Well, I knew I was going to start working on an electribe set after I wrapped up my Maschine Studio live set, I just didn’t expect it to be the very next day! Sat down a few times throughout the day to polish up what I was working on in the electribe lately, and decided to cull a few songs that just weren’t fitting the vibe I wanted.
I started getting an idea for a new electribe project while I was doing all this, but I knew that I had to put some of these current songs behind me before I could wipe everything and start from scratch on a new project. So, I decided to record a short live set with some of my favorite patterns at the moment.
I was mainly using the Wet Reverb master effect to help with transitions between patterns, I haven’t been able to figure out a smoother way without knowing the track order ahead of time. This is probably a good bit more basic sounding than my Maschine Studio live set, but I still enjoy working this way and seeing what kind of music I can write when using tools a bit more limited.
Happy that I was able to use some of these ideas I’ve been carrying with me as I journeyed from one continent to another, but also looking forward to starting over on a new electribe project now that I’m settled. Expect some more grey Korg box music shortly! 🙂
I’m glad that a lot of people have been enjoying my new Maschine Studio live set:
Even more surprising how few people are using Maschine like this to perform, and how many people have thought about it. I’ve had a few more questions about some of the specific of the set, so I figured I’d talk some more about it.
All of the sounds came from the Maschine Library, except for an atmospheric texture in each track. These were live recordings I made at various forest preserves here in Luxembourg, using my iPhone and the Rode iXY-L mic I recently purchased. It does great stereo recordings, doesn’t seem overly sensitive to handling noise from the phone, and the Rode app is something I’ve been using for a long time since it’s based on Audiofile’s old FiRe iOS recorder.
So in this set typically I would layer one of these recordings over everything else, side-chain it to the kick, pile on some effects and play with the pitch to make it sit well with the other sounds. It was a hair-brained idea one day I thought, but it actually worked out better than I expected. Nice evolving sounds, and it’s got something that’s a more personal connection to my memories of making the set since I was the one who recorded all the samples. I’ll probably do some more of this in the future, turned out to be a neat technique.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, each Group in Maschine was what I would consider a separate song. That gave me up to 16 different sounds per song, though I didn’t ever use that many. Typically each song had 9-10 tracks.
To switch from one song to another, I would in turn mute all the sounds from one group, while un-muting sounds from the next group. This of course meant before I played the set, I had to go and manually mute each sound in Maschine ahead of time, then save this as my performance template. Sometimes I would first turn the volume down on a sound, then un-mute it. This would allow me to fade in some sounds, and not have everything sound too much like it’s just being muted and unmuted.
I also had 8 macros assigned to the master channel, and I would use these during song transitions too. I had a high pass and low pass filter, some dynamics shaping tools, and a stereo delay assigned to the macros, allowing me to filter, chop, and delay the audio from the entire set in one go when I needed to.
I was originally going to create macros for each Group too, but I realized that most of the controls I would likely want to map were already on the front page of each synth. Easy enough to get to those, so most of the hands on tweaking was done on the synths and effects directly. This worked out better than I figured it would, so not too sure how much macro making I’ll be doing in the future. Fine with me, that’s one of the few things you can only do on the laptop and not the controller 🙂
Video recording. People are curious about this more than I expected. In this video, I’m just using an iPhone6 attached to a mic boom arm with a Joby Gorilla-pod for the above shots. The side-angle shots were done with an iPad Air2 set on top of my speaker. I used Airdrop to transfer the videos to my laptop. Easy.
The set audio was recorded by hosting Maschine in Ableton Live, and routing the host track to the input of an audio track. That’s why you can see me closing and opening the laptop lid at the start and end of the set, I needed to start Live to get the Maschine plug-in to start playing. Monitoring was via my Lynx Hilo and Tyler D2x’s, no headphones needed for this set.
To combine the audio with the two camera angles I just used iMovie. It’s a little fiddly at times, but usually pretty simple to use and exporting the final movie is fast on my MacBook Pro.
Anyway, that’s the rest of the story. Next up most likely will be recording an electribe live set similar to this one. At least, that’s the plan.
This live set has been a long time coming, something I’ve been trying to do with different gear for awhile now. After bouncing around for what seemed like forever trying various different set ups, I finally decided that the Maschine Studio controller would be something I could really dive into.
This entire set was created and performed entirely using the Maschine Studio controller, the laptop was closed the entire time as I wanted to treat the set as if it was purely done on hardware. There was an NI limiter on the master channel in Maschine, otherwise this was recorded directly from Maschine with no additional processing after the fact.
