TH1 – New Track

TH1-300

Tarekith – TH1

Over the last few weeks I’ve had a bit of a turnaround when it comes to making music on portable devices (iPhone, iPad, etc).  While I’ve always been a fan of making music on the go, over the years I realized I was far more productive if I just focused on coming up with simple ideas and grooves, versus trying to do complete tracks.  I’ve done it a few times, but honestly it was usually very tedious work done just for the sake of saying I could do it.

With the release of the Audiobus app however, that has completely changed for me.  And when I finally decided to take the plunge on Auria as my main DAW for the iPad, suddenly I had a very powerful and extremely compact music set up.  Even better, I was actually having a lot of fun using it.

So I decided to focus on making music with the iPad for awhile, though I do have a Qunexus arriving any day now that I plan to pair with it.  I’m hoping over the summer I can record enough material to release another EP or even a full-length album in the Fall.  Fingers crossed.

TH1 is the first of my new iOS music making efforts, done entirely from start to finish in the iPad.  Auria was the main DAW, and it works fabulously, I’m a huge fan now.  Drums were from DM1, Bassline is done with Figure, Thumbjam did the little acoustic sounding bits, and the rest is a combination of Alchemy Mobile, Sunrizer, Animoog, iKaossilator, and Addictive synths.  I used the built in Auria (PSP) dynamics processors when mixing and mastering the song.  I do plan on eventually buying some of the Fabfilter add on plug-ins to handle this in the future.  The PSP stuff works fine, I’m just used to the Fabfilter plug-ins I guess.

——————

In other news, I’m once again going to be playing live at the Photosynthesis Festival in Neah Bay, WA.  Stay tuned for more info on dates and details.

Oh, and Ableton featured my new DJ EFX Racks on their home page last week, which I thought was pretty cool.  Glad so many of you are enjoying using those new EFX Racks, thanks for all donations!  That really helps, so I appreciate it no matter the amount.  Hopefully I can find the time to create some more racks for Live 9, sooner rather than later!  🙂

“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.

“Hooded”

Hooded – Downtempo 03-06-2013

Well, as you’ll no doubt hear in the song, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately playing guitar instead of synths.  Just needed to mix it up a little bit.  The synths you do hear in this track were done using Jam Origin’s MIDI Guitar plug-in controlling Omnisphere.  I have to say it was pretty fun being able to play my synths with my guitar for a change, which is maybe why this track is so different from my normal stuff.

This is also the first time I’m releasing a track as a 320kbps AAC file instead of a 320kbps MP3.   As I talked about in my Mastered For iTunes blog post a couple weeks back, after a lot of critical listening tests, I’m convinced AAC files sound closer to the original master of my songs than MP3s do.  I’m curious to see if anyone has any issues playing back the file.  There shouldn’t be any problems, but if you do run into one please let me know.

Enjoy!

“Epoch” – New Tarekith Album

Like many musicians today, I typically release my music one track at a time.  Sure, every once in awhile I’d get together an EP perhaps, but it’s been awhile since I released a complete album.

Early last year, I was in the studio just randomly listening to some of my older tracks.  I realized that many of them told a similar story, and had a common vibe that I hadn’t anticipated.  I decided then that I wanted to compile the best of this group into a cohesive album.  Unfortunately, I was still a few tracks shy of achieving the flow on the album that I envisioned, so I just went back to writing singles for almost 2 years.

Finally, after what for me has been a long wait, I feel I have all the arcs of the story that I need.  This isn’t so much an album of my best songs, as is it a compilation of the ones I feel best represent what I want to say with my music.  I love to combine real world sounds with totally synthetic and twisted digital textures, over catchy beats that represent flow and movement.  With these songs, I used every tool at my disposal over the last 8 years to do just that. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did creating it.

The Epoch album is available at the following stores:

“Out From In” Album – Now Free!

To celebrate the release of my new album “Epoch” this Friday, I’ve decided to make my last album available for free now.  Released in 2009, “Out From In” was conceived and written as a continuous mix of flowing electronic music.  You can down a free 320kbps MP3 version of the entire album here:

http://tarekith.com/mp3s/Tarekith_-_Out_From_In.mp3

If you prefer WAV of FLAC versions of the entire album, or just a couple songs, they are still available on Addictech.com as well:

http://www.addictech.com/p/38571

Stayed tuned for info on the new album once it launches this Friday, December 7th!

—————

In other news, I’m meeting with the local Keith McMillian rep on Wednesday to get a sneak peek at new QuNexus controller this Friday.  I’ll definitely post my thoughts on it once I’ve had some hands on time with it.

Also, for you Seattle  Live users, don’t forget that tonight is the Seattle Ableton Live Users meeting at the Vera Project at 5:30.  Tonights presenter is Mr. Bill!  If you go, be sure to stop and say hi!

