Weekly Music Project - Song #18

May 8, 2014

I have some new gear on the horizon (and on the brain), but have been toying with a simpler setup in the mean-time. Just a few choice instruments and tools, with a focus on rapid recording and sequencing. Although that's been a theme surrounding this entire weekly project, I think this week's song is a shining example of what can be produced in only a few days time:

We all know that keeping things simple is generally a wise approach, but it's not always that … simple. I get caught up in complex workflows (see last week's write-up, for example) in pursuit of inventive new sounds, and sometimes lose my groove. This week sees that groove return, using only a small selection of sounds / instruments to pull it off.

We start off with a V-Station synth melody with a large helping of tempo-synced delay feedback to give it some movement. A hi-hat pattern from BreakTweaker fades in before kicking into the main drum pattern made up of some decidedly dubstep-tinged sounds and rhythms. Rounding out this verse section is a smooth bass line from the Phonec synth, which always cuts through the mix in a perfectly magical way, and a distorted pad melody from Phosphor. My girlfriend jokingly called the style of this song "dreamstep", but I actually find this faux-genre to be rather apt.

Just as quickly as we built up this section, it's time to break it down. Everything but the drums and bass cut out, and the rhythm changes to a slower, shuffling mixture of glitched up patterns switched on the fly using sequenced MIDI notes as a trigger. Turning to the Blofeld keyboard next to me, I dial up a nice pad sound and record a single pass of chords while slowly opening up the filter cutoff with the mod wheel and mixing things up with the pitch bend. Once this bridge section reaches its breaking point, we let the synth's delay tail fade out before kicking back into our final verse/outro. This part gets boosted a bit by a separate patch from the Blofeld: a very bendy lead/pad sound that fills in the mix nicely.

This is the first of these tracks that didn't utilize the Maschine instrument for drums, and a few other plug-ins that I tend to sprinkle over everything I produce. I think the simple production here worked well for this song, and allowed me to focus a bit more on melody and improvisation rather than sound design. But worry not, as I'll have plenty more of the latter coming soon, as well as a new member of the Maschine family gracing the studio in the very near future.

Key equipment/software used for production:

- Waldorf Blofeld keyboard
- Novation V-Station synth plug-in
- Psychic Modulation Phonec synth plug-in
- Audio Damage Phosphor synth plug-in
- Native Instruments Massive synth plug-in
- iZotope BreakTweaker drum plug-in
- ValhallaDSP ValhallaRoom effect plug-in

Key: B minor
BPM: 134
Time Signature: 4/4


Dreaming in neon...