This week's track started out of an impulse to do something sparse and improvisatory like the last couple of Talk Talk records, but inevitably I made it denser. I'd started with a sparse syncopated drum line that didn't make it to the final mix, but the guitar parts are in response to that.
Saturday brought us the awful news of Tom Verlaine's passing, so one of the guitar parts has a heavy vibrato in tribute. (Tom's playing is a fundamental influence for me; I've been a listener and fan for decades, and I've been fortunate to attend several performances over the years as well.) RIP, Tom.
Guitar: inevitably, it had to be the Jazzmaster-shaped PureSalem Mendiola.
No inline effects, but there's a room-sized convolution reverb on everything, and the usual Wide & Warm audio effect rack for compression/eq.
The title comes from the galaxy NGC 474, which has dramatic glowing shells that might be tidal tails.
Another quick-recording/long-editing piece. This one started just as some drum syncopation, with a few atmospheric keys...and then kind of came together with bass and guitar.
Drums: Ableton 64 Pad Kit Jazz, with Max Humanizer
Keys: PureMagnetik Berlin electric piano
Guitar: PureSalem Mendiola through Vox Wah; one channel with Auto-Filter drive
Bass: 80s Epiphone Embassy II with EQ-8 low-end rolloff
Sends: convolution reverb (with high-pass Auto-Filter in front), Echo, Valhalla Supermassive
Master full-chain audio effect rack on the output.
Title comes from Messier 76, the Little Dumbbell Nebula.
Another rather busy week and weekend, so this one came together in a few quick sessions: one to come up with some drum beats, one with Danelectro baritone guitar for all guitar parts (three tracks--bass, rhythm, lead), and one to arrange/mix.
Drums: Ableton Drum Rack, using the Towel Kit preset rack--there was a slightly dead thump to these that I liked. There's some Max Humanizer on the drums as well (30ms).
All guitars are Danelectro baritone. The bass got a little EQ-8 to roll off extreme lows, and the lead got some Glue Compressor to control dynamics.
Sends: one Echo, one convolution reverb, and one Valhalla Supermassive.
The title comes from there being several religious sites and traditions mentioning 72 temples. There's kind of a road-trip vibe to this one, I think.
A very loungey/dubby kind of thing. By my usual standards this would be late (for various weekend reasons), but I'm taking advantage of this year's scheduling. This one started with sparse drums--initially I was thinking hip-hop, but with the dub echo, extremely mellow electric piano, and pedal steel...it went in a different direction.
Drums: Ableton 64 Pad Dub Techno kit, with Max Humanizer
Keys: PureMagnetik electric piano, Berlin Mark Two, with some auto-pan
Bass: 80s Epiphone Embassy II with flatwounds and EMG selects, p-pickup only, EQ-8 for low-end rolloff.
No-name 70s kit-built 10-string pedal steel with Moyo volume pedal, with Glue compressor and auto-pan
Sends: two Echo channels, one convolution reverb (with high-pass filter in front) for air on drums and bass, and Valhalla Supermassive
Full-chain multi-band compression (flat) on the stereo mix.
Title comes from the largest graceful graph on 14 nodes having 68 edges.
This was a busy weekend, so I'm getting this up late (for me). It's also just a four-tracker, and short. This started as some syncopated drum patterns in 6/4, with some alternate drum lines in 4/4, and alternating between the two. I used Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Jazz for these, and added a bit of Max Humanizer to slop it up a bit.
I did bass next--the usual Epiphone P-J with just the P pickup. I also did the usual EQ-8 rolloff. Some of these suggested different, related keys, though...I didn't really explore that thoroughly.
Guitars were done in a few passes, but had the same signal path: PureSalem Mendiola through Balls Effects KWB and Vox Wah, though one channel was neck pickup and the other bridge pickup.
Sends: two convolution reverbs, one large room, and one larger hall. There's also Echo plugin. And there's Ableton's Full-Chain multi band compression rack on the output.
