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We launched our new site today! To celebrate we’re giving away a free compilation called Radical Friends. Both things that should have come out about a year ago…
We’re also offering 15% off all orders for the next week. Use the discount code ‘finally’.
Max Cooper on how he made the track 'Impacts':
Really interesting. Turns out it’s as intricate to make as it sounds, but I guess that’s not surprising.
Yesterday we were talking about why I made a different sort of track from my usual, for the second single of the album. Today I’ll go into how I made it.
Because the track is almost atonal, there aren’t my usual synths, chords and melodies in there, just lots of different drum samples, and lots of different processing techniques.
First off, finding some interesting samples was key. I sampled clicks from old broken records, binaural samples of real world clangs and bangs, and trawled my sample databases looking for sounds and hits that might work. I even tried some demented shouting into my mic (which you can hear layered over later on in the track). Then I threw them all into drum racks, and started developing the basic rhythms and structures, and layering and editing of the samples, reverbs and filtering (often with subtle parameter variation to give subtle movement) to create the sorts of sounds I wanted. Then I arranged them all into the basic form of the track, but that was only the start really, it wasn’t finished at that point as some tracks might be.
The next step happened at Andy Ramsay’s Press Play studio in London, where we sent each drum track through real guitar amps and speakers, massively overdrove the inputs, and then recorded back the deafening cacophony. This gave me some beautiful heavily distorted sounds to play with, which I layered in at points for detail and variation, and that extra bit of nastiness when needed. Perc took these elements to the forefront in his remix, pushing the concept to the extreme (links below for both mixes for comparison).
Then came the time consuming part – lots of editing. I rendered each drum part, or sometimes drum bus, then chopped and stretched the audio, filtered, phased, panned etc etc, working on as much small detail as I could to complement the macro rhythmic structure, with the aim of making the track interesting to listen to as well as working in a club, despite it’s very stripped atonal character. I also used Max for Live devices to randomise a lot of sample parameters, rendered the randomised results and cut out and edited the audio into coherent form – rendering and editing of partially random processes is a technique I use a lot, and very useful for generating detail. Then I rendered together mixes of the already edited audio tracks, and edited the results of the mixed audio further, to give nested layers of edits. This allowed for tight audio breaks like chopping of reverb tails on the master mix, which can give a nice precise feel when needed.
I think that was pretty much it, apart from some really subtle EQing on the master before rendering off the premaster to go out to Chris McCormack at Blacklisted mastering for the EP and remixes, and Dubplates & Mastering for the album version. The reason for that was that Dubplates specifically made their masters fit into a general listening format with higher bass coverage and more mids to make everything work as best as possible on a range of systems. Whereas the single release with remixes was mastered by Chris for club systems, with more on the fundamental bass frequencies and slightly sparser coverage so as not to sound too harsh on the mids on big, very loud, systems. It’s interesting to compare the two approaches to mastering – for now only the club format is out, but the full album will be out 10th of March, with an edited down version of impacts (again, aiming for more home listening format that mixable club format).
Anyway, rant over, I hope that is of interest for some of you!
This track (Impacts) + remixes out now > http://bit.ly/Impacts
Full album out 10th March
And I’m playing in Portugal this weekend in case any of you are nearby and would like to come –
Gare Porto Friday:https://www.facebook.com/events/719501548074148
Europa Sunrise Lisbon Saturday:https://www.facebook.com/events/718507391500671/
+ Links to hear the tracks I’m talking about above –
Impacts original: https://soundcloud.com/max-cooper/impacts
Perc Remix: https://soundcloud.com/max-cooper/impacts-perc-remix
Factory Floor Remix: https://soundcloud.com/max-cooper/impacts-factory-floor-remix
We recently found ourselves with four tracks in surprisingly good condition, so we’ve decided to commit to three of them as our first finished demo/EP/release/something. In an effort to make sure the final pieces of music don’t sound too digital or contained solely within a digital box, we spent the last two Sundays actually recording them.
