Turn of the Wheel
The first idea I had this week was to concentrate on bass and drums, emphasizing toms and avoiding the snare. Initially I wasn't sure if I'd include guitar at all. I'd come up with some syncopated rhythms in Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Jazz drum rack, and put a long-decaying Echo send on it. (At the end, I gave the drums a bit of Max Humanizer.)
I put down some bass lines with my usual Epiphone P-J bass (with EQ-8 roll-off below 120 Hz), and then realized I wanted another track of bass, higher on the neck, to respond to the first track. (That second track of bass got EQ-8 bass rolloff with a higher shelf.)
Then I'd thought I should have something else in there for sonic variety, but wanted to change things up a bit from recent tracks. So I grabbed the Heit Deluxe I keep in Turkish baglama tuning (Gg DD Aa), and put down two tracks of improvisations against the bass lines. (It's going through an EHX LPB2ube with the left and right channels cascaded into one output.) One channel got some high-pass Auto-Filter with drive, and the other didn't have any additional in-Ableton processing. Both got sent to a room-sized convolution reverb (along with the drums and bass).
In arranging, I thought to do some reversing of some of the Heit chords, and sent that track to a return channel with Valhalla Supermassive. And the stereo mix got multiband compression with Ableton's Full Chain effect rack.
Title comes from the number of years in three Saros cycles of solar and lunar eclipses; this is apparently called a Triple Saros or exeligmos--the turn of the wheel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Whoops, didn't realize at first that our deadline was Saturday night. Here's one I'd been working on this week, out of the desire to hear a Laswell-dubbified Jesus-Lizard kind of thing. Not sure I got there, but it's an interesting direction. Drums: rock kit, some high-pass auto-filter on the kick to boost it, low-pass auto-filter with drive to roll off some overall highs and give it some grit, and I put 24ms of M4L Humanizer on there to give it a bit of breath. (Any more than that felt too slow and sloppy.)
Bass: 80s Epiphone P-J (P only) with flat wounds into the board, some Cabinet plugin to give it air, and a convolution reverb send.
Keys: Clavinet with LFO bandpass auto filter into delay for that hypnotic thing, and Operator (Funky Organ) to give some pad effect.
Guitar: two tracks of Epiphone Moderne through EHX LPB2ube (cranked, two sides cascaded) and Vox Wah for tone shaping.
Sends: two different convolution reverbs (one with a high-pass filter to keep the kick from getting boomy), and three different filter delay combos, some with simple delay, one with band-pass LFO auto-filter for the dubby drum effect.
Also, Full-Chain Master on the 2-mix.
Title is a reference to the Jesus Lizard.
(Edit: brought one of the guitar motives back in toward the middle and end.)