“Fractured Time” – New E.P.

While there are 4 ‘songs’ on this EP, it was written and intended to be played as a single piece of music.  It’s only 14 minutes long, don’t worry.  The start times of the different songs that make up this EP are:

00:00 – The Way In
04:00 – Involved
07:52 – The Endless Muse
10:38 – No Further

Here is the link to the complete album, as a single continuous 320kbps AAC:

http://tarekith.com/mp3s/Tarekith-FracturedTime.m4a 

Higher resolution and lossless versions, as well as the individual tracks, are available from Bandcamp:

http://tarekith.bandcamp.com

If you purchase the album, email a copy of your order to me and I’ll send you the Ableton Live 9 Project of the entire album for you to explore and mangle as you will.  Normal Creative Commons Licensing applies, see the bottom of this page for details before you release anything: http://tarekith.com/tracks/

Project requires Live 9 to open, sorry to those with earlier versions!   220MB.

For the producers (and the curious) out there, you can read the full story of how this EP came to be further below:

 

The Story

This has been one of those projects that you love and hate at the same time.  It took me way longer than I expected, and by the end I was a millions miles away from where I thought I would be.  The early stages of this EP actually began with me wanting to create a new hard techno live set using just the Elektron Machinedrum.  It had been awhile since I had used just the Machinedrum for a live set, and I was feeling drawn to the simplicity of just working with one piece of gear for awhile.

Why a hard techno live set instead of my usual downtempo?  No idea, other than I had been going to a few festivals last summer, and that was the music I kept getting drawn to.

For the new live set I wanted to use the UW aspect of the Machinedrum as much as possible, so most of the sounds I prepared for it came from this techno DJ set I had been listening to for a few weeks in my car.  I didn’t so much sample individual sounds and specific noises as I did just short little micro bursts of sound to mess with later.  I was looking for textures and sounds with lots of harmonics I could filter later on.  With all 48 memory slots on the MD-UW filled, I was only using 700kb of memory, so tiny samples indeed.

Over the next few weeks I basically wrote 16 ‘songs’ on the Machinedrum, with the intention that this would be a live set I performed on the fly.  Working with so much focus on one piece of gear for so long is a very intense experience, and after a month or so I needed a break away from all things Elektron 🙂  So I packed up the Machinedrum and focused on DJing for awhile.

In a few weeks when I felt I was ready to dive back into the techno set, I sat down to give everything a listen with fresh ears.  Of course more than half of what I had written sounded like garbage now, so I began the process of trying to save as many of the songs as I could.  After a few days, I could tell that trying to do the whole set with only the Machinedrum was just not giving me the range of sounds I was looking for.  Not so much a fault of the MD, as it was due to me having a pool of very specific (and honestly too similar) samples for my core sounds.

Having spent weeks of very long days writing material, and now realizing only about half of it was worth saving, I once again decided to take a break and work on other projects while I thought about how to save all those hours of work.  When things just aren’t working for me, I’m notorious for deleting everything and starting over.  But in this case I really liked the material that WAS good, so I didn’t want to go that far yet.

Around this time, I ran into the plug-in “MIDI Guitar” from Jam Origin and things started to change.  The plug-in is basically a real-time audio to midi converter for guitar, which you can use standalone or in your DAW.  I was really enjoying using my guitar to play something like Omnisphere, so I thought it might be cool to create new loops to go over the Machinedrum material. I could use the Octatrack to play them back, so I’d still be using all hardware to perform the set.  It might not be a strictly techno set on just the Machinedrum anymore, but at least I was still using all this material I had written.  Good enough for me!

First I went back to the MD songs and deleted all but the 8 that I liked the best.  It was tough, but it just wasn’t worth the time or the effort at this point to try and save the others.  I’d tried that once and they still weren’t doing it for me, so away they went, problem solved.

Syncing the MD to Ableton Live is easy enough, so I was able to record 5-6 new loops for each of the remaining Machinedrum songs.  As I mentioned, I did all of this using my guitar to play Omnisphere, so all of the non-drum sounds were recorded that way.  Probably the most fun making music I’ve had in years, this MIDI Guitar software has changed the way I write music for the better I think.

