Bubblin' Up: Taragana Pyjarama
- Words: Glenn Jackson
Nick Eriksen was all of 19 years old when his first foray into the production world, under the guise of Eim Ick, garnered a good deal of praise for its handful of summery, dance-worthy beats. But Eriksen eventually got over this initial burst of "hype," as he calls it, and became a bit frustrated, feeling that the majority of the attention Eim Ick had received was too focused on his age, and not as much on his music. Taragana Pyjarama was born from this frustration, as Eriksen sought to shift the focus back to his talent as a burgeoning producer, throwing a single tune, "Girls," up on a MySpace page under his newly minted mouthful of a handle. Through the magic of the internet, the track landed in the hands of French label Fool House, and an impressive debut EP followed. Now, the Copenhagen resident is in the midst of taking his next step as a producer, adjusting his aims slightly for his debut full-length—a massively expansive journey through dense soundscapes and intricate synthesizer lattices for the ubiqitious Kompakt imprint.
Growing up just 20 minutes outside of central Copenhagen, Eriksen took a shine to music at a fairly young age, at first picking up a guitar, then trying his hand at drums, and eventually pursuing some classical theory training. But eventually, he came to the realization that all those avenues just weren't for him, and a growing interest in electronic music (Eriksen points to names like James Holden and Four Tet as early inspirations) coincided with some poor grades in his music theory course. He explains, "Arranging notes and all that wasn't really for me, so I thought I'd just do it on a computer. Just make a whole track by myself, so I wouldn't have to involve all the other people that didn't care about what I liked anyway." Following the necessary regimen of learning how to produce music on a computer and a lengthy period of exploratory experimentation, Eriksen eventually landed on a sound somewhere between glistening, warm electronics and subtle, sophisticated techno—an aesthetic that came into its own in the spring of last year with his self-titled EP for Fool House.
"Ocean" from the Taragana Pyjarama EP
After "Girls" first made its way around the blogosphere, Eriksen eventually put together two more tracks of similarly watery electronics to make up his debut outing as Taragana Pyjarama. Although the tracks were made during separate periods—"Girls" was constructed on a whim while "Sudanese Blonde" and "Ocean" only came after he agreed to do a full release—the tunes flow together in a remarkably cohesive fashion. Each track is bathed in warm, aqua textures, sharing some key components with the chillwave genre—mainly, a summery glow, heavy use of reverb and delay, and tuned samples, which have been buried and filtered below the surface. Still, Eriksen was careful not to overindulge in these elements, showing a certain restraint and patience in his compositions that render the EP somewhere along the lines of a blog-friendly, more exuberant version of The Field.
Although Taragana Pyjarama did turn heads when it made the rounds last year (not the least of which was that of the venerable Kompakt imprint, which promptly signed the man up for his debut LP), Eriksen doesn't consider it the truest of artistic statements. When he looks back on the process of putting the release together, he admits it was a bit "forced," going on to say, "The EP was just me trying to make something after [Fool House] liked 'Girls.'" Truthfully, it's hard to hear anything but a solid record when you play through the five-track endeavor (with remixes from Ricardo Tobar and Teengirl Fantasy completing the tracklist), but that didn't stop the Copenhagen producer from spending a considerable amount of energy in order to evolve his sound to a place he's more at peace with.
That said, Erikson assures that he had no overarching concept in mind for his debut album, Tipped Bowls. Instead, a series of conceptual guidelines shaped the production of the LP. "It's not so much that I've been thinking of a big meaning for the album, it's more like, I make a track because I like how it sounds in the moment," adding, "I knew I wanted the record to be a bit random, have mistakes and stuff. I like when things are a little bit messy in their arrangement." Nevertheless, despite Eriksen's augmented approach, the resulting LP is driven by many of the same fundamental pieces as his previous release: Layers of rich melodies trickle in and out focus while understated beats push and pull the record in constantly changing directions. But the underwater tones that colored in his EP are largely absent, replaced with warm yet sharp arrays of synths, a combination Eriksen arrived at using borrowed hardware along with his normal, mostly software-based set-up and, by the same process, significantly reducing his reliance on sampling. At a certain point, the Copenhagen resident reveals that for his LP, he found inspiration in the work of soundtracks, even crafting Tipped Bowls' closing cut, "Terror Paradise," to a specific piece of film. Furthermore, this influence can be heard largely in the pace the record takes, using almost half of its runtime to explore pockets of glistening synth ambience and slow, peculiar sonic textures. "I wanted the album to be an experience, more of a journey than just a couple of singles," says Eriksen.
"Lo Ng" from Tipped Bowls
With his debut LP's imminent release, Eriksen's future plans seem keen on continuing to cultivate his live set, something he accomplishes with the assistance of a fellow synth wizard and a live drummer. "When I made the album, I knew I wanted it to be something that could translate to more than just me and my computer on stage," he says. "But the tracks are so different when we play them live, we basically make the songs from scratch again, and the other players add their take. It becomes more something you can dance and have a good time to." Fortunately for those of us who don't reside in central Copenhagen, it appears Taragana Pyjarama's live trio feels it will have to take to the road to find more appreciative audiences, as Erikson explains, "For what I make, there's not really a scene as I see it in Copenhagen. There's electronic music, but it's more house or electro-pop." Still, with artists like Erickson pushing his own forward-thinking sounds to wider recognition, and fellow Copenhagen residents like Jatoma and CHLLNGR—who lends a hand on Tipped Bowls' opening cut, "Four Legged"—turning out similarly unique and interesting takes on electronic music, one can't help but think there's bound to be one soon.
Taragana Pyjarama's Tipped Bowls LP is out on June 18 via Kompakt.
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