Space, the future, and the darkness of the unknown have been inspirational material in electronic music since even before the first key was struck on the synth-happy soundtrack to Carl Sagan's original Cosmos in 1980. Fast-forward a few decades later though, and some electronic music has shirked its pre-occupation with fantastical visions.
Prime Numbers, the Manchester-and-Berlin-based label run by Trus'me (born David Wolstencroft), however, is a cutting edge enterprise, having propelled the careers of Actress and Motor City Drum Ensemble and wooed remixes from international techno deities Marcel Dettmann and Alan Fitzpatrick. Wolstencroft issues chrome-coated compositions to pose an important question: If techno is in fact the forward-thinking endeavor it claims to be, why do so many warehouse ravers stare at their feet all night instead of the stars?
Trus'me is tackling this notion with his latest LP, titled Planet 4, due May 30. It's a bold departure for a producer and DJ associated with Detroit-flavored techno-and-house. Not satisfied just making cuts for the dancefloor, Trus'me's latest endeavor reads like a concept album of garbled dance beats written with analog synths to tell a story, in this case a retro-futurist conspiracy tale about human life on Mars.
The celestial subject matter actually has a grounding effect on Trus'me's music. The tunes are funky, glitchy, spooky, and raw. It sounds like it would be at home on earthly dancefloors, but there's a skittish fuzz to it that seems closer to Mars Attacks! than a Sagan-narrated War of the Worlds. And in taking this tact, Trus'me has merged the retrofuturism of Detroit techno with the thunderous, otherworldly hum of modern analog techno, and in doing so, he's written the kind of music that would fit quite well playing in the commercial spaceflight prior to take-off to Mars itself. Listen here and read a few words from Wolstencraft on the nature of the release.
Is Planet 4 a concept album?
I was heavily reading and watching documentaries on planetary exploration to Mars. I found out about the bizarre conspiracy theories that suggest mankind is already there, and there the concept to Planet 4 was born.
With each new LP I've to tested myself to learn new skills in the studio and explore directions in production I wasn't accustomed to using. For this LP, I wanted to surround myself in a new studio––Analogue Cabin in Sydney, Australia––new equipment, and even new engineers to be inspired to create a futuristic and alien landscape. The result is a sci-fi inspired journey, through various tempos which hopefully sends you on your own little journey to Mars and back.
Narratives and themes are all good, but how does this play on the dancefloor?
I love to work on full length projects and these tend to span over a year, to two years of studio time. Unfortunately I can't work to order, I have to be inspired and motivated to make music. Since 2007, I have put an LP out every two years, and I'm more than happy with that output rate. This length of time actually helps me to grow musically and technically in the studio. The fun is in trying new ideas and feeling around with what works well in the club, which gives me enough time to test early productions on the road and discover what works best.
Like deep space and dark matter in the instance of this album, do you develop obsessions in other parts of your life?
Lately I have been working with more musicians again and trying to work with more vocalists. There is a real lack of good vocal dance music these days and this seems strange to me growing up in the 90's and early 00's where good vocal House/techno was making the top 40 in the UK. I'm also working on some interesting remixes in the Jazz field and keeping my palate open as not to become too invested in one genre of music.
What are the traits that all Prime Numbers releases share?
The label has always been an open book, as it tends to reflect my musical interests at the time. Although having said that, there is a strong nod to Detroit and my home town of Manchester. I would never like to be pigeonholed to one sound or one genre, the label has naturally evolved as well as my own productions. I'm always learning new sounds and skills and that's the fun part of both owning and producing your own music.