I dove in and in just a few days managed to record all of the new audio material I needed for the Octatrack, roughly 48 new 4-bar audio loops.  I loaded these into the OT and did a rough mix with the Machinedrum sounds.  I also reordered all of the songs so that they flowed from start to finish better.  By this time, I was once again getting a little burned out on hearing the same sounds so much, so I took yet another multi-week break from the Elektrons to give my brain a break.  On bigger projects like this, I find it critical to take time away now and then to make sure I can come back to it now and then with a fresh perspective.  It keeps me from wasting weeks of time taking things too far, and helps me really edit out all the material that’s just not working in the larger context.

By this point I should have been expecting it, but once I listened to the material again a few weeks later I was left still feeling like some of it was just not that strong.  Once again I was forced to make the tough (but necessary) decision to get rid of the stuff that wasn’t working so I could focus on what was sounding like it had potential.  In this case, that meant deciding to go from an 8 song mini live set, to a 4 song studio EP.  Oh well, these things happen.

I spent a couple of weeks tweaking and remixing my new loops in the Octatrack, and then recorded everything back into Ableton Live to arrange.  My plan was to create the songs as 4 parts of one larger piece of music, which meant doing all 4 songs in the same project.  The Live 9 beta was just getting going, so I figured I would use this as a chance to put the new version through it’s paces.  Don’t try this at home.

It took me about 2-3 more weeks to arrange all the songs for the album, and finish all the fills and edits.  I had planned to add more parts with MIDI Guitar, but once I did my last pass of edits and fills, I realized it was fine the way it was.  I took another week to fine-tune the arrangement, and then did some last minute tweaking to the mixdown of all the songs.  I used only the built in effects from Live 9 for the mix, and they did the job perfectly, no complaints.

So there you have it, from an hour long techno live set to a 4 track E.P.

Vancouver Live Set now on Bandcamp!

SequentialCircus-25

Since I released this live set a few months ago, I’ve had quite a few people ask me if they could get a lossless version of it.  Since this is one of my favorite live sets anyway, I thought it would be nice put it up on Bandcamp so people could get it in any format they wanted.

This set was recreated from a performance I gave in Vancouver on August 8th, 2012 at Sequential Circus 11.  100% Elektron Machinedrum and Octatrack, recorded live in one pass with no additional post processing, enjoy!

http://tarekith.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-sequential-circus-11

Live at Sequential Circus 11

http://tarekith.com/mp3s/Tarekith-SequentialCircus11.mp3

This set was recorded after the fact, because the original recordings of the sets at Sequential Circus 11 were later discovered to be damaged, and unuseable for the podcast they run.  I have used the same set list, and tried to keep the same vibe as the set I performed that night in Vancouver, August 18th, 2012.

Performed using an Elektron Octatrack and Machinedrum.

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In other news, my next gig will be sometime around December 4rd.  The local pub I run my Liquid Beats night at is moving to a bigger location next door, and I’ve been asked to DJ the grand re-opening.  The exact date will depend on how long the move takes, but I’ll be sure to post about here and on Facebook/Twitter once I find out for sure.  Should be fun night!

Live at Chillography 5 Recording

Well, it took me awhile to get the recording prepped in order to post this online, but I finally have a copy of the live set I performed at Chillography 5 back on August 4th here in Seattle.  This was all done live using an Elektron Machinedrum and Octatrack, straight into the house mixer.  Good example of my more downtempo and midtempo live set.  Only a few mistakes in this one as it was scorching hot and the sun shining right on my gear made it hard to see somethings, doh!  🙂

http://tarekith.com/mp3s/Tarekith-Live_Chillography5.mp3

 

Hopefully I can have a copy of my more uptempo set from Vancouver posted soon as well, until then, enjoy!

 

 

Vancouver Teaser Live Set

A quick teaser of my new live set, getting played for the first time this weekend in Vancouver at Sequential Circus 11.  100% live with just the Machinedrum and Octatrack, more uptempo this time around.

Here’s a 320kbps MP3 if you prefer that:

http://tarekith.com/mp3s/Tarekith-Vancouver_Teaser.mp3

 

As I mentioned, I’ll be playing Saturday, August 18th in Vancouver at Sequential Circus 11.  Details:

VENUE: Open Studios, #200 – 252 East 1st Avenue
19+ w/ID ONLY – there’s a bar
TICKETS: $20, available at the door only, arrive early to avoid disappointment
Doors at 10:00pm, first performance begins at 10:30pm sharp!

