0052 // Gainstage


"Gain staging is the process of managing the relative levels in a series of gain stages to prevent introduction of noise and distortion" reads the Wikipedia entry for gain stage. The fact that Portals Editions' most recent signees take the same name for their project seems odd in this case, as noise and distortion lace every fibre of their works.

The debut release from the Berlin label came from Shaddah Tuum, pursuing a challenging mix between techno and doom metal. Gainstage’s self-titled LP pushes the combination of these two genres to breaking point. However, unlikely pairings are a concept not unfamiliar to Gainstage members Arik Hayut and Pierce Warnecke. Describing their first meeting, Hayut reveals the two certainly didn’t come across each other by intention. “Strange circumstances is an understatement” he begins. "I had something like a date with a woman called Maya. She asked me to join her for dinner with a group of French friends of a friend whom she’d never met before. At a Persian restaurant in Berlin Kreuzberg, Pierce and I ended up sitting in front of one another and started an inevitable conversation. At the time I was in search of a competent mixer for my dark-pop project Aritape, and through our conversation it became clear that we share some fundamental views concerning music making. The next time we met was in my studio, and we ended up producing the Aritape project together, among other things. I never met Maya again."

Having worked on Gainstage material together for the past three years or so, the project has reached has reached a level of sonic complexity which is really rather impressive given the fact that it has significant foundations in live instrumentation. “Essentially Arik plays either live drums with triggers or MIDI drums” Warnecke explains. "Those trigger heavily processed samples, which are also sent to me to trigger more abstract sounds. I build the drones, bring in electronic sounds, process the global mix. Together we try and build up hypnotic parts - there's definitely a Swans-influence in terms of long buildups."

Although under the Gainstage moniker their releases have been relatively sparse, both have had significant production experience as individuals outside of the project. "I come from a background of music synthesis" Warnecker continues. "I work a lot with sound design and synthesis - making weird blips you could say. We have both worked a lot in noisier/improvised music scenes, from which I think we draw a lot of inspiration - maybe not specifically sonically but in terms of energy, freedom, risk. I was definitely drawn into the ‘crispier’ side of noise through improv and noise scenes in France and Germany, but also really appreciate people who integrated that sound in a more produced way - take Tim Hecker or Ben Frost’s early works."

Hayut on the other hand, has always been focussed on the more rhythmic side of electronic music (as evidenced by the shuddering, 'City cum Temple' featured in the mix below). "For me, drums-playing has to have an elevating aspect, reaching the deepest unconscious feeling of oneness and my goal is to try and reach those moments on stage" he divulges. "In the studio these days, I concentrate on my current solo project Arikon, which is based on distorted beats compositions. My previous project, Aritape, is more of an idiosyncratic persona I adopted, through which I generate dark pop songs. On stage I’d like to see myself as a city-cum-temple priest, whereas in the studio I function as a pattern producer and frequency-tamer."

Following the vinyl release of their LP, backed by remixes from Orphan Swords & Cut Hands, Gainstage's mix for us covers a range of the warped, static heavy techno the duo have become best known for - an exercise in restraint and full-throttle noise in equal measure.


Arikon – City Cum Temple [Unreleased]
Shaddahtuum – Merkaba (Dadub Remix) [Portals Editions]
Alec Empire – Low On Ice [Mille Plateaux]
Eric Holm – Stave [Subtext]
Orphan Swords – Hooker [Desire]
Pan Sonic – Uranokemia [Blast First]
Ketev – Zelah [Opal Tapes]
Samuel Kerridge – Heavy Metal [Downwards]
Valerio Tricoli & Thomas Ankersmit – Hunt [PAN]
John Wiese – Sad Psychics [Troubleman Unlimited]
John Chowning – Stria [WERGO]
Swans - Half Life [K.422]

0052 // Gainstage by Stray Landings on Mixcloud

  • Published
  • Oct 27, 2015
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