Shortcut: Randomize the Matrix Sequencer

Today I present to you a highly fun Reason beginner tip: Instead of placing notes into Reason’s fun Matrix Sequencer use the Randomize function. But don’t give yourself carpel tunnel syndrome by pushing the mouse pointer to the Edit menu and selected Randomize Pattern. Simply hold down the Command (Apple) key and hit R. Now… do it over and over until you get something you like.

In the studio with Bon Harris from Nitzer Ebb.

The always busy James Bernard from Propellerhead Software went to LA to interview Bon Harris one of the founding members of Nitzer Ebb. It doesn’t surprise me to hear he’s using Reason to create the music for the upcoming all new NE album. Reason seems to be a center piece in a lot of EBM bands today. It was a happy surprise to hear the bassline Mr. Harris let us have a sneak peak of because it had an old school Nitzer Ebb feel to it. If Douglas McCarthy can get angry enough to put proper vocals on this remains to be seen. I for one really hope the magic returns.

Keep up with NE here: www.nitzer-ebb.de and  myspace.com/nitzerebbmusic

Sound like you have an old sampler with Decimort.

Vintage color is the special sauce audio producers crave when producing. We want the sound of Mic pres from the 70s, spring reverbs and even that classic sampler sound. Decimort is a new plug-in from the ever impressive Polish software freaks D16. There are a host of bit crushers on the market but Decimort specializes in recreating the effect of old EMU Emulators and Ensoniq samplers.

“Electronic music producers (especially in Hip-Hop) have always been aware that classic samplers (such as early Akai and EMU units) had a character and sound of their own. They added a “grit” and “colour” to the samples and loops they played back which made them sound “Fat” and sit well in a mix. This sound colouration was due to the encoding techniques, lower sample rates, lower bit rate and conversion circuits which these early samplers used. Decimort recreates this colouration and adds the vintage sampler magic to any loop, bass line or sound played through it. It also acts as the perfect bit crusher with filter.” – D16.pl

You can hear some very good Decimort samples in the context of full songs on the D16 site: click here However, below I recorded and posted some straight forward clips. Each clip starts with the dry sound then I click on Decimort:

A choir sequence from the basic Reason soundbank. I chose the choir samples because you could find very similar samples in The Fairlight CMI:

A computerized vocal which I think shows off Decimort quiet nicely:

A simple Roland TR-808 loop through some Decimort presets:

One thing I really like about Decimort is that is has a wet/dry knob, something I wish all plug-ins had! Also, automating the Frequency in Decimort sounds very potent. Overall it’s a nice plug-in that I could see using many instances of. I like to try using filters and bit-crusher before I’ll grab an eq.

Decimort is Mac/PC AU/Vst for 35€. Demo available: click here

photo credit: Johnrpenner

James Bernard starts a blog at Propellerheads.

If you remember not too long ago I mentioned I was recently endorsed by Propellerhead Software. An old friend of mine James Bernard who is a Product Specialist at the company helped set me up. Last week he started his own blog on the Propellerhead website. I think this is a great idea as the blog format is my favorite way to get info these days and James has a huge amount of pro-audio knowledge to share.

“Welcome to my first entry to my new blog page on the Propellerhead Website! I plan on using this page to share any tips or tricks I have picked up, insight on some of my travels around the world doing Producers Conference events and also share some useful files or links I might come across. Please let me know what you think of it and feel free to request any specific tips/tricks you would like to see.” – James Bernard, www.propellerheads.se

His first posts are great. He kicks it off by showing us his own project studio which includes a FM3 Buddha Machine, modified Roland TR-606, Auralex Treatment and of course Reason. Next, he creates a few songs using one sound. Yes. One single sound. In fact he uses just one single TR-909 kick drum. We all joke and think about doing things like this but James tackles the task and lives to tell about it.

There is more than just show and tell on his new blog which I believe is titled “.plan”.  You get free goodies such as Refills and Regroove Templates.

Check out James’s new blog: click here

Anatomy of an endorsement deal.

So it’s official: The Horrorist is endorsed by Propellerhead Software. I, as you know record under the name “The Horrorist” and today the box of goodies you see in the above photo arrived at my studio. I also managed to get one of the bands on my label Ionic Vision the same deal.

