If you’re lucky, this copy of Now Then will include a 7” flexi disc vinyl insert from CPU Records (if you’re unlucky, read on). Set up by local DJ and electronic music fanatic Chris Smith, it’s hard to believe Central Processing Unit has only been operating for two years, such is the extent of its impact both nationally and internationally. Focussed on a distinctive sound rooted in the 80s and 90s, with cover art design by Humanstudio, CPU has put out material by the likes of DMX Crew, Mrs Jynx, Paul Blackford and Automatic Tasty.

The label’s debut release, Newmark Phase, came from Texas-based Cygnus and was positively reviewed in Now Then #56. September this year saw the release of a new Cygnus LP, Tesseracter, and the aforementioned flexi, featuring ‘Extra Terrestrials’, is available now through Now Then and CPU. I chatted to Cygnus about making music and receiving extra terrestrial transmissions.

Tell us how you got started with making music and how you moved into making electro.
My first tracks were on my dad’s computer. When I was a young boy, he had a version of Cakewalk for Windows 3.1 or something equivalently ancient. When he got a JD800 [synthesiser] I lost my mind cause you could make sci-fi soundtracks with the synth patches. I loved those sounds.

Do you record most of your tracks in one take?
Yeah my tracks are all written in one take. I usually just try and tune in and synchronize with whatever my mind is blocking me from feeling. The other day I was listening to a very obscure psychic friend of mine’s podcast. He was channelling some beings from the Pleiades [star cluster], if I recall correctly. All this information was flowing in, and because I was in front of my gear, an album called Rexus Recta was written. I just became very receptive and did not argue or try to rationalize anything. I was feeling and I just made some of the most sick electro funk alien occult shit ever. I’ll never release it, but I’ll probably send it to some friends.

What’s the story behind ‘Extra Terrestrials’, the track available on the flexi disc?
‘Extra Terrestrials’ is a channelled song from some people who live very far from Earth. I can’t say any names for functional reasons – literally can’t pronounce them without a stronger tongue – but they are from a part of this galaxy called Robarecta and had some information that they thought I could use. I’m unsure of when I actually calibrated and received the data, but that’s what came out. The general message can appear clearly, and you certainly don’t have to be aware of the origins. Orange smells like orange no matter which tree it came from.

How has your set up changed over the years you’ve been producing?
My setup has changed a lot actually, even in just the past few months. It’s probably in relation to how I think about it. Everything I do musically is so in the moment that I’d use anything to get the message across. I just try to make sure the right things are in place when I receive the message to transmit through the machines and then onto some recordable medium. If I could I would just levitate over the Atlantic in a pyramid and stream my thoughts for everyone to tune into. But they haven’t made anything like that yet.

Your last album, Newmark Phase, was inspired by the William Gibson book Count Zero. Were there any non-musical influences behind Tesseracter?
Yes, Tesseracter is influenced by Hyperion by Dan Simmons. It is a science fiction novel and it is completely fantastic. It put me in its world and I think I am still there. There were a lot of tracks I wrote for that book. All of the tracks on Tesseracter are for that book, except for ‘Video Games’ and ‘Technologic’.

How did you get involved with Central Processing Unit?
I had known Chris Smith as Sheffield Bleep on web forums for years and years. Chris told me he was starting up a record label and wanted to put out some vinyl. I knew from the beginning that it was going to turn into something really seminal. Chris is very dedicated to the label and it shows. He has also done some very gracious things for me and I’m glad I know him. Also he has a pistol to my head at this very moment. Notify the authorities please he’s not looking please don’t think just do it OH GOD HE’S WATCHING ME WRITE THIS SEND HELP PL-

What appeals to you about electro as a medium?
I like how you can use the coldest, deadest, inhuman sounding things and make hilariously weird funky rhythms at the level of Parliament Funk, James Brown or Bootsie Collins. A gap is crossed. There’s also room in it for spirituality (meditation, mindfulness, peace), non-emotional things like science fiction architecture (Syd Mead), spaceships, humor, politics, psychic communication and occult archaeology. Shit is advanced. The shoe fits. The medium itself is living.

Do you think it gets the credit it deserves as a genre? Techno and house have both made huge comebacks in clubs in the last five years, in the UK at least.
See, I don’t really know too much about electro as a genre. I’m just way too close to it. If you are seated millimeters from a huge television set and staring, you can observe the individual pixels but never the big picture.

Maybe electro doesn’t get the credit it deserves because it can sound so alien and weird. A lot of what drives genre hype is sex appeal and ego bullshit, from my observations, and you don’t see a lot of that in electro as it is now. You’re more likely to see some occult references or alien crypto-conspiracy or something about quantum physics. Very few individuals in my sector protest these problematic latitudes in the music scene. We’d rather hide in the antimatter.

What are your upcoming plans for your own label, Biosoft?
I let my colleague Felicia take care of all of the Biosoft stuff. The reason being, I felt like Kim Jong Il or something owning a record label and also releasing music on it. We hope we get to release some more Patronen, because we love that music so much and it’s collected a large amount of acclaim. Deservedly so – the artist who produces that music is a jewel of this world, some kind of matrix of intelligence origami’ing itself into a human when it’s not resting. Stay tuned because we have some more stuff coming out.

If you didn’t get a flexi disc, stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter throughout the month or come to the CPU event at the Raynor Lounge on 29 November.

Get your free digital download of ‘Extra Terrestrials’ and digital-only b-side ‘Cybrid Vox’ by emailing input@cpurecords.net with the subject ‘I’m reading Now Then issue 80’.

Disclaimer: Flexi discs tend to have more surface noise than standard vinyl. If your copy skips, experiment with the weight of your tonearm and make sure your stylus is in good condition. Bear in mind they have a limited lifespan and never fold them.

cpurecords.net

Photo by Shaun Bloodworth

Sam Walby