Distancing, with distance

Do you ever record things, forget you recorded them, then find them on a hard drive and not have an idea how they were made, but man, they sound just right?

That happens to me often. Sometimes the sounds and phrases are scattered around, and sometimes at some point I’d actually formed them into something but I have little or no recollection of the doing so, nor the process I used to do so. Maybe this is a product of just getting older. More likely it’s because making music is for me a place where I like to just do, and I end up sometimes just not remembering that just doing, and when I get back to the things that I actually have to pay attention to, like writing and drawing books, spending time with family, whatever, the just did fades away.

I found an Ableton Live set the other day that I recorded a month ago with what is to me some of my favorite melodic stuff I’ve ever made on the modular synth. There is also some electric piano, some guitar, and a pretty decent Digitakt drum track.

This piece I’m posting here, called “Distancing,” is similar. I remember actually sitting at the desk, and I remember certain aspects of the process. I don’t remember recording the guitar at all, but my notes and the sound tells me it was my Fender Coronado, which has been my favorite guitar to record with in the year since I assembled it. The notes I refer to are those on Soundcloud that I luckily wrote the day after recording this:

Started out innocently enough: Some random Op-1 sounds in the key of C into the Volante SOS. Let it degrade some, freeze it and record it. I figured I’d just save the odd little rhythmic piece as a loop to use later. But before shutting it down, I unfroze the loop and started playing the minilogue against it while still recording. Let it fade out for several minutes as the “tape” degraded, and thought it might be done then, But then tried playing some guitar against the whole thing before turning out the lights last night and I like where it went(Fender Coronado through the Strymon Iridium into Ableton). Added some compression and some tapey effects to the guitar via Goodhertz Wow Control, and voila.

As with the guitar, I don’t recall anything about the OP-1 stuff, but okay, Soundcloud tells me that looped vocal thing at the beginning is an OP-1. I must have fiddled with that while recording into the Volante, looped, press record in Ableton, let it slowly degrade (God how I love the Strymon Volante and how it degrades loops. I like the El Capistan fine for this too, but the Volante is just velvet.) then in a stroke of genius (thank you I’ll take it) played that rough sine patch directly into the Volante as the background loop degraded and faded and where any mistake couldn’t be corrected later. (Yes, fine, key of C, and who screws that up anyway? Well, I do.) The inexplicable decision to go up an octave at 1:45 is to me, is the key to this track. Otherwise it would have merely repeated and faded. That gave me an anchor.

This piece is probably my favorite thing I’ve made in the past year or two. It’s one of the few things I actually keep on my regular playlist and just listen to at times, along with actual proper music that musicians made. I need to take a morning and try to organize and arrange it this Ableton set I found. Maybe similar miraculous discoveries are hidden in there. What’s that called, mixing? Yeah, I need to mix it.

just get it down

I’ve been working on recording a lot. Just getting things to sound good once they’re “printed” as it were. I feel like I’m getting there. A little bit of reverb. A little compression. Giving the master channel a little more oomph at the end with what is basically a mastering preset in Ableton. This is just the Fender Coronado through a Strymon Iridium in its Vox mode, and the Digitakt with the CR78 samples. More to come.