Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A couple of quick video tutorials

I thought that some readers might find these tutorials for some fairly ubiquitous electronic sounds helpful / interesting....

Dubstep wobble bass:

Drum & Bass reece bass:

Monday, 10 November 2008

Glitch Plugins for Macs

Here are two great free glitch plugins for macs. These are the things that make you sound like Squarepusher. Or they will if your as good as Squarepusher but that would be quite a claim. They are freeware before you piracy puritans have a go.... Both plugins randomly trigger different sorts of effects which means that if you just insert them into a channel, every time a sample goes through them it will get mangled differently. The best way to use them is to loop the section that want glitched for 16-32 bars, insert glitch and then bounce to audio. Now you can re-insert the audio file and edit together all the best glitches.

First up is Livecut which has modules for bitcrushing, comb filtering as well as the normal reverse and stutters. It also got lots of buttons which is fun but make it a little unwieldy. All the fx sound good and it comes with some presets to help you work out whats what.

SupaTrigga is a much simpler gadget. It does stutters, reversing, resequencing (jumbling things up) and resequencing in addition to a neat vinyl stop noise. It does these few things very well and the simpler interface makes it very easy to use.

My advice would be to use Supatrigga for little drum edits and a combination of the two for when you really take a dislike to the way something sounds.

If you like spending money there are a couple of good commercial alternatives and Effectrix by Sugar Bytes is my favourite. Its full sequenced which means the results aren't random so you have a larger amount of control over what's going on. It also means the results are predictable this combined with a simple interface make it a prime candidate for live usage. The fact that you can assign different glitch patterns to a keyboard seals the deal for me - If you want to Go! Spastic infront of a crowd this is the tool for the job.

SupaTrigga and Livecut download

Effectrix demo download

Thursday, 30 October 2008

BBC Radiophonic Workshop - A Retrospective

The Radiophonic Workshop has got to be one of the most wonderful of all the BBC's creations. Essentially, they locked a variety of nutcase jazz musicians and engineers in some dank underground office along with an assortment of random electronics and tape machines.

Occasionally they would use the inevitably bizarre output as TV background music, sound effects or even theme tunes - the Dr Who theme being the most well known. They carried on happily until synthesisers and samplers got invented at which point they decided that making children cry had become too easy and called it a day.

There is far too much to say about them to fit it all in a blog so if you want to know more have a butchers at their wikipedia page or you can check out an awesome documentary called 'Alchemists of Sound' which I have taken the trouble to upload.

Well anyway, they are re-releasing what I assume is a greatest hits of the 'shop and they aren't fucking about either. Its a double CD with 68 tracks on disc 1 and 39 on disc 2 - blimey.

Its due for release on the 3rd of November and you can pre-order it now from

Carl Craig. At Cité de la Musique,

1. Darkness 00:08:18
2. Transition #1 00:01:12
3. At les 00:08:17
4. Dominas 00:10:54
5. Desire 00:07:37
6. Recomposed 00:09:57
7. Technology 00:08:24
8. Bis 1: The Melody 00:05:35
9. Credits 00:00:32

Monday, 27 October 2008

Top Gear

I have often wondered , is all that vintage analogue equipment that people bang on about in Sound On Sound magazine really all that good?

Well last week I was lucky enough to get my hands on a priceless Neve console from the early 80's and find out. The answer is yes, it really fucking is.

The desk had built in EQ and Dynamics that made all the plug-ins I have sound like toys. Even without any processing there was absolutely no audible desk noise whatsoever which is a first for an analogue desk that iI have used.

Of course good skills make great sounding tunes regardless of the tools used, but there is little doubt in my mind that a certain amount of the expensive sound you hear on pop records comes from the expensive equipment used.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Digital DJing Developments Part 1

The people that make Ableton Live and the people that make Serato Scratch have released a joint statement announcing they are to combine their powers to create something new and amazing. This has got many a forum buzzing with the most people of the opinion that the child of this unlikely marriage will be healthy and strong. Im reserving my judgement until I see what they come up with but I am very intreagued.

For the benefit of those that arent familar with either product...

Ableton Live is essentially a loop sequencer. You can have as many tracks as you like and can put FX on each one. So when djing with it, you can mix as many tunes together as you like, can mess with them with FX, loop bits of them up and generally have a grand old time. There are gadgets to control the software with, but its still a case of knob twiddling, button pushing and fader sliding ie its not very much like traditional djing. It does all the beat-matching (getting tunes in time) itself and has been the luddites poster boy for everything thats wrong with the new world.

Serato Scratch is a clever gadget that turns a pair of turntables into a remote control for your computer. Traditionalists love this one as it means they can steal music off the internet like everyone else but dont have to learn any new skills and can contiune to feel really clever with their manual beatmatching - Hurray!

And now for some pointless speculation....

This has caught my interest not just beacuse its 'big news' but also because the partners make such different software. Perhaps I just have no vision but this all seems a bit wierd.

How a pair of turntables is going to be usefull for Ableton users apart adding the ability to scratch tracks is beyond me. Ableton users probably cant scratch and are unlikely to buy a deck and mixer just to add a bit of wicky wicky wah to their sets.

Serato could easily bolt FX channels onto their existing software without a huge amount of trouble. Controlling FX with a turntable could be interesting but again they ought not to need Abletons help implementing it. Turntablists may well want to loop up their scratches and samples to build up new tracks and ableton would come in very handy indeed. They are of course already at it and have been for some time.

To conclude the specutation, I dont really have a fucking clue what they are going to come up with but im sure it will be lovely.

Incidentally there is a new version of Native Instrument's DJing software out, this one is called Traktor Pro. I don't have a copy yet so you will have to make do with NI's guff for the time being. When I do, i will write a review of it and Ableton Live (DDD pt2).

Please do add to my specualtion...comments are open!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Hand Cream & Poppers

Im writing this blog on an apple macintosh laptop in a coffee shop whilst drinking a Macchiato. Frankly i might as well just get a fucking man-bag too. This is a new low. The Macchiato tastes like shit incidentally, but the cunts wouldn't sell me a cuppa tea so in lieu of that i got the silliest drink on the menu. Well not quite, i bottled out of getting 'Spiced Chai with Marshmallows and extra soy'. Next time i am going ask for tap water and see how long i can sit in their shop before they ask me to leave.