One of the major reasons for starting this blog was to share my studio notes with you. I love sharing the creation process and hearing feedback. Take This Step was released last month with remixes by Pet Duo, Mark Hawkins, Brian Burger and Lenny Dee. You can get the full details of the song including a promo video on it’s original post page: click here. Today let’s get into how I created it. My last album Joyless Pleasure was very autobiographical, song structured, love songed and a real listeners album. For my next album Fire Funmania which will be released later this year I wanted to go back to my roots a bit. The first single Take This Step clears the way. Lyrically it has two themes. You can take the song literally as an indoctrination anthem. Join the army, the troop and fight. You can decide if I am being satirical or not. However, the theme could also be about getting a day job or even being pushed into marriage and society. As a 42 year old trying to conform and be healthy yet keep my art pure surely there’s a reason I was able to make this song. The arrangement shows the nervous tension with 5 parts growing to a peak each higher than each other until the cresendo at the end. I think I’m trying to say yes it’s ok to join but if you do do it strong, properly and aggresively!
Ok so yeah now to the toys. There are several kick drums on the track. I’ve been DJing on my Traktor S4 a bit and you can hear that influence here. As I use NI’s Traktor anytime I put a loop into one of the Sample Decks and it loops more than 2 times is saves the loop on my hard drive for later use. I grabbed 2 of the kicks on Take This Step from this folder. I also created 2 kicks on my Jomox Mbase 01 which is signed by Jürgen Michaelis. The Mbase has a depth you can’t get from samples. There are parts of the song where you hear the underlying kicks booming and that’s the Mbase in action. In sections of the song there is a Boss DM-100 bucket-brigade analog delay on the kicks. You can hear it right away as the song starts. The ride is from my MFB-522. The 522 is like a mini Roland TR-808 and I like it quite a lot. You can get some really clean shimmering rides from it that again most of the time samples can’t match. I used Ableton Live’s built in Auto Filter to cut some of the high’s out from it so it fit well in the song. There are some large long white noise crashes that bring in new sections. Those are from an Ensoniq ESQ-1. I bought a Crystal-X cartridge off eBay that has a few hundred sounds on it and the crash/smash is on there.
The main synth is a Moog Slim Phatty going through Audio Damage’s Vapor diffusion chorus plug-in. In different sections of the song the main synth pattern changes. I used 3 plug-ins each seperately at different times to achieve the different synth patterns: Izotope’s Stutter Edit, PSP’s N20 and Sugar-Bytes Turnado. These are the type of plug-ins that are nearly impossible to replicate in hardware without a serious amount of work. What I usually do is go through the presets, do some editing and then render the same part 5-10 times. Then as the song plays back into the section I swap out the different renderings and choose the one that’s the coolest. It’s that little extra work that makes all the difference. Towards the end of the song there is a build up where the synth starts panning, changing and “lifting”. This was done with Sugar-Bytes Effectrix and automation.
I wanted to keep these vocals clean and commanding. The chain was a Shure SM7b mic through an API 512c micpre. I also used Izotope’s Nectar plug-in. There’s quite a few places where the last song in a verse has some effects on it. Like the synth parts I would render the last word, move it to a blank channel, load several effects on the channel and change presets, edit and render about 5 different versions. I would again listen back to the song with replacing each version and choosing the best one.
I follow my own advice and the faders were all at about half height so the mix came out nice and clean. I added some volume to the master file using Izotope’s Ozone. I didn’t work on this song all day in a succession of days so it’s hard to tell you exactly how long it took to create it. I would guess about a full week or two weeks on and off. For me the most difficult part is always the arrangement. It’s like a puzzle and if you don’t feel inspired or take the time to get it right you can really ruin a song. So this song is a mix of the best hardware and software I have.
The next single which comes out in August is called The Man Master. I shot a music video for it in Berlin, there are remixes by David Carretta, Millimetric and Dupont and there will be a limited edition 7″. Production wise this song is a full analog affair using only analog sequencers and such. More on that when it’s released!
“The Horrorist’ new single is pretty awesome. His new record is going to be the best one yet.” – alexxaugustus (via Twitter)
This entry was written by effects, hardware, music, promotion, song writing, synthesizer and tagged song writing, The Horrorist, Things to Come Records. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
Williamsburg Brooklyn has another boutique pro-audio store! Just last month we saw the modular synth shop Control open and now my good friend Dan Physics and his business parter Blue Wilding have opened Audio Power Tools. Dan cut his teeth as a manager at the flagship Guitar Center store on 14th street and now he’s working exclusively with high end stuff. The great thing is they will let you try before you buy which is important because unless you work in recording studios most people don’t have access to say a Germanium micpre.
“Only the good stuff…with the highest performance, value and support for working pros. Every purchase is a balance of necessity and personal taste. Our “demo-based shopping” helps you make confident decisions.” – Audio Power Tools
This entry was written by effects, hardware and tagged Audio Power Tools, Brooklyn, Dan Physics, pro-audio, Williamsburg. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
Two awesome things! A custom built spring reverb and a Vermona DRM-1. I own a DRM-1 and I recommend it highly to everyone. Just listen to how great these sound together.
“Finally, my custom built spring reverb is ready. (thanks much to Csaba Füle, the best)
Basically it is an RFT spring tank driven by a Doepfer A-199 module. Much bigger space, much wider spectrum, much better than Accutronics imho. Audio: It’s a basic sequence with the Vermona DRM-1 put on multi channels sent to the Spring Reverb. Changing Emphasis and Feedback here and there on the Doepfer A-199 module, changing the filter on the snare at the solo, and finally, slapping the rack hard in the end. :) It’s just wonderful. Everyone should forget vst reverbs – for a while at least. This thing sounds so unpredictable, so different every time, so alive… I have done some phased and hi-lowpassed feedback and send-return business too, really shouldn’t waste words trying to describe those sounds…” – Hargitai András
For more info: wiretotheear.com/vermona-drm1-mkiii-audio-video-review
This entry was written by drum machine, effects, hardware and tagged Germany, reverb, spring reverb, Vermona DRM1. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
I’ve been waiting to see a bit more of what the Jomox Moonwind can do and this week Jurgen has posted three new videos. This is the kind of interesting (and expensive) boutique gear you can really love. I think it’s really great he designs and makes this stuff himself.
