I didn't begin this one until Saturday evening, with a sense of doing something sparse--a bit like Bark Psychosis, though this did end up going in another direction. Having checked out a few Ableton Loop sessions, I also thought to use the clip-level probability interface for the drums and keys--in these cases, usually the first beat is at 100%, but subsequent notes were at 75-80% probability.
Drums are Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Special, with a bit of Max Humanizer, and sends to convolution reverbs.
Bass is the usual 80s Epiphone Embassy II, with some EQ-8 low-end rolloff, and sends to the reverbs for air.
The keyboard is LABS soft piano, with Auto-Pan and a send to an Echo plugin.
Guitars are 2008 Danelectro baritone on both pickups, with inline high-pass Auto-Filter with drive, and sends to the reverbs.
The title comes from the fact that this is week 78 since the beginning of 2020, so...78 rpm records came to mind.
I'd had a thought of doing something a bit sparser this week, and while this one's more dense than I was thinking, some of the initial inspiration remains. The rhythms are mostly very syncopated, and are done with the usual 64 Pad Kit Jazz with an automated delay send and Max Humanizer.
For guitar, I used my home-built Res-O-Glas, and started with the little single-note line, and then responded to it with the chordal tremolo guitar (using a pedal from Mike Carey in Milwaukee), with a send to Valhalla Supermassive. I went back and forth between trem and non-trem channels, to do leads in response to rhythm, and rhythm in response to leads. The clean lead channel had a send to a large convolution reverb--spacious, but not quite as harmonic as the Valhalla.
For bass, I did the usual 80s Epiphone Embassy II, on the P-pickup. It got some low-end rolloff with EQ-8, and a send to a smaller convolution reverb (as did the drums).
The title comes from the use of the number 77 as a password at the Swedish border during WWII.
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.
Here's one I recorded in a few quick, improvisatory sessions, but it needed a bit of attention to edit together. My initial thought was to emphasize toms and kick, avoiding the snare if I could, and then respond to that. (There's a snare rimshot sound every so often, but no overt snare hits.)
Recording the guitar went quickly, though once I'd settled on which key I preferred, I did need to go back and record a bit more. With bass, I'd recorded a bunch of parts, and ended up throwing most of them out, going instead with lines I tracked last in arrangement view.
Guitar: PureSalem Mendiola straight into the Focusrite. (Each channel got inline Auto-Filter for drive/coloration). Bass: 80s Epiphone Embassy II (neck pickup only). EQ-8 for some low-end rolloff. Drums: Ableton 64 Pad Kit Special, with Max Humanizer.
Sends: Valhalla Supermassive, Ableton Delay, convolution reverb with Auto-Filter to roll off lows.
Title comes from the lenticular galaxy NGC 74.
A crowded weekend--I still tracked everything, but didn't get the pieces arranged until Monday evening. (The way the deadlines fall this year, that works out.) It's a short piece, a bit sloppy (trying to fiddle with latency settings here), but it has a pleasantness to it.
All Danelectro baritone guitar (the 1449 reissue from 2008) straight into the Focusrite A/D--two tracks of both pickups (lead and bass), one of just the bridge (rhythm). Drums: Ableton 64 Pad Kit Rock with Max Humanizer. Keys: Puremagnetik Mark Two Berlin.
Sends: one convolution reverb, one Echo (with LFO auto filter in front of it), Valhalla Supermassive. Multi-band full-chain on the output.
Title comes from 71 being the algebraic degree of Conway's constant, which describes a property of look-and-say sequences.
This one began with the syncopated drums (Ableton 64 Pad Kit Jazz) and not much else of a thought behind it, though a few electric piano chords with PureMagnetik Berlin Mark Two kind of pointed the way. I added the usual 80s Epiphone Embassy II bass, tracked a bit more of the electric piano, and then finally tracked pedal steel. I'd tuned the 9th and 10th strings down a bit, from their usual E9 values (so the tuning is now A C# E F# G# B E G# D# F#), and that gives me a bit more of the notes I want on the low side of the board. (I track pedal steel with a Moyo passive volume pedal.)
Inline processing: a bit of Max Humanizer on the drums, Glue compressor on the pedal steel, and the usual EQ-8 on bass. The usual full-chain multi band compression on the output.
Sends: Ableton Echo, convolution reverb, and Valhalla Supermassive.
Title comes from NGC 70, a distant spiral galaxy.
Here's one that grew kind of organically out of some syncopated drums. I'd started with Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Rock, and something in the high-hat suggested a funky approach. For some extra flavor, there's 64 Pad Finger Snare LBB, and a track of handclaps.
I initially tracked a few Rhodes lines with PureMagnetik Mark Two Berlin, but ended up removing them, along with PureMagnetik Mellotron. Instead, I tracked a lot of Epiphone bass (though initial loops weren't quite funky enough, so out they went), and then two passes with PureSalem Mendiola through Vox Wah (one bridge pickup and one neck pickup.)
Inlines: Max Humanizer on the drums and percussion, Bass got the usual EQ-8 rolloff.
