After an 18-month hiatus, our Weekend Album feature makes its triumphant return with a look at the album Mystic Cigarettes, from Saafi Brothers.
Psychill, psybient, psychedelic trance, psytempo…whatever you want to call it, Saafi Brothers offers up some the best you’ll find. Their slow, methodical beats are punctuated with numerous synths and subtle details that calm your soul, cool your nerves, sharpen your mind, and bore their way directly into your consciousness.
This one is a personal favorite of mine. It starts out slowly, with a quiet, almost drone-like dance of synths. The primary synth, a bubbly little number with heavy filter sweeps, makes an appearance as the primary anchor for the song, showing up throughout most of the track. A light tambourine sample comes in around 1 minute, 40 seconds into the track, with the beat proper coming in at around 2 minutes, 40 seconds, kicked off with some light cymbals. The textures slowly build, adding additional layers every 15-30 seconds. These additional layers are augmented by some minor vocal stabs. Throughout the entire 14 minute, 22 second duration of the song, modified versions of the synths that appeared in the beginning show up, along with some occasional ethnic drum fills accompanied by a clean synth patch that has its pitch constantly futzed with. Throughout all of this, the beat has different samples being swapped out and combined with each other. Despite the repetitive nature of the song, this subtle shifting of the beat construction prevents the song from feeling repetitive.
Together in Silence
Together in Silence starts out with a basic beat that’s lead by a synth made to sound like digital tom-toms, ran through a slight flanger/phaser effect, then given a healthy amount of reverb; this is complimented by a quickly shifting two-note bass hit. This starts getting broken up by short synth stabs, which are eventually joined by a few digital drum fills with minor pre-delay and a large dose of reverb. Around 3 minutes, 18 seconds, digital congas modified with reverb make an appearance, followed by the remaining portion of the beat. The entrance of the full beat also changes up the drum fills that are used, likely to keep the mid-frequencies from getting too overloaded and muddled. From this point on, the track progresses in much the same way as 2046: keeping things fresh with different combinations of fills, synth stabs, and filter effects (mostly subtle flanger/phaser effects.)
Supervision starts out with a high-pitched, heavily EQ’d synth sequence, which, after a short intro, becomes supported by a much lower synth line that provides some bottom-end. After the appearance of a few drum fills, the actual bass line comes in around 1 minute, 23 seconds, accompanied by a variety of digital drum fills, the most noticeable of which is a moderately distorted hi-hat which appears around the 1 minute, 46 second mark. New layers are slowly slathered onto the main texture, until something strange happens: starting at around the 3 minute, 15 second mark, far in the background, at a very low volume, you can hear a synth line starting to take shape. This synth line makes itself truly known at full volume as part of a buildup that really hits its stride around the 3 minute, 38 second mark, eventually dropping off around the 3 minute 50 second mark, at which time a bridge of sorts begins.
Around 4 minutes 10 seconds, a heavy beat-line appears with fatter versions of synths that were previously in the background. Synths previously in the forground are pushed down and out, eventually sent to the absolute edges of the texture. Shortly after an interlude begins around the 6 minute mark, a dirty synth line makes itself heard front and center. This line slowly becomes dirtier and heavier until the beat returns with a vengeance.
While I have a ton of memories associated with Saafi Brothers, my two strongest are associated with the Xbox 360: playing Rockstar’s Table Tennis, and playing Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers over Xbox Live shortly after it first released. Considering I’ve been listening to this album since way back in 1999 during my sophomore year in high school, it’s strange that the memories I associate it with are so recent. Eh…that’s life for ya.
I highly recommend you check out everything Saafi Brothers have created. This album and Midnight’s Children in particular are both absolutely incredible. Very highly recommended.