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My Favorite Machines

Sweden's Roll the Dice talk about their most prized sonic tool

By Dan Cole
RollTheDice

As Roll the Dice, Stockholm production duo Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt (aka The Subliminal Kid) have been exciting listeners the world over with their analog-based ambient music. The outfit’s second album, In Dust, saw a release last year via The Leaf Label to critical acclaim and still, one year on, remains a wonderfully crafted and pleasurable piece of work. This year, they’ve teamed up with Berlin-based dub master Stefan Betke (better known as Pole) to rework some of the best tracks from the album, the results of which can be heard on their brand-new In Dubs record.

In celebration of their new release, we sat down with Roll the Dice to see what specific tool they’ve come to value most over the years when conjuring up their unique sound palette.

What is your most prized possession in the studio?

For us, we’d have to say that one of our most treasured vintage devices is our piano—an upright Zeitter & Winkelmann. It’s hard to say how old it is, but we’d guess it is at least 40 years old. We’re not sure, but it’s probably fairly common.

When did you acquire the piano?

Peder got it from his dad on his 16th birthday, and it has been well used ever since.

How do you use it?

We use it in as many ways as possible; it always sets our melodies in the early stages of the writing process. Then, we often send it through different filters and other devices to tweak and alter the sound. A big part of the rhythmical content in our work is also derived from the piano—it brings a strong percussive element to the layering of our tracks. Lately, we have started to look for different ways to get sounds out of the piano, which can involve banging on the pedals, tapping on the strings, or simply just shouting into it to make the strings resonate. If we did not have access to the piano, a big part of our sound would be lost, and we probably wouldn’t make the records that we make.

“Cause and Effect” from In Dust is a good example. Here, the piano not only provides the bassline, but also the melody and chord sequence, which pretty much covers most of the track (except the for the additional synth and sequences, of course).

Another example is “Bad Tempered” from Stellate 2. All the sounds featured on this track derive from the piano in one way or another. From the “beats” to the harmonies, this one shows how we treat the piano through all the other devices in order to get completely new sounds.