Gilles Zolty - Horny AstronautA while back, and I mean over a decade now, I had the pleasure of working on a fantastic album by Gilles Zolty, his end of the millenium opus Horny Astronaut. Gilles had approached me to do a little mastering on his home recorded album. We spent a few hours working on things and in the end I gave it my best shot but really thought there was a great deal of potential that was being missed in the mixes. Gilles walked away that afternoon with a new cd-r and a few things to think about.
Over the summer of 1999 we got to speaking and decided to attempt upgrading his sonics by leaving his home basement studio and going into Studio 55 in N. Vancouver, where I'd been working for a few years at that point. The differences were quite noticeable and we were both rather pleased with the results. I thought I'd finished my work and was later surprised to learn that Gilles had been in communication with an English producer named Paul Schroeder (Stone Roses, The Verve). By late September we'd booked more studio time because Paul was flying over to help finish the album. I confess I was a bit surprised by this latest news as I'd considered our work done. However from the moment Paul stepped into the studio I discovered there was in fact a great many things to do!
We worked around the clock for two weeks straight. The first week was spent on editing, arrangements, additional parts, re-recording bits, replacing vocals, tweaking keyboard parts, replaying basslines, adding guitar parts: essentially what everybody does in the course of making an album. It was a hectic week of tracking but we achieved a tonne of things and felt extremely excited about the project by the end of our labours.
Next came another solid week of 15-20 hour days where we mixed 11 of the 12 songs on the album. Paul and I ended up tag teaming on a couple of the mixes as we were running out of time before Paul had to return to the UK. In the end we got it done, with Paul literally putting the final touches on a mix right before picking up his bags and jumping in a cab taking him straight to the airport! A brilliant couple of weeks for sure.
My memory is filled with the fun and enthusiasm that surrounded this album. Both Gilles and Paul are outstanding people, the former a bold talent, the latter a fearless visionary. I learned a great deal about art, music, recording, producing and simply being a better person from each of them. Over the years I later went to the UK and worked with Paul on several different records for groups such as The Upper Room, The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and My Red Cell amongst others. Gilles moved to London for several years, where we met up and did more recordings, some of which appear on his follow up album "Gilles Zolty".
The sound of Horny Astronaut is a wonderful blend of the acoustic and the electronic, a folk noir sound, at once both primitive and ethereal. The album never really got a full release, it came close on several occasions, but has remained a hidden treasure for years now. Please have a listen, and if you enjoy it, grab a copy from his music site.