Martijn Ravesloot aka Melawati makes music out of mistakes. He comes from an indie background but has always admired Aphex Twin while playing in bands such as The Subs and working in theatre. He has a love of experimenting with soundwaves that gives rise to his complex, experimental and improvised sounds. He first met Maceo Plex while jamming and that session turned into the track 'Daliah' which dropped on Ellum Audio and was remixed by Tale of Us.
After that, Melawati wrote this most absorbing and beautiful album during the pandemic in a dark studio attic in the heart of Brussels. He set about recording live experiments on analog synths and then deconstructed and reconstructed them into the tracks presented here. The angelic tones of guest vocalist Lisa Jane feature on two tracks though the pair have never met, and Melawati is now set to take his impressive live show to Tomorrowland. His life has changed since writing the album, he now has two children and lives on a farm, but the power of this music where organic and alien worlds intersect remains utterly compelling.
How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.
Words by Melawati
I Just Want To Go Walking
In the summer of 2017, I had a sort of bad health episode, where my heart was flipping out, stopping for a couple of beats every half hour or so. It was the source of a lot of worrying, lying awake, and overthinking. It’s a weird moment when your heart stops for a bit. You feel a warm rush of adrenaline coming up through your neck, your vision goes blurry, your mind is racing and all you can do is listen for the next beat. I turned to music to deal with the stress, really just jamming out on my gear, trying not to think at all. I just really enjoyed the slight repose from everything that was going on, as I couldn’t really think while I was playing. It was all just very organic noodling, without a plan, without worrying about songs or tracks.
Later, when everything was well again, I found myself with a vault of instrumental music that had a lot of anger, but also a lot of peace. They were melodic, and listening back, really put me back in that “ignorance is bliss” mindset I was in when I made them. Bizarrely, at the time I was rediscovering them, the rest of the world went into lockdown. Things got crazy fast, and I couldn’t help but see a lot of patterns from before creeping back into my life. A lot of uncertainty, worries, and overanalyzing, but also those precious moments, when you basically just shut down emotionally, and you get into this “Que sera sera” kind of mood.
Halfway into lockdown, I got connected with Lisa Jane, who contacted me on Instagram. She had some vocals she wanted to share, and when I heard them, all made sense. It was so very fitting for the track, for the mood, and had the exact emotion to turn this into one of my favorite tracks on the album. The vocal really is gorgeous, and each time I hear it, I go back to that strange place, where I know bad stuff will happen, but am very at peace with it.
The whole album started to revolve around this hard-to-pin-down feeling of being in between darkness and ecstasy. I pictured it as the moment just after the rain stops. The noise just cuts out, there’s stillness and it feels as if a weight has been lifted. Following this idea, I was reluctant to think too hard about tracks or burden them with too strong a theme. Riddles started with a very repetitive, extremely simple synth line (the one that starts it off), but there was a dreamy quality about it. Something that made me think of going to sleep. There’s always a moment when dozing off, where you realize that whatever you’re thinking of has stopped making sense. Logic has left you lying alone in chaos and you have to make do with strange connections and nonsense. It’s a great feeling, and one I wanted to try and recreate with the rest of the track. I knew there had to be a hard divide between no sleep and sleep, and that whatever lyrics I would use, would have to be straight out of a dream, and skip any sense entirely. It’s me singing, but what I’m singing is some 3 am scribbles on a piece of paper next to my bed. It means nothing, but also everything.
Slow pulse also started out as one of the jams I did when dealing with heart issues (hence the name). The part I recorded back then is the main sequence and the synth solo right in the middle. Still, I feel the angry part of me, aggressively trying not to think when I hear that synth sound. I’m guessing I used an MS20, through my modular system. Listening back some years later, I instantly had an image in my head of wet highways and reddish streetlights (the ones around Brussels will do). I’ve never been more at ease than in the back of the car, as a kid, with my dad driving. This memory or happy place seemed the perfect counterweight to the angst of the initial recording, and the clash between the two vibes, peace and pain, is what makes the track.
At this point in the album, I knew I needed something to make you go all in. A red pill, blue pill track, that would invite and seduce you to come with me and go a bit deeper. It is a soundscape kind of track that I made while jamming around with a friend. I work a lot with modular synthesizers, build patches, record stuff, unplug everything and in doing so, make sure I can never recreate the same sound again. This was a setup where I took my Rhodes, ran it through some modular delays, filters, reverbs, resonators, and phasers, and played around on it. The actual track was the moment I was trying out the sound, not really thinking about what I was playing. Somehow it came out really lovely, though. I have no idea what I did, but sometimes it’s better to trust your hands than your head.
