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DARIO G: Recording SunMachine

Interview | Band By Matt Bell
Published October 1998

DARIO G: Recording SunMachine

It's the dream of many an SOS reader to have a multimillion‑selling worldwide hit with a track recorded in your bedroom — but as Crewe‑based Dario G found out, it can create more problems than it solves. Matt Bell finds out how the group came through the turbulent waters of success to produce a fine debut album.

There ain't no business like the music business. For every tape‑op unexpectedly elevated to the status of producer while their boss is stuck on the North Circular, there lie the broken dreams of a thousand eternal teaboys, who once had the unshakeable belief that they, too, were destined to make it big. As everyone knows, talent is but a part of success stories in all realms of the biz — luck also plays a major role.

Paul Spencer, Scott Rosser and Stephen Spencer of Crewe‑based dance trio Dario G had their fair share of such good fortune last year, when their debut single 'Sunchyme' became the unofficial anthem to the Summer of '97. An infernally catchy dance track recorded in Scott's bedroom and propelled by a quasi‑ethnic chant sampled from The Dream Academy's 1987 hit 'Life In A Northern Town', 'Sunchyme' went on to sell over 1.5 million copies worldwide, taking everyone by surprise, not least its composers, who had hoped for modest UK and Mediterranean success at best. Less than a year later, they released a very different follow‑up single 'Carnaval De Paris', designed to tie in with the World Cup, and watched it sail into the UK Top 10 and on to TV screens everywhere as the official theme tune of world cup coverage in several EU countries. A quick comparison of the two singles tells you much about what Dario G have been up to since 'Sunchyme' fell off the charts last November; one was the output of a group running a few bits of MIDI gear, a couple of samplers and an Atari STe with what they freely admit was a 'dodgy' copy of Cubase. In Crewe. The other is the handiwork of a flock of exotic session musicians (ranging from a tuba player to a steel band) with some serious production on a punchy MIDI and sample‑based backing track — and the whole shebang was recorded in the considerably swankier surroundings of London's Lansdowne Studios. Oh, and yes — they've got themselves a proper version of Cubase now.

So far, so good, you might think; the lads done all right. But if the learning curve from a bedroom in Crewe to the control room at Lansdowne seems a tad vertiginous to you, you wouldn't be alone. Witness Scott Rosser's feelings as he looks back from the group's rented studio premises in Crewe on the 'Carnaval De Paris' sessions, as well as those held for Dario G's debut album SunMachine, which was eventually released in June this year: "When it finally started to come together, it felt great, because we had really thought it wouldn't at one point."

The Sunmachine Is Coming Down...

DARIO G: Recording SunMachine

As the successful people in the music business are so fond of telling the less successful ones, "You're only as good as your last record". Fortunately for Dario G, SunMachine is superlative pop music, ranging from the furious clangings and batterings of the Brazilian battacuda drumming on 'Carnaval De Paris' to the tastefully restrained mandolins of the dreamy 'Voices' via the high‑octane house of the title track and latest single, which features a sampled vocal from ol' blue‑and‑green eyes himself, David Bowie. Certainly, SunMachine is a dance album, but it's one that throbs almost as frequently to the pulse of an ethnic polyrhythm as it does to the metronomic thud of the 909 kick. Clearly, Dario G are fond of a challenge — or maybe they just like making life hard for themselves. Certainly, they refused in SunMachine to make the kind of album everyone, including their label Warner Brothers, would have expected on the basis of 'Sunchyme'. Paul Spencer: "Record companies like to cash in on a big hit; they think 'OK, these guys can probably get another sample together quickly and churn out another record that sounds like the first one'. Warners did that with us too, at first, but we didn't want to do lots of little soundalike follow‑ups; we have got more depth than that. Once you're stuck doing those, you get the problem of how you'll ever follow it up with something different. You have to make time to address that problem, you have to fight back when the record company say — like they did to us — 'We need another single, we need another single'. The truth is, they don't, really. And we came through with a quality album because of that extra time off."

