourites. His blend of intense distortion with beautiful, emotive melody really resonates with my own musical intentions. His latest works are quite a departure from the brutality of some of the earlier Dead Fader releases. I respect this evolution a lot, he’s really developed his own very unique sound.
NHK – Enitre Set
I love the whole Raster Noton Unun series. It’s really hard to pick a favourite. The intersection of glitch/IDM sound design and sequencing with the rawness and attitude of distortion is where it’s at for me at the moment. I quite like to drop stuff like this in the middle of a techno set – keeps people guessing!
LFO – Snot
I had quite a breakcore, squat-rave phase when I first moved to Berlin. Frustrated by the monotone offerings of the clubs then, I think my music went quite extreme as a reaction. This track regularly featured in my sets as I found ways to bridge from heavy techno up into the higher BPMs. There are a lot of tracks I could pull from this era from the likes of DJ Scud, Tarmvred, Converter, Synapscape, etc. I think this one nicely captures the vibe though! Here’s a set from back then to give you an idea.
Rory St John – Suicidechain
I count myself lucky to have had lots of support and encouragement from friends along the way. Rory is someone I looked up to a lot when I got started, and still do! He helped me mix my first tracks all those years ago and is someone I still bounce ideas and mixes off, especially when I get stuck. Rory is a huge talent, and this track is one of my favourites of his. Love playing it out!
SHXCXCHCXSH – SLVRBBL
I still get goosebumps hearing this one! SHXCXCHCXSH’s cold, cyclical take on techno is so strong and iconic. This album is really the stand out release of their discography, though it definitely got overplayed at some point. I listened to it on repeat for quite some time, and loved getting lost in all the shifting layers. Their focus on texture, phasing melodies and abstract rhythms is something that really inspired me and definitely influenced what I was writing at the time.
Pan Sonic – Hinaaja / Tugboat
Nothing comes close to the ferocity of Pan Sonic. I bought this on CD when it came out back in 2007 and remember it being almost painful to listen to! It is one of their best releases in my opinion. The sound is so visceral, it feels like someone is carving giant metal sculptures two inches from your face!
Homemade Weapons – Heiress
I love the resurgence and reinvention of drum n bass and jungle at the moment. I’m having a lot of fun producing and DJing stuff up at these tempos again. When I first heard the releases on the likes of Samurai, UVB-76, Homemade Weapons, Hojo Clan, my first thought was “this is techno 2.0”. Probably the standout from this scene at the moment for me is Homemade Weapons. I love the consistency of his tracks – they all seem to follow the same genetic formula, but yet it never gets boring. Not quite sure how he does it. And those beat chops – talk about scientific precision!
‘NEW YORK TRAX Imports 04’ by Swarm Intelligence is out now – buy here.