You And I
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'You and I' was the track with the clearest vision before I started working on it. I was playing the chords for a while, first on guitar, with some complicated lyrics about love and whatnot. Then on piano, and with a bit more feeling. Although the feeling wasn’t great. This was October 2020, I believe, so in the middle of another lockdown with no end. I wanted to make a track about being locked up with your partner, the highs and lows, the annoyances, and the comfort. We were all bound to the same person for longer than is advisable. We became each other's heaven and hell, often going back and forth on the same day, and with no one else to share the burden of dealing with each other, relationships got messy, got worse, got better, and got deeper. As a message to my wife, one song was not going to cut it. There was and is just too much to say. Going through multiple lockdowns together has been very tough, but we were tougher and when the lights turned on, all we could do was look at each other, and say: “You And I”.
The literal (on the vinyl) and the not-so-literal flipside of You and I, is Somebody. If You and I were about the personal, the familiar, the closeness, Somebody is about the universal longing. Something we all had at one point or feel right now. There’s a certain melancholy to the instrumental, that although very straightforward in its chord progression, feels pretty intense. I don’t know why. The instrumental was called “I Want Somebody”, as I always name my instrumental projects after the first thing that springs to mind, as a small surprise to my future self, but it was only after I sent the track to Lisa Jane, that the title meant something more. She sent me back a vocal, filled with yearning and a kind of remorse for things not being just a bit different. I fell in love with the vocal and finished the track trying to support as much of that emotion as I could. Wanting is needed sometimes, which I hope this track conveys.
All of my music is still a playground to me. I am always recording, I change things up a lot when playing my tracks live, and I never stop working on most of my tracks. Radiate, however, is not one of them.
I have the very good habit of ending all work days in the studio with a good thirty minutes of playing my Rhodes. After fiddling with modules, equalizers, and my DAW all day, my brain powers down, and I just play the last half hour on intuition alone. I’m kind of numb from listening to the same track all day and playing something else, anything else, feels freeing and like an escape. A lot of good ideas have come out of these midnight snacks, and Radiate is one of them. It’s the sugary tipping point of the album. It’s only love and good vibes and it all downhill from there.
Let Your Love Wash Over Me
If Radiate is about the good kind of wanting, LYLWOM is about the bad kind of losing. It’s about heartbreak and obsession. It’s also mostly instrumental, save for the title, so while most of that might be lost on you, I do hope the cry-for-help vibe comes through in the wailing synths and heavy percussion.
This might be the track I’ve worked hardest on this album, but I’m not sure to count that as a pro or a con. Being that slow made for a lot of room in the track, but it was hard to just let the room exist and the track breathe. I smothered it multiple times, stripping it back down and starting again, but I think in the end, that push-pull relationship with the track, sort of fit the mood and makes the whole thing work.
Violent Thoughts existed as a demo for a long time, and come to think of it, it might be the oldest track on Aritmia. I have reworked it many times, started different versions, overproduced it, underproduced it, tried to recreate the demo, accused myself of chasing it, and started another production. In the end, I threw all projects in the trash and put the demo on the album.
There’s just something about the simplicity of it all, there’s just the oddly looping synth, messing with the four-chord progression, but all in all, it’s pretty minimal. It’s a moment on the album to breathe, roll down the window, stare into the cold night, and brace for impact.
White noise is the impact. Too much information is an overused phrase, but at the end of 2020, it was getting to be a real problem. This was at the height of the lockdown when patience had run dry and conspiracy theories ran wild. There was doom and danger behind every click or every discussion, and information overload was driving a wedge into every meaningful encounter. And although apathy sure was one way I dealt with it, anger was another. I wanted to make a track that sounded like hitting a laptop with a sledgehammer and lighting it on fire. Something raw and heavy to filter out the white noise.
Pain And Pressure
I very much realized that up until this point in the album I had remained a little too much inside my own head, not embracing other people that are part of my life, or extending my arms in any way. Pain and Pressure is my way of opening up. It’s the only track I made explicitly to be listened to together, to feel whole by not being alone. It’s my sort of celebration of the fact we got out. That might seem overly optimistic or pessimistic depending on where you stand, but for what it’s worth, we’re bound to each other, if not by choice, then by pain and pressure.
Like a lot of tracks before it, Stellar is a song that just came to be. I honestly have no memory of even making it. As far as I’m concerned, it appeared on my hard drive one day, fully formed. I listen to it a lot and am very happy it’s serving as the end credits to my album. It’s somehow the mirror image of I Just Want To Go Walking, as it too celebrates nothing and exudes a kind of numbness, although this one makes me smile more. Like the black hole in the middle of the galaxy. Just a friendly void. It means nothing, but it means everything.