Serial band and project starter, synth player who considers himself a guitarist, compulsive weekly composer.
This week's track started much differently--at 117bpm. I had some interesting drum patterns going on, but couldn't find a way into them. Guitar and keyboard lines weren't all that interesting. So I took a radical step on Saturday and cranked the bpm down to 68--ah, now it's a dub track. OK. Then I could finish it.
Instruments: Drum Rack of 64-pad single hit jazz kit samples, Drum Rack of Dub Techno single hits, Impulse of hand claps, Operator with pitch mod (sort of a cuíca effect), Puremagnetik CP-70 ("Lite" preset), Epiphone P-J bass (EQ-8 to roll off lows), and Epiphone Moderne (through Balls Effects KWB and Vox Wah) for guitar. At the last minute, I remembered to put Drum Buss on the drums. (Oops.)
Sends: two channels of Echo (Dark Fade and Dub Syndicate presets), and one empty-swimming-pool convolution reverb. Full-chain master on the out.
Title from the use of this week's element, Holmium, an atom of which was used by IBM a couple years back to store one bit of data.
A couple times during the week I played with some different drum patterns, playing them off against each other, finally coming up with the drum theme heard throughout this piece. I also added a few simple passes of percussion, and then embellished a few with more beats.
I'd thought maybe I'd do just two basses against each other, and recorded a lot of clips in E and G that I ended up throwing out. Saturday night I re-tracked bass in A, and then did another pass of fuzz bass through the Balls Effects KWB. I put a few Rhodes lines, and then a pass of clean Epi Moderne that I'd thought of as glue, but ended up using a lot of it.
Sends: one room-sized convolution reverb, and one lightly modulated echo.
Inlines: some auto-pan on percussion and keys. EQ-8 on bass to roll off some lows, and some Cabinet for air. Auto-filter with drive and cabinet on guitar. Drum Buss on drums. Full-chain master on the stereo mix.
Title from the use of this week's element dysprosium in dosimeters.
Noting that (musician) Scott Walker passed this week, I had The Drift in mind, and thought I'd let his influence percolate. I tracked ring-modulated Puremagnetik grand piano, ring-modulated electric piano, and Ableton's 64-pad jazz drum kit without an obvious clock at first, playing intuitively. I did a similar pass with ring-modulated Res-o-Glas guitar--not paying attention to other tracks. Then I put down more regular drum patterns and Saturday night tracked bass (ring-modulated for tremolo, and audio-range ring-modulated on another part), and then a little sends-only percussion. Sends: two convolution reverbs. Auto-pan on most things, though I should have auto-panned the one alternate bass track. (Too late now.)
Title from the use of this week's element terbium in the SoundBug transducer--it turns any flat surface into a speaker, apparently.
Back to the funk. This week brought a new pedal (the Balls Effects KWB pedal, a variant of the MXR Distortion +/Ross pedal with switchable diodes and sweepable clipping), so I used that on guitars and bass. This one started as drum tracks (Drum Rack 64-pad Jazz kit), to which I added a bit of a low end with additional Typhoon kick and some percussion). Then I added two Puremagnetik Rhodes pianos, and laid down guitar (modulated wah and stationary wah) and bass (EQ-8 for bass rolloff). Sends: room-sized convolution reverb and an Echo channel.
Title from...a dad joke about the use of gadolinium (element 64) as part of the emergency shut-down procedure of some reactors, including the CANDU. (Sorry.)
Since I'm still listening a lot to later Talk Talk, this week's piece bears some influence--I wanted something that resisted settling down, collaged together from a lot of loose improvisation. I used a drum rack of Ableton's 64-pad jazz drums, some handclaps, and improvised with some Fahey-tuned Univox hollow body. Keys and bass came later, and for extra texture stretched some of the guitar lines and put them through reverb only.
Sends: two convolution reverbs and one channel of echo. Little touches of auto-pan and auto-pan tremolo throughout. And some M4L Humanizer on the drums. Full-chain master on the 2.
Title from two applications of europium: in the bright reds of CRTs and in memory chips.
