Serial band and project starter, synth player who considers himself a guitarist, compulsive weekly composer.
Lots going on this final week with the holiday, but I did manage to complete a track...even with a power outage Sunday night.
Part of the concept this week was to include instruments and effects I accumulated in 2019, so we have an acoustic guitar part (vintageparlorguitars.com size-2 parlor) and two electric parts (PureSalem Mendiola, courtesy of Premier Guitar's Mystery Stocking), one of which went through the Balls Effects KWB pedal. Otherwise...this started first as a kind of dub dirge, but got a bit funkier. Other instruments: two drum racks (Cassette 606, Ableton Cyndal kit), Ableton Operator (Funky Organ preset), Ableton Electric (MkI2 Crunchy preset).
Sends: one convolution reverb, one tweaked Echo.
Title from Ernest Rutherford's coinage of "alpha" and "beta" for different kinds of radioactive emissions. (Element 104, the last in our weekly element-related tracks series, was named for him.)
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A long track. This past week included a show on guitar, through a new Max/MSP patch. The signal chain is a Waves Factory Cassette VST, four parallel tapin/tapout pairs with variable lengths and regeneration, and convolution reverb. Delays and reverb also had variable bleed back to the input, and I set up message objects with fixed delay amounts so that I could snap the delay suddenly to new values. It's a work in progress, but I'm into the direction in which this is going. (UI work is important here; I'm using the Mira app to give more immediate access to the controls.)
Still, kind of a cool wintery vibe here.
Guitar (the Res-O-Glas) is going through a MOYO passive volume pedal and into the Focusrite. I pseudo-mastered this in Live with the Full-Chain Master effects rack.
Title from the unexpected volatility of this week's element, Lawrencium.
Lots going on this week, including patching for an upcoming show. But here's a track, built up in response to a vague sense of syncopated rhythm. Drums: Ableton's Brush Rack, Acoustified, 20, Impulse of handclacps. Keys: Ableton's Electric (MkI2 Crunchy), Simpler Grand Piano, and bass.
Title from the symbol for this week's element, Nobelium.
A week with a lot going on, so here's an all-in-the-box track with five instruments: all of them FM synth Ableton Operator. There's a drum kit, two bass lines (triangle and filtered sawtooth) and two sine-like voices--one for a staccato voice, and one for a pad/drone. There's some auto-pan and Full-Chain master, and an Echo send, but that's it.
Title from the gold target used in the production of this week's element, Mendelevium.
This one came together kind of unexpectedly--I'd wanted to use my new(-ish) acoustic guitar, a size 2 parlor guitar from Vintage Parlor Guitars. The unexpected bit was that the first rhythm I had in mind worked best with a simple kit built up from Ableton's Operator FM synth--so the track first seemed to have a kind of Autechre direction. I threw in some Operator bass, and some Simpler with grand piano and prepared piano samples, and put in a return channel of convolution reverb with the Fort Worden cistern impulse response.
While I tracked several electric bass lines, I didn't end up using them--they weren't quite working with the rest of the track.
At the end, I impulsively put acoustic guitar in the second half (recorded with a Karma Mics condenser-in-XLR-body), and it pretty much worked, especially with some normal-room convolution reverb on a send. There's also some Waves Factory Cassette plugin on the grand piano. I'd initially had it on the guitar, but it just mainly made it sound bad.
There's some Full-Chain Master on the output, a bit of automation to the sends, and an additional send with Ableton Echo. And that's about it.
Title from the half-life of the longest-living isotope of Fermium (element 100).
A reactive piece built up from a general sense of drum groove. One realistic-ish drum rack (64-pad rock kit), one 808 (mostly kick, with occasional obvious drum machine snare), hand claps, two channels of Epiphone P-J bass, and three channels of Epiphone Moderne guitar (through Vox Wah). I'd had a line of keyboards I took out. Auto-Filter with drive on one guitar channel, Auto-Pan on 808 and high bass, Drum Buss on the rock kit.
Sends: two convolution reverbs, and a channel of Echo.
Title from the property of this week's element, Einsteinium, which is radioactive enough to damage its crystal structure just by existing.
