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.
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.
A little later than usual with this one, but...the timing of the challenge works in my favor here.
This week I (mostly) finished restoring a 70s (maybe earlier? but the pickups seem to be 70s) pedal steel, built from a kit, and out of commission for quite a long time before it came to me. I've put on new tuners, cleaned things up, made adjustments, and...it's a playable instrument! I've wanted to play a pedal steel for years, so it's nice to bring that to life. So this week's track had to feature it. (Inline effects: a bit of Auto-Filter for high-pass, and Auto-Pan for faint tremolo.
I did start with a couple syncopated patterns I came up with using Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Jazz, with some Max Humanizer. After tracking pedal steel and Epiphone bass (usual EQ-8 rolloff), added two tracks of home-built Res-O-Glas guitar (through the Balls Effects KWB and Vox Wah, then inline high-pass Auto-Filter and Cabinet for some air).
Sends: two Echo channels (Tape Reverb and Dark Fade presets), and two convolution reverbs with high-pass Auto-Filter.
There's Master Full-Chain (flat) on the stereo out.
The title comes from there being 59 stellations on a regular icosohedron.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Join us for 2020 over on Weekly Beats!
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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
This is a weird one. For a while I've been thinking of doing a piece composed of gestures on guitar, rather than playing notes--building a piece out of a vocabulary of incidental sounds. So this is a step toward that. I did several passes of Res-O-Glas (direct into the board) and several clips of Moog guitar through Vox Wah for drone texture. Arranging it...I shortened a lot of the Res-O clips to focus on scrapes and clicks (leaving in the switch-pop of a pickup selector switch, which still kind of sounds wrong...), time-stretching some clips, compressing others, and looking for repetitive patterns in them.
Four Res-O tracks are panned to fixed positions, while the Moog got auto-pan. Sends: two different convolution reverbs--a smaller room for the Res-O, and a concert hall for the Moog. Full-Chain Master on the 2 buss.
Title from this week's element, gold, apparently formed in the Earth's mantle.
A very intuitive piece--I cobbled together three drum kits with syncopated rhythms, and composed a keyboard line...which I threw out after I picked up the Fahey-tuned Univox hollow body. There are three tracks of that, with varying degrees of fuzz. Not a bad hook...though very simple.
Sends: convo reverb and a delay; full-chain master on the master, and drum buss on the drums.
Title from the derivation of this week's element, platinum.