Weekly Music Project - Song #8

February 24, 2014

If nothing else, this project is forcing me to explore my studio and its various instruments and effects more deeply to come up with sounds that are fresh to my ears. This has been an exciting and enlightening process that has pushed me to, for example, try my hand at the pulsing sidechain compression sound that I normally shy away from. Maybe trends aren't all bad?

Listen to the result below, and read on for the usual technical details:

We're entering some darker territory this week, folks. Breaking out a few of my lesser-used tools for this piece, we end up with a moody, eerie soundscape channeling such extremes as Twin Peaks and Apparat. The skittering intro noise comes from the ever-fascinating Scapes Reaktor effect, which offers very deep modulation control over six granular delay lines. We quickly enter a simple yet spooky chord sequence provided by the V-Station, and a repeating lyrical passage run through the TAL Vocoder. The warbly lead melody comes from my good synth pal known as Phonec.

To give some rhythmic life to this otherwise slow and brooding song, I finally get my feet wet with the popular sidechain compression technique. A basic kick drum pattern has its output routed to the majority of synth channels using pre-fader Sends, which cleverly allows for the kick channel itself to fade to silence while still ducking the target channels with this rhythm. I used the built-in Cubase Tube Compressor's sidechain functionality on said synth channels with its wet/dry mix set to about 80%.

This subtle surprise may be easy to miss: One of the lead melodies that begins along with the kick pattern is provided by my Fernandes Native Pro guitar, with its unique sustainer pickup. While the resulting compressed and distorted sound is rather synth-like, I find that it has a special quality that's really effective. I recorded the guitar through my usual Digitech iPB-10 rig with the sustainer set to its harmonic mode for a soaring, ethereal sound.
Key equipment/software used for production:

- Fernandes Native Pro Sustainer guitar
- TAL Vocoder plug-in
- Twisted Tools Scapes Reaktor ensemble
- Novation V-Station plug-in
- Audio Damage Kombinat Dva plug-in
- ValhallaDSP ValhallaRoom plug-in
- Psychic Modulation Phonec plug-in
- Camel Audio Alchemy plug-in
- Studio Projects C1 condenser mic

Key: B minor
BPM: 93
Time Signature: 6/8