So how does one get such a good proposal? To be honest it’s kinda like getting laid by a female… You stay nice, friendly and available and when they are in the mood it happens! When I was in college at Suny Purchase I spent my free time in the music department hanging out with John Selway, Scott Richmond (Satellite Records) and Jack Elliot. During that time, the early nineties, the rave scene was beginning to take over the NY area. John invited me to techno parties in Long Island where I met Frankie Bones, Adam X, Heather Heart, Dave Trance and many more. I’m not sure how it exactly happened but I ended up at the recording studio of a guy named James Bernard who had a techno act called Influx. Ah… bingo you say! James Bernard I know that name. Yep hold that thought…

Flash forward fifteen plus years, 75 singles, 3 albums, 3 studios, a move to Berlin, a pro-audio blog and some grey hair. A band on my label Things to Come Records called Ionic Vision was coming to perform in Germany. I met them at Club Maria and did a quick video interview with them to help promote their new single. During the interview they got all gushy about how great Propellerheads Reason is. I wholeheartedly agree Reason is the bees knees and the video went up on the internets. I mentioned to Andy de Decker (one of the band members) that I should send it over to Propellerheads and did just that.

I knew James Bernard worked at Propellerheads and from time to time I cracked a smile when I saw him demoing things on YouTube. I would say to myself, “There’s that Influx guy. Dam he landed a cool job!”. So I was pleased when I found out he was the one in charge of artist relations and more pleased when he was the one who emailed me back. Without me asking he offered the endorsement deals.

So what can we learn from this tale?

1. James Bernard kicks ass.

2. Propellerheads kicks ass.

3. Being nice to people and putting your work out there gets free stuff. (And laid by females)

This arrangement will be good for you too because I will be posting more Reason tutorials, videos and Refill reviews.

So far I can tell you the 15″ laptop bag is very nice. The area where you hold your laptop is well padded and smooth so you don’t need to use one of those crappy inner sleeve things. It’s made of “polyester ripstop” which like it’s name: feels like it won’t ever rip. It also has a rubber handle, zippered pockets, a mobile cell holder and key ring.

Check out more photos of the bag and goodies: click here

Listen to James Bernard’s music: myspace.com/jamesbernardmusic
Visit Propellerhead Software: propellerheads.se

Using Google Trends to compare sequencers.


YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Uh6rGYiDDk

Here’s an interesting “vlog” from a guy who calls himself Hydlide. He’s from The Netherlands (as you can tell by his accent) and is a Reason freak. What I find interesting is how he uses Google Trends to compare the popularity of sequencing apps. The good stuff starts around 2:19. I think he makes an error because if he compares Reason 4 to Ableton Live. Shouldn’t he compare Reason 4 to Ableton Live 7? I put that data into Google Trends and it reads quite differently than his assumptions.

I also think it’s a bit silly of him to knock Fruity Loops as just for noobs and therefore worthless. I’ll make music by clapping my hands and humming if I have to. Hydlide also says he hates all VSTs. Huh?

I know I am picking on Hydlide a bit so I have to say he has a great YouTube channel of Reason tutorials. If you use Reason definitely head on over. I am sure you can pickup some new techniques:
www.youtube.com/user/hydlide24

You can use use Google Trends to compare search popularity of other things too. Take a look at this comparison of Depeche Mode vs MGMT: click here

Interesting no?

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?

Global Groove and Swing parameters in Ableton Live.

Ableton Live - Groove Control

I just released a new EP on my label called Diagnosis Terminal with Miro Pajic. One of the songs “IO” has a heavy swing to it. It’s a very easy two step process to implement Swing in TTC-016 Front CoverAbleton Live. Swing is of course popular in Jazz and is one of the main stylistic points in modern “Minimal” techno.

To hear it work let’s create a test clip. I put and instance of Impulse with a Roland TR-808 kit on a track. I double clicked an empty Clip Slot to create an empty Clip. Then in the Midi Note Editor I laid down a 4/4 kick, Snare on the 2 and 4 and a 16th note closed Hi Hat.

On the top left side of the Ableton interface, to the left of the metronome “dots” you will see a number 0. That number represents the Global Groove Control parameter. Click and drag that number upwards to about 55.

Lastly, back down to the the Clip View and under the Groove drop down menu choose “Swing 16″ which matches the 16th closed Hi Hats you have placed in your clip. Now listen to the loop with the Groove Control parameter at 0 and then at 55:

If your working with a pattern that is mostly 8th notes set the Swing to “Swing 8″. This is the classic rock swing preset you hear on vintage drum machines.

Be sure to check out the swing parameters in plug-ins like D16’s Nepheton or Audiorealism‘s ADM as they both Swing in a awesome aggressive nature. For MPC timings and unique Groove Control patterns try out Propellerhead’s Reason 4 ReGroove Mixer.

Do you like to swing?

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!