From The Class Of '89 To 'Sunchyme'

DARIO G: Recording SunMachine

Both classically trained pianists, Scott and Paul met at Salford College, Manchester, in 1989, where they were both attending an unequivocally titled 'Pop Music and Recording' course. After two years spent collaborating musically and honing their production skills in the college's recording studio, they relocated to Paul's native Crewe, Scott moving up from his home in South Wales so that they could continue working together. During the early '90s both Scott and Paul put together bedroom studios, and eventually combined the two facilities in Scott's bedroom for ease of use. By early 1997, they had formed a creative trio with Stephen Spencer, a former record distribution company employee (and completely unrelated to Paul, confusingly). It was Stephen who was later to prove instrumental in getting 'Sunchyme' to a wider audience.

Paul takes up the story of how 'Sunchyme' came about. "A few years before, I had been going through some sounds on a synth, checking them out, and we found a really good steel drum. We thought we'd love to use one on a track, but we just forgot about it..." Until Spring 1997, that is. Scott: "We were all watching VH1, the music channel, when 'Life In A Northern Town' came on, and we all remembered it. When it got to the chorus, we all said 'oh, that's a great chant, isn't it?' But the vocalist sings over it in the early choruses, so we could never have sampled it. However, at the end of the song, you get the whole chant on its own. We just looked at each other, and said 'let's get down to HMV!' We ordered the album, sampled the chant, and started building the track around it in Scott's bedroom." (see the box on page 154 for more on how 'Sunchyme' was put together in the studio).

This ultimately led to the naming of the group. Convinced that 'Sunchyme' had what it would take to be a massive club hit in Ibiza that summer, Paul, Stephen and Scott chose their group name to sound 'vaguely Mediterranean', inspired by the highly successful Italian manager of Crewe Alexandria Football Club, one Dario Gradi. Scott: "It was totally the opposite way around to how you'd expect an album to happen normally; first there was a song, then the name of the song, then the name of the band, then, finally, the album."

Cleared For Takeoff

Dario G's Crewe‑based studio.Dario G's Crewe‑based studio.

Many musicians baulk at the prospect of legally clearing an audio sample for re‑use, but Paul and Scott were adamant that they should settle all legal matters before releasing the track either to DJs or commercially. Paul: "We didn't want to get into a situation like a lot of people, who release a track with a dodgy sample on it, and then get really done over legally later..."

Pressing up just three copies of 'Sunchyme', Dario G sent two to the original writers of 'Life In A Northern Town', The Dream Academy's Nick Laird‑Clowes and Gilbert Gabriel. "They should have re‑released the original, really", laughs Paul, "but then they made tons on the publishing, so I suppose they didn't need to... We got a verbal clearance to use it, but not before the record company had tried to pass it off as a remix of 'Life In A Northern Town'. It's nothing like a remix! We just used one line out of the original."

"And we've turned it into a really happy track!" adds Scott, "the original is pretty dark..."

The legal manoeuvres continued in protracted fashion for several months. Meanwhile,Stephen handed the third copy of the track to DJ David Dunne at KISS 102 Manchester, who he knew from his distribution days. Scott: "Stephen has worked selling records into shops, so he usually knows what they want. He has an element that we, as musicians, don't always have. He's got a very good ear, and he's a sounding board. He knows what people like."

David Dunne, it transpired, definitely liked 'Sunchyme'. "David was building it up, saying 'this is the big Ibiza hit, the one for the summer'." remembers Paul.

"At the end of the two weeks of KISS having it, Radio 1 were ringing them up, saying 'What's this? We want it on our playlist'." continues Scott. "And then all the record companies moved in" interjects Paul. "Pete Tong wanted it for FFRR, Deconstruction and Sony were in there... To hear that all those companies were after our track was great, but I do look back on that differently now, because a lot of labels are there with their chequebooks open for one successful record.

"In the end, we struck a deal with Warners for an album. We went with them mainly because of the sample clearance. The sample was from a Warners record, you see..."