This week was an exercise in cutting to make something kind of ordinary potentially interesting. I had a chord progression in mind that was fun and satisfying to play, but which sounded...pedestrian. Rather than throw it out, I went for cuts. While I tracked it in a straightforward way, in this rendering, the first half of this piece disrupts the progression by emphasizing off-beats, and the second half restores the cut sections, but removes the parts that are audible in the first part. Two other guitar lines get a similar cutting treatment, without the restoration, and parts of the bassline are cut as well.
Drums: one track of 64-pad rock kit (every seventh beat dropped), and one track of 808 samples. Guitar: three tracks of Res-O-Glas recorded through the Vox Wah, with different sets of low-cut and high-cut Auto-Filter to simulate amp drive. Bass is the usual Epi P-J with EQ-8 low-cut, and a bit of air with a convolution reverb send. Guitars get that send, too...as do drums. There's also a delay send that the drums go to. There's flat full-chain master on the 2-bus.
Title from the use of this week's element (californium) to start nuclear reactors.
Travel had me starting very late on this one, only doing some initial beats in 6/8 (Ableton 64-pad rock kit) and bass on Friday night, adding a bit of Operator (1st and 3rd partial) late Saturday. Initially I'd thought of adding guitar, but...I found myself enjoying the sparse dub-like quality of this, even though it's not that heavy on the dub delay. It needed something else at the end, so I added three tracks of Simpler with different field recording samples.
Sends: Convolution reverb (with Auto-Filter bass rolloff), Echo (Dem Ducks, with tweaks). Full-chain master on the 2.
Title from a quality of berkelium, this week's element--it emits low-energy electrons, so it's safe to handle...but on the other hand, it decays into the very-radioactive californium, so...if you have the opportunity to handle any, just don't.
An all-in-the-box yoctonaut track this week. Two drum racks: one percussion (Plena kit), and one 808 (Kit-808 Classic), an impulse kit of hand claps, and three tracks of Operator--one with just one oscillator, and two with two. I had two return channels, but just used one of them, the Echo. There's some Drum Buss on the 808, and some Auto-Pan on some tracks. Full-Chain Master on the stereo master.
Title from the anecdote that Seaborg revealed the existence of this week's element (Curium) on the radio show Quiz Kids. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
This week's track, done in a few quick passes...and with a day-long pause while the laptop was in the shop.
I had four Drum Rack lines (Kit Carbon, two Muttkaste, Altered Kit), three of which were severely filtered, one of which boosted (one of the Muttkaste). There's also Electric and Vibes, two Res-O-Glas (different Auto-Filter settings), and Epiphone P-J bass (EQ-8). Putting it together...my sense of the "one" kept shifting, so there's a weird floating feeling to this one. I kept needing to cut parts that got cluttered.
Sends: two echo returns, one convolution reverb.
Title from the crystalline structure of Americium, this week's element.
Early in the week, I had a funky drum beat in my mind, and threw it together with Ableton's 64-pad rock kit. I didn't have a chance to put guitar on it right away, so I temporarily filled the track in with a looped field recording from my back yard. Gradually, keys went on (filtered Analog), and I added bass. Finally, late Sunday, I had a few minutes to put guitar (Res-O-Glas, Vox Wah) on, and then I cut down the field recordings significantly, as well as slowing speed and dropping pitch.
Drums: Drum Buss, vinyl distortion. (I'd got it into my mind that this would add character.)
Bass: EQ-8, with bass rolloff.
Guitar: Auto-Filter high/low pass with drive.
Field recordings: Auto-Filter high/low pass, auto-pan
Sends: convolution reverb, Echo ("A Bit Tipsy" with time changed and noise/wobble reduced). Full-chain master on the 2-bus.
Title from Fermi's name for element 94 (plutonium) when he'd thought he'd discovered it--"hesperium." (He didn't.)