Another piece that accumulated organically: I'd started by putting up a few drum racks against each other (64-pad rock kit, bongos, Hilda kit), and then put a few chords and figures of different keyboards (Live's MkI3 Mellow Piano and Puremagnetik's CP-70 pack, on the electronic-only setting). I put down Epiphone P-J bass, and then Res-O-Glas guitar through EHX LPB2ube, one pass through a mild overdrive, and another through more extreme boost.
Inline effects: M4L Humanizer on drums and MkI3, Drum Buss on percussion. EQ-8 for bass rolloff on bass, various combinations of Auto-Filter (for drive and to roll off weird direct-sounding harmonics from the Alumitones) and Cabinet on guitar. Sends: Convolution reverb (studio room impulse) and Auto-Filter with LFO into Echo on Tweezy Tape preset. Various auto-pan, and full-chain master on the stereo mix.
Title from one method of growing symmetric crystals of samarium, this week's element.
Most of my available evenings this past week involved working on a house-style Tom Waits cover for a tribute project, so I didn't start doing anything with this until Thursday and late Friday evenings. Mark Hollis's passing fresh in my mind, I thought I'd try something kind of organic and sparse, though inevitably this one got more dense over time.
I put up a simple beat in Ableton's 64-pad drum rack and did some light fingerpicking on the Fahey-tuned Univox hollowbody, and later did a pass on bass. I added drum variations, and then put down a few passes of Res-o-Glas guitar through a tremolo pedal, and put one channel of more chordal playing through the cistern convolution reverb--with no direct signal.
Toward the end of mixing, I thought I'd use Auto-Filter for distortion on one of the guitar lines, but dropped it on bass by mistake. That actually sounded pretty good, so I added an effect rack on bass with two parallel chains: one with EQ8 for sub-100Hz rolloff, and one with the auto-filter distortion on the high end.
Sends: two convolution reverbs (cistern and room) with auto-filter low-end rolloff in front, and one Echo on guitars. No dub-style automation on this one.
Title comes from one of the properties of the rare element Promethium.
This week's piece came together kind of organically, from wanting to hear something rhythmic. I put up four percussive voices: Ableton's Acoustified 11 drum rack, a 909 drum rack, an Impulse instrument of hand claps, and a drum rack of Ableton's Ethno Kit. Saturday night I tracked bass (Epi P-J with EQ-8 roll-off below 100Hz) and some old standby MkI2 Crunch Electric (with Around The Head preset Auto-Pan).
Sends: Convolution reverb set to a studio space impulse, and two instances of Echo. Lots of automation in the sends, and full-chain master on the 2-buss.
Title from the fact that my main headphones (AIAIAI-configured) use neodymium (element 60) magnets in the speaker elements.
This week's track came together in little sessions during the week (new job and travel), so it was easier to do an in-the-box thing--I had the drum patterns (a synth drum kit I came up with, a 909 kit, and Ableton's AstroPlay) and an abstract ring-modulated keyboard line (Ableton's Electric piano). It seemed to need a layer of noise, so I added Ableton's Analog's Coptor (sic) preset, and then did a quick improvisation with my randomizable pitch shifting network in Max/MSP (which begins the piece and continues throughout.)
Effects/sends: Drum Buss on the synth drum and 909, and Frequency Shifter (in Ring Mod mode) on the AstroPlay. One Echo send, and one convolution reverb. Full-chain master on the stereo mix.
This week's piece grew organically from a few drum patterns I put down (one of 808 single-hit samples, one from 909 single-hits). I had an initial synth bass I took out, but did some Ableton Analog synth over them, before replacing the synth bass with Epiphone P-J (through EQ-8 for sub-100Hz rolloff), and tracking clean (through bandpass Auto-Filter with drive and Cabinet) and distorted (Reuss RF-01 and Vox Wah) Epiphone Moderne.
Sends: one convolution reverb (to a medium-sized tracking room space) and one Echo (Dub Syndicate, with timing tweaked). Auto-pan on almost everything. I used automation to send the 808 to the Echo channel. Full-chain Master on the 2-buss.
Title is from one of the applications of this week's element, Cerium, which can increase the stability of pigments exposed to light.