Scott: "We didn't have much choice in the end. It came down to the sample clearance, really. Basically, if that track was going to come out, it would have had to have been on Warners!"

"And in the end, Warners have done a great job" says Paul. "Some of the labels we were talking to are big in the UK, but not so big outside it. Warners, of course, are huge all across the world, and things get sorted out for you that you wouldn't have thought of."

Scott: "You don't think about the rest of the world at first. But somebody rang here one day and said 'Oh, you're number 3 in Germany, by the way'. We thought 'Well, who sorted that out?'"

Album Blues

That CS1x and other keyboard favourites!That CS1x and other keyboard favourites!

As soon as the contract with Warners was signed, in late July 1997, pressure began to mount for Dario G to produce an album. Scott: "They got together a plan for one, to be called Super Dario Land, and for three or four weeks, we thought we'd go for it as well; we actually started work on it on the day after the commercial release of 'Sunchyme' went into the charts, in mid‑September. The original plan was to get it finished by the end of October, and it would have had seven tracks; an hour's worth of music, we thought. We would have done it all in Crewe, like 'Sunchyme', and we would have had to rush it. But the success of 'Sunchyme' abroad changed all that."

"We found out in November that we'd sold 1.3 million copies of 'Sunchyme'", explains Paul, "so we needed a quality album for America and Japan to get it released over there."

"Some of the more minor territories in Europe don't have a singles market, so you don't get a record released in those places at all unless you have an album," elucidates Scott. "Anyway, the level of success with 'Sunchyme' abroad made us stop and consider what we were doing."

Furthermore, there was the question of the 'Carnaval De Paris' track, which the group had written by then. Try as they might, and perhaps unsurprisingly, they could not realise a particularly convincing simulation of a South American battacuda track in their Crewe studio. And as for the bagpipes...

Scott: "We demoed 'Carnaval' here, and you should have heard the bagpipe sound from our Korg X2... We thought 'we can't release that...!'" Paul continues the tale. "We were planning to go to London after Christmas to mix it anyway, so we thought we'd sort out some of those problems when we got there, and hire in some musicians."

Scott: "So, in the first couple of weeks of January, we changed our approach; we began booking session musicians, and sorting out time in the studio — amazingly, we only booked three‑and‑a‑half weeks at Lansdowne initially. We had no idea, did we?"

Session In Progress... Very Slowly

DARIO G: Recording SunMachine

Until this point, Scott and Paul had proved themselves to be extremely competent MIDI programmers and samplists, but they had had little experience of commercial studio environments, multitrack recording, and hard disk recording systems. And of course, unlike in a strictly controlled commercial studio, they were free to come and go in their rented Crewe studio whenever they pleased. The group were firmly on collision course with the very different working methods prevalent in Lansdowne Studios.

Scott: "It's funny — you spend years thinking you'll be really motoring when you get in a real studio, and it didn't live up to our expectations, really. Everything seemed totally new to us. For example, when we got there, the engineer started laying the tracks we'd completed on to multitrack tape. We were just sitting around not doing anything while he did that and it all seemed very strange..."

Paul: "...and it dawned on us that the reason was that he was laying our tracks to tape! We never did that here — we'd just run everything live off Cubase straight to DAT, 'cause the gear's so reliable you can do that. We'd write a track and mix it the same day!"

Scott: "When we got there, just putting everything we'd done to tape took a week!"

Paul: "Everything did seem to be taking an awful lot of time. Also we could spend as much time as we wanted on things in Crewe, but in Lansdowne, it was costing us! We spent a fortune."

Scott: "We were constantly thinking 'this is costing X pounds a day...'. It wasn't very relaxing."

Paul: "The studio and London accommodation was costing us a total of £4500 a week. We just weren't used to paying that sort of money, and we were paying for it out of our advance... I'm still quite shocked by the worry of it all!

