Today's #flashbackfriday is for the album, The Universe Is Expanding, an album that literally ushered Abox's forays into their Computer World.
This is my second #flashbackfriday post, and this time out I decided to look back on The Universe Is Expanding. And if by chance you missed my first one, you can find it by clicking here.

OK, so about The Universe is Expanding... I will start by telling you that it's not my favorite Anything Box album, but it was the album that we needed to make and I am very proud of it. Unlike the previous record Elektrodelica, which is one of my favorites, Universe was an album that had too directions. While trying to determine the feel of the album, this difficulty really stressed me out. I was trying to 'expand' on the idea of genre-bending that had started with Elektrodelica. In some ways, this is why people think the two albums resemble each other. But they really don't.

Elektrodelica has a tapestry that unifies it, even as it slips from genre to genre. Universe does this too, but it strays too far from what I think of as Abox. Space Age Blues and I'm On My Way are songs that I'd probably not write as Abox these days. But that's me being snotty. Maybe I believe those particular songs to be too commercial, too poppy. At least for my tastes. But who is to blame for that? No one but myself. And it's also a huge contradiction because I do not hate pop music per say. So it goes...

There are songs, of course, that have become some of my favorites on Universe, and we feature them at Abox shows. Most notably is Clean and Welcome To The End, the latter being one of my favorites to play. I never get the words quite right, and Dania and I devised a system for it on stage. She gives me hints. I also love Isolation99, and of course Best Friend, two others which we tend to play from time to time. Maybe it's my mood this evening as I write down these words of mine. Wait.. is that..? No pun intended. Back to the story...

The recording of the album marked the first time I actually used a computer to track vocals and edit them together. This was done on a clunky desktop using Cakewalk 9 (gasp). The computer was synchronized via SMPTE timecode to the MPC3000 (and it worked flawlessly). So the synthesizers and samples were essentially mixed as they played as a live sequence. This involved my entire 24 channel console. So mixing this album was major chore without automation!

As the sessions went along, it became evident that the computer was becoming a real instrument in and of itself. It was during the mixing phase of this album that I also developed a digital form of ADT (automatic double-tracking) that I still use on occasion. The mastering was also done by me, not that this is to be considered a major achievement, mind you. I was new to everything to do using computers for recording, so I definately made mistakes.

When the album was done, I did not know how to unify the songs at first. I felt I was missing something, a piece of a surreal puzzle. Maybe the universe angle? This was when I decided that Welcome To The End would come first (it was supposed to be last).. From that decision, the whole album's structure seemed to work itself out as I mixed and mastered it. The complexity of what I wanted forced me into the computer's quadrant of the universe (pun intended).

I started to add electronic transitions here and there, even convincing a dear friend of mine, Christopher Brooks, to reluctantly add his voice as the 'radio announcer' at the start and end. Stitching in these bits of audio was a new process for me since on Elektrodelica (and previous albums) this was done via instructions by me to the mastering engineer. As this process evolved, the album began to literally give itself an identity. And I turned into an expert audio editor.

The crowning moment for me came during the final mix of Space, where the orchestral stuff was brought in. This was the hardest thing I had ever mixed at this point, and when I heard my final playback, I collapsed in the studio and cried of exhaustion and elation. The album was done, and this feeling of relief came over me. The thought was, 'I can do all of this myself.. really?' And whether that is a yes or no from the outside world I does not matter to me.

A new personal way of creating and recording music was borne from this album, and there would be no turning back. I stuck with the shady computer/MPC3000 combo for Stereo TV, but right after that album, I drastically changed everything to a studio workflow that really spoke to my brain / heart. At first that was Cubase. Then, something that was symbiotic with Kraftwerk's vision of the future fell on my lap: Ableton Live. I'd found my ticket to Computer World, and I was beaming myself right into its future.

Claude S.

Note: If you bought this album on iTunes and want to download the lyrics as part of the The Universe Is Expanding Booklet as PDF Click Here.

Other Recorded Output
distances separate ssn pageone elektrodelica nineteen recovered hope worth stereotv universe futurepast 100
Claude | Distances
The Diary | Separate
The Diary | Seven Sleepless Nights
The Diary | Page One
Anything Box | Nineteen
Anything Box | Recovered 1993-1995
Anything Box | Peace
Anything Box | Worth
Anything Box | Elektrodelica

Anything Box | Hope
Anything Box | The Universe Is Expanding

Anything Box | The Effects of Stereo TV
Anything Box | 100% Air Friendly EP
Anything Box | Future Past EP
Claude | Itunes
The Diary | iTunes
Anything Box | iTunes
remixed by
Who is Claude and endpop? Claude S. is the creative force behind Anything Box, The Diary and also records as himself for the indie label endpop (that's us talking to you). The music may be classified as Indie Synthpop, New Music, New Wave, Future-Pop, Synth-Glitch, or Glitch-Pop. Whatever you call it is OK by us. We are the robots of a surreal vision for music as art and all art is electronic. Feel free to share this #flashback post, and please support the music you love by owning your own version of it direct from the artist.
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