Suddenly, instrumental power pop. This week started with the little legato line you hear in the left channel, and the rest followed along: drums (the Ableton 64-pad rock drum rack, percussion from a maraca sample), three channels of Res-o-Glas guitar (a couple of them through the EH LPB2ube), and Epi P-J bass. A fair amount of auto-filter on guitar, and EQ-8 on bass. Sends: two convolution reverbs. Full-Chain Master on the master channel.
Title from this week's element, Neptunium.
This piece came together from some syncopated drum lines and little compositional direction. I put down some Electric and Operator lines, tracked bass around a few repetitive figures, and guitar (Res-O through Vox Wah) on top...which didn't coalesce until I copied the guitar lines to another channel and reversed all the clips in that channel. Then it kind of came together. Very little inline processing except for M4L Humanizer and Drum Buss on the drums, Auto-Pan on the keys, Auto-Filter with drive on the forwards guitar. Sends: two convolution reverbs, Delay, Echo. Full-Chain master on the master channel. Kind of floaty.
Title from associations from this week's element, uranium. I'm a fan of the work of the late sculptor James L. Acord, who was the only private individual to have earned a license to work with radioactive materials, including uranium (which he initially gathered by leaching it off of mango red Fiestaware). He'd planned a series of sculptures--reliquaries--designed to contain radioactive materials, which he'd wanted to install at the Hanford Reservation, a project he didn't live to complete.
This week's track was an in-the-box kind of thing. I'd been thinking of doing something house-influenced, so put together 606 samples, percussion samples, hand-claps, Ableton Analog synths (bass, lead, pad), and then threw some Simpler grand piano through a low-pass and high-pass Auto-Filter with drive for a tiny-speaker feel. Sends: one convolution reverb and one Echo (tweaked to be less noisy and wobbly, and with a longer delay period.) Master channel got some pseudo-mastering assistance from Izotope Ozone 8 (free at the moment) on the more-depth preset.
Title from the crystalline shape of one isotope of this week's element, protactinium.
This week's track was about playing with some syncopated rhythms, which then coalesced into something funky. Drums: one Drum Rack with the Crossroads Kit preset, one 808 Status Quo, one with some tabla samples, and one set of handclaps. Operator on the Funky Organ preset. One track of Epiphone P-J bass, and two of Res-O-Glas guitar (one clean with Vox Wah, and one with Reuss RF-01). A bit of Drum Buss and M4L Humanizer on the Crossroads kit, and EQ-8 on the bass.
Sends: one convolution reverb, one Delay, and one Echo. Full-Chain Master on the mixdown.
Title from the way that thorium-treated lenses will darken over time.
While busy weeks are common now, this one was notably busy. But here's a track anyway. I had kind of a dub idea in mind, thinking of space and interplay...which I kind of got away from, but perhaps not unlistenably.
Drums: Ableton's Borella kit, with Drum Buss, little tiny synth noises from the Ableton DrumSynth kit, and hand claps with Impulse. Epi P-J bass, and Epi Moderne guitar (through Vox Wah). Operator for the organ part. I tracked some fretless guitar that I didn't end up using...but the fretless will probably reappear soon.
Sends: two convolution reverbs, one Delay, and one Echo.
Title from the etymology of this week's element, actinium.
Lots going on this week, so this came together quickly Saturday night and Sunday. Started with reverse-gated 606 syncopated line, adding hand claps. I then tracked three different sets of lines with Res-O-Glas guitar (Balls Effects KWB -> Vox Wah -> Ableton Auto-Filter -> Ableton Cabinet), Epiphone P-J bass (EQ-8 to roll off lows). Then I went back to add a line of percussion, which sounded wrong, so I bitcrushed it. This one was very intuitive--just tracking little improvised phrases that seemed to work with each other.
Sends: two different room sizes of convolution reverb, with one channel of echo. Full-chain master on the 2-bus.
Title from the inspiration for radium's name. Kinda obvious, but there we have it.
Kind of a mood piece. Much of my musical activity this week was focused on the monthly covers project (Black Sabbath this month), so my work on this one was a little later than usual, and more intuitive and reactive than planned.
