Weekly Music Project - Song #9

March 3, 2014

Perhaps 8 weeks in recording isolation is unhealthy, so I decided to branch out a bit this time around. This song got contributions from two of my good friends, each focusing on very different instruments and techniques. Give it a spin:

Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. I certainly did this week, and ended up moving part of the studio first from the basement to the living room, and then across town to producer/artist Scott Worley's space. This change was refreshing and ultimately provided some new sonic elements that I would not have discovered in my normal environment.

We start with a peculiar rhythmic loop that I captured on my phone from a common - and noisy - mechanical device: the copier machine. I had to do a small amount of time-stretching to make it loop how I wanted in 4/4, and applied a healthy dose of compression to bring out the robotic beat buried in this sound. A simple arpeggiating melody from the V-Station fades in to set the scene, the deep and moody bassline falls into place, and then I decide it's time to escape from the basement.

Okay - much better! Situated in front of my Korg SV-1 with its excellent Rhodes patch and its built-in tube distortion, I first recorded a loose melodic pass which ends up as a swirling reversed track that cuts through the mix in just the right spots. Still working around the B Major theme, I go a bit "off the grid" and record a free-form outro segment that builds in intensity with that marvelous bite the Rhodes can produce when striking the keys harder, and a touch more distortion and reverb to round out the ending.

But that's only my piece of the equation, as my good buddy Andrew Wisler stopped by to record a beautiful guitar part that glistens with that dreamy tone only he can dial into his rackmount rig. This track fades in before the drums hit, and fills the midrange spectrum perfectly while complimenting the Phonec-sourced lead synth melody. Not totally complete with my weekend collaborations, I arrive at Scott Worley's studio Sunday afternoon to get a dose of modular synthesis into the mix. The man patches, and patches, and patches until we suddenly have a lovely mutating arpeggio emanating from his wall of blinking modules. We enable MIDI Clock output from Cubase to sync up the modular sequence and record a pass of it for the duration of the song. A bit of volume automation and a touch of reverb wrap up this unique sonic element from Scott's ever-growing collection of modules.

Key equipment/software used for production:

- Mini Recorder app on Nokia Lumia 920
- Korg SV-1 digital piano
- Fender Jaguar guitar by Andrew Wisler
- Modular synthesizer by Scott Worley
- Native Instruments The Finger Reaktor ensemble
- Novation V-Station plug-in
- ValhallaDSP ValhallaRoom plug-in
- Psychic Modulation Phonec plug-in

Key: B Major
BPM: 79
Time Signature: 4/4


The makeshift living room studio setup:

And a look behind the scenes at Scott's impressive modular setup...