Album Auto-nalysis is a regular Counterzine feature where we ask some of our favorite artists to breakdown their albums track-by-track, to provide further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and artistic processes that went into making them. For this edition, we asked experimental outfit Radio Europa to detail their new album ‘Community Is Revolution’, with member Whettman Chelmets providing commentary on their behalf.
1. “All the Devils Are Here”
Whettman Chelmets (on behalf of Radio Europa): A short snippet of something I think we had going for about six minutes, but we were never totally satisfied with the arrangement and where it was going. While starting to mix the album tracks, I ran a snippet of it though a filter and thought it made a wonderful introduction to the whole thing. Like picking up frequencies from something bombastic.
WC (RE): I think the first we really completed when passing ideas around back and forth, though it took a few passes to get right. Sets the dark tendencies of the album just right, and perfectly typified by Simon’s spoken word on addiction and chronic pain conditions and how people feel trapped in their own body as it fights against them. We may have packed the most harrowing track on first!
3. “Riding the Rails”
WC (RE): Sort of the consequences of where the previous track leaves you and you say, “Fuck it, let’s go”. Very manic song in arrangement and vocal delivery. Very industrial, with even a hint of footwork in there!
4. “Something Beautiful”
WC (RE): We were drawn to a mutual appreciation for Throbbing Gristle, and how that band could make some of the most horrific songs, but then could come up with things like “AB/7A” that were just beautiful, beautiful songs. Tapping into some of that here. I think it was Steve that had the piano loop initially. I kinda ran with that, looping the piano, doubling the melody with a synth, and laying this propulsive arpeggio that was meant to be more beautiful in nature. We had this finished for months and Simon thought it would be good to have a female vocal on top of the whole thing. His main reference point was Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky”. He knew Gwen Anthony from the Welsh band Adwaith and she laid down four vocal takes and really took it to this whole other level. We didn’t even really bother with edits because they were all so good! Just placed the four tracks in different places, put a little reverb on it, and listened to her voice harmonize with itself and the music. Probably a personal band favorite.
5. “Warning Signs – A Chant for Peace”
WC (RE): I think Simon was the main writer on this one. Just kinda the general right-wing noise that seems to have taken over everything in modern discourse. Love the sudden stop on this one into tranquility, but even then, tranquility is disrupted!
6. “The Ugly Spirit”
WC (RE): Last track we worked on for the album. Again, it was hearkening back to those Throbbing Gristle, industrial 4/4 kick drum songs with just craziness to buoy the whole thing. Almost catchy and dance-y.
7. “The Plug Has Been Pulled”
WC (RE): This came from a Simon idea, I believe, which was really kinda slow changing, almost like static that really took off two-thirds of the way in. We played with that slow changing idea with a ever so slightly modulating drone and almost tape loops built up. This one’s a personal favorite of mine.
WC (RE): I’m not even sure how this one came about, honestly. Simon and Steve had this almost entirely formed thing where I added arpeggios and this kinda noise sweep to transition. A bit of an endurance test, but in a different way.
9. “Child’s Play”
WC (RE): A Steve track that we messed with I think three different versions till coming up with this progressively louder and louder transitional piece. Sort of plays with the whole idea of a lot of these issues (addiction, right-wing politics) being almost inherently juvenile in nature and this need to just grow up and become part of something greater than oneself. Playful fit on the theme.
10. “Hell’s Waiting Room”
WC (RE): Another wonderful Simon spoken word piece that always reminded me of the part in Beetlejuice where the football players die and their just sitting around waiting to talk to someone in the office.
11. “Cities of Red Night”
WC (RE): Another one of those where I really have no idea where the track came from. It was almost formed like this in my mind. There’s this driving quarter note rhythm that I had initially created for a compilation collaboration that didn’t go anywhere, and someone in the band added this wonderful looping synth melody on top of the whole thing. I followed that lead and added strings and other embellishments. Another personal favorite of the band.
12-13. “The Unwelcoming Arms of the Fascist Empire Wannabies / Reprieve”
WC (RE): Again, I think this was more of a humorous take on the right-wing noise out there. Simon came up with most of the music here, but Alec really took it another place with creating this backwards sounding kind of remix that made a great finale for the record. Kinda like returning full circle, so to speak, which I guess means we didn’t learn anything throughout!!