Sends: Ableton Delay, Valhalla Supermassive, and room-sized convolution reverb. Full-Chain multi band compression on the stereo out.
The title comes from the root of the Rhône river, which runs through the 69th department of France.
Another intuitively-structured one, this one began with a slow drum beat, and got interesting when I added long-persisting delay with filtering to it. I did a few different rhythms with Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Special drum rack, and added some handclaps, along with some Rhodes which I took out again.
Next up was Epiphone P-J bass, using the usual signal chain (EQ-8 for bass rolloff), though I'd also rolled down the tone control. I'd initially thought of rolling off highs...but changed my mind for this one, so the bass is close to typical.
Guitar was home-built Res-O-Glas through the Balls Effects KWB for a bit of overdrive, and Vox Wah for both tone shaping (rhythm track) and effect (lead track).
Sends: bandpass Auto-Filter with LFO frequency center into Ableton's Echo (analog triplet dub preset, tweaked to remove some noise), Valhalla supermassive on a large reverb preset, and high-pass Auto-Filter in front of a room-sized convolution reverb.
Inline: Bass got EQ-8, while drums got Max Humanizer. Guitars got some auto-pan to get them out of each other's way, though lead guitar also got some Glue Compressor. And I used that channel to do some reversed clips from time to time as well.
The editing/arrangement process involved a lot of cutting things out--I played more than I kept in. (This is even down to certain notes; it just sounded better with things left out.)
Title comes from *67 being the call-waiting-blocking code for a lot of telephone systems.
This week's track came at me kind of sideways--while I started with syncopated drums as I often do...the melodic and harmonic components started with keyboards, lending a different flavor, I think. On Saturday I tracked a few bits of guitar, not sure how it'd all come together, and bass on Sunday before collaging the clips. Finally, I tracked a couple guitar phrases to fill in gaps. And...here we are.
Drums: Ableton 64 Pad Kit Jazz with Max Humanizer
Drum Rack of hand claps with Max Humanizer
Piano: PureMagnetik CP-70, acoustic only
Electric Piano: PureMagnetik Rhodes Mark One, through AudioThing Motor
Bass: Epiphone P-J, low-end rolloff with EQ-8
Guitar: PureSalem Mendiola through Ableton Auto-Filter (high-pass and low-pass with drive, Ableton Utility and Cabinet
Sends: Bandpass Auto-Filter with LFO into Echo, Valhalla Supermassive, convolution reverb with high-pass Auto-Filter
Title comes from this being the 66th track since I started doing numerically-based names, and stretches of the famous Route 66 have been removed from maps.
Running a little late (for me) on this one, for...reasons. I wrote the drum patterns late Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, had some piano lines I threw out, and put down bass (Epiphone P-J, EQ-8 rolloff, room-sized convolution reverb send) and pedal steel (Balls Effects KWB, Moyo Volume, Ableton Auto-Filter, Glue Compressor, Utility, Auto-Pan). I ultimately replaced the piano with Ableton's Operator (Bells & Thin Pad preset). Then...although I'd tracked more pedal steel, I just put in some reversed accents from the first channel into another.
Sends: room-sized convolution reverb, Echo, and Valhalla Supermassive. Full-Chain multi-band compression on the stereo mix, and finally some inline Max Humanizer on the drums.
Title from 64 being the sixth power of 2.
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.
Running maybe a bit late on this one--hey, it was Thundersnow weekend--but I've been uploading at the start of deadlines, not the finish. So...going to say it's all good.
This one started with some syncopated drums (64 pad kit rock) and a couple (Ableton Grand) piano chords...and I thought to add Epiphone bass (usual P-J, EQ-8 low-end rolloff and reverb send) and...instead of regular guitar, just pedal steel (no effects other than passive volume pedal). I fleshed it out with a few more piano bits, added and removed hand claps, and added some sends: Delay, Valhalla Supermassive, Echo (Dub Syndicate preset), and convolution reverb with high-pass auto-filter in front to avoid low-end buildup. I went back and added some Max Humanizer on drums to reduce the mechanical feeling, and did alternating sends to delay and echo.
The title comes from the ziggurats of the Sumerians, who gave us the 60-minute hour, among other 60-based things.
Once again, I only devoted time to this one very late in the week, with the syncopated drum and percussion lines. I'd had a thought of emphasizing bass, and having the guitars be more of a background wash...and a number of things claimed time during the weekend, so what I'd had tracked...had to fit together somehow, so here we are.
Drums: Ableton 64 Pad Kit Jazz, Ableton Percussion drum rack. Bass: Epiphone P-J with EQ-8 low-end rolloff. Guitars: PureSalem Mendiola through Balls Effects KWB for some grit, and also through high-pass Auto-Filter. There's one track of bridge pickup, one of neck pickup (output to send only), and another track of output to send only. Some clips are reversed.
Sends: one convolution reverb, one Valhalla Supermassive, and one delay. There's another convolution reverb I almost used--a large space--but it ended up sounding too mechanical on drums here.
Title from M58, a barred spiral galaxy.
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.