An earlier attempt at doing this showed me I needed to really pay attention to my CPU usage, it’s easy to get carried away using lots of the bigger plug ins from the library. I have Maschine set up so that each Group is a basically a separate song, so I need to have enough CPU available to load 8 songs at once in effect.
I started by keeping the drums mainly sourced from samples, both in the Maschine library, and some of my own found sounds (more on this later). Other than the kick drums, most of the percussion and cymbal noises are various odd sounds I sampled in various forest preserves near where I live. Editing, tweaked, effected, and pitched all over of course.
I used “Group I” in Maschine to host a global delay and reverb, and sent just about everything through that to save more power. There was also a few filters, EQs, a transient shaper, and delay on the master channel. These were assigned to Master Channel macros so that I could effect the entire sound of the set if I wanted to.
This left me plenty of CPU I found to get a bit more indulgent with some of the instrument sounds. Time to dive into Massive and some of the new content in the Komplete Select sounds from the Maschine v2.3 update recently.
This video was actually my very first trial run of the set. I was mainly trying to see if the cameras would record long enough, and if Maschine could handle running that long as well. I ended up having so much fun I just went for it, and happily all the camera and audio aspects worked as expected too. I still have quite a bit more I want to do to fine-tune the set and a couple of the songs, but I’m still really happy with how it turned out.
Maschine Studio ended up being a lot better than I expected from a performance standpoint. Doesn’t take long to really start knowing your way around, and with things like the mixer, macros, and synth tweaking only one button press away, I was surprised at how quick I could move around to keep the set as fluid as possible. Good stuff, and I look forward to doing some more live music with this set up!
Now that things are settled down a bit from the move, I finally have the time and mindset to really focus on getting some new music written and recorded. Probably even performable if all goes well.
The Electribe live set I was working on was giving me a few issues so I decided to shelve it for a bit, and the Traktor S8 live set didn’t pan out the way I wanted, so that was a dead end too. I figured it was time to dive back in on the Maschine Studio as a live tool, see if I could come up with a way to use it to write and perform and entire live set from.
I won’t lie, this video of Dapayk Solo helped kick my interest back into high gear:
He’s basically using the exact same way of organizing the set that I was planning on, and despite a couple CPU dropouts he said, everything worked fine for up to 8 songs. At least now I knew it could be done, and I wasn’t so hesitant to spend the time prepping something of this magnitude.
I set myself a self-imposed deadline of June 1st to finish the set. Well, slightly self-imposed anyway, I might actually have a live set to play that night. Details pending.
The basic idea was to use each group in Maschine as a self-contained song, so that I could have multiple songs all in one self-contained project. After some experimenting and talking to other Maschine users trying something similar, it sounded like limiting the set to 8 groups (songs) was the best way to go. Beyond that you start running into CPU load limitations, it’s just pushing things too much IMO.
Even then, I knew I needed to try and be as bare-bones as possible when building the set, the more CPU in reserve the better. If nothing else it gave me plenty of power later in the process when I really wanted to fine-tune things. By sticking mainly with samples for my drums and a few instruments per song, I was able to write 95% of the set with my CPU meter barely lighting up in Maschine.
Oh yeah, the set came together really fast too, the bulk of it created over maybe a week? Plenty of time to meet my deadline now! I think it helped that I had just gotten back from a nice relaxing vacation to Amsterdam (my first time) a few days before. But I also know that it had been awhile since I had written and released any music I was happy with, and the itch was there to just get it done.
I’m still impressed every time I use the Maschine Studio, I admit it. Other than a few things I can do quickly at the start of a session like start a new project, everything can be done from the hardware. And it’s really fun to do so. The more used to Maschine I get, the more I realize there’s so much potential there with how quick it is it to write and EDIT your music. Didn’t help that the new 2.3 update for Maschine hit right before I dove in, new goodies are always fun to play with of course. 🙂
In a couple busy days in the studio, I managed to get the core of 8 new songs written for the live set. It’s mainly a dub techno, deep weird house sort of set, dance or nod, it’s your choice.
I still need to do some final mixdown tweaks, figure out exactly how I want to video record a run through of the set (everyone loves YouTube versions after all), add in a few fills here and there, and start assigning all the controls I want to tweak when playing the set to Macros for each group. 6 days, easy.
