Pitch Black

Pitch Black - pic Kitmonsters

Pitch Black are the founding godfathers of New Zealand dub/electronica, and have just released a stunning new album called ‘Filtered Senses’. Fusing compelling grooves, huge soundscapes and a rich organic palette, their first album in nine years is an addictive, magical and sometimes dark offering. Masters of live electronica, they have toured across the world, and previewed the album to a thrilled audience at a show at Oslo, in London. Pitch Black have been championed by DJs from John Peel to Nemone and Nick Luscombe, and their music has been used in fashion shows, computer games, TV shows such as True Blood and CSI plus films such as the Oscar nominated Whale Rider. The duo are award winning multimedia artist Michael Hodgson and Salmonella Dub producer Paddy Free.

New Zealand
Dubmission Records

Pitch Black - Filtered Senses

‘Filtered Senses’ ranges from the deepest darkest bass of the title track, to the driving, unsettling Invisible Chatter. There are contrasts too - the more chilled Dub Smoke, the eerie cinematic A Great Silence Is Spreading and the apocalyptic Without The Trees.

Pitch Black have released four studio albums, and four remix albums but have been living in different countries since 2011, and working on their separate projects. Free has recently collaborated with Moana & the Tribe, Nga Tae and has created many new audio works for Aotearoa’s finest choreographers, while Hodgson has been producing and remixing under his solo electronica guise, Misled Convoy, and creating multi media works in London.

As individuals, they have very different approaches to music which can be summed up as: Free, manic groove-merchant of the pair, wants to do it for the crowd, while Mike, the dark dub-meister and experimental sound artist wants to do it to the crowd. We asked Mike about the new release.

What brought you together again to make the album

When I went back to NZ two years ago, Paddy and I hung out and chatted about where we were at with our creativity and music. We decided we were ready to make a new album.

How did you make it - you weren’t always in the same country

To begin with we both developed song ideas separately, in our own styles, after a few months we each had a bunch of ideas that we sent to each other to get input and for each of us to work on. We sent those workings back and forth for a few months until we had 10 roughly sketched tracks. Then we got together in the same space in London for 12 days and smashed out the album working gentlemanly hours of 9.15am (after I had taken the kids to school) till midnight or later.

Why did you call it Filtered Senses

We live in a overloaded world of information, we liked the idea that to really deal with it you need a filter, one of your own making so you are filtering your senses whenever you deal with the modern world.

How would you describe the album

The album is instantly recognisable as one of ours, thanks mainly to the unfeasibly large bass and the endless delays. There are touches of playfulness amidst the menacing undertones plus some fresh new sounds in the mix. As with all of our releases to date, it happily jumps genres, with tracks ranging from the ambient wash of ‘A Great Silence is Spreading’ to the stomping foot tapper of ‘Pixel Dust’. With everything else in between those two, ‘Filtered Senses’ could be described as having one foot on the dancefloor, one eye in the cinema and both ears in psychedelic stereo.

What elements do you each bring to the album, especially after so much solo work

Both Paddy and I are polar opposite in what we like but we also vibe off a similar idea of being swept away by experts doing their thing, so I tend to bring time and tone to the songs, Paddy brings groove and melodies. we often say that he provides the vertical markers and I float along the horizontal. As we both have solo projects, all sounds in the Pitch Black recordings need to be agreed by both of us, any that don’t work get sent to the solo project folders!!

The music has a really unique feel, do you bring in elements from New Zealand and what are they

Both Paddy and I are very influenced by the epic landscapes and nature in Aotearoa and that feeds deeply into our compositions so whilst it’s not obvious, the depth we feel about our land is in the music.

Your live show at Oslo Hackney was amazing, how do you make sure your music really kicks live

The main way we kick live is the freedom we have built into the delivery of the live setup, the tunes are separated into 16 separate tracks, these come into my mixer where I can send any channel to the dub, Paddy also has ways to send sounds to the dub channel and to effect the sounds. The songs are also cut into parts so at anytime we can jam or stay in sections for short or longer than the album versions.

What’s next

We are working on the NZ tour for this December till March, then looking at shows in the UK and Europe early 2017. We have a few remixes already sorted and will have a remix album out sometime in 2017.

*Filtered Senses is available on Bandcamp.