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Dark, ambient, industrial techno: keeping it dark?
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Author Dark, ambient, industrial techno: keeping it dark?
asii
I've been producing music for many years and I absolutely love dark industrial techno.

however, even with all my practice, I am not always able to keep a dark tone in my music?

Examples:

Example 1

example 2

I could post a million more videos but I think you all will get the point...

I tend to be able to sort of get there, but I always tend to introduce sounds that are too bright as happy. Pitching down samples doesn't always seem to work, either...

is there something specific I'm missing here when it comes to maintaining the tone of a dark industrial techno sound?

I find it difficult to maintain and I have more than enough told to do so. Maybe the fact that I love a certain type of sound doesn't necessarily mean I can recreate it? I refuse to give in to that psychology.. I need to figure this out

I just want cold, black and white sounds....

anyway... story of my life.. I SHOULD know how to accomplish this.. some artists just make it seem so easy

thanks in advance.. struggling a bit here lately
noisejockey
I guess my question for you is higher level: Are you trying to sound like someone else, or yourself? I don't presume to know, but what you're describing seems like it could be one of two situations: You're naturally led creatively to something other than the music you like listening to (i.e, your voice is different than your ears), or your voice is the same as your ear and you're just trying to make things sync up (i.e., it's a matter of technique).

My responses can really only address the latter, because it'll take a lot of soul searching to come to terms with the former (which actually happens all the time and is a natural way to be - the Autechre guys are into hip hop more than anything else!).

First of all, stay on the beat. Be mechanical. Aim for sounds that aren't drums: Aim for the sound of machinery. Distort and wavefold whatever you can...that Blawan track isn't power noise, but you can hear the sizzle of distortion. Evolve your beats until they become hypnotic.

Go minimal with melody, if at all. Neither of the tracks you posted had much in the way of melodic content. If you go melodic, go with minor keys. Stay in lower registers. Try limited odd harmonic relationships like 4ths and 6ths. But again the tracks you shared are super sparse, comparatively speaking. Maybe that's part of the barren feeling you're chasing.

Like that Shifted track, play with space: Drench some elements in reverb or delay, but keep others (like percussion) dry. Don't let the reverb get too bright in terms of EQ.

But most of all, get inspired: Watch movies that get you into that headspace. Embrace or come to terms with those bad feelings after the end of a day. Sink your gut into the work. Get broader with your listening; if you want dark, spin some Swans, Throbbing Gristle, Skinny Puppy, older Speedy J, Penderecki, Nick Cave...you don't need to love it, but listen for the sonic similarities. How do THEY achieve that mood, that vibe?
asii
great response... I believe you're right.. has more to do with my creative energy than my actual knowledge... maybe I'm just magnetically charged towards something less dark

a good distortions unit would help me immensely, too bad I sold my Sherman filterbank lol
neuroportal
I got distracted, and was half way through a reply and came back: Noisejockey pretty much said sensible things.

Your tracks posted are not necessarily my 'cup of tea' but they were hypnotic, nonetheless, and I found myself drawn in. Blawan - Tuesday's March especially, (good video btw). You talk about sounds sounding too happy, but there is an element of emptyness coming though, coldness so when you say dark, really need some context - some would say that they were dark already.

As an experiment, play with your drum sounds. Instead of using traditional style kicks and highhats, go for something entirely off the wall to replace them, or just mangle the heck out of them.

Those two tracks alone - changing the drums would subtly alter the perception and 'feeling', I suspect, more in the direction I *think* you are wanting to push into.
AdamJay
These tracks have surprisingly few elements in them, but lots of spacial FX binding them together.

I suggest using different insert FX on each element, rather than a send/return FX that is shared with multiple parts.

Short tails on reverbs, short feedback on echo/delay. Lots of headroom so that the compressor can do its magic in the mastering stage. That's the basic strategy I employed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6yc7RipCH8
and here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK6OWS1tyYQ

Good luck!
asii
neuroportal wrote:
I got distracted, and was half way through a reply and came back: Noisejockey pretty much said sensible things.

Your tracks posted are not necessarily my 'cup of tea' but they were hypnotic, nonetheless, and I found myself drawn in. Blawan - Tuesday's March especially, (good video btw). You talk about sounds sounding too happy, but there is an element of emptyness coming though, coldness so when you say dark, really need some context - some would say that they were dark already.

As an experiment, play with your drum sounds. Instead of using traditional style kicks and highhats, go for something entirely off the wall to replace them, or just mangle the heck out of them.

