New progressive track – Resistance

I promised two things. First, to make a progressive track. Second, to create a track using (mostly) Ableton Push. And here it is! Complete production done under a week. Hope you enjoy it🙂

It is very simple. Prog / deep house bass were based on online tutorials, lead chords were just a random sequence. Then comes 4/4 percussion with 808 samples. If something worked, I didn’t think twice but just keep it.

I also added ethnic drums to keep some interest. There were all played live, but unfortunatelly I’m not so good to play anything immediately usable. I spent two hours quanitizing them by hand.

There are also some random effects and distractions, all drowned in dub delay. All the “depth” of a track comes from evolving delay chain in the background. Pretty much generative music, apart from it not much happens in the arrangement.

Last but not least, the arrangement was played in Session mode – which is launching clips live. It gives very different approach to even prepare this clips for live play and probably helps me feel the progressive nature of track better. Playing live gives direct connection with track, unlike setting up arbitrary arrangement in Arrangement view.

All in all, it’s the music that matters – not only if it’s good, but also if it comes fast. Since it’s finished and complete production, I may turn to next projects. In spare time, that is, don’t have much of it in last months.

Studio expansion: audio interface

So I got adventurous and purchased serious audio interface – NI Komplete Audio 6. It replaces my old E-MU 0202 USB.

This 9-old year interface was alright and still served me well, so I bought Audio 6 quite in advance. I’m hoping to expand with serious studio monitors (finally!), hardware synth, or maybe guitar. But it’s all distant future.

However, good interface gives me some immediate benefits – both planned and unexpected.

Firts of all, I’m finally able to connect my XDJ-RX to other gear – in particular home speakers and PC. Record directly to Audacity or, better yet, Ableton with some effects – not only generic mastering strip, but also some creative FX played live. Need to try it out someday.

Secondly, I am finally, finally able to run Ableton and any other audio application at same time. Be it Audacity, Winamp, Rekordbox or just Youtube tutorials and cat movies. Previously it was impossible, so I had to close Ableton in order to check anything and hope that interface doesn’t collapse into erratic state (aliasing at lower sampel rate, maybe?). Now it’s all gone. You can imagine how much time it saves me (or how much time previous interface wasted).

As to Komplete Audio 6 itself – someone on forums said “it’s build like tank”. Absolutely. It’s like a brick, but covered with aluminium. You could kill somebody with it. Works smoothly, has current Windows 10 drivers and nice config window.

Oh, and they gave me some NI stickers in box. The box also comes with a selection of NI crapware, including demos for Kontakt (seriously?) and a discount voucher. The voucher expires 3 months after it’s activated, so I simply didn’t activate anything. Overall, everything but stickers is a komplete waste of time.

All in all, I’m very satisfied with this interface. Now I need to figure out where to place stickers.

Casting Shadows (2016 Mix)

Here’s the rework of my most popular track yet (338 till date). It’s free for download, enjoy!

Original was made in just 3 days and it worked pretty well in terms of arrangement. Looks like I need to try quick production again sometimes.

However, I needed to improve technical aspect of production – mixdown and mastering. I take my time to analyze reference tracks and figure out how they are made and how to reproduce their quality. It’s like a puzzle – fix one thing only to find out two others got broken in the process. You can’t learn a thing not doing it, though.

I think it’s better to practice on older (free) productions that start new projects which won’t be good enough anyway. It might still take a while before I move on to new productions, but it pays back unlike rushing new tracks.

Finger drumming endeavours

I never played any instrument for real. Recently decided to change that and ordered brand new MPD218 from AKAI, simple but high quality drum controller.

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MPD218 is one of cheaper controllers on the market, but does the job. Pads are sturdy and large, very convenient. It also comes with two percussion plugins – one of them is conventional percussion kit, the other is called Cinematic Percussion – which is particularly interesting for me. Includes great cinematic and world/tribal samples and instrument kits which sound just right for my purposes. There are also, however, some kits with no apparent purpose. Other sets flange and phase, which suggests they include duplicated samples. Instrument kits are also not ordered in any pattern, both kicks and toms are scattered all around pad. I will need to sort them out on my own, anyway.

The unfortunate suprise was that plugins are protected with iLok, which I didn’t realize even though I check stuff 10 times before I buy it. Took me some days to get support from AKAI. Now it’s all working, though it’s the first time I couldn’t use a product I purchased straight away. This whole iLok thing is absurd, avoid it as much as you can.

Now it’s the time to actually learn how to operate this device in a proper way. So there is Melodics app, which is basically Guitar Hero version for drum pads. There is limited free version, which was well enough for starters. Quickly I realized I never played any instrument just because my timing is abysmal – but after just an hour I made progress from “totally hopeless” to “very beginner”. There is a number of lessons available in free version and just after few days I feel more convenient with drum pads and playing in tempo in general.

Melodics is based on subscription model. I even wanted to buy it for a month, but my card was denied – probably because their bank is based in New Zealand or something. They’d better introduce promised PayPal option before someone cracks this app.

Seriously, software companies make it difficult for client to buy a product or even use the product already purchased. On the other hand, all the products mentioned above were not available just few years ago, so making music is easier than ever. Learn, profit.

Psytrance Mix 2016-06-05

Back to DJing!

I wanted to finally make full-on psytrance mix. This one turned out to be dark still, but it goes all the way up to 148 BPM. Who’s afraid of 148?

Tracklist:

01. Sine Eye – Orient Express (Original Mix)
02. Sideform- Digital Fortress (Original Mix)
03. Vertical Mode – Time Code
04. James Dymond – Samples Of Silk (Activa Remix)
05. Planet 6 – Fata Morgana
06. Ovnimoon vs. Middle Mode – Izolan (Wizack Twizack Remix)
07. Freaked Frequency & Galactic Jungle – Topina (Original Mix)
08. Moon Tripper – Abundance (Original Mix)
09. Yahel – Dawn Rises (Original Mix)
10. Kessler & Mazzar – Crow (Original Mix)
11. Kessler – Jupiter
12. Materia, Waio – Collision (Original Mix)
13. Anatomic – Boom Satya (Original Mix)
14. Marian Closca Pres. Cybernetic Core – Human Puzzle (Original Mix)
15. Ex-Gen – Zombification (Tetrikal Rmx)
16. Obliviant – DJ Wh1pla$h
17. Theseus – Project 13 (Original Mix)

It was an interesting experience, simplicity and irregular structure of psytrance gives a lot of room for improvisation… such as cutting track in the half, no one will notice.

I might do another psy mix. With my workflow it takes many more times to complete a tracklist than to actually mix the tracks, and there are dozens of them still waiting. We will see.

Practice, practice, practice

I didn’t make any new music lately, but it’s intentional decision.

I must admit I’ve been impatient. Wanted to make amazing tunes immediately years ago. It takes a lot of time and practice, though.

Over the years I got quite smooth with synthesis and arrangement. Mixdown is an endless yourney. I didn’t take time, though, to learn to actually play any instrument – be it keys, drums or even guitar. I’ve got that Push for over 2 years now and used only most basic features – unike people on Youtube who make entire track with it.

For that reason I decided to make entire track with Push only. It might not be suitable for fully-blown melodic trance arrangement, but seems to do well for progressive music. The next track will be 128 BPM and I’ll share it for free – so don’t care what it eventually turns out to be.

Then I need to play drum pads and eventually practice more with keyboard. It will all pay back – ability to play ideas from your head can’t be covered with any plugins in existence or technical knowledge.

At the same time, I’m expanding my studio this year. The gear will be waiting here till I’m ready.