Tuesday, 8 May 2012

New track - "Tang (pungent mix)"

"Tang" is the result of a jam we had that was based around a couple of groups of sounds. The first group was a collection of loops made in Logic. These are the drum patterns, the distant reverberating synth, the twisting arpeggio pattern and a stabbing synth riff. The second group are a collection of shortwave samples recorded on the 1980s charity shop radio we acquired and some feedback guitar.

We began preparations for the jam (as we do most times) by "breaking" all of our sound samples using the various effects processing options in Ableton. We do this on our laptops at the same time as each other, which enables us to merge and knit the sounds together. Sometimes sounds get re-tuned or time-stretched in order to work well together.

In this tune, I felt that the feedback and shortwave melded particularly well, at times almost becoming one sound.

Once all the sounds are sufficiently broken, and we both feel we have enough material to work with for an improvisation, we jam it.

What you hear is a practically unedited version of the jam. I only chopped some of the beginning off. Once the jam was recorded the next step is the mixdown. What I do is to merge Andi's saved arrangement and mine together one one computer. Levels need to be adjusted, and in this process often new elements are revealed. This is partly because of the better monitoring conditions and partly because the dynamics are improved or I will alter the tone to create more space in the sonic landscape to assist clarity.

However, in X-Amount, we are often dealing with noise. Shortwave and feedback are prime examples, and what will happen in the process of creating "space" is that the noise elements become textures that sometimes will drift in the background, or sometimes will totally dominate and pollute this sonic landscape.

As I put the mix for "Tang" together I felt it needed some new parts. I added a sub bass pattern to give weight, and a snare beat (slightly "broken") and a white noise "cymbal" to help the rhythmic parts which were getting swallowed a little.

That was it, except for a couple of tweaks in the automation which I tried to make sound as human as possible, a bit like a hand slipping on the mixing desk. I used to believe in a clinical robotic perfection, maybe because my early years in mixing and recording during the late 1980s were highly inspired and influenced by the beautiful electronic productions of bands like Yello, Prince, Scritti Pollitti and the introduction of digital audio. Now, for me, perfection is built around the beauty of human error and decay and breakup in sound.

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