Sometime ago I received an supporting email about this blog, which is always great, but one thing that was mentioned as a slight criticism, and one I happen to agree with, was how they really enjoyed the purity of the earlier uploads compared to the later ones that had more and more outboard gear used. I have to agree, as much as I love playing with fx, as many of you regular readers will know, (if there are any), the balance and use of fx in my tracks is a constant challenge for me.
Using fx in the uploads was a way for me to explore and understand my issues a little more. I can’t say I am a person who generally likes going to add reverb or delays for the sake of ‘making it sound better’ or ‘adding space’. These are terms or practices that I generally tend to be careful with. I am definitely someone who enjoys unique sound over this idea of perfect sound, a sound that seems partnered with soulless music. I love the approach Jeff Mills takes, in recording off an idea and through recording it, it becomes the track, with all its ideas and emotions in the mix. It might sound rough and imperfect, but it was what it was at that time, and goes to adding a massive amount of character to the track itself.
Recently I watched an interview of Richie Hawtin, and although a pretty boring interview to be fair, not through any fault of his own, he did mention something that reminded me of the importance of how you work on music. He talked about how his earlier tracks (and best in my mind) were created from jams, and jams made for a certain time and place, in his case the warehouses and played through ‘The System’. His music was fuelled partly by this energy and this really comes through in the recording.
It’s these things that are a constant reminder to think hard about the choices you make in what equipment you use, and how that equipment allows you to work. The idea of better, is really a personal thing, and not something that can be ever thought of being one type of ‘perfect’ sound created using certain equipment. Personally, when things start to sound perfectly balance, they also start to sound a bit boring. The tension has gone, the sounds are left with loads of space around them to be heard and gone has all the complexities that occur when mixing sounds, complexities that go beyond just in the audio, but in how we remember the audio, how we think about it, how we listen to it now.
As we approach 2014, I wanted to prepare myself for what is going to be yet another year of uploads, only this one will be only the Nord G1 for generating the sounds.
I will be using the Atari STE 1040 for sequencing on many of the uploads, and compared to the previous, this will bring a whole new sound and world to play about in. With the exception to a few, all the initial uploads were done using the internal G1 sequencers and various logic modules connected together, which is probably a harder way to create certain types of sound than say sequencing it elsewhere.
Up until recently, I have been more concerned with pushing the Nord G1 and pushing it in certain limited ways to ensure I get into a type of sound, or get used to working with certain types of sounds, over creating or exploring the arrangement of them. I am probably not explaining this very well, but I guess the difference is one being the arrangement and creation of sound being connected, where as now there is some separation of these two roles. What I am keen to do now is slowly work in form the other end, creating sequences, adjusting the sounds, and then slowly bring back those methods I used before until I have something that is a midi triggered patch of internal sequences. For anyone who is a fan of Autechre, and quite frankly if your not then stop reading this and go become one, you will know the joy of midi in bringing something amazing to sequences and sound.
Todays upload is a dub groove, with subtle adjustments on the desk, allowing different parts of the sound and groove to be heard. This sketch was originally much longer, but here is a part that I think gets the idea across.