Brazilian techno DJ & producer BLANCAh has released her new album Arias Of Sky. The album combines spacey house music with sturdy, flickering fx and soaring melodies that look to fly above the rest of the track. That element of air and movement is something she wanted to hone in one, not just with the title, but the overall theme of the album. “Flying River” feels like you are strapped to a bird as it flies down a river in search of prey, while “Vast Blue Sky” opens with flickering analog synths and an interview with Bertrand Russell about the need to fight hate wherever it is.
To get a better idea of the themes on this album and how it was all put together, we asked BLANCAh to dive in further with a Director’s Cut feature. Read on to get a better idea for the journey this album took to completion over the past two years.
Get your copy of Arias Of Sky here and listen as you read.
"I spent two years devoting my energy to this album. In between travel, gigs, tours… all my free time was dedicated to composing these 12 songs at my studio. The main inspiration to compose the album is still related to the artistic concept behind BLANCAh; the Birds. For those who don't know, BLANCAh is a bird, born as a bird, and everything that I produce is related to birds in a certain way. In 2016, I released my first album called NEST, which told the story of a bird that was afraid to leave the nest until the moment it took off to face the world. Now, 4 years later I'm releasing Arias of Sky, the environment of this bird. This sky is for me a metaphor of my relations and this album is basically a testimony of love."
1. Afago (‘Cuddle’ in English)
“Afago” is the song that best translates the concept of my new album. Despite being the song that opens Arias Of Sky, it was the last song that I composed when all the others were already made. I thought to myself whilst looking at the tracks: “this is a loving album, I need an opening song that can translate that."
So “Afago” was born as a song where I expose the intimacy of my good relationships. I spent some time listening, selecting, and editing samples of conversations that I exchanged on WhatsApp with my friends, relatives, people who not only belong to my life but make my life a better adventure to be lived. The song starts with my dad saying, "Hi daughter, such a relief to hear your voice." That's because I went to Australia to play at the Rainbow Serpent Festival and I didn't know that there would be no internet signal in the venue. It was 4 days of immersion in art and music, and when I finally came back to Melbourne and made contact, my father had already called the Brazilian embassy in Australia, so much was his affliction. The song continues with other beautiful messages and this is what makes it a real Afago, it’s all-loving messages from people I love.
I’ve seen myself 20 years from now listening to this song, closing my eyes, hearing these voices, and remembering each one. I composed this song to be a mix of homage to those I love and at the same time my memory. This song was born nostalgic. After I finished “Afago” I could understand that these messages were initially directed at me, in truth can serve anyone who listens to it, because they are messages of love, motivating messages, they are hugs, they are cuddles; Afagos.
Flying River, Cumulonimbus and Ocaso (The Triad)
Right in the sequence comes three songs that I composed together in order to form a triad: “Flying River,” “Cumulonimbus” and “Ocaso.” Conceptually speaking, they represent the first flight of a bird that flaps its wings and slowly ascends following the flow of the currents, until enters the biggest cloud in the sky (Cumulonimbus), faces the storm inside it, and survives to see the end of the day on the horizon (“Ocaso” means “sunset” in English). Aesthetically, they have the same elements, instruments, drums, synths, and lots of organic percussions.
2. Flying River
The largest river in the world! The flying river that connects us through the air and carries life!
This song was the starting point for me to start thinking about writing a new album two years ago. I had been developing an interest in listening and an increasing desire to create songs in low BPM. Some experiences at festivals outside the country showed me the power of this niche and not only that, but also showed me a whole philosophy of life and beliefs combined with this kind of sound. Clubs, collectives, festivals that preach a collective conscience, ecological conscience, political conscience, and spiritual elevation, allied to art and culture. Right after that, I deepened my spiritual side a bit more, connecting with all this vibration. So, I asked myself: why not try to create something different? Get out of my comfort zone and immerse myself in this creative wave? Flying River means flow, it is fluidity, it is connection.
“Cumulonimbus” is that type of heavy, charged, powerful cloud that forms mushrooms in the sky and conducts storms. I see it as the apex of the triad. I feel a lot of energy in this song especially when the groove comes in and when the synth repetition invites you to fly in circles.