"We didn't feel in control, really. We were getting tired, our ears were tired, and we were getting quite stressed out. The really scary thing is, we could have carried on — I mean a lot of bands just keep going, and they actually write in places like Lansdowne, whereas at least we'd demoed it all up here."

Is It Live... Or Is It Sunmachine?

This raises another point. As Scott explains, the arrangements for 'Carnaval De Paris' did not change in Lansdowne: the purpose of hiring the session musicians was solely to replace the tracks in the band's existing arrangement which they had been unable to create realistically in Crewe. Sadly, this supposedly simple idea turned out to be much more involved than it first appeared.

Scott: 'When the musicians we'd booked started coming in, we gradually replaced the backing tracks we'd laid down, like the awful Korg X2 bagpipe track, with the tracks from the real musicians.

"When we listened to it back, after replacing our demo tracks, we just thought 'Oh no. We wanted it to sound like a carnival, not a load of session musicians in the studio'. For example, we had all these lovely drum sounds that were too perfect; they didn't really clang. Once we started hitting things in the 'wrong' way — all the rims of things and so on — it started to sound better".

Paul: "We even had a Brazilian session percussionist play the studio teapot, in attempt to give the track that battacuda sound. We were struggling, so we asked the session player 'how can we get that sound?', and he said 'well, in Brazil, we'd just hit anything.' So we said 'go on then, hit anything. Hit the teapot!' He added that and it sounded great!"

Scott and Paul also resorted to sampling to thicken up some of the sounds being created by the session musicians. Paul: "We would pitch samples down and up slightly, and layer them on top of themselves as well, to give them a bigger sound. We also added some other sounds off keyboards that were lying around, like a Korg Trinity and some toms. After a bit of layering like that, some compression, and some reverb, it finally started to sound right — after about a week!"

Unfortunately, this was not the end of Scott and Paul's problems. As well as being dissatisfied with the sound of the session tapes, they were unhappy with the rhythmic feel. Over to Paul: "We'd got reels and reels of tapes full of drums, trumpets, and so on, all played by the session musicians to click tracks. But because they all came into Lansdowne one at a time — there was never a band performance at any one point — the feel was all over the shop. When we pieced it all together, it was a total mess!"

Scott: "We were used to having everything bang‑on quantised from MIDI gear, and suddenly everything was out."

Paul: "The drums were the hardest part, because we had a very precise drum riff in mind. So we had to get the session material off the tape, put it on the sampler, put it into keygroups and whack the keyboard."

So much for the rhythm tracks; they were easily re‑triggered as individual samples. But Scott and Paul felt the feel of the brass, guitar and accordion was out too, and to fix this problem, a sampler was no longer enough.

Paul: "We put everything into Pro Tools on the computer in Lansdowne, and ended up examining it all eight bars at a time; all the accordion off‑beats and the guitars. It was a bit scientific, but it was a good learning experience. The brass was one of the easiest ones; the guitar and the accordion seemed miles out!"

Scott: "We're not having a go at the session musicians' playing, by the way; it seemed rock‑solid to just the click. It was only when we layered everything else on top that it sounded out."

Eventually, the group were satisfied, and they laid the feel‑corrected performances back to their multitrack. Then all that remained was the mixing! This in itself was no mean feat; over 90 separate tracks had been recorded, though Scott and Paul had reduced this number by sampling several tracks together and laying them back to the multitrack tape as stereo pairs. The trio favoured a variety of monitors ranging from battery‑powered Sony multimedia speakers through their Spirit Absolute 2s and up to Lansdowne's top‑notch ATCs. They also indulged in the time‑houred trick of playing mixes on a small ghettoblaster in the control room and running out to try mixes on the engineer's car stereo.

Paul: "Different things would come out on the different kinds of monitor we used. That's what makes a professional recording different; on some speakers, you get sitars, say, coming out. On others, you'll get something else. On 'Carnaval', you'll get the agogo, say. On a cheaper desk, you just get a mush."

Scott:That's why we'd listen to each mix on five different sets of speakers; if it sounded OK each time, even if it sounded OK in different ways on the different speakers, we knew it had to be a good mix.

