Interview: arcarsenal


It doesn’t matter whether the concept behind a track is meant for the club or at-home listening, the avid listener appreciates the subtleties of addition & progression. For a producer to submerge the senses, create emotion & build a climatic tone without it creeping into the forefront of the listeners attention is a reflection of their ingenuity. Neel, Efdemin & Anthony Parasole spring to mind when thinking of both production & sets that have the ability to transcend the listener into deeper territory without the obvious techniques.
Subtleties do not only lie with atmosphere & progression, the ability of adding sonic textures that may only make up three or four seconds of an entire track, may be the sole reason for a repeated listen. The long, delicate press of keys in Christopher Rau’s ‘Mehris Groove’ just after the six minute mark rounds off the track so poignantly, however its appearance is only brief compared to the track as a whole. It’s these touches that Berlin-based, French-native producers Arcarsenal have demonstrated on their latest EP for Finest Hour.

For the duration of this EP we are treated to warm atmospheric tones coalesced with deep tension. Wooden echoes with a gentle pulse on opener ‘Perpetual Workout’  are complimented by an unnerving stab of keys. 
Both Ancient Language & Quoth feature under-the-blanket acid elements & sonic flutters that ripple between the fore & background of the listeners consciousness.
As a whole the EP is a fantastic example of versatility for the listener, as it is a strong selection of tracks for the after-hours, at-home listening or the club environment.

Like many other Berlin ex-pats, Alan Mathias & Etienne Dauta met in Berlin after both moving from France to focus on music. They eventually wound up bouncing ideas off each other in the studio with the premise that they would both share and exchange their knowledge of music and techniques, as well as evolve personally in a positive direction. Since 2012 Alan & Etienne have slowly built up their studio & honed their own sound releasing their first EP on Bass Cadet Records following it up with a release on London’s This is Not Happening label.
June 2013 saw Dauta turn Bass Cadet Records into not only a great vintage clothes (Down by Retro) & record store, but also
one of the tightest music communities in the district of Neukölln, Berlin. 
Before Finest Hour release 003 on the 24th of November, the EP has already garnered support from the likes of Ben UFO, Loco Dice, Nick Höppner, Midland, Philipp Sherburne, AYBEE, Cesar Merveille, Palms Trax, Eduardo De La Calle & Jenifa Mayanja.

We caught up with the guys late last week to chat about the label, their release & some exciting news regarding upcoming production & gigs.

For those that are unaware, what is the concept behind Finest Hour?
Finest Hour is a label set up by two good friends when they moved from London to Berlin and were looking to put some good music together, either their own or other artists. The label is stretching over 24 releases for 24 hours, focusing on contemporary dance music with a modern edge. The name Finest Hour comes from the fact that Fede and Pablo were both schooled and influenced by the afterhours movement in London and “Finest Hour” is supposed to symbolize that moment where you focus on and enjoy music. The musical direction is a balance between their more European influences and the US sound of Detroit-Chicago-NY… So far they have released a killer two tracker by Audio Werner and an EP by label boss Onirik & Pablo Tarno. With our EP, they tried to open the sound range of the label by bringing in some different cuts together.

How did this release come about?
Fede and Pablo are really good friends of ours, so it all came really naturally. They spent some time in our studio over the past year and they asked us to create some tracks. We sent a bunch of ideas & projects for them to choose from and by the end of it all we had a 5 tracks shortlisted, unfortunately we had to get rid of one… For the best !

What is the concept behind each side?
No particular concept. The whole thing of the EP is that we tried to be coherent in the sound and still have a varied approach in genres. That’s why you can find on one side a deep techno track, an after-hour loopy and mental thing, then on the flip-side a Detroit-electro infused track, along with a more funky trip… but they all have the sound that we want to push as Arcarsenal. It’s all really linked to the way we work together in the studio.

What can you tell us about the voice we hear in ‘Perpetual Workout’
Well the sample comes from a creepy 80’s youtube video. No secret on this hahah. It’s basically an interview from a female singer (not sure who) that is explaining that she’s on a permanent evolution through her work and that she’s always learning from it. The cut itself says “i’m quite aware, that i’m constantly in school”. And if you want to get a meaning here, you could say it applies to our work ethos.  We try to always learn and push our boundaries. Either through new equipement, new ways of working and sharing, new ideas or even trying to get music academic notions in our process.  This helps us to have more musical freedom in the end & it’s also what’s really enjoyable about being a duo, sharing ideas and experiences. So without taking this too serioulsy, it still can be seen as a motto. Makes us think of our man AYBEE who always says “Still learning”...
Would love to be as good as him at some point and still be learning lots of thing; It’s a learning process and it never finishes.

What upcoming releases are you able to talk about?
This year, aside from this full EP on Finest Hour, we’ll be releasing a track on the next Unity Kolabo compilation on Underground Quality with Lawrence, DJ Koze, Jon Nathan. Lined up for next year we have another full EP on Fred P’s Boards sublabel, this will be more techno focused. We also have a track on a ‘Various Artist’ comp for a young Berlin label called Funhaus, as well as two things on Rue De Plaisance, first an ambient track on a compilation and then an EP to be released later in the year. We have also other projects in the pipes, maybe more techno things to come out and we also hope to relaunch BCR label… We’ll give you more info soon!

Where can people see you play in November?
Our more exiting gigs to date! On the 16th at the Underground Quality 10th anniversary party at Concrete in Paris with Ed, Fred P, Nina Kraviz, Jenifa Mayanja and Samuel Andre Madsen!! Then the week after we go back to our French south in Bordeaux to play this really nice open air/art place called Le Verger/La Serre on daytime and then the nice Bootleg Club on night time. The guys are friends and they do the things really nicely so we are also really looking forward. Then back to Berlin at Griessmuehle on 28th and then we finish the month with the kickstart of our BCR residency in Hamburg at the new venue in town called PAL with DJ Qu. So lots of good gigs upcoming !

What records haven’t left your bag recently?
Scott Grooves – Unreleased Anthology EP on Modified Suede. Just got it recently from Scott himself who dropped some advanced copies at the store. This « Movin’ On » cut is just perfect… His latest Natural Midi is also still in the bag.
V/A – Abstract Art Vol. 1 on Aesthetic Audio. Keith Worthy’s Dark Symphony is totally insane. Kills it every time.
Ron Trent – Traveller on Deep Art Sound. Finally on vinyl !! He has too much really good tunes still not available on wax (why CD Ron ?)… so this one is not to be missed. We even know friends who bought 3 copies of it !
Jephté Guillaume Pres. Eddie F – Revelation Pt.1. Jephte Djembeflute Jam Session version is a powerful and full on percussive track with a rolling bassline that never misses the aim.
Urban Soul – My Uran Soul on King Street. The USG remixes are dope. The Ryddim version is a killer stripped down player.

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