Those two tracks alone - changing the drums would subtly alter the perception and 'feeling', I suspect, more in the direction I *think* you are wanting to push into.


yes.. yea I really need a drum mangler. wish I hadn't gotten rid of my Sherman filterbank.

only outboard fx is Eventide space.. which gets me far.... but I need something to mangle drums.. maybe a DP4, I used to love my old one

but yea.. it is all in the drums. I guess that was my question.. how can I fuck with my drums properly to get away from them sounding happy

I know the answer to this, from my perspective, but from everyone else's? that was my true curiosity I suppose
AdamJay
neuroportal wrote:

As an experiment, play with your drum sounds. Instead of using traditional style kicks and highhats, go for something entirely off the wall to replace them, or just mangle the heck out of them.


...or mix an atypical drum/hat sound with a usual suspect.
This is what I love about the Analog Rytm. Mixing highly processed junk samples with analog synthesis. Using some fast "TRG" LFO to play with the sample pitch on each hit, using the random waveform.... chunky!
JosefK
i'm in the same boat. I come from working in traditional western scales to now dabbling in this darker more experimental genres of techno.

7 pseudo tips:

1. Simplicity - Don't worry about creating a jaw dropping melodic sequence. Most of this style of techno has basslines that are like two notes and half the time they aren't even a purposeful bassline. It may just be the artifacts of a kick (with long decay) being pitchshifted or run through a filterbank.

2. FX - it's all about it. Resonators, filterbanks, time-synced efx and Space. Simple sounds processes through these can achieve a lot.

3. Hats - No matter how many weird fucked up atonal percussion and FM perc you throw at a track, you notice that these guys are pretty dedicated to those driving hats. I love the Rytm with it's new hats machines. They are sick.

4. Polyrhythm - I find a lot of this sound is hypnotic and the polyrhythms add to this. Have a repeating 6 step sequence with just one stupid percussion hit delayed and you get great results. Also call and response.

5. Fucked up vocals - Record yourself saying and whispering weird shit like "Never gonna die" or "What have these hands made me do" and process the hell out of it.

6. Listen - I think the most helpful thing for me was just listening to a ton of this stuff. I have the Silent Servant radio station on Google Radio going all day. You start to learn the audio lexicon.

7. Finally, get introspective. Something is driving you to this type of music. What is this sadness? Channel that...No matter what people say this music is not soulless. It's weird, the fact that it may be perceived as soulless makes it all the more soulful to me.
mebitek
hi guys, i'm watching this post cause I'm a dark ambient / electro / industrial artist but i'm using vst for my compositions.
I'm starting using analog machines (meeblip tripod) and now i'm studing an eurorack system to add to my setup:

here my music: https://soundcloud.com/mebitek

have you got some pother suggestions to enter the world of eurorack like a must have module for dark ambient ( I see a lot of people uses Maths from Noise Maker)

regards
Claudio
bmot
some good advice on here already, I’m a big fan of this genre and see a lot of live stuff in this direction. Think Orphx, monolith, Vromb. I see them using lots of hardware, perhaps with a laptop on the side, importantly with a lot of fx - doesn’t have to be expensive high end gear, sometimes the cheapest old distortion pedal will do something nice to your sound. And think in layers, with some of the layers produced „naturally“ from reverb tails, distortion hum or delays. Build up the layers and develop the atmosphere slowly like a machine building up speed or pressure.

Try listening to something you really admire then immediately try recreating some elements from it that you like, it will come out different than the original which is good, as you’ll go off in a new direction of your own.

But it’s never easy! Feel free to post some of your tracks. I’ve made some dark techno in the past and have also experienced similar issues with getting too tuneful, when that happens i prefer to just let it be. I am now returning to the dark side so this is right on topic for me.
rod_zero
Good advice by everyone, just to insist: if you are going to use melodic elements use a scale that sounds dark, one can be Hungarian minor, here is an improvisation with it, IMHO quite darkey even with all the piano going on.


https://soundcloud.com/rod_zero/spring-night
mallarme
JosefK wrote:


5. Fucked up vocals - Record yourself saying and whispering weird shit like "Never gonna die" or "What have these hands made me do" and process the hell out of it.


This shouldn't, but it made me laugh...
Chopper
Minor chords. The rest is just cliches.....
Hi5
computer controlled
I've started going down this route as well with my Black Agent project. Though more EBM influenced than spacial ambience. Techno Body Music i guess =o]
calaveras
if it sounds too happy, just diminish a couple notes in your melody. You are probably playing too much 'on the white keys'.