Once 'Carnaval' was finally mixed, moods lightened all around. Paul: "After that one was finished, completing the other tracks seemed much simpler, because we'd learned so much from 'Carnaval'! It was a bit of a baptism of fire, that track..."

Scott: "In many ways, we'd learned to use the session musicians to create a sample library really. We've now got all those sounds and riffs to use in the future, which is great. And there was so much stuff recorded which we didn't use, I'm sure it'll pop up on the next album. We haven't had time to go through it all yet!"

Home Improvements

Though he admits the first few weeks at Lansdowne were disorientating and worrying, Scott now writes the whole time off to experience: "I'm glad we went there, and went through with it. We couldn't have made this album any other way. Not an album with tracks like 'Carnaval' or 'Voices' on it, anyway. There's actually more live musicians on 'Voices', because there are the two choirs, and the 22‑piece string section. Let's face it — there's no way we could have done that in Crewe!"

Paul is similarly pragmatic about the Lansdowne experience, feeling it has helped them to shape their preferences for recording the next album: "I think in the future, we will still use studios like Lansdowne, but we'll just use them for the session musician recordings. I'd much prefer to do the mixing up here in Crewe, and go back to this level of setup, but with a better desk. I love it here, it's just so much less stressful, and I don't think there's any need to go to London really. That's why we want to get our own place; a base which is more like home than a rented place. We'd love to get a barn or something and kit it all out. Then you can go back to your own home at the end of the day, and you can write in your own studio..."

Scott: "Ideally, we'd like to move around October or November time — depending on how the next couple of singles do! When we stop releasing singles from this album, we'll definitely get somewhere custom‑built."

Paul's attitude of keeping London at arm's length for as much of the time as possible reminded me of the N‑Trance approach [see SOS December '97], and I wondered if they had seen the interview. Paul: "We did see that; we were looking at their gear! They've got a better version of what we've got here, their setup is about three years ahead of ours!"

Scott: "The main thing we need is a new desk."

Paul: "I think we'd go one stage further than them. We'd go for the acoustically designed approach and get something with Flying Faders. Then you can write a track and do a basic mix of it straight away. Later, with recall, you can go back to it and tweak it when you've worked out what you need to improve. I'd like something like a Soundtracs Jade... they're about 40 grand, aren't they? But when you consider the money you can spend on studio fees, it starts to make sense!"

Scott: "Who says you have to record an album on an SSL or a Neve anyway?"

Who indeed? Given the upcoming reorganisation of their studio and the important role computer‑based digital audio recording had played (via Pro Tools) in the making of SunMachine, I wonder aloud whether Scott or Paul are interested in the put‑everything‑in‑the‑computer approach to studio design. It turns out that their interest is on the rise, though as the interview comes to a close, they are not ready to fling themselves headlong into the world of digital just yet. But they have both just bought PCs for home use on which they have been experimenting with Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge audio editing software. Scott: "That's probably the best buy we've made this year; it is quite a deep program, but once you get into it, it's really useful. Instead of booking half a day in an editing suite in London, which costs a bomb, we can just do it at home, and the quality's great. And when we move studios, we will definitely get a Mac as well, to run Pro Tools."

Paul nods: "That way, we can get into using a Mac as well, and we'll be capable of using all systems, Atari, PC, and Mac, wherever we go."

Scott stares fondly at the old STe. "I don't think we'll ever stop using the Atari altogether, though." And Paul quips "Not now we've got a kosher version of Cubase, anyway..."

Long may they shine.

Dario G Gear List

Paul and Scott have come a long way since they started at college with a couple of Roland D10s, an Alesis MMT8 hardware sequencer and a Roland TR505 drum machine. However, due to their comparatively recent ascent into the world of pop stardom, the gear in their Crewe studio remains fairly ordinary at present; there's certainly nothing in there yet which would be out of place in the average SOS reader's studio, and they certainly bought most of what's there by a route which will be familiar to most of us (Scott: "We would just look out for things to buy in magazines, and buy stuff like the effects units when they were end‑of‑the‑line, and cheaper.")


