Mesmerized by the Quintessence of Lust
by Rodrigo Stecher
Gillian Anderson finds herself seduced by the ambient strains of HAL, as recounted by Rodrigo Stecher.
As Gillian Anderson slips into the surreal world created by her dreaming mind, she finds herself faced with the apparition of two androids in the throes of each other's passion. “Your reasons are noble, quintessence of lust, in the arms of angels, my dreams turn to dust...,” a voice breathily chants in the background, sensually floating over the softly rolling waves of airy ambient harmony. Hypnotized by the erotic display, Gillian is unable to tear herself from the role of voyeur, and is slowly seduced by the lustful visual and musical tapestry...
“Music has always been an important part of my life... I've always had a soundtrack to my life.” So says the childhood punk-rock fan, Gillian Anderson. These days, however, Gillian is referring to music that's as far removed sonically from punk as one could possibly get - ambient music.
While working in England on the BBC documentary series Future Fantastic, Gillian kept hearing the show's evocative soundtrack, music which spoke to her “in a very particular way. ...It was very dark and mysterious....” Mentioning her fascination with the music to the show's producer eventually led to her involvement with the song selection of an electronic music compilation CD, as well as a stint as “lead vocalist” on a single with the ambient/techno soundsmiths known as HAL, and the eventual creation of her/their first music video for that single, “Extremis.”
“HAL is basically a combination of people from different bands,” announces Savage (née Duncan Lomax), one of three members of the UK's Black State Choir. In 1995, he and his bandmates, Padi Staid and Raheem (a.k.a. Paul Gallagher), teamed up with Px (Pascal Derycke), a member of the French metal band Grill. The collaboration became known as HAL. Continues Savage, “...it's not a band in the usual sense of the word... we don't sit... and jam songs, we send files... and communicate over the web, and write songs that way.”
HAL was responsible for the title music of Future Fantastic. It is their formerly instrumental track which, after having received Gillian's vocal contribution, will be the first single off the compilation Future - Journey Through the Electronic Underground. “The compilation is a mixture of music that was in the series and, also, additional bands that have put out some great ambient dance singles over the past year or so. You've got Brian Eno, Harold Butt, Prodigy, HAL, and FSOL. ...it's just a mixture of stuff,” states Gillian, who personally compiled the twenty-two tracks on the double-CD collection - which also includes The Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack, Fluke, and electronic pioneer David Sylvain. She reflects, “[This] was about getting together with a bunch of people that I respected and enjoyed working with and doing something else... and we had a laugh. We had a great time in the studio, and had a great time shooting the video, and I've had a lot of fun being involved in choosing bands for the compilation and cover art....”
Upon initially hearing from the show's producer, David McNabb, of Gillian's interest in working with the band to record a voice-over track, however, HAL was not automatically convinced of the idea. Paul remembers, “...it dawned on us straight away that it was rather a bit of a mammoth task to do something like that and retain our integrity for the piece. These days, there are so many pieces of music that come out that record companies have cynically put together to shift units full stop. They might think it will work if we bring that and that together... make it sound like that, then that will sell records, with not much interest in the piece of creativity.” Furthermore, the band wasn't familiar with Gillian's current pop culture fame. “I've never watched an episode of The X-Files,” laughs Ducan, “but I think that's a healthy thing, because we went to Vancouver to record with Gillian, and there are people absolutely in awe of her, and we weren't. If she'd come in and made a complete mess of what she was doing, we wouldn't have carried on....”
Nevertheless, it was the fact that the interest was sparked by Gillian, herself, that convinced the band members that the collaboration was worth pursuing. Any lingering doubts the guys might have had were finally squashed after their initial meeting, on the first day of recording. Duncan recalls, “She turned up in a 4 x 4 in jeans and a T shirt with a big bull mastiff dog, and she was as ordinary as anyone else; she was cool.... When Gillian started to do the voice over on the track saying 'quintessence of lust,' it couldn't be better.... It sounded really sexy and... it was done on the fly.”
“We had a lot of fun, and that, basically, is what this has been about,” Gillian agrees. “It's not about me putting out a single, and it's not about me and my song, and it's not, 'Hey, look at me, I have an album, you know.' It's got nothing to do with that. It was just an idea that expanded and expanded and we have a little song. ...I did not for one second feel that this is the beginning of a pop career, nor do I want it to be.”
Transcript provided by Alfred and appears courtesy of Axcess, copyright © All Rights Reserved