So... is this really the end ? I had so much fun with the Polyend Tracker doing this track, using regular samples for the drums and bass, and granular and wavetables for the rest, the last two built from the ambient sounds I recorded while on the Paris Metro last time I was there ! I mixed it in Mixbus and redid the reverbs and delays, and overlayed the field-recorded samples.
It was one hell of a year in many ways for me. But I learned a ton. So proud to have documented that here. Kudos to all of you for sharing their music here this year until the end, even when times were tough, it's been awesome listening to all of your tracks. Extra thanks to those who liked and commented, you guys rule. Cheers !
It was time to go back to my beloved Polyend Tracker, as it was pretty much what got me started on this 2021 streak ! After a firmware upgrade, and some fun playing with single cycle waveforms and granular instruments, this weird, haunting and dark track came up and took me. It's based around this pretty simple reverb-drenched drony D minor chord, bouncing kick drum, ominous bass and glitchy percs, and a touch of arpeggio. The raw mix from the Polyend was not bad, but I redid the delays and reverbs in my DAW after tracker stem export.
Seems like picking up an acoustic guitar always opens up inspiration, I kinda feel it's always the same tuning, the same picking patterns or progressions that come up, often a bit rushed and improvised, bit still, I really enjoyed playing this one. I had fun experimenting with various reverbs and delays post-recording (Harrison GVerb+, Dragonfly Reverb, Calf delays, Shiroverb...). The title comes from the fog that's been here sometimes for the whole day lately and gives a strange color to the days and perception of time.
Still having fun with Vital synth this week with this short track composed mainly with slightly tweaked stock presets, and some drums from Wavparty. Feels more like a cheap experiment or sketch than a song, but I learned some stuff while playing around with that synth. A bit frustrated to have no time for a decent mix on this one, it's pretty much exported raw from the DAW, but time is running out tonight.
This one is 100% Vital synth. I wanted to use only that plugin for every sound, so basically all drums, bass, pad and arps are Vital presets I built along the way. It's been a very interesting learning experience as far as sound design goes, and learning some of Vital's awesome features. The track is a bit short, just shy of 2:00, but I lacked the time and inspiration to make it go to more interesting directions. It's also been a frustrating experience editing midi in Harrison Mixbus, as I got a lot of crashes and freezes, may be due to the multiple Vital instances too. The title comes from a great book by David Whyte.
The idea this week was to build a track and a custom visualization to go along with it. The track is pretty simple, using some drum samples from Wavparty and 3 tracks of Vital synth. I did not spend a lot of time on the track, but ... quite a few hours learning how to use Cables ( https://cables.gl ). I have always been into audio visualizations, and Cables is reeeeeally awesome... but the learning curve is steep, you really need time to learn and experiment, it's essentially a graphics engine but it has audio operators that you can set up. I'm not sure I'm gonna publish the video for this track in the end, as its pretty weak... Maybe I'll attach a link later this week. Oh and the title comes from a weird dream where I ordered some food delivery, and the guy gave me a brown paper bag with this inscription at the bottom: "Neal's Diet". Weird.
Update: I finally finished the audio visualizer, here it is: https://cables.gl/p/61a881dcde88ee7fd57f9e1b?s=lmxD0efovtjyag0f
I wanted to try the Vital synth plugin and I built this track around a couple of stock presets with very few tweaks. I also used the Helm plugin by the same developer (Matt Tytel), as well as the Phrasebox plugin acting as an arpeggiator. So much goodness in all those plugins, both fascinating and overwhelming ! For the drums I used the Fabla sampler plugin by OpenAV. I don't often use automation in my DAW so that was a good opportunity to learn how to do that too. The sound samples are taken from a 1968 movie called the The Laser Beam, that Fran Blanche transferred from 16mm to YouTube (check out her amazing YT channel!).
I'd like to add a visual aspect to the track, I might add a video if I get anything good tomorrow.
Some more guitar this week, a simple instrumental classic-rock sounding track. As the year is slowly coming to an end, it seems like inspiration is not visiting as easily, and I realize that after all these years my guitar playing is still far from what I'd like to hear, which is a bit frustrating, that's what you get when you don't practice. ;) Let's hope I will find more time for that next year. Guitars were recorded through a Line6 Helix with a Fender Deluxe model and a Univibe for clean sounds, same path with an extra overdrive for the distorted parts. Bass is through an SVT model, and drums are EZDrummer, slightly customized to fit the track better.