  • Akai SG01v.
  • Emu Carnaval.
    Scott: "We sampled a lot of sounds out of this for 'Carnaval De Paris'".
  • Hammond XB2 organ.
  • Korg M3r.
  • Korg X2 workstation.
    Scott: "I was in a covers band once, and they used the Korg X2 as their keyboard. I kept borrowing it and using it here, and just got used to it, so I got one. We use it a lot. Its piano sounds aren't great — they're not very realistic — but they've become part of our sound, like for the jangly house piano in 'SunMachine'. We also used the X2's preset Clarinet and Mandolin sounds on 'Carnaval De Paris'."
  • Roland Alpha Juno 2.
    Paul: "Someone told us they had a Alpha Juno 2 for 100 quid, and we loved the Juno 106 so much [see below] we got it. It's amazing, it's got some great sounds on it. We haven't used it so much lately, but at first it was on every track. Once we ran out of presets, we stopped using it..."
  • Roland D110 module.
  • Roland Juno 106.
    Paul: "I got this from a friend who didn't want it! It was in immaculate condition, and the sounds are great."
  • Roland JV1080 module with World board.
    Paul: "The JV1080's taken a lot of the attention away from the X2, which in turn replaced our D110 and TG55 as our standard multitimbral workstation synths with good basic sounds."
    Scott: "The World board is good for some loops and ethnic effects."
  • Roland JX1.
  • Yamaha AN1x.
  • Yamaha CS1x.
    Paul: "We make a lot of use of the real‑time controller knobs on the CS1x and AN1x. We used the ribbon controller a lot on the album track 'Peaches'; you can get some great effects with that."
  • Yamaha TG55.


  • Akai S3000i (16Mb of RAM).
  • Akai S3000XL (32Mb of RAM).
  • Akai S3000XL (32Mb of RAM).
  • 2 Iomega Zip drives.
  • Panasonic CD‑ROM.


  • Aiwa XD S1100 DAT machine.
  • AKG C1000S mic.
  • Alesis 3630 compressor.
  • Alesis Quadraverb + multi‑effects.
  • Behringer Composers compressor (x2).
  • Boss GE231 graphic EQ.
  • Boss RV1000 reverb.
  • Digitech Studio Quad v2.
  • Focusrite Green 3 Voicebox.
  • Fostex D90 digital multitrack (2.3Gb drive).
    Paul: "We used that to demo stuff for the album. We did a little bit of demoing at a friend's studio, Andy Blythe, so we just took out the drive — he's got one too, you see — and took it round there, and plugged into his D90 to do some vocals. We used some of those vocals, as well, on the finished album track 'Be My Friend'."
  • JBL Control 5 monitors with SB5 sub‑bass woofer.
  • Lexicon Alex multi‑effects.
  • Mackie 32:8 buss mixer.
  • Midex + synchroniser.
  • MXR Dual Limiter.
  • Panasonic SV3800 DAT machine.
  • P+R Audio PB48 patchbays (x3).
  • Quad 306 power amp.
  • Rode NT2 mic.
  • SPL Vitalizer MkII enhancer.
  • Spirit Absolute 2 monitors.
  • Yamaha A100 power amp.


  • Atari 1040STe (2Mb of RAM).
  • Steinberg Cubase v3.1.


  • Aiwa AD WX 929 dual‑cassette player/recorder.
  • Citronic SM 150 DJ mixer.
  • Genexxa 10‑band graphic EQ.
  • Nad 502 CD player.
  • Technics SL1210 MkII turntables (x2).
    Scott: "We bought decks 'cause we were thinking it was a good way of raising your profile if you're into dance music, by DJing. In the end, though, we didn't need them... Paul: "We do use them when we're recording, for checking mixes on, though."

