Pour la première fois dans Electraumatisme, une Kitchen Notes qui aborde 3 projets aux couleurs très différentes pourtant issus du même cerveau. erehwoN opère depuis la partie la plus industrielle de la Croatie et il nous partage ses méthodes pour chacune de ses 3 productions récemment sorties pour Cable Bends Steel (dark electro épurée), X trackT (ambiant indus rafinée) et N/NOR (coldwave electronique minimale en prise directe). Enormément d'informations pratiques passionnantes qui peuvent inspirer les bidouilleurs sonores en chambre, en espérant voir sa musique diffusée à une plus large audience car elle le mérite...
For the first time in Electraumatisme, a Kitchen Notes about 3 projects with very different colors yet coming from the same brain. erehwoN proceeds from the most industrial part of Croatia and there he shares his methods for each of his most recent productions for (refined dark electro), X trackT (polished ambiant indus) et N/NOR (electronic minimal live recorded coldwave). A huge amount of enthralling informations that would inspire many bedroom sound fixers, hoping to see his music spread to a larger audience because it deserves it.
Gears and software
What gears/software did you use for the 3 very different projects ?
10-channel mixer "BERINGHER EURORACK MODEL MX1804X" that goes into "TERRATEC" PC card.
Main DAW I migrated to now is "Cockos Reaper". I can't praise this enough, from portability, sound engine is great, routing options, LIGHT on CPU, and many more. Every once in a while I discover some new small thing that works great.
Synths used are ROLAND JUNO-106, KORG Polysix and choice of VSTs.
My sampler for now is VSTi VEMBER AUDIO Shortcircuit. Empty sampler, just feed it with your sounds, as the sampler should be, no 1 GB banks of wind instruments or such. Only downside is small number of audio outputs. Oh, yeah, did I mentioned it is FREE?!?!
And there are differences for each project I do;
In "CABLE BENDS STEEL" I try to capture energy / equivalent of emotional state I'm writing in that particular period. I'm happy with "reduction" in sound; more bass / beat oriented, there's less and less "padding" that drowns the mix.
"X trackT" is most exploratory sound-wise and arrangement-wise, because, usually I don't have to plan arrangement for vocal later on, so everything is sound design / flow orientated. "Trajectory" is the best song I did (so far?) for Xt and is example for this.
"N/NOR" is my newest project and technically most interesting; I try to recreate conditions of my idols from late-half 70's / early 80's electronic music. Deliberately, I work with limitations, monophonic lines, stripped-down arrangement, pattern based arranging.
I make some sequence and record on the fly; mute / solo channels, manipulate cutoff or delay, distortion etc.
Resulting wave recording is, for example, 7min long which I edit down to manageable 4min
Most N/NOR tracks I can't recreate again same as they were recorded, there's no automatization, separating tracks, just recording on 4 channels max and that is the backbone of every N/NOR track. After that I start with vocal on top.
Your favorite gear(s)/software(s) ?
There are some "mythical" pieces of gear that I've never seen "in flesh" let alone tried / used and it is out of my price range.
What I do have is; I just gave "ENSONIQ ASR-10" for a repair / modification (USB instead of floppy), this is something I love (its Phaser alone is so melodic-metalic, it works well with everything.
I also love my "KORG Polysix" mostly used for riff / bass lines. It cuts its way thru the mix, it just clears its path thru other instruments, it lifts the whole arrangement immediately. This sound of electricity, that moves is like no VST I've heard. I was uncertain of that synth for a while, because it had no MIDI so I didn't know for what to use it and almost sold it at one point, but after I started to actualy use it; it was valuable addition!
Also, friend of mine had a "YAMAHA DX21" and it was used at my place for a period of time ago. Bass preset (SOLID BASS) is very punchy it lifts everything in a arrangement. Always stuck in my mind for those italo, early house, new zone, EBM in late 80's, etc...
It had some grainy decimating decay in sound that sounded as nothing else. I'd love to get that one day again.
And for now, lately, I found it much rewarding to use those tone-based rhythm-machines that have adjustable paramenters for individual sounds (for example, Kick has vaweform, tone, decay, attack and so on...) so I don't depend on samples alone, you can fine-tweak every sound (example "CABLE BENDS STEEL - We Are"; kick & snare)
Any evolution in your setup ?
