Frédéric Sanchez’s Synth Hero mix

The enigmatic Comme des Garçons soundtrack master digs deep into his dark electronic archive

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Frederic Sanchez's Synth Hero Mix
Frederic Sanchez's Synth Hero MixImage courtesy of Jeff Bark

Every month I invite a different artist onto my Synth Hero radio show to mix up an hour of their definitive electronic influences. This time it's the turn of Paris based composer and producer, Frédéric Sanchez. Since 1988 he has created some of the most innovative soundtracks for the world's biggest fashion shows. In the past year alone he has scored runway collections for Prada, Jil Sander, Comme des Garçons, Calvin Klein, Miu Miu, Alexander Wang, Thomas Tait and many more.

Designers come to Sanchez because he is an expert in creating the perfect atmosphere to compliment their clothes. Unlike other show DJs who may go for obvious hits of the moment, Sanchez's soundtracks feature everything from Sunn O))) and Psychic TV to Sigue Sigue Sputnick and Nana Mouskouri. He uses unexpected sounds to help elevate the catwalk into an unforgettable spectacle, whilst simultaneously giving the fashion industry a musical education. On his Synth Hero mix, Sanchez explore the dark recesses of electronic music. "The way I understand my relationship with the sound and the music has always been autobiographical," he says. "For me sounds and music are like fragments that I put together in order to create an organic and personal feeling.The way I proceed is always the same either if I use existing tracks or if I compose original music as my starting point has to do with storytelling in order to create mental images. This mix is a journey in my own world and my memories." Sit back, put your headphones on and let Frédéric Sanchez open up your mind. You might be afraid of what you find...

CHRIS WATSON – “EL DIVISADERO” (from EL TREN FANTASMA, 2011) (00ʼ00 - 02ʼ20)

"In Mexico Chris Watson was one of the last passengers to travel cross country on the train line connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts just before the railroad was cancelled. He recreated the journey of this ‘ghost train’  by capturing the atmosphere, rhythms and sound of human life, wildlife and the journey itself, ‘evoking memories of a recent past’."

DAVID TUDOR – “PHONEMES” (from THREE WORKS FOR LIVE ELECTRONICS, 1996) (02ʼ07 – 02ʼ35)

"I often use audio generators in my work. I got familiar with them by listening to the work of some composers such as David Tudor. This piece was commissioned for a Merce Cunningham ballet.

ROBERT ASHLEY – “THE PARK” (from PRIVATE PARTS, 1977) (02ʼ12 – 06ʼ00)

"Robert Ashley's voice is so evocative and enigmatic. You immediately picture situations and landscapes with his speech-songs."

ELIANE RADIGUE – “TRANSAMOREM-TRANSAMORTEM” (from TRANSAMOREM-TRANSAMORTEM, 2011) (04ʼ04 – 07ʼ30)

“The journalist and director Anais Prosaic did a very intimate film portrait about Eliane Radigue, one of the pioneers of electronic music. In it she says that the meaning of her work is to play with the natural performance of the electronic sounds using all the possibilities the synthesizer ARP 2500 can offer.”

CLUSTER – “LERANDIS” (from QUA, 2009) (05ʼ51 – 07ʼ35)

“Most of German electronic musicians from the 70s explain their work by saying that the war has destroyed the past. I have always found it fascinating that most of these electronic and avant-garde musics were not created in an industrial environment but in the middle of the countryside.”

GHEDALIA TAZARTÈS – “MERCI STÉHANE” (from DIASPORAS TAZARTÈS, 2004) (07ʼ29 – 10ʼ00)

“I only saw Ghedalia Tazartès perform once. It was maybe 20 years ago. What he is doing is so physical that I have never considered him as a musician.For me he is much more than that: somewhere between a singer, an actor and a dancer.”

ALESSANDRO CORTINI – “FANTASMA MODULAZIONE” (from SONNO, 2014) (08ʼ11 – 12ʼ10)

“You get everything by reading the title of this piece. It is always nice to watch videos of him playing with his Buchla music easel.”

