Ambient jams and trippy overdubs.

This week’s podcast comes from Shcaa, the French composer and guitarist otherwise known as Sacha Khalifé. Khalifé started music production in high school, while living in Tunisia. He had been playing guitar for a couple of years and was listening to a mixture of ’60s rock and British IDM, and eventually Burial. At the age of 18, Shcaa was born, a project for channeling his fascination for blues and its diverse iterations, electronic minimalism, and an obsession with cinematic narrative, and soon he released his first EPs on Chich Marionette, a friend’s label. “I had a rather precise idea of the sound I wanted,” he said in an interview. “I always wanted it to be organic, something living, I hated sounds that felt synthetic.” His music since then has appeared on labels including R & S Records and its ambient imprint Apollo, which is where Khalifé released No Moon at All, What A Night, his most recent album, in 2020. Sonically, his records are abstract and emotional electronic, and they’re meticulous in their use of space and time, arranging harmonies, rhythm, and texture with a sensibility. His podcast, recorded earlier this month, is layered with rich melodies and harmonies and, across its 53-minute run-time, invites contemplation and self-scrutiny.

01. What have you been up to recently?
Finding a new rhythm, both creatively and personally. I am self-releasing everything now, on Placidum, which gives me the opportunity to enjoy the moment more, and to go deeper into music. I am finalizing my next release at the moment which will be my first cover EP, songs from the amazing post-rock band Deathcrash.

02. What have you been listening to?
This week: Eric Chenaux Delights of My Life

This past year: Rod Modell & Taka Noda; Jonny Nash Point Of Entry; Raphael Roginski; a Charles Curtis compilation; Mike Cooper; Blake Mills Jelly Road / Notes with Attachments; Eddie Chacon, David Sylvain Blemish; Bill Orcutt Jump On It.

On a longer term: a lot of Paul Motion, The Beatles, Yo La Tengo, Chico Hamilton, Charles Lloyd, Loren Connors, Jon Hassell, Sam Gendel, ECM, Faitiche, and Black Truffle.

03. You’ve just put out a new EP. What can you tell us about it?
It is a composite work which is built around the first track, “Her Conscious Drift To Neptune’s Frozen Reliefs.” This track was initially produced in 2016 and 2017 for a well known Parisian microhouse label but the release never happened. Seven years later as my artistic expression has moved away from its club aspirations I felt the need to find a vessel for this track, a context, to get it out of my system. So the three other pieces are portraying, I guess, a kind of deconstruction of house music.

04. Where and when did you record this mix?
I recorded the mix in my studio in Paris, I am actually listening to version four right now as I am answering the questions on June 7. I think that you will listen to version five.

05. What setup did you use?
I used a computer, my guitar, and an effects board. I have actually used my live set up in some kind of hybrid manner. I initially made a big selection of tracks, put everything in an Ableton project along with a selection of field recordings—all recorded in New York in 2017 actually. Then I mixed a portion of these tracks in a single take, just using my mouse and keyboard. After that I played guitar and effects on the mix itself, in one take as well, and finally refined volumes and EQs. Hence version five.

06. How did you choose the tracks you’ve included?
The day I mixed it I wanted a warm mix. Also with some sense of mystery. It actually started from the Charalambides track which felt right and I built it out from there. I excluded anything feeling too artificial, or lacking in intimacy, even though I had nice things in that department. I used superimpositions to balance the emotions of some of the tracks and to improve coherence.

07. Where do you imagine it being listened to?
In an intimate environment, either with early morning light or in a quiet evening. If possible with some plants around and a good soundsystem. As summer is coming, I would totally consider an outdoor listening too if only natural noises are heard around.

08. What’s next on your horizon?
I have been working on my next album for a year now, and I guess I will need another year for it to be ready.

XLR8R Subscribers can download the podcast below. If you’re not an XLR8R subscriber, you can read more about it and subscribe here.


01. Charalambides “Voice Within” (Siltbreeze)
02. Bonjour Bonsoir “Hendrickje III” (Unreleased)
03. R.I.P. Hayman “Waves for Flutes” (Recital)
04. Ora Clementi “Paradigm and Places” (Black Truffle)
05. Nino Nardini “La Planète Oubliée” (Neuilly)
06. Marsen Jules “Kayi” (Oktaf)
07. Kagami “Tori” (Root Strata)
08. Audio Werner “Warten Auf Godot” (Audigi)
09. E. Sanchillo “Solstice” (Waneela)
10. Lawrence English “The Jungle” (Room40)
11. Raphael Roginski “Naima” (Bôlt)
12. Hahmed Malek “Bolero” (Habibi Funk)
13. Etienne Martinez “l’après-midi d’un fœhn” (Editions1OF1)
14. Land of Kush “Ana” (Constellation)
15. Phonic Grafts “Drowning In Oxytocin” (The Wire)
16. Sam Gendel “Kagome (籠目, woven bamboo)” (Leaving Records)
17. John Zorn / Bill Frisell “Kisofim” (Tzadik)

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