Evolution is, economicaly-based. As a pre-amlifier / overdrive (mostly for vocal), I started to use old cassette player on "record". Noisy, but at high recording level sounds like "MINISTRY - Stigmata".
I finaly managed to get old delay and spring reverb, everything you put thru it is instant "Sleeping beast" (...and "PORTION CONTROL", and "JOHN FOXX" etc....) Used mostly on N/NOR (for example, track "Dystopian")
Also, "ELECTRO-HARMONIX Big Muff" pedal. I love how it can beautifuly distort sound from whisper-level to max input.
Do you use/tweak presets ?
Whenever I try something new, I browse thru presets first, just to get the idea what this is capable of.
If I like it, I start to fiddle knobs to get into the workflow, to familiarize myself with architecture.
Almost never use presets provided, at the writing stage I use tweaked preset as a temp just to get the arrangement notes / timing going. After that I layer / change sounds, record manipulation (for example, cutoff thru song) put thru FXs, etc.
As I mentioned above, for "N/NOR" I approach as if there is no presets. As the sequence is running, I tweak everything related during recording "on the fly" (delay feedback, cutoff of a synth line etc...)
Do you design you own sound ? On which synth/plugin in particular ?
Oh, yes! To me, that's the most interesting thing in all umbrella electronic underground genres.
By recording voice, outside found objects, effects, then editing it to use in musical enviroment with all kinds of manipulations, combining it with something else. (Hammond organ on "X trackT - Opium", or "X trackT - Trajectory"; those percussive "shot" sounds from the beginning are originaly from taps on a microphone)
So, there is a library of my own created sounds, from one-shot hits, fills to sequences, atmospheres (from synths, random noises etc...)
And, for example, other half of drums track on "X trackT - Controller (warped)" is recorded thru old reel-to-reel with a used tape. So, anything that works and gives some special timbre / effect is usable.
Personal synth storyHmmm? It's not much, but when a friend of mine went to buy second-hand synth (KORG M1), guy who owned it tried to use the selling point that it's great synth for folk music. :)
Like I said, not much.
would be your main writing/composing method ? Do you start classical
rythm/bassline then arrange around it ? Do you already have structure in
mind ? Do you improvise, record sessions then select ? ...
As mentioned above, I am "pulled" into writing by a sound first. Either interesting sample being sequenced, or a vocal stab thru FX pitched / reversed / cut-up or any number of things. Or a melodic line that I start to fill with other elements. After that I multiply that in time, add something new erase boring repetitive elements and so on.
And I forgot about the bass guitar; I play it more /and record.
Do you produce/mix in the box or do you use mainly external gears (effect/comp/eq...)
Maybe 50-50. Outboard mixer is great for leveling (and it is "physical") before inputting something as a part of arrangement. And after I record everything in comp, I mix it and output it.
For "CABLE BENDS STEEL - Old skin" track, I put the final mix thru Overdrive pedal. So, I avoid to end up with the same trodden path as with previous thing.
Btw, CD player I bought recently, "ARCAM" has digital inputs for its DA converter. I'll try this next as a final stage.
What is your most painful / enjoyable step in track production ? Sound design, arrangement, mixing, mastering ?
That first start of writing; when I record something brand new thats so inviting. It could be just 8 bars or it could 1min or more. That buzz then that makes you energetic when listening to that and you start to get options what direction it could go to. Then, the day after you hear it again and it's not so hot as you thought....!
Painful would be not enough time to sit and finish something.
It's nothing revolutionary, but I started using different time-bases occasionally; 3/4 or 7/8, etc, it makes you think differently rhytmicaly ("N/NOR - HeartLess" has both, and a tempo speed-up change in the middle)
Cheap-ass overdrive TIP!
For example, mix loop with sine wave and put this thru some sort of limiter / saturation so that the wave "mangles" the loop out of zero-axis while sinusoid wave is barely hearable. MAKE SHURE TO USE some highpass filter for protecting against over-excessive low-end on output. (around 20-25 Hz).
[also in reaper] I recorded a TEMP vocal just to hear how it would fit and part of it ended up great "for keeping"
Trouble is, it was noisy (planned to be Temp) and I tried to clean it up. It was impossible, until I tried one trick with Reaper.
I took lonely part of wave with "noise" and took a "print" and linked dry/wet parameter to audio loudness.
The louder the wave (part with vocal), the less the effect will "mix in wet" to avoid the "destruction" of effective part of sound.
Result is much better than a few Denoisers I tried.