If all goes to play, hopefully I’ll be playing a new live set on June 1st, or at the very least have a practice run through of the set online. Back to it!
Been wanting to get a new DJ set recorded ever since we arrived in Luxembourg. Finally managed to get a break from mastering long enough to get this recorded, and I’m really happy with the way it came together. On a bit of a dub techno kick lately, so this one is both something you can chill or dance to. This set was recorded live on May 13th using Native Instruments Traktor Scratch Pro v2.81 and a Traktor Kontrol S8 controller. The link above is a high-quality AAC version of the set.
Here’s the tracklist:
Time – Artist – Track Name – Label
00:00 – Subset – Worlds Of If – Deeptakt
07:45 – Subset – Lecithitrope – Deeptakt
13:49 – Goran Geto – Chords And Clouds (Subset Rmx) – Drift Deeper
18:41 – BRK – ML3 – Energostatic
22:23 – Caldera – Hold – Drift Deeper
27:33 – Micro G – Aquatic Warbler – Vertical
33:10 – Caldera – Caldera – Sonic Moiré
38:10 – If I Had A Hi Fi – Kontinuum – Kopoc
44:34 – Aspect – BP4 (Fingers in the Noise Rmx) – Cold Fiction Music
48:50 – Goran Geto – Chords And Clouds (Zoltan Ban Remix) – Drift Deeper
55:38 – Atabey – Cold Peace – Energostatic
62:22 – Akusmatic – Lunar Chicken – Self Release
68:02 – If I Had A Hi Fi – Silica – Kopoc
72:27 – Yagya – Reverbs and Delays – Kilk
76:02 – Minimal Boffin – Jardin d’Acclimation – Complex Textures
81:54 – Caldera – Be With You – Sonic Moiré
87:14 – Kogyp – Oceanica – Energostatic
For those of you who prefer Mixcloud, here’s a link to the set there as well:
One of the more interesting aspects of living in Europe compared to the US, is how differently they build things. Lots more concrete, no drywall, attention to air quality inside, more stringent energy saving devices, etc. Of course, sometimes better is not always better.
Case in point. The bathroom in our new apartment has a fan and vent system that’s tied into the overhead light. When you turn on the main bathroom light, after a few seconds the fans in the vents start. This provides not only fresh air, but also helps get rid of any moisture in the air after say a shower, preventing mold building up and the like. It’s a great idea on paper, however the people who designed it over-engineered the concept because said fan will stay on for up to 30 minutes after you turn off the light. Even if you only turn on the light for a few seconds. And it’s very loud, so loud you can hear it in all of the other rooms. To the point where it’s extremely annoying, and it basically creates a larger problem than it solves.
As a result, instead of being a practical solution we appreciate having and use frequently, my wife and rarely use the overhead light in the bathroom and instead use the much dimmer one built into the wall. The point of this post isn’t just to whine about my new bathroom though, because I see music producers doing the same thing all the time when it comes to writing music.
For instance, people will be working to make two instruments sit together better in a mix by using some EQ on both parts. They’ll go to great lengths to create these radical and steep EQ shapes that precisely isolate specific frequencies, and yes the sounds do fit together better afterwards. But at the same time, they also lack any warmth or presence, making the mix sound thin and anemic. They’ve in effect not just fixed a problem, but created a worse one in the process.
Another example I’ve seen has to do with a song’s arrangement. I was mastering some music for a couple of DJs, and they had written their music so that every 8 bars was more or less a perfect loop. The thinking was that this way DJs could just pick and choose their favorite parts of the song, loop those, and ignore everything else.
It sounds like an interesting idea on paper, but when you’d hear the songs from start to end, they sounded very disjointed and just didn’t flow that well. It sounded like…. well a collection of loops. It was doubtful any DJs would buy the tracks in the first place as they were, much less spend time pulling out their favorite loops. Luckily I was able to make some suggestions to make things flow a little better, and there was still the ability to grab loops of the important parts of the songs if DJs wanted. We had to un-engineer the tracks if you will.
There’s dozens of other examples we can all think of I’m sure, but point of all this is just to keep in mind that sometimes the best solution is one that is just good enough to fix the problem. That putting too much thought and planning into something can occasionally take a good idea and turn it into something that lacks the soul that made the idea good in the first place. It’s good to step back once in awhile and rethink what you’re doing, make sure that it still solves your problem without creating new ones you didn’t perhaps realize were a possibility before.
Too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad thing as they say.