On the radar: ATKHorses
Location: Buxton, Derbyshire
Personnel: Samuel Ward (guitar/vocals/bass/drums/production)
Intelligence: Specialising in woozy atmospherics, pulsing beats and hook-heavy songsmithery, ATKHorses is the work of Derbyshire-based producer Samuel Ward, and whose debut release – the Archway Tower EP – is about as perfectly warped a piece of pop we've heard of late.
"My entire working process is based around the surprises," says Ward. "Writing generally starts with either an acoustic guitar or piano and can be in the form of completed songs or fragments that surprise me in interesting ways. Once an idea's strong enough to hold it's own, I'll record the basic form and move on from there.
The majority of ATKHorses material is tracked in my studio in Buxton, using a combination of vintage analogue outboard into Ableton on my Macbook Pro. I'll take the initial idea, track a guide arrangement and build sonically from there, gradually adding and subtracting parts until I can't remember my name and the work feels as though someone else has made it."
The results, considering ATKHorses is the work of one man plus "a subterranean room in Derbyshire and a choice selection of secondhand (and very temperamental) recording equipment," are mightily impressive. The lead track from the Archway Tower EP mixes tender vocals and banks of analogue synths to produce an intriguing and affecting sound, reflective of ATKHorses considered production methods and eclectic influences.
"In terms of recording style, it'd have to be the likes of Joe Meek, Delia Derbyshire and Brian Eno," says Ward. "Music-wise, I'll always have a soft spot for Bowie, Neu, 1960's Spanish Holiday Pop and Francoise Hardy. But working to too definite an idea will kill your work stone dead - the thought of lining absolutely everything 'to grid' fills me with dread."
Hardware: 1961 Gibson LG-3, 1970 Yamaha J-160E Copy, Mapex Drum Kit, Rewired 1982 Fender Bullet, Squire Silver Series Strat, Encore Short Scale Bass ("Cash Convertors Special Edition"), Marshall Class Five, Farfisa Organ, Jen SX-1000, Analogue Solutions – Telemark Semi Modular
Stylophone, Wind Organ, Selection of 'Charityshop' Casio Keyboards, Korg DDD-5, Homemade Plate Reverb, WEM Copicat Tape Echo, Moog Ring Modulator, Moog Analogue Delay, EHX Big Muff, EHX Electric Mistress, Boss Phaser, Ibanez Flanger, Revox B-77 Reel to Reel
Further Action: Check out the official ATKHorses website, or connect with the band on Soundcloud, Bandcamp or Facebook.The Archway Tower EP is available on iTunes and all other major digital services May 13.