Title comes from there being 63 groats in a guinea, according to the old English monetary system.
I had a thought to do all-in-the-box this week, partly thinking of Daft Punk retiring their collaboration, but then departing from that initial idea. There's still 808 as the drum machine (via Ableton's 808 Startup Kit), 4-bit Redux on the handclaps, and Ableton's Analog for bass and two synths. I also went for WaveTable (Juno Organ Wave, with the filter cutoffs brought way down).
Inline processing: I made use of Live 11's clip randomization with a narrow range of velocity variation in the drums here and there, as well as some in the bass. It might not be very audible. There's also a touch of Max Humanizer on the drums, which kind of defeats the purpose of using drum machine voicing...but maybe not.
Sends: Hybrid Reverb (the jury's still out on how useful I'll find this; I think I just prefer convolution reverb alone, rather than blended with an algorithm, and I'm not all that sold on the impulse I used here), Delay, Echo with LFO Auto-Filter in front, and Spectral Resonator, which is responsible for that little sparkly mechanical flourish every so many bars.
There's also the usual multi-band compression on the output.
Title comes from 61's status as the smallest proper prime
I'd had no ideas for this week's track until late Saturday evening, when I thought of a couple rhythms, and the idea of having bitcrushed and natural drum samples together. I put down some patterns in Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Jazz, and bitcrushed some complementary patterns from Ableton's 808 Core Kit with Redux (4 bits), avoiding the long tails with Gate.
Bass is just low notes on Ableton's default settings for Electric, though I also rolled off a bit of low end with EQ-8. Other keys: another channel of Electric, Operator's Organ2 Clicky preset (reverb send only), and Spitfire Labs Soft Piano.
Sends: Ableton Echo, a convolution reverb, and Valhalla Supermassive. Max Humanizer on the drums, and full-chain multiband compression on the stereo mix.
Title comes from the Ring Nebula, M57.
This week...there's been a lot to do, so I only spent a few minutes Friday night coming up with an intuitive drum line. On impulse, I went for one of the drum racks I did using Ableton Operator to generate the drum sounds. Saturday, I tracked bass, initially thinking a bit of 70s electric jazz (after reading Ethan Iverson's interview with Keith Jarrett from some years back) the one drum loop I'd written, and then thought to track more bass against it, higher up the neck. Then...rather than writing guitar, I added some ostinatos with Ableton's Analog, and electric piano lines with Ableton Electric. By this point...there wasn't any jazz left in it.
Inline effects: EQ-8 with different amounts of bass rolloff on each of the two bass lines, Max Humanizer on the drums.
Sends: one room-sized convolution reverb on bass, Valhalla Supermassive for keyboards, and Ableton Echo for occasional rhythm on the drums and keys. There's Full-Chain multiband compression on the stereo mix.
The title comes from Aristotle's notion of the number of layers of the universe.
This week started with some rhythms in Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Jazz (ultimately with Max Humanizer)...and then I didn't touch them for several days. Friday evening, I had a chord progression in mind that was a lot slower than the rhythms, so...ended up rejecting that, restoring it to just-faster than what I'd originally written.
I did several passes with the PureSalem Mendiola through the Balls Effects KWB, some with the bridge pickup (left channel, with Glue compressor), and some with the neck (right channel, which also gets some auto-filter bass rolloff). Next a pass with the Epi P-J bass, getting some EQ-8 bass rolloff.
Sends: Ableton Echo, room-sized convolution reverb, and Valhalla Supermassive. Full-chain multiband compression on the stereo mix.
The title comes from NGC 55, a galaxy in the constellation Sculptor.
Welcome to 2021's challenge! And apologies for the date/time confusion! (Looking on the bright side, those of us who've been working toward Sunday evening submissions...now get a chance to submit first thing instead of right before the deadline.)
