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Creating sounds of decay and disintegration
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9  Next [all]
Author Creating sounds of decay and disintegration
Carl Hungus
Hello

One of the aesthetic choices that motivates me most is using ghostly, decaying, crumbling lofi bits of sound. Not necessarily noise, just haunting.

I was listening to The Stranger's "A Melody Drags Me Back" and I love the little ghostly melody under all the surface noise. This just one example, obviously there are tape loop artists, Boards of Canada, people like Gristle/Coil, etc., many who use lofi techniques.

I was wondering what your suggested techniques are for achieving these warbling spectres of sound. I put this under production techniques as I'm not looking for a gritty oscillator per se, as its more along the lines of processing.

Another good example are clips a Wiggler twincities has posted of the cocolase, it sounds beautiful. Wish it was still available.

Thanks for any creative suggestions you may have!
flo
I find the V-Synth to be excellent for this kind of stuff. Well, the sampling side of it, that is.
Carl Hungus
I sold my v-synth last year, so I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that. Lol

I just couldn't get into the workstation ergonomics. Guess there was a gem in there after all
flo
Ahahaha, sorry mate hihi Guinness ftw!

I have mine almost exclusively for the amazing sampler that it is (and the D50). So many whacked out sounds to be had. Resampling is a lot of fun as well, e.g. at the extremes of the keyboard and so on. It can turn anything into eerie ghostly pads and noises.

On the processing front, there's a million ways and tools to get there. Lots of reverb helps IMO. Spring reverb is nice. Subtle modulation effects such as slow phasing. Add tape hiss and so on...
Carl Hungus
I love spring reverb, almost completely eschewing other types.
But I think I'm looking for less reverb wash, Alvin Lucier type degradation.
Which probably makes no sense, as its in my head and tough to describe.
flo
On that matter, sampling feedback loops (e.g. from the A199 or a Space Echo) into the V-Synth to create pads with that source material is mind boggling. Instant eerie awesomeness.

On the note of Alvin Lucier, I think I'd try reamping stuff, swinging mics in front of the speakers etc. Reverb cannot get more analog than that! hihi Also lots of nice flange / doppler type effects to be had.
cebec
I'm drawn to the same sorts of sounds and "warbling spectres of sound" suggested low-frequency-band spectral processing and resynthesis to me. I have had a lot of luck processing spectral resyntheses with analog devices.

You also mention the cocolase -- the Cocoquantus, which might be easier to find on the secondhand market, is a great choice for achieving disintegrating, decaying sounds, too.

Try feedback systems on the verge of collapse/chaos, as well.

Also consider an reel-to-reel recorder for flying audio to and from -- just passing it through the I/O can result in some interesting damage if the r2r is in less-than-ideal condition.
Carl Hungus
Dammit Flo, stop making me feel bad about the v-synth! Lol

The swinging mic thing is a good idea.

Please elaborate cebec!

One thing I'm thinking is that I can run something through a BBD but only use one of the last repeats in lieu of the original.

I love tape as well. I have a tape echo, newly acquired reel to reel, and portastudio. I'm thinking about purposefully running the 1/4" tape thin with multiple passes to get dropouts but have yet to try that.

I would love a Cocoquantus but they look like they're not being made anymore. A shame I arrived at that party too late...
BugBrand
PT Delay!
Any delays over 500mS start sounding gnarly with the PT2399 chip - you can get several seconds of lofi delay, even right down to digital pulses with external modulation.
You also get decent feedback control and low/high-cut filtering - can definitely degrade things very nicely.
flo
Carl Hungus wrote:
Dammit Flo, stop making me feel bad about the v-synth! Lol


Haha, sorry again mate. It really is extremely underrated.

Carl Hungus wrote:
The swinging mic thing is a good idea.


Yeah this is fun. Regarding "accoustic" flanging fx, AFX took it to the extreme:



Really love how it sounds. SlayerBadger!

Carl Hungus wrote:
One thing I'm thinking is that I can run something through a BBD but only use one of the last repeats in lieu of the original.


That is a favorite trick of mine as well! BBD or tape delay, feedback to zero, completely wet; record what you want to dirty up through it, instant lofiness! Of course you'll have to adjust the timing afterwards.
twincities
Carl Hungus wrote:
Another good example are clips a Wiggler twincities has posted of the cocolase, it sounds beautiful. Wish it was still available.



well shoot, i just strolled in because i liked the thread title oops

i think more importantly than the actual cocolase (i love it, but i could easily write the same music without it i think) is layering/reamping and EQing those layers. the cocolase at the end of the day is primarily for me used to give layers subtle variations from each other. this allows the primary sound to cut through and the delays/background tones to be less of a linear delay/pad sounds and have tons of that "ghostly" quality you describe.

anything with a random quality to it works well. i'll often do a few layers of tape echo at slightly different speeds, panned left to right. bouncing things at different speeds through external boxes and then returning them to the initial rate afterwards, thus stretching out or compressing the time of those effects far past what they're meant for is another great trick.