“Ocaso” means evening. It is a song where I tried to create some tension, present in the growth of the introduction and breaks. I chose a rather high-pitched and purposefully strange synth, which very much reminds me of a bagpipe and helps to create the tension I was looking for. Contrary to the flow of tension that should culminate in an explosion, on the return of the break, the bass brings peace and calm.
5. Vast Blue Sky
This is a song that I am very fond of. I felt the need to send a positive message with this music. I chose a sample from an interview given by Bertrand Russell to the BBC in London in the late 1950s because I just love what he says when advising future generations. He speaks to us. It is such a current and so necessary speech, especially nowadays when the standardization of hate is so present in so many spheres of society. "Love is wise, hate is foolish." I developed the melody and sent it to my great friend Marcelo Cotta, asking him to create and record guitar lines for me, and he gives me back magnificent melodies on his guitars. The lyrics I composed in the early hours of the studio thinking about a way to contribute to the philosopher's speech, and I wanted to find words to motivate people to stay firm, without fear of crossing their private deserts because everything that permeates this adventure that is living, this adventure that is to be alive, belongs to ourselves.
6. Sombra Das Pequenas Coisas (Shadow Of The Little Things)
When I finished this song, I understood that it was born to be soft and simple. I created a light progression that gives me a nostalgic feeling and takes me straight to the afternoons at my grandmother's house, where I was watching the trees in the backyard. It took me a while to get the exact tone I wanted for the bass giving it a percussive rhythm. Then the whole melodic line emerged from there. I am very proud to have composed this song because I consider it a balm.
7. Alvorada (Dawn)
It is an intense song with an intermittent synth that runs through it from beginning to end. I drew this melody all over "by hand" to make sure it didn't sound like a square harpejator and added two more melodic lines to enrich the sound. The bass is straight and constant to bring rhythm and balance. The tearful synth I bring in the fourth minute comes to give a melancholic tone to the song and he doubles in three on the break. I think this song is very unique and has a particular power. I can't wait to be able to play it in a big room.
8. When You Fall From Sky (Bring Back My Star)
From this song the album grew, I accelerated the BPM that was below 110 until now. It is a song that grows smoothly. I consider the second break the “icing on the cake” when the melody intensifies on the harpejator. The kick is soft; the bass was made in three lines also to sound soft in the set. In these cases, I usually use a synth called Rob Papen's SubBoomBass; many of my basses either come from it or from Moog Minitaur.
9. Walk In Clouds
This is my love song. I meet the right person with whom I want to spend the rest of my life. Since I can't always show my feelings, I make music. It was the first time that I used a violin sound in a composition, I wanted to make it very emotional. This song was the single from the album. We released it a month earlier on an EP where I created a version more focused on the dance floor, I called it Dreamers Field Mix. I had the honor of being remixed by the Fur Coat duo. I love their work.
10. After Rain
The process of creating “After Rain” was super fluid and spontaneous. I prepared the base, defined the breaks, and then I started improvising and recording the seven lines of synth and pad. I made few repairs after the melodies were recorded. I like this song exactly for this emotional and organic flow that it has.
11. Face Of Your Love
I consider this song my “little mantra.” It is one of the most organic compositions on the album. It started to take shape from a hang drum improvisation played by a friend in my studio. Then it evolved into four lines of violas that overlap, filling almost the entire space of the melody. I chose a very organic percussion too. The vocal was the last thing I did, and I played it at the end of the song to be a surprise element.
12. Sensações Mínimas (Minimum Sensations)
Sensações Mínimas closes the album with the dancefloor quota. I did it thinking of creating something dedicated to the clubs. Here, the kick is more present and the bass more groovy. The break return is strong with an acidic pinch. In contrast, the synth that speaks since the beginning of the track is very lyrical. I emulated some vocals to give a more dramatic air to this synth as it grows. This LFO automation that makes it sound more stacatto is already a feature of some of my compositions. Some friends joked that the music should be called maximum and not minimum sensations.