Thursday, 12 January 2012

New track: I Told You Not To Eat That

X-Amount - I Told You Not To Eat That by X-Amt

The first new track from X-Amount this year. It's called "I Told You Not To Eat That" and, as usual, it's a free download.

This will be the first in a series of free tracks we will release in the next coming weeks.

The track is an edited version of an instrumental jam we had at Andi's place. The original was fifteen minutes long. I have cut it down to six, and only did some minor adjustments to complete it as it is now.

We did the usual thing, I had prepared some musical loops in Logic, and then we improvised some tracks using the loops and some field recordings in Ableton.

This time though we had some new bits of kit to try out. We had both bought the very cheap Korg NanoKontrol 2, which gave us a series of knobs and faders that we could assign to various digital controls in Ableton.

The Korg NanoKontrol 2

This is why the track ended up so heavy on the dubs. It was great fun. We set things up so that we had knobs on the NanoKontrol set to control delays, reverbs, filters and so on in Ableton. It was easier to fade tracks in and out using real faders (rather than fiddle with the cursor on screen). It was quite liberating and not only sped the workflow up but also enabled us to do things that we could not do before, controlling several parameters at once.

It meant that it freed up more space for creativity than having us bogged down in setting up (having said that, did have to spend a little time preparing first, choosing parameters for the jams and getting it all to work properly). This "freedom to create" is an Apple ethic, and one I firmly support.

In the days that Andi and I put together the tracks that became "Some Previous" and "Leakage" in the 1990s, it would take us hours, or sometimes days just to get the sounds set up. Programming samplers, synths with no memory, cabling everything together via hardware effects (that would sometimes need programming) into mixers, then programming beat-by-beat into an ancient version of  Cubase on the Atari STe and eventually (after having to rehearse the mix several times) recording it all to yet another device.

1990s X-Amount gear
Nowadays you are up and running in minutes or even seconds. Mind you, we hit some problems and found some of Ableton's shortcomings.

Any movement you make on the NanoKontrol (such as a knob, fader movement or button press) can be recorded by Ableton, or so we thought. It turns out that this is not the case with the solo buttons. We had jammed three tracks before we realised this, and Andi had gone to town with the solo buttons creating fantastic shocks and jolts in the arrangement whilst I caused mayhem with delays.

It all became apparent on playback. No recorded solo buttons. Furthermore, we found that there is no way to set this up either. We have since experimented with using one button to create multiple mutes, but have not managed to get this working successfully yet. Ideas anyone?

What it meant for the mix, is that I had to play the fifteen minute jam and sit with a notebook, writing down all Andi's solo movements and then programming them back in on the mute buttons in Ableton. Tedious.

Anyway, I think that the end result was worth the hassle. We hope you like it. Let us know what you think.. plus, if anyone has any ideas regarding the non-automated solo buttons in Ableton, please let us know. We love your comments!

Simon x


PS: The artwork photo at the top of the page is one in a series of scaffolding pictures by Andi.

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