I’m told the last few of these sold out, so get there early to make sure you get in!

 

Chillography 5

Well, the Photosynthesis 5 festival is over and done with, and I have to say I’m really pleased with how my set went.  After all the work I put into prepping a brand new hardware-based live set, it’s a good feeling knowing it all worked well and that people really seemed to enjoy it.  Probably my best live set so far in fact, so I’m very happy with the decision to take a break from the laptop and Live for a bit to focus on dedicated hardware for awhile.

Of course, not everything was perfect.  There was some confusion over time-slots, and I ended up having to go on about an hour earlier than I was scheduled to (depending on who’s schedule you were following I guess).  Plus, my gear was stored in a locked trailer, and the person with the only key for said trailer took awhile to find.  Minor freak out for me.

And then there was the rain, which had started earlier in the day and didn’t let up all night.  The tent I was playing in started to leak eventually, but we scrambled and managed to at least get some tarps up to divert water off the ‘stage’ where the audio gear was.  Unfortunately it had already soaked the carpet, so I ended up performing kneeling in 3 inches of water (the DJs and live acts all perform sitting down normally, since this is a chill out tent).

But, the tent was packed with a line forming outside to get in I’m told, and lots of people were dancing.  Something you don’t always see with downtempo. 🙂

When I finished the set, I realized that due to the scheduling issues, the next live act wasn’t there yet.  So I was planning on putting on CD while I packed up and waited for them, but one of the promoters just asked me to start playing my set again.  So I did another 30 minutes of it while we waited.  Not quite the finale I was planning on, but I’d rather play than not, so it could be worse 🙂

Best part of the weekend was just all the random people that came up to me all weekend telling me how much they enjoyed my set.  Always a nice feeling!

 

But, no rest for the wicked as they say, and now that I’m home and back in the studio I realized there were a few things I wanted to improve in the set still.  Namely most of my songs in the Octatrack don’t use up all the available tracks, there’s still 1-3 tracks free in most of the songs.  A few times while performing, I’d be really into a song and wanting to extend it, but not having more sounds to introduce would have made it too repetitive.

So the last few days I’ve been using Live and Omnisphere to write new parts for all of my live songs in the downtempo set, 17 in total.  Mainly I was just MIDI syncing the hardware to Live and jamming with Omni until I got something cool that I liked.  This was trimmed, and then transferred to the OT.  I probably could have recorded into the OT directly, but I wanted to work fast to get this done, and I’m definitely more used to working like this in Live still.

So, now all the new material is prepped and in the hardware, and I just need to go into each song and dial in the mixdown, and any small tweaks to the new sounds with the OT’s effects.  It was a lot of work overall, especially considering that I thought I was done with the set prep work.  But I think in the end things sound much better, and with the new sounds I added, it really gives me a lot more flexibility in how I perform the set and want it to flow.

Which is a good thing, since my next live gig is not that far away!  I’ll be doing the live set at Chillography in Seattle on August 4th, at Myrtle Edwards Park.  It’s a free party that runs from noon til 9:00 PM, and it’s in a beautiful location right on the shoreline of Puget Sound and within walking distance of the Art Institute’s outdoor sculpture garden.

My set is from 6:00-7:00PM.

Stop on by to hang out and listen to some great music for free.  Bring some lunch, a book, your dog, you name it, and enjoy the great vibe the h’Art people bring to all their events.  Hopefully I can record my set this time too!

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Next up, I’ve had a few people ask me when the next Production Q&A will be.  The answer is that it depends on all of you!  I need a couple more questions before I’ll start, so if you have anything music or production related you want advice on, just drop me an email.

Finally, thanks once again to all the people who sent in a donation over the last couple of weeks.  It might only be a couple dollars to you, but if enough people pitch in, I can finally buy that pony I’ve always wanted.  🙂

Thanks!

