Our Track by Track feature sees musicians revealing the stories and inspirations behind each song on their latest album. Today, Alex Ridha — a.k.a. Boys Noize — dissects his new album, +/- (Polarity).
Berlin-based producer Alex Ridha has released his fifth album as Boys Noize. +/-, pronounced “polarity,” today (September 24th). The record arrives via his own Boysnoize Records, and you can stream it below via Apple Music.
For an artist like Ridha, who derives much of his influence from Berlin’s bustling club scene, the solitude of the pandemic offered an opportunity for him to fully embrace the different genres that inspire him. “The album dives into the polar tension between the musical styles and worlds I find myself in,” he tells Consequence in a statement. “When you combine opposites, something transcendent can take place, something greater than the two parts. And with music, it becomes a magic that can create new worlds.”
Ridha continues: “I’ve always been inspired by trying to integrate opposing, polar forces. There’s something really thrilling in it, and it’s always a secret motivation for me; building and exploring the combination of contrasts. Techno’s earliest inspiration was the idea of combining man and machine. And you can continue from there — aggression and beauty, past and future.”
Featuring a wide array of collaborators including Rico Nasty, Kelsey Lu, and Tommy Cash, +/- is perhaps the most sonically diverse Boys Noize project to date. Stream the new LP and find out more about the album by reading Ridha’s Track by Track breakdown below.
I’ve always been the biggest Depeche Mode fan, and I’ve done three official remixes for them, which is still wild to me. “Close” has the vibe of early Depeche Mode records. It’s also a good example of a modular session. The beginning of the track was made using a crazy patch that I will never be able to recreate. When I make something on a modular system, I tear everything apart afterwards so that it only existed that one time.
“Close” opens with an industrial feel, but the drop gets both funkier and harder. I had lyrics in my head for it, so I had my friend Naeem redo my scratch vocals because I don’t like my voice too much. I gave some samples to a friend who is a drummer and he worked on the tom fills. It makes the rhythm a little less quantized, less perfect, just like the sounds from my modular system.
“Love & Validation” feat. Kelsey Lu:
This song was our very first musical contact. Before we met in a studio, I had sent Lu a few instrumentals of mine and she was really drawn to the instrumental of “Love & Validation.” I asked her if she would record some ideas for it. After I received the vocals, I wasn’t quite sure how to use them, as we hadn’t established a focused idea. I thought, “Fuck, I wish I was in the studio with her at that moment… We need to figure this out together.” It was another reminder why I prefer working with people in person, rather than sending something remotely and hoping for a great result.
A few months passed by before Lu and I finally got together in a room. Both of us still loved the idea of creating a song with that instrumental, so we went through the old session of her recordings and chose the best moments to focus on expanding. Lu rewrote a lot, and we recorded new takes together. At the end of this long journey, “Love & Validation” became one of my favorites. It showcases the magic that can happen when two worlds collide.
Because of the pandemic, I wasn’t able to mix this song myself in my studio, so I asked my friends 2manydjs/Soulwax to put together the final mix and it’s the bomb. It was the first time I let someone else mix my music, but it was a beautiful ending to a complicated process.