Published Mar 27, 2012After a seven-year hiatus, acclaimed Madrid-based producer Alex Under returns with his second exceptional full-length album, La Máquina de Bolas, on Scottish imprint Soma. Known primarily for his driving, big room techno numbers, with releases on Trapez, Apnea, Plus 8 and his label, CMYK, Under delivers an impressive, gentler, slowed-down, minimal concept album. La Máquina de Bolas translates as "The Ball Machine" and should be consumed in its entirety to appreciate the artful, hypnotic rhythms that subtly evolve and resurface from track to track. Alex Under's new direction on La Máquina de Bolas is his strongest, most mature work to date, demonstrating his scrupulous craftsmanship as a producer while delving deeper into his more explorative pursuits.
It has been seven years since you released your first full-length album, Dispositivos De Mi Granja. Why did you take such a long break between records?
An album means something else than a release to me; it's not like putting ten tracks together. As I understand an album, it needs to have two things that regular releases don't. First would be that whole-thing-concept, so you can take the album as a one-piece itself. And the most important thing, it has to be something that marks not only the progression of the artist, but also opens the door of the new path for the artist. Apart from that, I like to take it easy and I have been really busy these last years with the labels and gigs.
Do you think the break between albums helped shape the new record and your approach to making music?
Not necessarily, but it helped me release more than 20 releases between EPs, remixes and collaborations, and doing a non-stop tour that started with my first album. In these last seven years, my approach to making music had to change and I am glad I am in a new stage, although I will be releasing dance floor stuff too. I have rediscovered the happiness I first encountered when working in the studio.
How did you come up with the title of your latest release?
La Máquina de Bolas refers to those machines you can find in every gas station and highway restaurant, those that in exchange for a coin give you a present, and you can see inside the big glass ball all the small ball containers and their contents. The title means that, but the connection between the album and those machines is yet unknown.
Can you describe your studio process and the gear you use?
In La Máquina de Bolas, the process was very simple, first creating a background and then recording very long tracks of sounds, percussion and leads, then choosing the best parts and finally building up everything. It does not have big post-production; it's very sketch-like. For this album, I used a well-filled computer and a wonderful delay unit called Echolution by Pigtronix.
You also release records under the moniker Dolly la Parton. How does this alias differ from your Alex Under outputs?
All Dolly la Parton tracks are based on dance or pop classics, like "I Got The Power" by Snap and "Whenever" by Shakira. I use parts or samples from the original tracks to remix them.
Do you have any upcoming plans to tour North America?
Well, I don't know, but I really have the intention of doing it. There are a couple of places that I can imagine the live performance of La Máquina de Bolas fitting just great.
What's next for Alex Under?
I'm working on something that could be understood as the second part of La Máquina de Bolas, with a more developed sound, but the same cadence and structure. Making this album opened not only my mind but also a few different ways of making music. I'm enjoying the studio in a way that was almost forgotten. You can expect a good bunch of new releases and live performances. That's at least what I wish.
Read a review of La Máquina de Bolas here.