Worms of the Earth

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Sort of achieved my goal of working on a lot of music last week into this week. I spent a lot of time on stuff, but I'm only slightly closer to finishing the EP. I started working on a dark ambient track unintentionally while fiddling with absynth...then I rationalized working on it and said it is 'in case one of the remixes doesn't come through'. I've been using Absynth a lot lately; my newest fascination is to load up field samples into the oscillators and turn them into a pad/drone. The track I'm working on now is mostly composed from this technique using sampled, effected and time-stretched water. I've finally been using the Roland SP606 sampler too. I got around to loading my own samples onto it via USB; it was pretty easy although somewhat time consuming (had to convert everything to 16bit) and it crashed my computer twice. But after messing with some tribal hits I loaded into the sampler (the files were 32bit, reduced to 16 for the sampler) and re-recording them, I know why people hype up samplers so much. The post-sampler hits w/ only some reverb, compressor and "enhancer", run through the SPL Charisma 2, sound so much bigger and punchier than the original digital files, no matter how much I process them. They really cut through the mix which is something I was struggling with just using software. I will definitely be using this thing a lot in the future. It's got a lot of really cool and useful effects, and it's very easy to use, although a bit time consuming to set up (for instance you have to assign each sample to a pad individually, then hit enter and wait for it to process before you can assign the next one) .
So anyway, song 4 for the EP turned into some sort of gridlock-esque noise/ambient/idm type deal. It's got the most synth work of any track I've written in a long time; a few pads, some melody, some filtery modulating shit, some random squelches and rises. I wrote a lot of it on the virus snow and layered some of the pads with absynth, and I used the Pro53 for some weird noises and stuff. The drums are not finished yet, but are pretty cool so far. The beat sounds like it has a lot of dubstep influence because it's got that shuffle feel giving it groove...which was unintentional but it sounds cool. It's also got tons of stuff going through grainshifters and filters to give it a beepy / futuristic tone. Tons of beeps and clicks and weird little subtle shit. I also finally figured out how to run signal out of the computer, through effects, and back into the PC without tons of terrible feedback and chaos. So, I ran some of the distorted hits out through the SE70's analog distortion to give them more punch. I sort of ran out of ideas at that point so I am putting the track aside for a few days until I can figure out what it needs to really give it...life.
In the meantime, I started checking out a bunch of user-made plugins for Reaktor, and although I am generally impressed with their GUI and architecture, I really can't say that too many are particularly useful. I tried out a bunch of effects whose claim to fame is a large number of "randomizers", which sounds like a good idea, but it really didn't sound that good in practice. There are two I'm still interesting in trying though; one is a weird drum sequencer with a lot of modulation options, and the other one is a "simple" grain shifter which I believe can make cool drones if configured correctly. We'll see.
I also starting playing with a demo of Ableton 8 to see if I could really use it in a production setting. I am intrigued by a lot of the flexibility and the intuitive design, but in a lot of ways it's really a hindrance to my workflow. The biggest thing is the cramped workspace, especially on my laptop screen. With Cubase, everything is in a separate window; you have a separate mixer and a separate piano roll and effects are in their own windows...etc. In Ableton it's all crammed into the same space. So if I want to see more of the piano roll I have to re-size it and thusly cover up some of the sequencer. Mostly a lot of things are too small, and although they can be resized, they have to compete with everything else for space. I'll test it out more, but it's starting to make me think that I should just upgrade to Cubase 5 instead, mostly because I am so familiar with cubase already...

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