Recording 'Sunchyme'

'Sunchyme' is an important track for Dario G in many ways. As their biggest hit worldwide so far (reports of total sales vary between 1.5 and 2 million copies), it obviously put them where they are today financially and in terms of clout with their label, Warner Brothers. Stylistically, too, though, it offered the blueprint for the sound present throughout SunMachine: driving electronic pop with an ethnic, world tinge to it, courtesy of the famous 'Life In A Northern Town' sample. That the same sample also drives the album's rather different closing track, 'The End Of The Beginning' (see separate box), is a testimony to the group's ability to derive a different feel from the same basic material.

Like 'The End Of The Beginning', the original 12‑inch version of 'Sunchyme' was recorded in Scott Rosser's bedroom (prior to the relocation to their current hired studio facilities in the heart of Crewe, at the end of last year), which makes the track's subsequent history all the more remarkable.

The story of the initial inspiration for the track is told in the main part of this article. After sampling the chant from a CD of 'Life In A Northern Town', Scott and Paul had to timestretch the vocals in their Akai sampler to get them completely in time. Whilst trying out various ideas for the backing track, they made the next important find: Preset 044 from their Yamaha CS1x synth, 'Mega Hook', which sounded remarkably like a steel drum when they filtered it. This was the sound that helped to give the track its Caribbean feel; all they did was accentuate the effect by layering the 'Mega Hook' patch with the preset steel drum from their trusty Korg X2 synth and sweeping the CS1x's cutoff. As Paul quite openly explains, "People read more into it than they should — they see us as some sort of 'world techno' outfit or something because of the vocal on 'Sunchyme' and the steel drum sound. The truth is, we were sodding around with a synth sound and a sample, and we got something that sounded good. So, if you want to try that at home folks, just switch on preset 044 of your CS1x, play E and G sharp, and sweep the cutoff from 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock. On every version apart from the one on the album, we just swept it manually. You can record it into sequencer if you like, but we didn't."

The original version of the track was run straight to DAT, live from Dario G's famously 'extracurricular' copy of Cubase for the Atari ST. Piano was also supplied by the Korg X2 and the trio's Akai sampler provided the bass sound, which had been sampled from the CS1x (Preset 056, 'Bass Sine') to save the polyphony on that synth. The only effects unit used was an Alesis Quadraverb II, although the sampled vocals were processed by an Aphex Aural Exciter to crispen them up slightly, and the entire track was compressed by an Alesis 3630 before going to DAT. As Paul says, "Everything we used on 'Sunchyme' was all cheap stuff, really." And the result: one international smash hit record. The total cost of the recording is the best bit of all: over to Scott. "Some time later, our lawyer said 'Do you know how much this record's going to make you? What were the recording costs? I can claim that back for you'. And we looked at each other and said 'Er... 40 quid!'. It was for the DAT. We didn't own one then, we just used to hire them in for mastering, and that was how much it cost!"

Subsequently, Paul, Scott and Stephen reorganised the track in Cubase, creating the so‑called 'Radio Edit' which was the commercial single version, and both Scott and Paul's favourite version of the track. Once again, the mix was run straight to hired DAT, the only other difference being the enhanced amount of compression on the track, which both Scott and Paul thought made it perfect for radio play. Somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million people (myself included) clearly agree.

Recording 'The End Of The Beginning'/'Sunmachine'

Dario G's current single 'Sunmachine' evolved out of the powerfully intense version of 'Sunchyme' that closes the SunMachine album. Recorded, like the original mix of 'Sunchyme', in Scott's bedroom, 'The End Of The Beginning' was originally issued on the B‑side of the 'Sunchyme' white label promo single with a specific purpose. Scott: "'The End Of The Beginning' was supposed to be played at the Café Del Mar in Ibiza in the small hours of the morning. Our idea was to get to people on Ibiza 24 hours a day with 'Sunchyme'; so they'd go out dancing, go mad to the main version of the track, then come back to Café Del Mar to unwind and not be able to get away from that chant, only this time it would be in a slowed‑down version, and would relax them after their night out."