Drums: reverse-gated 606 and 808, straight 808, and Ableton Cashon kit. Bit of Ableton Electric piano, and Epi bass, with two tracks of Res-O-Glas guitar (Balls Effects KWB pedal into Vox Wah). Bass got the usual EQ-8 low rolloff, while one channel of guitar got the low-pass and high-pass Auto-filter treatment. Both got Cabinet. Lot of send automation to a channel of Ableton Echo (with LFO band-pass Auto-Filter in front of it), and two different room convolution reverbs for space.
Title from the fact that this week's element, Francium, was the last to be discovered in nature, instead of being produced synthetically.
Another all-in-the-box week. Drum machines: 606 (reverse-gated), 808 Aristocrat, 808 Startup, Impulse hand claps. Strings are from Ableton's African sampling project--Zeze, two tracks of Adungu, and finally a Puremagnetik Mellotron cello.
Title from this week's element radon's tendency to seep into buildings from below.
I built this one up out of little snippets of rhythms across four tracks, and ended up with an all-in-the-box piece. Drums and percussion all got reverse gating for a severely clipped envelope--three drum racks (Cassette 606, 808 Depth Charge, percussion) and one Impulse instrument of hand claps. There are two channels of Operator, one for bass, and one for swells, and one track of distorted Puremagnetik Rhodes. Sends: two convolution reverbs (ambience and a weird space) and Echo. Full-chain master on the master channel.
Title from the instability of astatine, this week's element.
A more "intuitive" approach on this one: I threw together a few drum beats during the week that had some ambiguity, and then tracked bass (Epi P-J) and guitar (Res-O) Friday and Saturday, not having much of an overall architectural plan, other than cutting parts out of the bass for the start/stop feeling in the beginning. Gradually it came together with Ableton Simpler grand piano as glue (Auto-Filter high- and low-pass with drive to make it grittier). Auto-Filter overdrive on guitars, EQ-8 on bass. Sends: Echo (Analog Triplet Dub) and two convolution reverbs.
This week's element was Polonium, which...is pretty negative as a subject. Apparently mid-20th-century, Firestone produced polonium spark plugs, which seems...like a bad choice.
I've had a run of busy weeks, this one even busier with the addition of an Elvis Costello cover for friends' covers project. So this week's track...was somewhat simpler in writing and slightly less complex than usual in production.
Six passes of Res-O-Glas guitar straight into the Focusrite. Tracks all got some Auto-Filter with drive for processing, but otherwise no funny stuff. Sends: one convolution reverb and one echo on just one channel. Panning is static. Full-chain Master on the output.
Title from one of the early names ("tectum argenti") for bismuth, this week's element.
This week's track started with the two drum patterns (Electro Dub kit and 64-pad rock kit) that together had a slow, off-kilter groove with each other. I didn't get around to tracking until Friday evening (one whole set of Fahey-tuned guitar that I didn't use, fake Mellotron that I didn't use, either). Saturday I did bass and Epiphone Moderne (Reuss RF-01 and Vox Wah, and also a track of non-distorted Moderne with wah). I extracted a track of unintentional sounds from the fuzz channel, and arranged them throughout for some texture; I'd toyed with the thought of building the piece around them, but opted to go for something less outside this time.
Sends: two convolution reverbs (room ambience, weirder room ambience on the fuzz guitar) and one echo (automated send on the one drum). There's a lot of EQ-8 to roll off low frequencies on the bass and on the electro-dub kit. And some M4L Humanizer on the drums. Full-chain master on everything.
Title from one of the earliest uses (fishing sinkers) for this week's element, lead.
Very busy week including travel to the spatial audio workshop at RPI, so this is a quick little improv with Max/MSP. [cycle~] into the pitch/delay/pan/degrade network, a bit of convolution reverb, and Full-Chain Master in Live.
Title from the use of this week's element thallium in photoresistors.
Very busy week, including prep for a Max/MSP show with mic feedback, so this week's submission is one of the test runs through the Max/MSP patch, with guitar. Kinda ambling and chaotic.
.aiff file captured to the drive, then brought into Ableton for level correcting, a touch of convolution reverb, and Full-Chain Master. And there we have it.
Title from the discovery of liquid mercury under this temple in Teotihuacan