Live Set Video, May 2012

As many of you who read the blog no doubt know, I’ve been really busy working on material for my new live sets lately.  Here’s a quick video of some of the latest material from my uptempo set.  The track order has not been sorted yet, so some of the transitions are…. interesting 🙂  But really, that’s what this run through was all about, seeing how these tracks sound when I actually perform them, and not just while writing them.

Anyway, quite a bit of new material in this set, enjoy!

Festival Season

Well, summer’s coming up fast and I’ve already got a couple gigs lined up that I’m really excited about this year.  I’ve been asked to play Photosynthesis again, this times perhaps doing two different sets over the weekend.  As readers of my blog will know, I’ve recently switched to using the Elektron Octatrack in place of a laptop and the APC40 I have been using for years now.

The first couple of trial runs I posted online I was happy with, but at the same time I knew I had really rushed some of the prep work because I was excited to try out the Octatrack in a live context.  I knew going into those early attempts that the drums were barely sketched out, and the track order and mixdowns were just done real quick and needed more attention.  So, with the summer gigs coming up, I decided it was time to dive back in and get all my new live material prepped and ready for the summer.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been going through my back catalog of tracks, looking for ones I could use to fill in the holes in the current set, as well as just to give me more material to use live.  I ended up adding about 8-9 more tracks overall, giving me about 2 hours of material total to perform if needed.  Once the new songs were prepped and ready to go in the Elektrons, I went and did a lot of touchups in pretty much all of the patterns.  Just fixing the small things that were still bugging me about some of the song mainly, and re-mixing all of the new ones too.

Once that was done, the tedious part was next, mixing and re-ordering everything so that it flows better from one song to the next.  This is pretty time-consuming because I have to do it all manually in the Octatrack ,cutting and pasting one song and all it’s presets at a time.  But…. it’s worth it, everything flows better overall and the set makes more sense as a complete piece of work too.

I still need to keep fine-tuning the mixdowns for each song, the Elektrons are capable of such deep bass, I’m always tweaking the low end to get it deep but not over-powering. Could be worse I guess!

Anyway, after a couple of weeks of work, I finally got to record a couple new trial runs of the material this weekend.   I had to split it up into two seperate videos on consecutive days because I’m still learning the the new camera I bought to record these videos  🙂  Oh, and I’m sitting down because last year at Photosynthesis they had us sit to perform in the chillout tent, and I want to get used to that.  Was kind of weird at the time when you’re used to always standing to perform.

Downtempo Live PA recorded April 14, 2012

 

Downtempo Live PA recorded April 15, 2012

 

I’ll post the time-slots I’m playing once I get the final info about that.  You can find out more information about the Photosynthesis Festival here:

http://photosynthesisfestival.com/

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest I highly recommend it, I had a really good time last year. The other big gig I have lined up I don’t have dates for yet, but I’ll talk about that some more once everything is finalized.  If you have any questions about the sets above, or want to book me for any parties, send me an email or drop a note in the comments.  Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Outside Realms – New Live Set Teaser

 

This is the first run through of my new live set, something a little more upbeat than my usual downtempo.  I had a lot of fun doing the downtempo set I posted two weeks ago (Here), so I decided to go ahead and convert some of the more clubby tunes from my Ableton sets into something for the Elektron gear.

This is the first trial run of that set, and so far I’m pretty happy with how it’s turning out.  Still a couple of issues to resolve, but that will be something I tackle over the next few months as I slowly continue to add material to the set.  Here’s the MP3 for those that want to download and listen:

http://tarekith.com/mp3s/Tarekith-Outside_Realms_Live_Set.mp3

And here is the video of the set:

Elektron live set video

Normally when I wrap up a project, I look forward to moving on and putting it behind me. But I’ve been having so much fun performing on the Machinedrum and Octatrack this week, I wanted to give it one more go.  Plus, I felt bad that I wasn’t able to capture the last peformance on video, when I knew so many people had asked for it.  So today I did another short set, only 15 minutes or so, and took some video so people can see what I’m doing.  It won’t be annotated this time, but if you have any questions about what I’m doing, just post them in the comments.

Sorry for all the Octatrack related posts lately, what can I say, it’s my new toy and I’m having fun with it. 🙂  And of course, if you want to hear a full hour long version of the set I’m doing in this video (with a lot more songs in it), you can find that here:

Elektron Live Set