Guitarist Brian Tarquin and keyboardist Chris Ingram are a successful electronic-music production duo. Their action-packed soundtracks can be heard on MTV's Road Rules, Real World, and Tough Enough; ABC-TV's Making the Band; NBC's Extra; and more. “We won our second Emmy award for music composition for [ABC-TV's] All My Children,” Ingram says.
As Asphalt Jungle, Tarquin and Ingram have released two albums of their edgy, adrenalin-infused compositions. Their second effort is Enjoy This Trip (CP Hypnotic Records, 2005), which brings diverse musical influences into the realm of electronica. “We like this area of music because the audience is open to virtually every style, as long as it fits,” Ingram says.
One of Asphalt Jungle's stylistic hallmarks is melding live performances with programmed parts. “You can't get subtle articulation out of sample-playback synths, which is one reason why we play instruments,” Ingram says. According to Tarquin, “We bring old techniques for recording live instruments into the new school of drum 'n' bass, breakbeats, and so on.”
Tarquin's studio, The Jungle Room, is outfitted with a Mac G5, a Digidesign Digi 002 digital audio interface, and a Soundcraft Spirit Studio 24-channel analog mixer. “I use Pro Tools LE for recording to hard disk and editing,” Tarquin says. “I program MIDI parts on the [Akai] MPC4000 and MPC2000XL.” Tarquin also relies on a bevy of hardware synths, effects processors, and mic preamps. Ingram's studio, The Farm, is built around a Mac G4 running MOTU's Digital Performer. “We use as much analog gear as possible in the signal path,” Ingram notes.
“Our music is very groove oriented,” Tarquin says. “Sometimes you can manipulate what you played and hear another melody or rhythm that you hadn't intended.” Ingram adds, “We have an electronic dialog. We let the song go where it's going to go. In the old school, you write your melody and build your tracks around that. We can [start with] something more ethereal. The computer lets you turn anything upside down.
“Drum sounds dictate the sound of the song and where it's going to go,” Ingram says. “Drum machines are usually too clean. Records from the 1960s and 1970s have a lo-fi sound that creates a vibe.” Tarquin often thickens his drum samples for maximum impact. “I sample sounds into the MPC,” he says. “I'll take a loop and layer it with sounds from [Ultimate Sound Bank's] Plugsound [software sample player].”
Rhythmic variations and combinations inspire many of Asphalt Jungle's compositions. “I wrote ‘Galway’ using a tremolo patch from a Fender guitar,” Tarquin says. “I found a nice groove, and Chris used the E-mu E4 Platinum [sampler] for programming drums. I added effects with the Eventide Ultra-Harmonizer GTR 4000.” For “Hallelujah,” Tarquin wove Gregorian chants into a 4/4 dance-floor groove. “I manipulated the choir and programmed the drums around that, and then added other elements such as the [Access] Virus and guitar,” Tarquin says.
For Asphalt Jungle's remix of Bob Marley's “Don't Rock the Boat,” Tarquin built a drum 'n' bass groove around Marley's vocal. “I did it all on the MPC2000XL,” Tarquin says. “I cut up the vocals into short phrases. I calculated the bpm of his vocal and doubled it so that I could program a loop that would fit it. I wanted to get the timing exactly right so that we wouldn't have to do any time stretching or compression, and so that it still sounds natural. It came out amazingly well.”
For more information, go towww.asphaltjungle.net.