“Moonwind Analog Filter Tracker is a true analog stereo filter with built-in step sequencer, a fantastic sounding digital FX chip, 2 LFOs and envelope modulation. Everything is storable and controllable via Midi.” – Jomox
For more info: jomox.de/…product_id=15
This entry was written by effects, hardware and tagged Berlin, filter, Jomox, LFO, Moonwind. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
Here’s another piece of hardware to help you go back in time. Zvex makes some of the best effect pedals. Besides being built out of metal and hand painted many have rare tubes and unique electronics inside them. Their Instant Lo-Fi Junky uses a Belling Bucked Brigade and National Semiconductor op-amps to create a warbling, broken turntable, compression chorus effect. $219.00 for the Vexter screen printed panel version and about $350 for a hand painted version. Needless to say I’ll be getting one soon. If there are any effect pedals that do something similar please let me know.
“The ILJ was designed to produce the sounds and textures of our Lo-Fi Loop Junky in real time, but it does so much more. It features a compressor, filtering(lo-fi), luscious chorus settings unlike anything we’ve heard, vibrato, and a mini toggle switch to change the waveform(sine, triangle, square pulse) of the chorus and vibrato.” – zvex.com
For more info: zvex.com/ILF.html
This entry was written by effects and tagged chorus, compression, effects pedal, Instant Lo-Fi Junky, Zvex. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
In my own opinion Skinny Puppy’s album Vivisect VI and the tour that went with it was the pinacle of their career. I saw that live show and have a jacked covered in fake blood to prove it. What you see above is a diagram CEvin Key posted on his Facebook page (link). It was used to set up their synths including Akai S900, Ensoniq ESQ-1, Emax, Moog, SPX90, Pro-1, Mirage and a Roland TR-808. What a nice find.
“This is the only Skinny Puppy album on which Dave Ogilvie (credited as “Rave”) is given songwriting credit and listed as an official member of the band. This was also the only album (until 2004′s The Greater Wrong of the Right) to feature a photo of the band.” – Wikipedia
For more info: facebook.com/cevinkey
My brother bought me a Korg Monotron Delay. It was on backorder for a good 6 weeks. It arrived yesterday thanks Al! This is what it sounds like (in my hands).
“A good delay was an essential part of the classic analog synthesizer sound. More often than not, that delay came from a tape-style echo machine until affordable digital delays were created. The monotron DELAY is an analog synthesizer optimized for sound effects. In addition to its analog oscillator, filter, and LFO, it also provides a Space Delay that’s indispensable for swooping, cosmic sounds. The monotron DELAY even reproduces the pitch changes that occur when you vary the delay time, just as though you were using an analog tape echo. As with the filter, the delay effect can be added to any external sound via the Aux In jack. This fat and warm delay will add an authentic edge to your analog sounds!” – Korg.com
For more info: korg.com/monotrons
This entry was written by effects, synthesizer and tagged analog delay, Korg, Monotron, synthesizer, The Horrorist, Things to Come Records. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
I’m a huge fan of Jomox’s Jürgen Michaelis’s work. One of my most favorite pieces in my studio is an Mbrane 11. I suspect like other Jomox products the new Moonwind analog filter will have some interesting quirks that could give you a unique edge in your recordings.
“The Moonwind Analog Filter Tracker is a true analog stereo filter, with built-in step sequencer, an FX chip, 2 LFOs and envelope modulation. Everything is storable and controllable via MIDI.”
For more info: jomox.de
I am constantly using Midi effects and tricks in my own workflow. I look for plug-ins that output midi data (Audio Damage Axon for example). The video above from The Ableton Cookbook shows you how to record the Arpeggiator’s notes while manipulating the device.
“The traditional signal chain in Ableton goes from the MIDI clip to a MIDI effect and then into an Instrument or Instrument Rack, where the MIDI information is interpreted and output as audio. This means that, if you press record on a MIDI Clip that has an effect on it, you’ll get a recording not of the effected MIDI signal, but of the unaffected MIDI signal. If you want to capture these affected MIDI events, you are going to have to do some MIDI routing. In this video, I show you how this is done!” – theabletoncookbook.com
For more info: theabletoncookbook.com
This entry was written by Ableton Live, effects and tagged Ableton Live, arpeggiator, midi, The Ableton Cookbook. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
Audiodamage has released Kominat DVA. I recorded about 45 of the presets over a Roland TR-808 loop. The first 4 bars is the 808 dry. If you listen through the presets you can hear some of them are very musical and useful. $49 USD.
“From mild tone-shaping or adding a bit of grit to full-on total waveform destruction, Kombinat Dva, the long-awaited sequel to our popular Kombinat plug-in, is a complete toolbox of sonic warfare. With 13 different options in each of the three distortion engines (plus pass-through), Kombinat Dva is capable of sophisticated and unique sounds. Want to add a ring mod to the low end, a mild tube clip to the mids, and a bit-reduction algorithm to the high end? No problem. Want to run your signal through three sine-warps or fuzz algorithms in series? This is your box.” – audiodamage.com
For more info: audiodamage.com
This entry was written by effects, plug-ins and tagged Audiodamage, Distortion, Kombinat DVA. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.