GoGo Penguin

Between Two Waves EP
Sortie le 1er juillet 2022
Label: XXIM Records
Recorded at the end of 2021, Between Two Waves, marks the latest chapter in the story of GoGo Penguin. The recording captures a magical moment, as the band regroup after the strange, challenging and at times, tragic couple of years which preceded it. Chris Illingworth explains:
“It was an incredibly meaningful moment for us to be together as a band along with our producers Joe and Brendan, sharing meals like family, enjoying drinks and jokes after long days of work and, most importantly, making music together after so long apart”.
Recorded at the end of 2021, Between Two Waves, marks the latest chapter in the story of GoGo Penguin. The recording captures a magical moment, as the band regroup after the strange, challenging and at times, tragic couple of years which preceded it. Chris Illingworth explains:
“It was an incredibly meaningful moment for us to be together as a band along with our producers Joe and Brendan, sharing meals like family, enjoying drinks and jokes after long days of work and, most importantly, making music together after so long apart”.

With a new line-up, drummer Jon Scott joined pianist Chris Illingworth and bassist Nick Blacka a few months before the recording sessions at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, and a new label, XXIM Records, for the band it represented both business as usual with a welcome return to the recording studio, but also something of a fresh start. A chance to explore new ideas and experiment, as they expanded the range of sounds and voices within the tracks, and the Eurorack modular and Moog synths found their places between their signature piano, double-bass and drums on tracks like Badeep, Wave Decay and Lost in Thought.

Another feature which brought something new to the recording was the Palm Mute Pedal developed by Danish pianist Otto Sammy. Otto sent the band a prototype which would feature on both The Antidote Is in the Poison and Wave Decay. It’s a remarkable invention, a custom pedal allows Illingworth to mute and effect the sound of the strings live as he plays, and while not a million miles away from the string muting techniques used on earlier tracks such as Bardot, it offers a new palate for the band, it’s still the acoustic piano but sounds almost electronic in effect and often closer in sound to the synths. A perfect solution for a band whose signature sound has been dubbed acoustic-electronica and who look to bring those worlds together in their music.

There is always some degree of abstraction in GoGo Penguin tracks and their titles, leaving the listener to make their own interpretations and find their own emotional response. However, there is also always an underlying idea personal to them that inspires the compositions and is core to the writing process and the music on Between Two Waves takes its inspiration from the duality found in the big events in our lives.

“Over the last couple of years, the pandemic has affected everyone; it has brought us together and yet also divided and separated us. In the bands personal lives there has been cause for celebration with the birth of a son but also tragedy with the loss of loved ones. These moments can simultaneously make us feel both loved and isolated, fearful but confident, proud and humbled. For us, the feeling of Ascent is the journey through these experiences in life, always finding another unknown at the end but not something to be scared of, just something new to discover”.

This then is Between Two Waves, a joyful, powerful collection of new music, that both captures a moment of rebirth and movement for one of contemporary music’s most exciting bands and that also explores that sense of excitement and anticipation as you move through life.

Between Two Waves is released to Download and Stream on 1st July 2022.
Track by track by Nick Blacka

Badeep

With Badeep we were inspired by the idea of taking the listener on a journey. From where the track starts with the synth pattern and then develops into a series of different musical themes which almost feel quite unrelated and complex at times, but by the end, the way that it all connects together makes sense. The track ends with the same synth pattern that it starts with giving a sense of familiarity but also different at the same time. This concept was partly inspired by a passage from T.S. Elliot’s ‘Four Quartets’ “And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time”.

Ascent

Ascent commences with a rippling, electronic drum pattern which Chris had already put together before we went into the studio. When we were at Real World, we decided to experiment with other ways of executing it, eventually running it as a sequence on my Moog Grandmother synth, and then, as the track unfolds, Jon picks up the beat replicating the feel of it but making it his own after the synth beat fades out.

Wave Decay

Wave Decay started out as a small fragment with the piano chords, but it really took on a new life when Chris was sent the prototype of a new Palm Mute Pedal which was developed by Otto Sammy in Denmark. Against the muted piano, we decided to have the bass more in the foreground as a melodic feature for the intro and outro of this track. The title comes from a recent fascination with free diving and underwater themes. The movement of the piano chords, particularly with the addition of the palm mute pedal, felt like the swell of ocean waves. The bass melody at the beginning gave the track a different feel and the incorporation of the muted piano, alongside the synthesiser, we feel, really puts us in some new, unexplored territory.

Lost in Thought

When it came to recording Lost in Thought we felt it was important to make a record of both the time and place of that moment so alongside the instruments we made binaural recordings around the studio grounds. These are sounds which hold very personal memories for us, but which will also be reminiscent of moments of peace and tranquillity for anyone who listens to them. This track features synthesisers more heavily than anything we’ve done previously and it’s also the first time that Nick has played only synth and no bass on one of our recordings.

The Antidote Is in the Poison

We never make it easy for ourselves. This track was another that the starting point was taken from a sequenced pattern on a synthesiser, but we then switched everything back to the acoustic instruments and never used a synth on it at all. We always like to challenge ourselves but not to the detriment of the music. We were interested in the idea of using layering techniques on this track but with everything played live and nothing overdubbed.
Again, the Palm Mute Pedal features in the middle section which sounds more electronic despite everything being played on acoustic instruments. The main aspect of this track was to keep a heavy groove throughout despite the density of layering up parts.
GoGo Penguin is a piano-trio from Manchester, UK.  Formed in 2012 its sophomore album v2.0 was nominated in 2014 for the Mercury Music Prize and in 2016, the trio signed to Blue Note Records, releasing a trio of acclaimed albums: ‘Man Made Object’, ‘A Humdrum Star’ and ‘GoGo Penguin’, as well as two EPS and a remix album ‘GGP/RMX’.   They were Blue Note’s best-selling contemporary instrumental artists and sold in excess of 300,000 albums.

The band composes and performs as a unit and the band members refer to their music as “acoustic-electronica”. Their largely (but not exclusively) acoustic music draws on break-bets, classical influences, jazz, minimalist piano melodies, powerful basslines, drums inspired from electronica and anthemic riffs.

When describing GoGo Penguin's music, critics have frequently drawn reference to Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Massive Attack, Brian Eno and classical composers Shostakovich and Debussy, or contemporary minimal music composers such asPhilip Glass.

GoGo Penguin has toured extensively internationally, performing at International Festivals such as Coachella, Outside Lands, Fuji Rock, Blue Dot, Montreal Jazz Festival, La Vienne, Pukkelpop, North Sea Jazz and many more and have sold-out venues across the world from The Royal Albert Hall to La Cigalle via Paradiso and Bowery Ball Room. In 2015 the trio debuted its own original score for the cult-film ‘Koyaanisqatsi’, performing the show to ecstatic audiences around the world.