Nobody knows exactly what is in the Korean air that makes its artists so connected to tribalism in every aspect: percussions, friendship, symbiosis. Take Cobahn, for instance; she designed this very contemplative mix, described as a fog which slowly unveils its mysterious forested landscape. We can only believe in such an intriguing context while experiencing the trance out of it: the journey is obviously atmospheric & humid, not the equatorial climate usually brought by Feral or Vãyu, but definitely a local setting, regarding the choice of deeper tracks & fairy percussions.
Immersed in the streets of Seoul, Cobahn is a member of vurt’s tribe, the best underground club in town, described by Joachim Spieth as “a warm basement filled by shadows of people having a deep communion”. The club never lets the artists indifferent. Both Affin’s head & Blazej Malinowski have produced a deep track named “vurt” after having played there. Cobahn has obviously integrated the natural power of the place, as well as her signature approach, consisting of surprising the listeners with intriguing sounds & sensual grooves. As a result, the intimacy takes place in the first minute and fades out slowly some days after the end…
A FOG IN THE MICROSCOPE
1️⃣ The track selection
The Scene podcast has a very original concept: a topic is suggested to its contributors and “the fog” has been the chosen one for Cobahn. The atmospheric tracks make it immediately apparent, as well as the light which totally unveils the forest at 58:48. The mix starts with a long ambient session, a pretty risky approach, not often used because of the more or less sage principle to catch the listener’s attention faster. But that’s without counting on Cobahn’s expertise in the domain: vurt has also a concept of ambient bar every Tuesday, where she regularly plays.
After hitting play, the ambient layers are very immersive and time goes by quickly to reach the entry of the forest at 16:00. The chosen angle is to immerse the listener inside the walker’s eyes, straight from the ground. Strong evocative forest noises & dark percussions are played to feel the stress of the blindness, as well as groovy & fairy sequences to make it also attractive.
Cobahn reproduced perfectly the spice of the adventure, which grows gradually in the mix, with a tension only released in the beautiful outro.
2️⃣ The management of the energy
It often happens that the DJs who work on mental journeys play the card of the linearity regarding global energy. On the contrary, Cobahn chose the “mountain pattern”, consisting of increasing gradually the energy up to a climax and reducing it after. Such a pattern, often used by the storytellers, is so much more efficient to build an emotion. Cobahn really started from the ground with the ambient session, building up the energy with a certain mastery until the climactic “explosive” point at 53:14, which corresponds to the moment where the landscape gets unveiled. The outro brings then the necessary peace after the build-up of such a long tension, releasing the emotion for the pleasure of the listeners.
3️⃣ The technique of mixing
Unlike a “studio mix”, where each transition is built separately, Cobahn offered us a “live mix”, which usually brings a lot of mistakes. This is not the case here, ambient DJs being particularly sensitive to producing long harmonious transitions. Cobahn is also experienced on the dancefloor, a noticeable quality allowing her to implement a great groove each time and avoid uncomfortable losses of energy. In the end, only one mistake has been noticed: a small clash of melodies at 01:15:13, which doesn’t bother much, since the outro is made to emerge the listener from the journey.
INTERVIEW ON A SELECTED TOPIC
Cobahn shares with us her creative process.
Not a lot of DJs dare to record long ambient intros, how did you come to this idea?
In the concept of Scene, each episode has its own specific topic, but made to form a larger story with all the mixes. My theme being “the fog”, I thought a long ambient intro would be the best way to deliver the vibe of it. Creating particular vibes and atmospheres is at the centre of what I do and for me, playing ambient music is particularly efficient to design deep landscapes.
What is your creative process when mixing?
When I do a mix, I record various possibilities. The big direction that I initially thought of doesn’t really change, but my approach adds new ideas to develop. In the end, I choose the best version. For this mix, for instance, I recorded six times and chose the third one. Regarding my guideline, I based my choices on the story which has been written in the description: “We sense a blurry silhouette through the fog. We follow this mysterious object that wavers in and out of our sight, feeling the air lighten. Light starts to break the fog, and we are greeted by tall rainforest trees.”
Could you describe the atmosphere in the places where you love to mix?
I have a very cosy studio in Seoul. There, I use two CDJs and a mixer. It’s an independent and quiet environment, where I can record my mixes whenever I want. I also often play at vurt, which is my favourite underground techno club. Musically, I’ve been deeply influenced by this place and by the wonderful people who work there and cross my path. It has a very deep mood and a tremendous spirit. This particular atmosphere has a lot of influence on my music.
You’ve been mixing with great artists, could you share your experience with Joachim Spieth for example?
I had a b2b set with him, which has been very special. Such an approach of mixing is difficult, unless you are really in sync with the other artist and ready to build up the atmosphere very delicately. He was previously inspired by listening to my mix for Scene and then, we improvised together. We played for four hours, which created an organic and beautiful harmony. I am deeply grateful to Joachim Spieth and to the Ambient bar for making such a valuable experience possible. I would like to share a couple of wonderful tracks that Joachim and I played at that time:
(Please buy the tracks to support the underground scene with us)
1. Fjäder – Bifrost [Kabalion Records] 2. Claudio PRC – Part I [The Gods Planet] 3. Primal Code – Annie’s Diaries [Hypnus Records] 4. Sam KDC – Endorheic Rift [Auxiliary] 5. Black Merlin – Layang Layang [Island Of The Gods] 6. A. Brehme – Saisho (Distinct) [Sonata Forma] 7. Common Sense – Iso [Black String Records] 8. ALUME – Pylar [Nyame Records] 9. Ben Kaczor & Morphing Territories – Halla 한라 [Oslated] 10. Discknocked – Subnok [Circular Limited] 11. Shlømo – Rechaïm [Bright Sounds] 12. 9beats – Floating (II) [Norite] 13. Discknocked – Lauthamiun [Circular Limited] 14. O-Ren & C.T.F. – State Of Grace [ANAOH] 15. Svarog – Thunder [Affin LTD] 16. Nørbak – Marah II (Moddullar Remix) [Dynamic Reflection] 17. Von Grall – Antonym Allegory [Horo] 18. 9beats – Selevol [Annulled] 19. Refracted – Enter The Jungle [Silent Season]