We exported WAVs for whatever sounds seemed like they might suit it and, in a way that might seem a little low tech, played them off an iPod through an amp and back into Ableton via a couple of mics. It’s brought out some interesting sides to the sounds we’ve been using and we’re merging them back in with the original WAVs to make them sound a bit more natural.
In some cases we’ve backed up sounds with other similar sounding ‘real’ instruments, including a saxophone and a gourd piano thing, to fill it out a bit. This week we’re tracking some guitars and vocals as well, and if we get them all done then we’ll have no choice but to mix the whole thing.
I haven’t written anything about what I’ve been up to musically since July, when the band split up, but over the holidays a few friends asked me if I’m still doing anything and I’ve started being less cagey about it, and I actually feel like I might have something to report now, so here goes:
The singer/guitarist from that last band and I have carried on making music since the summer and rather than replacing the other members with people we opted to stick with just the two of us and use machines. We were using computers/synths for a couple of bits on the last recording anyway, so it felt more like just proceeding down a path we were already on, albeit at a faster pace, than some big departure, although I have a feeling it will sound more like the latter when we have something we’re willing to share.
Currently we’re writing everything in, unsurprisingly, Ableton, with various patches and the odd recording, and while I’ve used both Ableton and Reason in the past to do bits and pieces it’s always been part of a larger whole, or as kind of pre-production, so trying to flesh something out in its entirety within the program is quite different. It’s been a steep learning curve and it took a few months of tinkering to get to grips with what we wanted to do, how to do it and what it roughly sounded like. We’re not quite proficient yet (despite the fact that I’m told “making music [now] is incredibly easy”) but I think we’re getting there and I’m really enjoying the whole process.
Currently there are a few tracks floating around, one in particular is pretty much finalised in terms of structure and instruments, so we’re working on getting some others to that stage too, which I guess is the equivalent of when, if we were still primarily using guitars, we’d start talking about going somewhere to record, before we then sit down and start mixing them ourselves, which is a whole new skill we’re both going to have to learn as well.
Hopefully we’ll have something to show for all this in the next couple of months.
2013 Artist Cloud
As is now tradition, here is my artist cloud from 2013, based on my last.fm (via lastfm.dontdrinkandroot.net). I’ve yet to ever do a proper end of year list because I find them pretty hard to put together on taste alone, so I like the idea that my listening habits (or at least what I’ve scrobbled, so the list pretty much excludes anything from work) have roughly defined what it would be without me really getting involved. It feels more personal, maybe even a little nostalgic, if I’m honest, and it’s also more of an overview of the whole year rather than me trying to objectively rank other people’s work in retrospect.
Having said that, I really enjoy this time of year for all the lists. Even if they do start appearing so early in the year that around now you start hearing phrases like "This came out in December so it didn’t make our end of year list", which seem profoundly counter-intuitive, by cobbling together lists from a few different places I have found some other amazing stuff that had slipped past over the year (for example this happened last year with East India Youth and Port St. Willow) which will probably turn up in next year’s listening habits.
Back to this list, it actually seems about right this year. While you’d have to extend it to the top 20 to include everything I think has been absolutely brilliant this year, the top 10 are indeed all bands or albums I’ve been pretty fixated on at some point, which for me is the strongest recommendation I can really provide.
Top 10 Artists
Bill Flanagan writing in 1989 - via ‘2013 - The Year Music Failed to Blockbust’ by Steven Hyden on Grantland
Tuesday, 3rd December 2013
Thursday, 28th November 2013
Village Underground, London
Friday, 22nd November 2013
Oval Space, London
Wednesday, 20th November 2013
The Sebright Arms, London
Monday, 28th October 2013
Thursday, 17th October 2013
Servant Jazz Quarters, London
HAVE I EVEN TOLD YOU ABOUT MY EP LAUNCH YET?!
Playing Tearing Ventricles EP in full, there will be candles and shit.
Support comes from SH Davidson of Tellison and Matthew Reynolds of Drawings, aka Big Fin.
At Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston, London on 17th October. See you there!
3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe=
-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.
-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.
-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS FUCKING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.”
One of many reasons Godspeed are a brilliant band.