After a couple years of doing this you will keep making things more and more minor until you are just playing chromatic patterns on the bottom 5 keys of your synth.
monoscan
computer controlled wrote:
I've started going down this route as well with my Black Agent project. Though more EBM influenced than spacial ambience. Techno Body Music i guess =o]


those analog EBM bass lines have way more character than a detuned supersaw from Vanguard / Nexus / Massive / Serum. I love a 16th note 1990 sounding bassline wink
starthief
JosefK wrote:
3. Hats - No matter how many weird fucked up atonal percussion and FM perc you throw at a track, you notice that these guys are pretty dedicated to those driving hats. I love the Rytm with it's new hats machines. They are sick.

5. Fucked up vocals - Record yourself saying and whispering weird shit like "Never gonna die" or "What have these hands made me do" and process the hell out of it.


What I've been into lately -- both listening and creating -- is very similar to this range of stuff, only (depending somewhat on the artist) it's mostly without hats or vocals. Sometimes drones without rhythm. In my own work in this vein, I haven't used a hi-hat or snare once, but kicks or just rhythmic accents within the drone layers.

Kangding Ray, Belief Defect, Byetone, Positive Centre, Giorgio Gigli, etc. A lot of Shifted's work too.

I've seen this stuff called "industrial techno" and "dark techno" and even "minimal dub", but somehow none of that quite seems like the right classification...? hmmm.....
Panason
A Korg MS20 will help.
orangehexagon
nvm
Mostin77
Hi5 wrote:


This actually sounds better than anything I’ve ever made, WTF!
medium Rob
Chopper wrote:
The rest is just cliches.....


This is what I don't agree with. Why does it always have to be "dark" ? It's as if people want to paint themselves into a corner, or set out to fulfill genre descriptors / stereotypes before realizing their own identity, or allowing one's personality to color the music. I'm all for thick, blasting, blown-out sounds, or creating spare, "dark", atmospheres.. but some humor (or variety) could help. Maybe some primary colors, even. I'm not saying it isn't genuine, it's just that it's become so uniform (dark ______), monochrome, post-hardcore / folk metal adherence to strict tonal palettes.

Anyway, apologies for the negativity. Try exploring electro-acoustic sounds - old, Califone turntable/cartridge sounds, microphones, mixer feedback etc., for some more unusual percussion (et al) sounds.

https://youtu.be/3rdzfl2Pu3A - (Cassegrain & Tin Man), these guys have a nice blend of elements going on.
medium Rob
https://thrones106mm.bandcamp.com/album/sperm-whale

Thrones is good at keeping it fresh, introducing elements of electro (brief, synthesized bass), and small flourishes / dense drum machine fills/breakdowns - used sparingly, it works really well. The first track "Oso Malo" slays.

https://youtu.be/3889Po9yCzQ

Wolf Eyes have a good array of acoustic and electro-acoustic feedback sounds (textural detritus) going on. The monotony / drone (lack of, or less melody, as others have stated) helps to keep a sustained mood of dread and focused energy.
JustGlyphs
Move to Amsterdam and buy some cheap old effects rack units and nice microphone and you're set.

Also make sure to only release on vinyl.
drowld
Atonal music is kind of a big deal. I feel you dude.
I've been producing the sound and really the key is minimalism.

You need to be minimalist in the note selection and how they interract.

What i love is to blend a lots of noise with the synths.

I synthesize a sound that i like which is quiet tonal. (most of the times 2 notes maxx) and blend it with like 4 layer of noise. I filter them all together and run them through some fx

A common audio path is like that

A (Tonal 2 chords - mostly sine or noisy sine wave) > Filter/eq > resonator > reverb > saturation > filter
B (Atonal sound - mostly noise like hum or electric noise or wind) > Filter/eq > resonator (less) > reverb
C (Atonal sound - Different atonal sound as A/C) > Filter/eq > resonator (less) > reverb
D (Atonal sound - Different atonal sound as B/C) > Filter/eq > resonator (less) > reverb

> then i put all of them in some Filter/eq to tame the reverb and go like > delay > noise > 2 channel of convolution

Sometimes i just process some of the sound together directly without going full fx directly after them it depends.

Heavy processing really help me put forward the atonal parts.

I also love taking a sample. Pitching it lower but putting a highpass and like +10-30db of overdrive or distortion or saturation. Then resampling and doing so many times. It puts forward some of the strange tones


I'll try to videodo dis
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