A busy week of wrapping up a job search...and submitting a couple versions of a track to a cover tune project. As a result, I approached this week's track a bit more intuitively. I came up with a few drum loops (64-pad rock kit drum rack, and 64-pad fingers-on-snare), and did some intuitive guitar with Res-O-Glas through an effect rack of auto-filter with drive and buffer-shuffler for some randomness. Then I put some more Res-O down (Auto-Filter with drive and cabinet plugin)...and finally some Epiphone P-J bass (direct...maybe I should have rolled off lows here, but I didn't).
Sends: Convolution reverb, two different Echo plugins. Full-chain master on the 2-buss.
Title from the meaning of the root of lanthanum (element 57).
Job-search stuff took up a lot of attention and energy this week, but I did carve out a bit of time to throw some drums together--Ableton's 32-pad jazz kit and their 64-pad Dub Techno kit, in the parts you hear in the middle section. Saturday night, I added some rhythm patterns (for beginning and end) and Epiphone Moderne with the output going only to a convolution reverb (with the Dan Harpole Cistern impulse). Then I added some sparse lead lines in another channel, and finally put down some Epiphone bass.
Sends: cistern convolution reverb, and one studio-sized convolution reverb, along with a tweaked Echo plugin. Auto-pan on the Dub Techno kit and guitars, and automation on the jazz kit for hitting the echo at the ends of phrases. Full-chain Master on the mix buss.
Title from the French name for the precipitate of barium sulfate, since barium (atomic number 56) is this week's element.
Early in the week I decided on an odd constraint: the track should have only one chord. (In this case, a Gsus4. So it's a holy chord, maybe.) I played with a couple drum rack patterns--one rock kit, one fingers-on-snare--and thew a buffer manipulation M4L plugin on the fingers-on-snare one for variety.
Saturday evening, I tracked all the guitar--four tracks of Epi Moderne, some straight into the board, some through Vox Wah, some through EHX LPB2ube, and some through Reuss RF-01. There's a lot of the one chord, but also responses to it. Epi P-J bass went on last.
This was a bit tricky to mix, given the one-chord tonality and the buildup of harmonics (themselves accentuated with fuzz), but high-pass Auto-Filter to cut out lows helped a lot. Drum Buss on the percussion helped retain impact, as did some reverb on most parts, and echo for the drums (automated) and percussion.
Title from an early use of cesium, element 55, used for the getters of vacuum tubes.
Kind of a weird arrangement that came together during the week: severely inverse-gated 505 drums, 909 for some heft, Tension clavinet (seriously tweaked to use plectrum, different finger weight...), Electric Mk1 (crunchy), Analog Off-World pad, Epi P-J bass (replacing initial synth bass) and Epi Moderne (through Reuss RF-01 and Vox Wah, into Auto-Filter). Sends: two convolution reverbs and one Echo, with Auto-Filter in front to make it interesting. Kind of weird to mix. It also changed tonal center during the arrangement process. Starting to feel like I'm recycling bass lines...but maybe it works.
Title from the element Xenon, element 54.
First track of the year! A fairly simple dub jam--606 samples (with automated auto-filter on kick and snare), bass (Epi P-J with EQ-8 rolloff), Ableton's Electric (Crunchy piano with auto-filter drive), and tabla samples. Sends: two convolution reverbs (one large, one smaller) and Echo (Dub Syndicate). Auto-pan on keys and tablas, Full-Chain Master on the stereo buss. I tried adding some other instruments here and there, but they didn't fit, so I'm keeping it simple.
Title comes from sources of iodine, element 53 (because I'm picking up where I left off).
Last track of 2017, here's a kind of funky thing that came together gradually over the week: drum rack from various sources, couple of Analog synths, Ableton's Electric, guitar (Res-O-Glas) and Bastl Kastle synth. Three convolution reverbs, delay, and full-chain master.
Title from the use of tellurium (element 52) in phase change memory chips.
This one's a simple in-the-box housey piece. Inspiration was reading about one insufferable wealthy blowhard or other who put out a promo video in which he pronounced "discotheque" with four syllables. This kind of gave me the idea of doing a sample-fest of it, but apparently he didn't pronounce it exactly the way I'd thought, so I instead went with a simple synth line that had the kind of cadence I'd envisioned, over a disco-y kind of house rhythm. It fell together rather quickly, which is good, because this has been a busy week.
