Tomas Barfod’s second solo album might be a bringing-together of exciting guest spots and a meeting of minds, but this is ultimately the most concise, concerted vision that the Danish producer’s released to date. It brings together a range of voices that all slot nicely into Barfod’s twisted, atmospheric electronics. Luke Temple (Here We Go Magic) and Nina Kinert link up on vocal duties, going one step further from previous EP ‘Pulsing’ into something that belongs in its own curious space. Anyone with a nagging feeling that Barfod’s main priority is working with WhoMadeWho will be promptly put wrong.
This is a project that’s escalated as it’s gone on. The same goes for Barfod’s attachment to the songs themselves. Below, he gives DIY a neat track-by-track guide to his new record, which is out now on Secretly Canadian.
Bell House (feat. Luke Temple)
The music is based on piano, drum-machine and a lot of different analog synths. One of them is the legendary Yamaha CS-50, which i bought the day before recording ‘Bell House’. After working on that, it broke down and hasn’t been fixed yet. Luke Temple really lifted this song with his very fragile and simple vocals. At first he sent me a version with heavy autotune on, which i usually like, but with his voice I thought it was a shame to hide, and I think I’m right.
Pulsing (feat. Nina K)
I was working with my friend Tomas Høffding (my fellow from WhoMadeWho) on this, and after struggling all day in the studio doing only bad demos, he came up with the theme just before closing time. As soon as I got this, the rest was a walk in park. Some songs just writes themselves when you have hit the right foundation. Nina’s vocals I don’t need to tell so much much about - they’re just perfect in my book.
This is one of these play-around tracks that are always very fun to make, but are still very important for the album flow. I’m playing around with timing and feeling. Most rhythms and synths shouldn’t fit together, since they are both going in a poly-pattern and swing notes combined with straight notes… Sorry for getting geeky on you.
Busy Baby (feat. Nina K)
I guess this is the closest I’ll get to a classic pop song, even though the structure is not logical which makes it very hard to play live. Again, Nina is really shining, and she actually did this to another song, but I didn’t feel it seemed right, so we re-did the full instrumental. Nothing is left of what she originally wrote to.
Honey (feat. Sleep Party People)
I asked Brian Batz from Sleep Party People to do a song with me, and usually he does very mellow and pretty stuff, but somehow I got this very happy song out of him. I’m very happy with the result, but didn’t expect it all. The music is a funny combination of live instruments like drums, percussion even horn-section and then synths and 808-bass.
Aftermath (feat. Nina K)
This is a song that’s based on a good synth pattern that actually defines the whole song. Both the string arrangements and the vocals are very much built around it. The string recording and arrangement is, by the way, made by the amazing Davide Rossi, who won several Grammys and worked with Coldplay, Alicia Keys and many others, but he lives 500 metres from me which makes it easier to ‘Pull some strings’.
Blue Matter (feat. Jeppe Kjellberg)
This is another one of those tracks that was really fun to make. I was actually inspired by the soundtrack to the cartoon Adventure Time, which is really funny, well composed crazy lofi synth-pop. The vocals are made by Jeppe Kjellberg , who is a very close musical partner both in WhoMadeWho and other projects.
Waiting for Us (feat. Nina K)
This is a classic Jeppe Kjellberg guitar riff. We call it: ‘He sings with his guitar’. This is not usual the Barfod kind of track. The drums are loose, almost anonymous world-indie drums and Nina’s vocal is also a bit tribal-ish. All of this is something that I usually don’t like in music, but I’m still really happy with how it turned out.
‘Mandaley’ wasn’t supposed to go on the album for while because I started to dislike it suddenly, which happens often in the album process. But then one of the guys from my label told me that he had been walking around New York, playing this on his iPod after a night out. And since then the track totally made sense for me.
Sell You (feat. Night Beds)
It’s currently one of my favourites that almost didn’t make it to the album, because Winston Yellen’s parents sold his house and he was moving across America just as we were closing up the album. However, we managed to make it happen - it was actually the same on the last album with ‘November Skies’ - that also barely made it to the album.
Lost (feat. Pell)
This is maybe an odd song. It’s featuring New Orleans rapper Pell, who I met in Los Angeles in a studio session. I’m happy to have him on my album - he is one of the most talented people I’ve worked with. I also produced a couple of songs for him.