Play it on a sunny day if you’re only happy when it rains. This is a chill thing, not much going on it seems on the surface. Nice background music that will make you reach for your raincoat when you leave. The track is a simple live guitar improv run through four different lanes with the use of some rain sounds in unusual ways.

Only read more if you want to geek out on the details.

The first thing to come in….the pit-pat of drops splatting…is a guitar synth triggering samples of my home-made wooden-keyed sansa.  This is “lane 1”

IMG_0114Soon after you gradually begin to hear two sets of ambient rain sounds emerge in the background. These are the only other thing than the four-lane guitar. The first to enter are a group of snippets of from a freesounds field recording of rain on a tin roof. The recording is split into pseudo-mid-side, with one section of the clip providing the mid, the common base sound to both stereo channels. Then two other clips, both from different times on the same recording are placed, one on the right channel and one on the left, to provide some stereo, giving the track a sense of space. All this was because the original field recording was mono and I want the stereo to be big on this. The second track is a stereo field recording I made of the rain as it sounded on the 9th floor outdoor walkway of my apartment. It is in stereo from the start, and much more “ambient” than the tin roof.

The second guitar lane comes in during fade in of the ambient rain. It is still the same guitar notes as the pit-pat samples. It is electric guitar, more or less pretty clean, run through two vocoders, one with the “left” side of the tin roof pseudo stereo recording, the other with the right side. On one vocoder it is the carrier, on the other it is the modulator. This means that one side of the guitar sounds like it is playing through the rain, while the other side sounds like the rain is playing through the guitar. The two sides are sent through the rain yet again, this time using a convolution plugin that makes the vocoder processed guitar/tin roof sound as if it is playing in the tin roof rain. Got some tin roof rain for your tin roof rain sound. All of this gives the guitar a sort of watery voice I think while still keeping the notes clear.

That gets joined soon after by the third lane, the “acoustic channel” of my Godin e
lectric guitar. This makes the articulation of the “watery” guitar clearer. The fourth guitar lane (still the same single guitar playing though) then fades in, a reverb drenched, trebly guitar that smears everything up again, but just in the background, tying together the guitar with the rain tracks to complete the atmosphere. Past the middle, all of the sounds gradually fade out one by one til only the the vocoded, convoluted guitar and a little ambience is left at the end.

As a special bonus, the art for the song is made from the spectrogram of the mix, which looked nicely smeared and rainy to my eye. That is the part “outside” the car. The driver’s eye view of the road and the inside of the car is stolen. Not saying from where.

arcDev noise industries

Another plugin maker who makes cool music is Skye Klein from Australia, who plays under the moniker of Terminal Sound System along with a bunch of other projects.  His music, in TSS anyway, is dubby, minimalist, occasionally bordering on ambient but at other times moving towards industrial glitching.  His latest album is Compressor, and another, Constructing Towers, is due out soon You can hear the latest music at the TSS site.  His older stuff is all downloadable from Embryo Records.  Among my favorites from the old stuff are minimal tolerance to injected errata, deep trauma, and tomorrow will not come, though I have not really listened to the whole catalogue yet.

His plugin and software site is arcDev Noise Industries, which has a frustratingly cool web interface that evokes some alien version of DOS or the ancient gopher net protocol.  Type ‘help’ if you can’t figure it out.

I use two of his plugins a lot.  The first is the aptly named hosebeast, which you can hear in action on rreplay‘s sizzle.  Hosebeast is a “5-part fx processor for noisy, lofi, glitchy and general audio mayhem” with a filter, granulator, warper, bitcrusher, and ring modulator in any combination, including multiples of the same.  In other words a FSU device.

The other great arcDev plugin is arcDev’s entry in the 2007 KVR Developers’ Challenge plugin contest, Ellipsis.  It, along with mdsp‘s livecut, which I’ll discuss in its own post some time, are responsible for the drums in cubanecho and f it from rreplay.  Cubanecho also relies on mdsp’s entry in the 2006 KVR Developers’ Challenge, fire.  If you take a guitar and set it standing up with the strings against a tabletop, then pull it away a little and let go, then the strings will bounce on the edge of the tabletop ever more rapidly, just so: Booooooooing Booooing  Boooing Boing Bng Bn bn bnbnbnbnbn (I take no responsibility for any damage to guitars or furniture this may cause).  Mdsp has figured out how to mathematically model that warping speed change using delays in fire.

The way Ellipsis works is that you load ten samples into it, most usefully, drum loops that will more or less go together.  You have to tweak the settings a bit to make the drums play at the right (or wrong!) speed.  Then when you hit a corresponding note on your midi controller (usually a keyboard, but I use a footboard), it triggers the loop.  You can set it for any BPM and it will speed up or slow down your loop accordingly, or sync it to your plugin host.  If you only like the last half or the first quarter of the loop, you can play just that, or play it in reverse.  One useful way to set it is to put the same drum loop in several times and play different portions of it frontwards or backwards to give some variation to the drums.

So that’s it for today.  I couldn’t find any of mdsp’s music to play for you, but I hope you enjoy rreplay and Terminal Sound System.