909 drum rack, hand claps, four tracks of Ableton's Analog. Convo reverb and delay. Not a lot of fancy stuff. Title comes from PA's Route 51, which wasn't far from where I grew up.
Merry Christmas/happy holidays/happy solstice/happy Eggnog Riot anniversary, or whatever you're celebrating!
Mostly in-the-box, plus bass. Drum rack of 909, hand clap samples, Tension/Clav and Electric/Rhodes, Epiphone bass. Lots of roll-off on bass below 87Hz to get out of the way of the kick. Three sends--two convolution reverbs and one filter delay.
Title comes from the 50 Gates of Wisdom/Impurity of the Kabbalah.
This week I bought an old DOD 545 Wah Filter pedal (the beige one), otherwise known as the Bill Laswell pedal, and built up a little groove in anticipation. Initially I used Korg Minipops samples (thanks, Chris!) but there was a bit-depth grit around them that didn't seem to fit with this particular track, so I ended up replacing it with a drum rack of Analog synths. To supplement the kick, I added 606 kick in one track, and then some DR-660 percussion samples (thanks again to Chris! I remember my old DR-660 fondly; traded it for an MXR EQ...). I added a track of vibes, some of Analog, some Operator...but took them all out in favor of two tracks of Live's Electric plugin. Then I tracked bass through the DOD, and it was enormously low--so much so that I decided the kick should occupy a higher frequency range, and spent time fiddling to get a kind of balance. Saturday night I tracked guitar (Epi Moderne, through Vox Wah and Reuss RF-01, but also just through Vox Wah), and put a rough arrangement together. Some further fiddling, and here we are. (Sends: two convo reverbs, one amp spring and one room, and a delay. Full-chain master on the master channel.)
Title from the Kola Superdeep Borehole, for obvious reasons.
Working on some guitar stuff for something else, I did this week's track all-in-the-box, inspired by a friend sharing a bunch of single-hit drum sounds, mostly from unusual and odd drum machines. This one uses some sounds from a Blofeld, along with handclap samples and a bunch of Ableton Analog and Operator synths. Sends are two convolution reverbs and one set of simple delays.
Title from it being week 47, which is the atomic number of silver.
Another very busy week, but I found a few minutes here and there to play with more vocoded drums (tabla) and some other percussive synth, as well as a drum rack of sampled traps...but it wasn't really coming together until I realized it could work in 5/4. Bass clarified it a bit, though some of the MIDI voices (tabla, Operator organ, Operator percussion with Brushed Bell and Rubber presets) were tricky to time. I added some Electric piano at the last minute, and some automation to the sends: two convo reverbs, and one of bandpass Auto Filter (LFO set to random) into Simple Delay.
Title from the slippery feeling of the 5/4.
A return to guitar (Res-O-Glas) and bass (Epi), here's a drifty kind of track, named in part after the 44th department of France.
I started with a Drumulator part, much faster, and slowed it waaaay down, I added hand drum and hand claps, some Operator bass (which I took out) and organ lines, along with grand piano in Simpler...and based on a dream I had, I went back and split the two drum lines, adding a vocoder chain to each one--Analog on the Drumulator and Operator on the hand drum. Grand piano sounded too...grand-piano-y, so I used auto-filter to reduce bandwidth and sent it to sends only. Guitar got some auto-filter, as did the Drumulator kick (to bring out the peak).
Sends are two convolution reverbs and one LFO auto-filter into Simpler. Full-chain master on the 2-bus.
Another busy week, including a show using one of my Max/MSP patches, so here's a little dark ambient track making use of the same patch and similar improvisational methods. (The original input is just a sine wave, going through ring mods, pitch shifters, and delays, all of which have some level of randomization.) As a slightly different approach, I also put on a drum rack of Analog-synthesized drums. Bit of convolution reverb, delay, and Full Chain Master as well...and you have this steady-state kind of thing. My younger son suggested the title, because it sounded to him like something malfunctioning. (It does!)