We dive into friendkerrek’s ‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’
Friendkerrek started his production journey in shoegaze and experimental electronic music. He always had a passion for creating soundscapes and sonics that transport you to other worlds. Initially though, he began chopping soul but over the years he has pushed himself into more electronic territory. Keeping that digital but still dusty. After moving across America for a while he landed in New Orleans where for the last two years he has been rocking with Bag Season Records, a collective of different producers, building on a scene in the city. ‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ is his latest offering but how does this album stack up in this innovative producer’s journey.
As described by friendkerrek himself, ‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ is an album about trusting your instincts. This is absolutely right. ‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ is an organic experience. The tracks roll into each with a natural, spontaneous energy and, whilst each tune can stand alone, they are far better when heard as a whole. The album flows like a live set. Flipping from track to track smoothly at an easy, but determined, pace. The concept of acting instinctual and naturally is an incredibly satisfying way to present and album. That feeling of contentment is ever-present on ‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ and it’s gorgeous. Unhurried, pure and incredibly fulfilling.
The reason the album feels so instinctual is largely down to how friendkerrek approached general creation here. ‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ was made entirely on different samplers and performance tools from the SP series of samplers from Roland. Stepping away from the laptop as a creative tool, friendkerrek restricted himself but conversely open up an entire world of tonal possibility. In a way the creation of the album is the concept itself. The limitations of these machines means a creator has to think more creatively, thus more freely. We asked friendkerrek about his decision to move away from a DAW:
‘The first SP Diaries was made out of necessity when my computer died in August 2018. I made that project with an SP-404SX and a multitrack recorder. With Part 2, I had just gotten an SP-555 and a Korg Kaoss Pad, so along with the 404 I decided I'd try my hand at doing an advanced version of part 1. A lot of my releases are like ticking boxes, kind of like I have a checklist of things that I want to accomplish with each project, and when the list is done so is the project. Some of the beats use all three pieces, and some of them use only one or two. This project was definitely a subtle flex in a way, like "check out what I can do with just hardware bro…"'
Much like finding out where your food comes from can add to the flavour, knowing how and why friendkerrek created this album enhances the experience, and makes the overall offering all the more sweeter.
Despite the self imposed limitations ‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ is still an incredibly solid body of work. Sonically, it’s an album of interconnected layers. Most obviously the tracks mix into each other, but this element of interconnected layers can be found in every element. Within songs the melodies swap and change, skitter, lay atop each other and generally create a collage of beauty. Tracks like ‘Fkbeets004’ (a collar with Delicousbeets) are uncontrived and pure. Syncopated synths stutter easily through an ocean of dense Rhodes with vocal chops adding a nice bit of spice to the proceedings.
The area that best displays this layering however is in the awesome drum work. The drums roll with a uniquely human swing and seem to phase in and out in a perfectly. ‘Dara’ is a particularly sweet example of the masterful drums on ‘The SP Diaries pt.2’ Varying hi-hats, snares and percussions swap layers of time keeping organically and the whole rhythmic range feels totally unique. You can tell friendkerrek played all these beats in by hand and the results are astonishing. He expanded on the drum processing for the album when we spoke to him:
‘For this project I took all the kits I'd been collecting for years and picked a bunch of my favourites. Some were from kits and some I made myself. I ended up with like 3 banks of drums on the SP-404 and I used those for the whole project, along with some auxiliary percussion I added by hand. I wanted the whole album to feel cohesive and limiting my drums really helped glue everything together. I also experimented with patterns and processing that I thought would set my stuff apart from a lot of other SP-404 beats.’
Another huge part of ‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ is the sound processing and design. A happy by product of creating an album in analog is the totally unique ambience these machines naturally create. The entire project is crunchy, warm and thick with character. The fuzz is an integral part of ‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’. It’s gives each beat individuality and almost acts as different accents for the tracks to express themselves in.
This specific type grit can only come from SPs but more interesting is the way friendkerrek manipulates the intricacies of effects and ambience. Using all of the tools at his disposal to express himself, friendkerrek displays a mastery of effects tempered with a fantastic ear. He knows exactly where (and more importantly where not) to deploy certain effects. Maximising each sound and conceptual shift with an innate confidence. On ‘‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ friendkerrek is as in tune with the sonic palette as with the actual compositions themselves.
‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ is a tour de force. The instinctual creation process and concept has created a living breathing body of work. The multi layered production is beautiful, with each layer infused with friendkerrek’s signature sound. This is further bolstered by the impeccable sound design. Friendkerrek elevates the process to an art form with a real impact on the overall feel of the album. ‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ is an incredibly impressive project. The unique concept and taunt production lays the path for a qualitative, immersive project that is best enjoyed all in one helping. Get locked to this one for a real example of how innovative and inspiring this young producer can be.
Listen to ‘‘The SP Diaries, Pt.2’ here:
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