Earlier this week, my Monday night ambient improv livestream was delayed by a bad cable, though it took me 20 minutes (live on Twitch) to figure that out. I ended up recording a lot of the plug/unplug/restart/swap-gear process, and had the thought that I should incorporate it into this week's track. That's the buzz/wah-noise/click sound in the background at the beginning, middle, and end.
Initially I'd tried sub looping a lot of it to use it as a rhythmic element, but that ended up sounding annoying. So I played guitar against it, and ultimately reverted to some snippets of the debug-noise, with cleaner guitar as an alternative or counterpoint.
There's some convolution reverb here, as well as compression/eq on the stereo.
The title comes from NGC 503 being an elliptical galaxy, but also from the ellipses in things I've left out of this, and the interruption of the live performance.
Earlier this week I was thinking of a simple rhythm and found myself tapping it out on the steering wheel: 4/4 on the left, double-time on the right. I brought it into Ableton Live as a kick/floor-tom combo, and started tracking guitar against it. Ultimately...I took the percussion out of it, but it was a way to start.
There are four tracks of guitar here (PureSalem Mendiola) with a touch of convolution reverb. There's a bit of grit on some of the tracks, from turning on the vintage circuit of the UA Volt1.
The title comes from the former Rt. 498 in Maryland.
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).
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)_/¯
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.
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!
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.
Week 40 of the year, here's a return to real bass and multi-track arrangement. Drum rack of Ableton Analog instruments for synth drums, tabla single-hits, another hand drum single-hit Impulse instrument, one for hand claps, two different instances of the Ableton Electric instrument, Ableton's Operator on the Plastic Vibraphone preset, and real bass. Sends are two convolution reverbs and a delay; there's some inline auto-filter here and there, along with EQ8 and Cabinet on the bass. Varying degrees of sends, some of which are automated. Full-chain master on the two-bus.
Title comes from the heat-resistant properties of zirconium (atomic number 40).
Wasn't sure where this week was going, but I started with three tracks of identically voiced Ableton Analog synth, which had a kind of string section sound--I kept these to odd, non-matching meters, and then added two tracks of drums--a jazz kit (which I bitcrushed and then removed the bit crushing from) and 909 with 4/4 parts. I added synth bass, which seemed to propel things...but didn't seem right on its own. Late in the week, I tracked a bunch of bass...that I didn't end up using, and then Saturday night heard a different way of playing it, so used those parts. (As ever, 80s Epiphone Embassy II on the P pickup.) I'd recommended that a friend check out Birdsongs of the Mesozoic (particularly the Beat of the Mesozoic EP), and had Martin Swope's playing fresh in my mind, so I tracked some Epiphone Moderne through the Reuss Repeater Fuzz and Vox Wah (all the way up). At the last minute I put on some grand piano lines with Ableton's Simpler.
Only the trap set got M4L Humanizer. Other instruments got varying degrees of auto-filter, and bass is sidechained to the 909 kick. Almost everything got auto-pan, and the mixdown got full-chain master. Sends are convolution reverb (Berlin Powerstation impulse) and filter delay into simple delay.
Title comes from the Bàbi and Bahá'í concept of Váhid, or Unity--a group of 19.
I wanted to do something ambient this week, and it ended up a bit more dense than I planned, but there three convolution reverbs (two of which, cascading, give that breathing effect), a lot of synthetic percussion, some drum machines, Kastle modular synth, and slowed-down singing bowl (as well as slowed-down in-my-tracking-space ambience). Title from the bell-like tonality of the singing bowl, and the fact that 15 is the fifth Bell number.