I've had this chord progression in the head for a while but didn't know what I could do with it. This sounds rather like a jam than anything else and it's been a bit frustrating to not be able to make something more polished with this, I've felt annoyed on so many levels, my playing, the sound, the mix, somehow the track seemed to request more work than I could give it this week. I might keep working on this someday. Guitars and bass through Line6 Helix, drums is EZDrummer2.
Not much time this week, I wanted to have a look at Bespoke Synth, and it's a really cool piece of software. It tried to go for a non-cycling, semi-random track, and this track is the result of that. It's not really good, but I will try to investigate that further in the future, I guess even random generative tracks still require a lot more preparation so that it doesn't sound like your cat is randomly walking on your midi controllers while your dog is scratching the pads of a drum machine.
I got a bit carried away with this one, I had a few cool acoustic riffs based on the same open tuning as last week (CGCGCD), I tried to build a more complex song by adding various parts with drums, bass and electric guitar. Not really satisfied with the final result, some good parts though I think... The mix is probably not that good either. Acoustic guitars recorded with a single AT mic, electric guitars and bass through Line6 Helix, drums are EZDrummer2, recorded and mixed in Harrison Mixbus.
Back to acoustic guitar this week. This time I borrowed this open tuning from Chris Whitley, it goes CGCGCD. The fun thing with a new open tuning is that you are in unknown territory and you discover what chord shapes and notes come under your fingers and try to make something with that. I had a blast when I realized I could get this 12-strings-like sound with it. It's difficult to not sound cliché playing a blues form, but I tried to give it a prepared but still improvised vibe. Background recording consists of special guests: the three roosters in the neighborhood, birds and a barking dog, that makes the soundscape over here in the morning.
A pause in my acoustic streak with this ultra short metal track. 47 seconds of guitar, bass, drum programming and vocals. I followed this Reaper DAW tutorial this week to learn the basics of recording, editing and mixing with Reaper, and it was based around recording of a metal track with cheap or free plugins, and this is what I came up with. Your run-of-the-mill 80's guitar riffs, nothing pretty original, but it was really fun to do, and screaming into a mic is pretty fun too. So, DAW is Reaper, guitar and bass plugins are from Audio Assault, drum plugin is AVL Drums Red Zeppelin. Well I think I will not leave my usual DAW (Harrison Mixbus) for Reaper though, it seems pretty cool, but I'm really enjoying the workflow of Mixbus better.
This one ends my acoustic guitar / DADGAD tuning trilogy. It's been very challenging for me to write, transcribe, practice, record and edit. It took 6 or 7 takes, and some editing to piece that together, remove a few string noises that were too loud, there's even an edit mistake that I think takes a 16th note out of one of the patterns. The tune is made of a few patterns with alternating odd and even meters. This time I didn't add anything more than the guitar track and a few effects. I will probably keep working on this one to be able to play it better.
Continuing on my acoustic guitar experiments in DADGAD tuning with another simple track. Only a miked acoustic, no DI this time. A main guitar track and two percussion tracks made of tapping on the guitar body itself. Added a couple of synth tracks and some effects. Synth is the Odin synth plugin, DAW is as usual Mixbus. This track is about not forgetting where you come from.
Back to acoustic guitar this week, with a very simple track, played sort of free form and recorded in one take. It has multiple parts and could probably become a more structured song in the future, provided I record with a click track or add drums. I added a few effects and subtle synth parts to add some variety. Once again it's in DADGAD tuning, I've been listening a lot to Pete Huttlinger's brilliant album McGuire's Landing on which he uses that tuning a lot, and I've become quite obsessed with it. Not really satisfied with my playing, I really need to practice... but it felt good playing guitar again. Recorded with an AT2035 mic and as well as acoustic pickup as DI, synth effects with the Surge plugin, effect plugins are Calf Vintage Delay and a linuxDSP (now Overtone) RVB500 reverb, DAW is Harrison Mixbus.
This short track is another one made with Caustic on my phone. It has a light hearted feeling to it, maybe because the sun has been shining almost everyday since I moved to a new place, and everything is so peaceful here. It may sound a bit bland an generic, but that's how it came out. Probably my last track using Caustic on my phone for now, as my workspace/music space is now almost functional.
As I will be away from my usual gear for the next weeks while I'm moving, I tried to learn how to use Caustic on my Android phone to make this little track. While it's been around for a while, Caustic has a pretty decent user interface and some good sound engines too ! It was pretty fun, but I still need to play around with the app to understand it better.
Not much time this week, took a sample pack from Wavparty, fed it to my Polyend Tracker and tried to build a basic song structure. I think it could be longer, but with some lyrics, as an instrumental it would probably be a bit boring. Mainly unfinished, but I like the chord progression.