GORDON MUMMA – “MEGATON FOR WM. BURROUGHS” (from ELECTRONIC MUSIC OF THEATRE AND PUBLIC ACTIVITY, 2005) (09ʼ45 – 13ʼ45)

“I chose this piece because of the connection between sonic art and the William Burroughs cut-ups. It's a great lesson in how to create new form of compositions and how to put sounds together.”

SECTION 25 – “C.P.” (from ALWAYS NOW, 1981) (12ʼ50 – 15ʼ10)

“I remember that I bought this record because of the cover. I still own an original copy of it and will never give it away. I also remember the great impact the music and the sound had on me. Whenever I listen to it I feel the same emotion. It is timeless.”

FRÉDÉRIC SANCHEZ – “FILM SONORE 17” (15ʼ10 – 18ʼ20)

"An extract from my last piece."

LAWRENCE ENGLISH & WERNER DAFELDECKER – “MAPPING PEAKS” (from SHADOW OF THE MONOLITH, 2014) (17ʼ05 – 21ʼ29)

“I recently discovered the work of Lawrence English and found similarities with my approach to sound design. I empathise with his ability to infiltrate and occupy the body and also how to listen to things in a creative way.”

ZBIGNIEW PREISNER – “LAMENT” (from DIARIES OF HOPE, 2013) (18ʼ47 – 21ʼ20)

“I find it interesting when a composer is so close with a film director, like Preisner was with Krzysztof Kieslowski. For me the soundtrack has a big part in what you remember of Kieslowski's movies.”

FRANÇOIS BAYLE – “EROS BLEU” (from ARCHIVES GRM LE SON EN NOMBRES, 2004) (21ʼ17 – 23ʼ24)

“It is fascinating in this piece how Francois Bayle manipulates the voice with the help of the computer. Just with a reverb and a filter module you can get endless possibilities.”

BRUCE GILBERT AND BAW – “THE VOID” (FEAT BRUCE GILBERT, A. DAVID CRAWFORTH, NAOMI SIDERFIN) (from DILUVIAL (FEAT BRUCE GILBERT, A. DAVID CRAWFORTH, NAOMI SIDERFIN), 2013) (22ʼ18 – 25ʼ20)

“WIRE was one of my favorite bands from the post punk era because of their cross-disciplinary edge. Each member of the band was also commissioned tocreate variety of film music, art installations, dance projects. One of my favourite collaborations was between Bruce Gilbert and the choreographer Michael Clark."

JOHN T. GAST – “SHANTI-ITES” (from EXCERPTS, 2015) (24ʼ17 – 26ʼ19)

“This is an outstanding new artist who describes sound as ‘An ambient enigma steeped in post-hypnagogic tristesse’. So haunting.”

CABARET VOLTAIRE – “HALLUCINATION SEQUENCE” (from JOHNNY YESNO (THE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM THE MOTION PICTURE), 1983) (25ʼ21 – 30ʼ06)

“What a hallucinatory soundtrack for the Peter Care's movie.”

TUXEDOMOON – “BLIND” (from TIME TO LOSE- BLIND, 1982) (29ʼ32 – 37ʼ03)

“In the 80s I used to spend a lot of time in Brussels which was a crossroad for musicians coming from all other the world. There is always something very sentimental for me while listening to this.”

JOHN GIORNO – “GIVE IT TO ME BABY” (from 10 + 2: 12 AMERICAN TEXT SOUND PIECES, 1975) (36ʼ42 – 37ʼ48)

“A few years ago I went to visit John Giorno at his place in New York. He was living in the Bunker: William Burroughs's place on the Bowery. He showed me all his recordings of texts and the editions he uses to make of them. You must check out Big Ego - A Diamond Hidden In The Mouth Of A Corpse.

BILL NELSON – “THE SHADOW GARDEN” (from FROM BRUSSELS WITH LOVE, 1986) (37ʼ10 – 39ʼ43)

“One track from one of the outstanding compilations made by the very stylish Belgian record label: Les Disques Du Crepuscule.”

