Analogue Heaven Day 4

Today the three of us made our pieces.

Yesterday Declan recorded a 40 minute track of samples using the Korg MS20. Unlike the sounds I made, his are mainly short, high pitched with strong attacks. He’s been working in Logic to cut and splice this track into tiny samples which he’s used to make a spiky piece.

Oded discovered the 3rd synth in the room – an Oberheim. This is a keyboard controlled synthesiser which makes lovely rich, luscious sounds. He filled the room with a taste of the ’80s. Like Declan and I he recorded sounds into the computer, this time using Ableton Live to edit them using tape-style techniques like cutting, splicing, multi-tracking and reversing.

As we couldn’t use the tape machine to record any more, I transferred my tape loop onto cassette-tape, recording it 4 times at slightly different speeds for 15 minutes each. Yesterday Nye also made a tiny little tape loop out of some old tape which had spoken word on it. Like the technique I used on Day 1, Nye cut this into tiny fragments, shuffled them and then taped them together into a loop, however he didn’t put any leader tape between the fragments so the result is a continuous sound rather than a pulsation. I also recorded this loop onto cassette at 4 different speeds to use in my piece.

With all my materials ready I started to construct my piece. I recorded the cassette tape into the computer and used basic amplification and panning automation on Logic to control the envelopes of the sounds. I lined up the 4 versions of my piano loop so that they start together and then go out of phase, which creates a shimmering effect. This, combined with the rather charming fact that the tape machine doesn’t play at an absolutely constant speed (resulting in little detunings and imperfections in the loop) makes for quite a nice texture which blends well with the interference-beats created by slightly out of tune drones. Unfortunately the tape created a bit of high-frequency hiss which I cancelled by adjusting the EQ in Logic. With hindsight I may have slightly over done this as I feel the piano sound could be slightly brighter.

Tomorrow we’re going to share our pieces!


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