The last addition to the track was the David Bowie sample, taken at Stephen Spencer's suggestion from the 1970 Space Oddity album track 'Memories Of A Free Festival'. Scott: "We put the Bowie vocal on as an afterthought; it was sampled directly off the original album, with all the background noise from the original backing track crudely EQd out with our Mackie desk as best we could... it just sounds like a radio in the background now. We did try re‑recording it later in Lansdowne Studios, but we realised we'd captured a moment with the original version, so we left it.

"We then decided we liked the Bowie sample so much that we built a completely new track around it. But it was such a dirty sample, it would never have worked on the radio, so we requested — and were sent — copies of the original isolated vocal masters by Bowie's manager. We were worried that the backing track sounded a little cheesy with all the jangly house piano, and tried adding organ samples, but it wasn't until we got the Hammond XB2 that we were happy, as we could then try out whatever organ sounds we wanted, not just the ones we had samples of. We also hired two Leslie speakers in Lansdowne Studios to put the XB2 through, and it thickened and warmed up the Hammond no end; they gave it a sound which it just didn't have when we plugged it into the mixer directly.

"The track also features a contribution from Bowie's old producer, Tony Visconti, on recorder, which replaced a flute line idea we had on an early version of the track, played from one of the 'Carnaval' session flute samples. Tony's contribution brought the track nicely full circle."

Recording 'Voices'

'Voices' is another standout track on the SunMachine album, featuring the same technologically enhanced ethnic or 'world' feel as many other Dario G tracks but with a slow, dreamy feel. Restrained mandolins and strummed acoustic guitars provide a background wash over which glassy synth sounds tinkle and a ethereal vocal floats (courtesy of the half‑French, half‑Peruvian diva Vanessa from Espiritu). Towards the end of the track the 'world' feel is enhanced by the simultaneous entry of two choirs — one gospel, one composed of schoolchildren — chanting another African refrain, and the arrival of a 22‑piece string section. It's quite marvellous, and will be the next single. A less stunning, but still impressive Acoustic mix is included as the penultimate track, minus the choir, strings, and more obvious synth sounds, and a different, far less ethereal Espiritu vocal is featured.

'Voices' was apparantly inspired by some strummed mandolin phrases on a Steve Levine CD‑ROM. From a variety of different chords, Scott and Paul pieced together first a chord sequence, then a melody over the top. The track was then demo'd by Dario G in Crewe by having a folk musician friend of theirs from college, Ben Broughton, provide the guitar parts. "Ben helps us out when we need guitar or electric bass parts," explains Scott. "He's got a wide variety of different guitars and basses, and can play in loads of different styles."

Following the demo, the decision was taken to add a vocal. Scott: "It was already developing a world feel as an instrumental, but we really decided to develop that feel with a vocal. We listened to demo tapes of various singers, but no‑one really grabbed us.

"Then we met Vanessa from Espiritu, and we were taken straight away because of her speaking voice; she's got an amazing accent, and we really wanted a different quality for that track. That's what made us choose her. She produced her vocal herself in her own home studio onto an ADAT — as she wasn't happy with the results she got singing in Lansdowne Studios — and we spun it in last of all. She also added the ethereal phased chorus effect on her voice, which we enhanced with a further effect delay and reverb from our Digitech Studio Quad. That did have the unfortunate side‑effect of increasing the sibilance on all the 'S' and 'T' sounds a bit much though, so we put the effected track and her unprocessed vocal into Pro Tools and de‑essed it there. It was time‑consuming, but worth it, as it increased the ethereal feeling even more. Also adding to that were the glassy synth sounds at the start of the track, which are a JV1080 preset. We slowed the attack and had it playing just a couple of the melody notes to give an indication at the start of the track of what was to come."

Paul: "For the acoustic mix of 'Voices', we used Vanessa's original Lansdowne vocal — but it sounded great on that one, the smooth vocal fitted OK with an acoustic backing. It just didn't sound tough enough for the main version of the track, really."