The first split-single release from Artifiseer and Germany’s I Divorced Life explores themes of anxiety and depression through contrasting compositions.
Over the past decade making music under the name Artifiseer, Saint John songwriter/producer Ian Livingstone has evolved his creative practice from loosely structured atmospheric sound experiments into some of the most sonically dense, cutting edge alternative electro pop coming out of the East Coast. From the glitchy beats on the 2012 single, Blown Fuse, to the pleasantly disorienting structures that shape his 2015 full-length debut Catalyst, Livingstone’s visionary approach to composition exists in a constant state of evolution, defining any true categorization.
After a lengthy hiatus following the release of Catalyst, Livingstone began releasing music again starting with the 2019 single Lavender, which introduced a more vocal-forward approach to songwriting when compared to earlier releases.
Livingstone’s latest release is a collaborative two song single featuring a new song from Artifiseer paired with a new track from Hamburg, Germany-based producer Silas Andersen who writes and performs as I Divorced Life.
Livingstone said the pair met online and decided to do a split release following a lengthy conversation about their individual creative processes.
“As we got talking about music, we talked a bit about our respective creative processes and the kinds of stuff we were working on,” he said. “I think it kind of became clear to both of us pretty quickly that we saw some shared musical reference points and a compatible aesthetic direction, because before the thought to do a split even occurred to me, Silas asked if we could do one.
“I instantly said yes, because I saw it as an opportunity for us to just experiment and kinda see where we met in the middle,” said Livingstone. “He had just finished recording the songs that would later become his Spooky Little Doll Hands EP, where he had focused on incorporating more melody and pop songwriting into his typically noisy, hardware-driven electronic style. Meanwhile, myself being someone who’s music is normally fairly melodic but flirts with noise, I wanted to try making something noisier and more aggressive. So it seemed like a perfect opportunity for us each to try and sort of meet in the middle, for lack of a better word.”
To create the music for Speak No More of This, both musicians worked independently while drawing some inspiration from their conversations.
“We didn’t collaborate on the actual writing of the music, but we did, in our conversations about doing the split, discuss themes we wanted to explore and used that conversation like a prompt to work from when we each wrote our song,” said Livingstone. “If I recall correctly, the conversation mainly centred around the ideas of the reliability of one’s memory, how to delineate between one’s waking, conscious reality and one’s imagination or dreams, and the feelings it conjures up to kind of question how real one’s reality really is. We both deal with anxiety and depression. I think the idea of wondering if one’s understanding of a situation is correct or not, or ruminating on whether or not something you did or said while you were on auto-pilot really happened, are both situations we could relate to and sort of, extrapolate to something grander.”
Livingstone’s contribution, Geasan, shifts between a scattered snare pattern and straight ahead thumping bass as if to represent the simultaneous existence of certainty and uncertainty. This build up then dissolves into an airy climax that serves to create an almost contemplative contrast to the song’s previous rhythmic exchanges.
Unlike A Boulder, Andersen’s contribution to the project, builds upon a more conventional structure that blends 80s synth pop and with an aggressive mix of foundational melodies that sway in and out of traditional comfort zones before erupting into a deep climax of chaotic noise.
“I think both of our songs ended up deviating quite a bit from this initial prompt and its themes, but I love how we both managed to branch out of our comfort zones a bit, sonically, and still managed to capture the sort of surreal and ambiguous mood of like a dream state or a hazy memory on these songs,” said Livingstone. “We were both really happy with how well the songs fit together despite the differences in our music-making approach.”
Artifiseer photo by Luke Bailey.