WALTER DE MARIA – “OCEAN MUSIC” (from DRUMS AND NATURE, 2000) (38ʼ26 – 40ʼ26)

“Two songs from renowned sculptor Walter De Maria featuring a tribal drumming pattern and the sounds of nature. He used to play drums with The Velvet Underground and on Henry Flynt & The Insurrections' "I Don't Wanna".”

EDGARD VARESE – “POEM ELECTRONIQUE” (from ELECTRONIC MUSIC SOURCES VOL 2 (1937 – 1959), 2012) (39ʼ26 – 40ʼ12)

“This piece is connected to the architect Le Corbusier who was commissioned in 1958 to design the Philips Pavilion at the Brussels Art Fair.”

JON HASSELL – “MAP OF DUSK” (from THE MYTHS COLLECTION PART 2, 1990) (39ʼ26 – 43ʼ13)

“The Myths Collection are the very first production by outstanding Belgian record label Sub Rosa.”

MARTIN HANNETT & STEVE HOPKINS – “CONCORDE DRONE” (from THE INVISIBLE GIRLS, 2015) (41ʼ23 – 43ʼ48)

“Steve Lillywhite, Brian Eno, Chris Thomas, Martin Hannett, Gilles Martin... producers have always been as important as musicians for me. How to work in the studio, how to make the sound, how to record, how to mix the music.”

JEAN NEGRONI & PIERRE HENRY – “IL Y EUT DANS LE CIEL UN SILENCE” (from APOCALYPSE DE JEAN, 1999) (43ʼ40 – 46ʼ09)

“I am not a religious person but when I listen to this Pierre Henry Oratorio with the very special voice of the actor Jean Negroni I can see angels.”

DIAMANDA GALAS – “DELIVER ME FROM MINE ENEMIES” (from THE DIVINE PUNISHMENT & SAINT OF THE PIT, 1988) (45ʼ03 – 47ʼ11)

“Derek Jarman used this music for his movie “The Last of England ”: a beautiful moment with Tilda Swinton.”

SCOTT WALKER – “THE DARKEST FOREST” (from POLA X (ORGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM THE MOTION PICTURE, 1999) (47ʼ10 – 49ʼ55)

“After the release of his masterpiece Tilt Scott Walker did this collaboration with the French director Leos Carax.”

ASH RAM TEMPLE – “SILENCE SAUVAGE“ (from LE BERCEAU DE CRISTAL (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM THE MOTION PICTURE, 1976) (49ʼ33 – 52ʼ03)

"Very poetic soundtrack from the Philippe Garrel movie starring Nico, Anita Pallenberg, Dominique Sanda, Pierre Clementi."

EDGAR FROESE – “THE 31ST FLOOR” (from KAMIKAZE 1989 (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK FROM THE MOTION PICTURE, 1982) (51ʼ27 – 53ʼ46)

“A cyberpunk thriller movie with Rainer Werner Fassbinder playing a detective investigating a string of bombings that lead to a corporate media conspiracy.”

FRÉDÉRIC SANCHEZ – “FILM SONORE 17” (53ʼ35 – 54ʼ39)

"Another extract from my last piece."

JOHN CALE – “RISE, SAM AND RIMSKY KORSAKOV” (from MUSIC FOR A NEW SOCIETY, 1982) (54ʼ32 – 56ʼ45)

“I always find fascinating voices, sounds and music through airwaves. Most of the time you can listen to them clearly but sometimes they are just snatches. It is very similar to watch the stars in the sky at night, you have no idea about their distance, you see them appear and fade away but the all experience is so poetic.”

LOU REED – “PART 1” (from METAL MACHINE MUSIC, 1975) (56ʼ39 – 59ʼ36)

“In a world sometimes so plain and politically correct maybe this record should get visible again. When it came out the big joke was how many people could get to the end. On the other hand this record opened so many doors that other artists have been beyond. What I appreciate with this work is how the sound becomes more and more organic and mental.”

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