“The Focused Mist”

The Focused Mist

This track was written using a combination of the Elektron Octatrack, and an iPad3 running the following apps:

– Figure
– iKaossillator
– Sunrizer
– Animoo
– Samplr

All of the original source audio for the song came from these apps, which was then arranged and mixed with the Octatrack.  The output of the Octatrack was recorded via a Lynx Hilo at 24bit/96kHz, no additional post-processing was applied except for normalizing to -0.3dBFS and converting to a 16bit/44.1kHz file format.

High quality FLAC and wav file versions of this song are available at Addictech.com

Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/tarekith/the-focused-mist

YouTube: http://youtu.be/-fKFHpjScgM

Actual Memories


Ealier this year Ryan Faubion who was the administrator of the Elektron-Users forum sadly passed away.  He was an incredible person to work with in the Elektron community, and his loss will be felt by all of us.  Many from the Elektron forums created songs to honor Ryan, and help his wife and their child out with in their time of loss.  Please take a moment to visit the site, listen to a few of the songs, and considering purchasing the album to hep out his family:

http://www.actual-memories.com

“The Wrong Tree” – New Tarekith track

 

New track online here:

https://soundcloud.com/tarekith/the-wrong-tree

Wav, FLAC, MP3 and Ogg versions available exclusively through Addictech.com:

http://www.addictech.com/p/103294

There’s an ambient version also available too!

http://www.addictech.com/p/103295

 

With all of the hardware work I’ve been focusing on lately, it’s been awhile since I fired up Live and just let loose with all the tools at my disposal.  Figured it was time to write something new, focus on the software side of things for a little bit, and not limit myself in terms of what gear I used.

So, the start was a basic beat I cooked up on the Machinedrum, using the drum samples I have stored in ROM on it.  The drums in the song are multi-tracked pretty much straight from the MD’s out into Live.  Just so I could do the arranging in Live, all the beat-making was on the MD.

Once that was recorded into Live, I used Omnisphere to record some simple synth pads to give the track some tonality.  Just some basic sounds I didn’t even use in the end.  With that recorded and playing quietly over the drums, I did some passes with the guitar.  Basic signal path was from the Dragonfly to the Pod HD500, then direct into the Fireface400.   Or I went straight from the built in pick up on my Ovation acoustic guitar.  Recorded a lot of fun guitar sounds in that session, used most through out the track later on.

At this point I had only been working on the song for a couple of hours, and for some strange reason got it into my head I wanted to use some weird trippy vocal in the track.  Broke out the mic, then took a break.  Scribbled down some crazy words on the way back from the grocery store for lunch.

I recorded a few takes of those into Live, comped together the best bits real quick, and then loaded it up in the Octatrack.  I also export a stem of the track playing without the vocals to load into the OT as well.  This way I could add my tweaks to the vocal, while listening to the rest of the song at the same time.  Worked great, I did some really trippy pitch stuff along with some weird distortions, everything you hear on the vocal is all from the OT.

At this point I had the basic song sketched out, but I did some more passes playing Synplant, and Omnisphere using OmniTR on the iPad to tweak it.  Love that combo, such a fluid way of quickly coming up with new sounds.  Anyway, with that last pass done, I spent a few days arranging the track in Live and doing a rough mix along the way.

After a few days of adding fills and transitions, as well as fine-tuning the arrangement, I took a couple days away and gave my ears a rest.  Came back to it a few days later and started editing and removing parts that now I could tell didn’t add much to the track in those sections.  Exported it to Wave Editor where I added just a touch of limiting via Pro-L.  Nothing else was done in the mastering stage apart from dithering.

The Wayback Machine

Had a few dicussions recently with some other musicians about making music “back in the day” and what some of our earliest recordings sounded like.  Figured it would be fun to post what I believe is the first recording of  my electronic music.  I had some earlier stuff than this recorded from back in my guitar/punk band days somewhere, but we’ll leave that buried for now.  🙂

rEalm – Morphing Mechanism.mp3

This is a live set I made back in 1999, when I was still going by the artist name “rEalm”.  Recorded live in one pass (to cassette of all things) using a Roland MC505, and a couple samples from the Roland SP808 I had just bought.  This is a direct transfer from the cassette, no mastering or anything, so it’s pretty raw sounding, though I guess that was kind of par for the course compared to what we do today.  And yes, I was really into trance at the time, so no need to comment on that  🙂

As I’ve mentioned before, I initially got into writing electronic music from a live pa perspective.  So the title of this set is something I’ve always thought was very descriptive for the way I perform, and I’ve continued to borrow the name for all of the live sets I’ve created since.

Anyway, hopefully some of you get a kick out of this or at least a chuckle.  Feel free to share your earliest recordings in the comments too!