Giving my ears a break from remixing Satronica.

I’m happiest when creating songs for fun. Music that doesn’t have to fit anyone’s expectations. Constantly those recordings are my best. Remixes fall in the “oh man why am I doing this” category. I really pull my hair out trying to bend someone else’s vision into my own. For the most part if a song is great to start with it won’t need a remix. Sure there are super rock or melodic songs that need to be made into club hits but most of the remixes I get offered are already electronic.

Today I’m remixing a guy named Satronica. He’s one of my good friends from New York. He’s working on an album for Lenny Dee’s Industrial Strength Records. The song titled “Revenge Plan” is vocal heavy. The way he sings is pretty weird, almost an Arab chant style. I’m still trying to figure out how to mash the vocals into a tight grid. I may end up cutting each word up and throwing it into Reason’s NN-XT.

Because the vocals are so strong I don’t feel the need to keep his original music so I fired up some new toys and here’s a clip of what’s on the machine today.Keep in mind it’s just the synths and basic beat at this point. Purely amateur time so far:

The kick is Jomox Mbase 01, the main synth is the Voice of Saturn being sidechained with the key using Ableton’s compressor, later I add in another two copies of the Voice of Saturn channel but detuned left and right. The lazer zap’s are from an Audiorealism ABL. The drum roll is D16’s Drumazon and Devastor also sidechained with the Mbase 01. The snare is loaded into Native Instrument’s Battery 3 and if from a freebee disc I got with Computer Music magazine a few years ago.

It’s not nearly where it will end up but I thought you’d like to check in on the process. Writing this post gave my ears a few minutes break.

Propellerhead Software has a new website.

Although I give Ableton Live the most love on this blog I almost always have Reason loaded and ReWired into Live. I never liked the old Propellerhead website. The forums had an annoying threaded view and the entire site was locked into a cramped narrow width. Happily, the new site fixes many issues and it looks great too.

I’m not going to give a long review of Reason here because it’s been done in detail by many other publications. Here are just a few “reasons” I like the software:

Scream – This distortion unit has a unique sound. It’s a different color than Izotope Trash or Ohm Force’s Predatohm or Ohmicide. It squawks and squelches in an awesome musical way. I’d own Reason just for the Scream device.

NN-19 – What? An old sample playback device? It reminds me of my old beloved Akai-S950. Somehow it even sounds like it. I managed to collect a NN-19 library of old school samples like Choirs or One Shots with glorious mixing board noise behind them. This device has a real 12 bit EMU filter vibe to it. You can even do some 90s style time stretching with it!

ReGroove Mixer – This thing is super! For years in electronic music the style was the locked machine grid sound. Then shuffle became the rage. The ReGroove device unleashes shuffle; it gives you unlimited shuffle “grooves”. Yes, we had Groove templates as far back has Cubase VST but nothing has slick and usable as ReGroove. It also has some of the famous MPC grooves as presets. This is the best new feature in Reason 4.0.

I could go on but since there is a demo you should just go check it out yourself. I suggest you just go an buy it: click here

So what’s your favorite part of Reason? Or do you think it’s just a toy?

The strange and cool Time Freezer Effect.

Time Freezer - screenshot

I like weird effects and instruments and Time Freezer from Mark Lingk fits the bill. Both the insert plug-in and instrument allow you to freeze any audio in real time. Once you have a frozen piece of sound playing you can shape it using a bandpass filter, pitch control Time Freezer - insert screenshotand de-noiser. There are mono and stereo versions. Intelligently there is a internal clipless maximizer. There is nothing as crappy sounding as plug-ins clipping in the digital realm.

The instrument version lets you morph to the next “hold”. Basically it’s applying crossfades between times you hit the “Freeze” pad. Take a listen to Time Freezer in action:

For those of you with Ableton Live you can get a similar effect using Live’s built in Reverb. Crank up the decay time, scream something and hit the Freeze button! Reverb’s aren’t the only effects that sometimes have this function. For example, Propellorhead’s Reason BV512 Vocoder has a Hold button which also freezes audio in time. If you own Reason you should really try it out as it sounds uber wicked.

Ableton Live 7 - Reverb Freeze

Remember that you can automate the Freeze and Hold buttons!

Zero-G Total Rex. 10 Gigabytes of Rex Files.

Propellerhead Dr. Rex

The Rex audio file format was created by Swedish software house Propellerhead in June 1994. Rex files are audio loops with slice information data attached to them. This allows a Rex file to play back at any tempo. It also allows the individual slices of the loop to be Total Rex - software boxre-arranged in creative ways. With modern DAWs you can get away without the Rex format because of audio warping and slicing tools. However, Rex files continue to be relevant because they come prepared and ready to manipulate which is extreme fun. I often load Rex files into Propellerhead Reason’s Dr. Rex player. I then re-arrange the slice order, slice decay, filter and pitch to make something unique to my project.

A recent exciting development is that Ableton Live 7 now supports Rex files natively. Because of this I thought I’d mention Zero-G Total Rex. This is a two DVD set of Rex files. It’s 10 Gigabytes and has over 15,000 loops!

“…Covers every imaginable base… in a wide range of styles… thanks to the flexibility that the REX format offers, you can easily use loops that are intended for one style in another. The quality of the content is superb, but given that this is essentially a ‘best of’ from one from one of the most reliable sample production houses around, that’s to be expected… Highly recommended. Rating: 9 out of 10″ – Computer Music

I can’t see a better way to get a mass of useful sounds in one shot. Personally I find Rex files far more useful than basic sample sets. Grab an external hard drive and load this baby onto it. On the left side of the Ableton Live interface is the browser area. It has three snapshots for places on your hard drive. I alway keep the middle one pointed to this Rex collection. While working on a project just scroll through the loops and they play back in time with your project. With such a large library on hand it’s rare you wont find something that improves the song.

Do you use Rex files? Are there any Rex collections you really like?