The veteran Balearic duo's latest album is a stunning collection of out-takes and rarities spanning their 30-plus year career…
With a recording career that stretches over three decades and across several genres, you would expect a retrospective compilation from A Man Called Adam to be full of intriguing musical delights. And that's certainly the case with Love Forgotten (Oddities And Rarities Part 1), Steve Jones and Sally Rodgers’ latest album release.
Love Forgotten is the follow-up to 2019’s excellent Farmarama, but it's a quite different affair from its predecessor. It’s a compilation that delves into their sprawling back catalogue, drawing together some of AMCA’s experimental moments, blissed-out Balearic bangers and straight-up dancefloor winners.
Lovingly compiled from re-edits, remixes, reimaginings and unreleased or unheard tracks, the collection is a comprehensive audio snapshot of the breadth of the duo’s output, and includes collaborations with Idjut Boys, Sensory Productions and Ibizan legend JoséPadilla, as well as a sound design commission for The British Museum.
We chatted to Sally Rodgers about warming up for DJ Harvey, “mahoosive”basslines and recording when “spectacularly baked”…
First off, what was the thinking behind the album? How did it come about and how did you decide what to include/what to leave out?
“We’ve wanted to go through our old hard disks and archives for ages. We have so much unreleased music, music that we made and never finished, or pieces made for commissions, remixes that had only ever been on limited edition vinyl years ago. Our "oddities and rarities," like the title says. I’ve got this great Kevin Ayers Oddities album and I’ve always wanted to do one.
“We did a lot of sharing files back and forth during lockdown, and sometimes it’s my mix and sometimes it's Steve’s edit you're listening to. We pieced together old stems if we wanted to remix it and we kept doing new cut-downs and dubs and jams around what we had (that we liked and felt we could do something with).”
How do you feel about the collection now that it’s released?
“I really like the album. It’s not easy curating your own work – sometimes you like a track one day and then think ‘Nah…’ the next. But there’s a cool mix of odd things here I think. Steve says he’s just relieved that all this music isn’t sitting on hard drives anymore.”
I'm told you produce a lot of your tracks as electronic jams that you then edit down – can you tell us a bit about that process?
“We have always recorded the sessions long-form I guess. It’s a bit of an analogue tape mentality. We don’t completely automate the mixes in the DAW. We do a lot of live mixing, dubbing out and stripping down in real-time, and then we edit the best bits together.”
Do you have any personal favourites among the tracklist?
“I really like the collaborations with Rob and Zaki (Sensory Productions), or the Idjut Boys, or Chris Coco and José. The Albert Cabrerras Mix of AMFP, Brenda Fassie, Magic Juan, the songs we wrote with Jez Ashurst… that’s about everything, ha ha! It just all adds up to a life full of creative people and times.”
There are some lovely ambient pieces on the album. How do you approach making tracks like Cosa Nova or Book Of The Dead?
“They’re sonic textures. Steve’s pretty good with a Max patch and we’ll get into spectral processing or some granulation and just improvise with sounds on that theme for ages. We spend time creating sounds – we made a glass organ from wine glasses to create a microtonal scale, or we mess with time, slowing things down so you can hear new frequencies. Cosa Nova actually started out as a pitch for a San Miguel advert, but they thought it was a bit too weird!”
There are some tasty beats on there too – Glass Houses,Vulindlela, Techno Powers etc. What's your approach to beatmaking?
“We have hardware and software drum machines, but we like to record drummers and percussionists and mix them with our own programming. And we have some hand percussion here for ‘sprinkles’.
“There’s a great percussionist on the album called Josh Ketch and a brilliant jazz drummer called Mike Pickering. Mike played on the original version of Estelle, and on The Longest Day we spent hours setting up an electronic kit and triggering our own sounds with his playing. The session didn’t make its way onto the original release but we found some live passes on a hard disk and wove them into a new version.
“So basically we come at beatmaking every which way – even the odd cheeky break.”
And more generally, what’s your production process when you’re making dancefloor tracks?
“I’ve been out DJing regularly for the last four or five years and I look to the records that work for my dancefloor. We’ve commissioned remixes from producers like Aleksandir and Felipe Gordon, Carrot Green and Prins Thomas because I like to play their records out.
“Similarly, when we approach a remix, we’re looking at the tempos, the vibes of the dancefloor records in your box right now. We want to make records that will sit alongside those in a DJ set.”
That instrumental of All My Favourite People is tight! Tell us about that one…
“We had our studio in Hackney in the late 90s/early noughties. We were surrounded by UK garage and always loved that combo of great melodies and vocals and mahoosive bouncing basslines. I guess we just assimilated that and the dub version of All My Favourite People was the most stripped-down and pure off the original 12-inch release.
“It’s never been digitised before – we had to send the original DAT tapes away to be transferred. This is a new edit of it.”
Likewise, AMCA VS Idjuts Slip Away [Darnley Road Dub] is a tasty chunk of 4/4 dub. How did that came about?
“Dan and Conrad (Idjut) used to be in the studio next to us in that junky Hackney warehouse. We did loads of things together, they called us Shaz and Baz and we spent a lot of time laughing and listening to and making music together.
“The dub you're talking about is a version of a track we released on one of the Other Records compilations – we just stumbled across it on a hard disk. It’s heavier and harder than the version we originally released. We had a big Raindirk analogue mixing desk and a Space Echo. We were obviously spectacularly baked!”
You mention in the press release about writing Remind Me [Pikes Instrumental Edit] to play when warming-up for Harvey at Pikes – tell us a bit about that…
“Yes, I come to play poolside once every year before Harvey at his amazing Mercury Rising residency at Pikes. I love it, it’s a fantastic social and full-on freaky Pikes by the pool. I always spend time putting my sets together before I go to Ibiza to play at Pikes and at La Torre, and I want to have new music or to try out our new mixes in that setting. I just knocked off a live instrumental dub of a track we were working on before I left and this is what we’ve released here. Made especially for Pikes.”
After looking back over your career when picking out these tracks, how do you feel about AMCA’s catalogue as a whole?
“I guess we both feel comfortable with all we’ve done these days. But it’s like we have to have a purge now and then so we can keep moving forward. There’s still so much to learn and to try. It’s nice to have a body of work but you just want to keep adding things of a decent quality to it. And learning new processes and new ways of doing things.”
Finally, is there anything else going on in AMCA's world right now that we haven't taked aobut?
“Yes, we have a wonderful zine and some merch coming through, made in collaboration with an artist called Craig Riddums. That’s something really new for us, collaborating with a visual artist so intensely. That’s what I mean, I guess: there’s still so much still to learn and do!”
Words: Harold Heath
Love Forgotten (Oddities and Rarities Part 1) is out now on Other Records – buy it here.