I started this track late in the week, having a few rhythms in mind, but not much else, I put up some MIDI loops in Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Special (with Max Humanizer), and then responded to them with two tracks of guitar (home-made Res-O-Glas, direct into the Focusrite, with some Ableton Auto-Filter for tone-shaping). The initial thought around the guitar line was related to Miles Okazaki's weekly scale-shape project for 2020 (on Instagram), though the scale I'd started with...I ended up moving away from. Ultimately, I ended up filling in some spaces with reversed clips.
I used the usual Epiphone P-J bass (with low-end EQ-8 rolloff) in response to those guitar lines, and...really, that was about enough. I just needed four tracks.
Sends: Two convolution reverbs (one large, one smaller), one Ableton Delay, and Valhalla Supermassive. Full-Chain multiband compression on the stereo mix.
I'm picking up last year's naming scheme (number of week for the year, starting at 53). The title comes from port 53 being the port for DNS services.
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.
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.
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.
Kind of a chill-out vibe this week. I was hearing some syncopated drumming, so put up a 64-pad jazz drum rack, then some Puremagnetik Rhodes as chords and leads. Saturday night I tracked Epi P-J bass (through the Balls Effects KWB, and with EQ-8 and Cabinet for tone shaping) and Epiphone Moderne (through Vox Wah, both with and without Reuss Effects Repeater Fuzz. Without involved high-pass and low-pass Auto-Filter with drive.). A last pass involved adding some percussion and balancing some chords that weren't quite compatible...and here we are.
Sends: two different Echo plugins (based on vintage presets) and a convolution reverb. Full-Chain Master on the master channel.
Title from the meaning of the name of the village of Ytterby, site of the mine where this week's element (ytterbium) was discovered.
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.
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).
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!)
An all-in-the-box piece this week, it started sounding to me like my old on-iphone-sequencer yoctonaut project, so I'm considering it a kind of reboot. Having listened to a lot of minimal techno at the end of the other week, I wanted to go for clipped/gated percussion sounds. In some cases I used Ableton's gate plugin, but in others I just shortened the length of the played sample in Simpler. There's a drum rack of a dry trap kit that's gotten a lot of Gate on the short cut preset, as well as high-pass and low-pass auto-filter (and it's side chained to the kick of the next percussion channel). A drum rack of 909 kick and hat got shortened at the point of sampling, and got a lot of high-pass filter on the kick. Two channels of Impulse (hand claps and percussion) got short-cut gate treatment, one with that preset, and one with a tweaked attack to shorten it.
The bassline is in Operator, for which I used three sine voices and some low-pass filter. It's side chained to the 909 kick pretty heavily.
The rest of the voices (a pad and two leads) are in Analog, mostly variants of heavily low-pass filtered sawtooth voices, one with an initial pitch modulation for percussive presence.
Sends: three convolution reverbs (two ambience or dry room, one a much larger hall space), one Simple delay, and one Filter delay. Everything got some auto-pan except the 909 and bass, with the 909 getting randomized volume modulation with auto-pan. No humanizer on this one! And the master got Full-Chain Master, as always.
The title comes from the fact that in (sub)atomic physics, 20 represents an island of stability for numbers of protons and neutrons in heavier isotopes
A funk track emerged this week. I started playing with beats (single-hits from a dry funk kit), added percussion (tabla, claps, conga/bongo), Wurlitzer and Rhodes...some piano and organ that I removed, put on bass, and two tracks (distorted and not distorted) of Epiphone Moderne through the Vox Wah. Notable production items...included M4L humanizer, subtle use of a couple different convolution reverbs (room and plate), simple delay cascading into filter delay, and not any automation--it just seemed to work better as a static thing.
Title comes from association from the Pythagorean distaste for the number 17, coming as it does as the interval between the numbers 16 and 18. Also, I've used a lot of major seconds in this. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/17_(number)#cite_note-14, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_second#Epogdoon)
Also, mad respect to anyone hanging in there!