This Mexico City-based duo are really into Soviet-era synths, Krautrock, sci-fi soundtracks, and Alan Parsons.
Abraham Dichi and Alan Rabchinsky, the two men behind Mexico City's Marbeya Sound, met in 2005 in Acapulco. With a mutual appreciation of electronic music and Soviet-era synthesizers, the two set about DJing and crafting original music of their own. Initially influenced by indie rock and nu-disco, the duo's new album, Colonies, is a paradigm shift. Their sound—rich in classic electronic music textures and rhythms—started as something of a whim, but grew into a record that deftly navigates Krautrock, 70s sci-fi soundtracks, as well as the work of Wendy Carlos (A Clockwork Orange), Vangelis, and Jean-Michel Jarre.
I spoke with Abe and Alan about Colonies, their early recording efforts, and why Alan Parsons deserves all the respect in the world.
'Colonies' album teaser.
Noisey: What were you guys up to before forming Marbeya Sound?
Abe: I've been making music since I was 17, and studied music production and sound engineering. In the midst of that I was DJing dance music mainly. I released an album as Damiak in 2007. At that time I was really influenced by progressive rock and IDM ["intelligent dance music"]. After that, I met Alan.
Alan: I started making music around 12 years old at a workshop where I played drums. In college, I joined an indie band called Game Over. We played indie rock influenced by The Hives and Arctic Monkeys. Later, I got into electronic music, especially four-on-the-floor dance music. Then Abe and I got in touch and started sharing music, and that's when the magic happened.
You guys have been around since 2006, right? How much has your sound evolved since then?
Abe: We met in 2005, but it wasn't till 2006 that we completed our two first tracks. They were released separately on an Italian label called Mad on The Moon. Our first tracks were called "Sancho" and "Blind Cause." Those two tracks sound a little lo-fi-ish and more on the upbeat side. But, thinking about these tracks now, they do make sense relative to our new album, Colonies. I couldn't say the same with a bunch of other tracks we've made. Over the years, we've bounced back and forth from dancefloor tracks and more synth-landscaping tracks.
So you learned a lot from those early recordings.
Abe: Yes, and the end result of what we have now is definitely a progression from everything we've done so far. For me, it's important to experiment, challenge myself, and diversify as much as possible.
A common thread on the album seems to be 70s and 80s science fiction soundtracks. What film soundtracks may have influenced you?
Alan: Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre's music.
Abe: Blade Runner. I'm pretty bad with names, but some that are easy to remember are films like The Warriors, Flash Gordon, A Clockwork Orange, Thief, and some of John Carpenter's movies. Then there are other composers like Klaus Schultz, Brian Eno, and Giorgio Moroder.
"Origin of the Eagle" has a groove that is a bit different than the rest of the record. Can you talk about that track?
Abe: The major influence for that song was Alan Parsons. We were listening to him one day, and we started making music afterward.
Alan: Actually, we wanted the drums to sound like Alan Parsons, and then have a blues feel with a steady rhythm.
Alan Parsons is an unlikely name to drop for a band these days. What is it about his sound and recordings that you like?
Abe: Since we both went to school to study audio engineering, this is a name you hear a lot when talking about top audio engineers. The production skills Alan Parsons had were impeccable. You have to give the man credit: he engineered one of the best albums of all times with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.
What Soviet-era synthesizers did you guys use on the record?
Abe: We both had a couple when we met. I was living in San Francisco at the time and got them off of eBay. I had an ALISA 1377 and Alan had a FAEMI.
Alan: I was living in Mexico City and went to this city market called Tepito, in the center of Mexico City. They sell everything, so I bought a few synths there. But when we started, we worked in San Francisco in Abe's studio. For this album, we were patient and put in a lot of detail into the synth programming.
Abe: Right, we went through a lot of synthesizers, and we wanted them to do exactly what we wanted. So, there was a lot of swapping of gear.
Are there a lot of electronic music venues in Mexico City—ones that are specific to your type of experimental approach?
Abe: Rhodesia and M.N. Roy are a couple of places we play regularly, but more than anything we play festivals and parties. Mexico only has a handful of venues where you can hear different styles of music. All the rest try and keep it safe by playing strictly dance music, or rock, or cumbias etc.
So early on you guys had to adapt to the city's musical demand, whether that was rock or dance music?
Abe: From 2006 up until recently we did a mix of nu-disco and synth bass music. When we played out, it was for a dancefloor, it was DJ set, and we actually still have a dance set. We're diversifying as far as this album goes. It's from the heart. It's not crowd-pleasing; it's a little more personal. The whole game is changing with this album.
Alan: Yeah, with this album we're shooting for a Krautrock and classic rock sound.
What sort of classic rock was on your mind when recording the album?
Alan: Psychedelic Krautrock with super-layered synths, and rudimentary acoustic drum recordings. Influences like Pink Floyd, Neu!, Ashra, Harmonia, La Monte Young, as well as ambient and minimalist music.
Did you have a very defined vision of what the album should be, apart from the sonic cues?
Abe: Not really. And this is a funny question because the album really started one summer when we spent a whole month working day and night on creating what would be track four on the album, "Your Ears Are Ours". We were so proud of this song because it's a 14-minute journey that kind of describes us as a band. We wanted the world to hear it, except we didn't want to release it as a single, and none of the songs we had at that time would fit alongside it on an album release. So, we decided to make a new album around this one track.
Since the album is a game-changer for you guys, where do you think you might take your sound on the next album?
Alan: An experimental, meditative state of background healer, more like a painting, including electro-acoustics and collage sounds from everywhere. A continuous mantra reliever.
Abe: My plans are to minimize instrumentation, although I always say the same thing and then create songs with 80 tracks in them. One of the ideas I have is to possibly incorporate more vocals.
What sort of electronic music is happening these days in Mexico City?
Abe: There is a huge electronic music scene, but it's cross-genre. I only got back to Mexico City a year ago, so Alan knows more about this than I do. But, electronic music has always had a very prominent place in Mexico City. Four/four dance music such as house, nu-disco, and indie-electronic are the styles most often played. Psychedelic trance and trance also have a big following, but you do hear techno, bass, drum and bass, and grime on occasion.
Alan: There are a few clubs where you can hear deep house, acid house, Detroit techno, or music that touches on more tribal sounds. The label Electrique Music releases house music for the dancefloor. Then there are Fellow Friends, Eddie Mercury, Ed La Fuenta and his partner Max Jones, who have been really influential. Those are players in the club scene. Disco Ruido, Avanti, Moon Runner, Love Bites, and Bufi are all really good friends of ours, and we all feed off each other musically.
Your sound seems as though it would be massive live. Are you planning anything big for live shows?
Abe: We want it to be a spectacle. Someone is creating a stage for us, someone else is creating visuals, and then we've been rehearsing with a full band. We want it to be a complete experience.
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