subtle layers of distortion type boxes that have a stuttery/chugging sound to them is great also. culture vulture (on extreme bias settings), atoner, fuck machine, etc... more than anything, this style really needs focus on heavy handed EQing if you don't want it to turn into a wall of noise but rather something gentle and fragile.

the red panda particle is incredible for this as well. a few layers of held sounds create awesome under pads run through something to smooth them out (usually an h3000 for me).

also, as far as samplers go, the yamaha vss30 is my absolute go to for everything, and my absolute desert island instrument. it's sampler defines this sound for me. i wish they were still available for a few bucks, i'd buy a dozen of them!

these are just the most recent ways i used on my upcoming album i can think of. really i think most tools can be utilized for this sound if you figure out how to layer them in/EQ them properly. it's just a matter of being able to take exactly what you want out of it!
Carl Hungus
@Tom, yeah the PT Delay is brilliant! thumbs up Its becoming a go to, thanks for the settings tips.

@Flo
That's cool, I didn't care for James' choir experiment but that one I'd like to see. Reminds me of Reichs Pendulum music a bit. I teched one of those shows for him.

@cebec, so are you mostly using resonators and parametric eq's for resynthesis? I assume you're bouncing to tape then?

@twincities, thanks for joining! I'm really impressed by the Soundcloud things you've posted, and the detailed post is helpful.
I'm a bit relieved to hear that the cocolase wasn't the primary reason those examples sounded good. C-L instruments look great but pricey. If you had to achieve the same smearing/spreading effect , what other modules or pedals would you turn to? I think you make a good point on moving those layers around to make them seem less like linear echoes. Wogglebug with something?
Great suggestions on the heavy EQing, Red Panda, and the VSS-30.
I didn't know about the Yamaha until I just searched it, now I want one to hack. The Casio SK looks interesting for that as well, but the VSS looks better.
Great to know!


thumbs up
BugBrand
Ah-ha, couldn't remember if you did or didn't have a PT!

Yeah to VSS-30 -- they're absolutely the best 'toy' sampling keyboard. Don't bother with SK or other VSS ones. None of them touch the VSS-30.
Carl Hungus
I'm curious, are modules like the Phonogene, Tyme Sefari, Nebulae, g0 approaching the character of a VSS? Or does the Yamaha have some kind of "special sauce"?
they almost seem too hifi, but without a VSS I can't say.
cebec
Carl Hungus wrote:

@cebec, so are you mostly using resonators and parametric eq's for resynthesis? I assume you're bouncing to tape then?


I'm doing this digitally with Max/MSP or Kyma. The key is to use a low number of bands for the analysis and low number of oscillators, e.g., for the resynthesis. Processing this via the modular or Cocoquantus adds the right amount of patina.

A lot of good suggestions in this thread!
twincities
Carl Hungus wrote:

@twincities, thanks for joining! I'm really impressed by the Soundcloud things you've posted, and the detailed post is helpful.
I'm a bit relieved to hear that the cocolase wasn't the primary reason those examples sounded good. C-L instruments look great but pricey. If you had to achieve the same smearing/spreading effect , what other modules or pedals would you turn to? I think you make a good point on moving those layers around to make them seem less like linear echoes. Wogglebug with something?
Great suggestions on the heavy EQing, Red Panda, and the VSS-30.
I didn't know about the Yamaha until I just searched it, now I want one to hack. The Casio SK looks interesting for that as well, but the VSS looks better.
Great to know!


thumbs up


Carl Hungus wrote:
I'm curious, are modules like the Phonogene, Tyme Sefari, Nebulae, g0 approaching the character of a VSS? Or does the Yamaha have some kind of "special sauce"?
they almost seem too hifi, but without a VSS I can't say.


thanks so much!

the cocolase is incredible, but yeah i don't think i'm doing things with it that are exclusive to it really.

i am a big fan of the phonogene. i use it less as a processor (it's hard to get several similar yet slightly different layers from this i find. usually a new layer will be either identical or way too different for me to layer in my usual fashion) and more as an initial sound to then modify slightly elsewhere. but soundwise i like it's impact and it gives me a creative way to loop little acoustic bits of things.

i don't own any of those other 3 modules currently (though they're all something i'd like to try some day), but i think you could probably approach great results with any of them and the right techniques.

the wogglebug is great for some things. i'm just really picky about where i'll patch in modulation. i'm really not a fan of any sort of woobly pitch modulation. i keep most of my sounds very melodic/in key to each other. otherwise as many layers as i use would turn into a complete mess very quickly.

honestly i think just about any delay/looper can be used for this kind of stuff when implemented correctly. they'll all give different sounds in the end, but you'll still get the music made no problem. it's all about approach/technique!
flabby
This is a great thread and funnily enough I've got BOC playing in the background.

@Carl Hungus - theres a cocolase up on BST https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=124145&highlight=bug brand

I like the idea of swinging a mic, even a crappy cheap mic (keep it lofi) would be a good approach. I'm gonna be trying this tomorrow, layering and panning it.

@twincities - When you say your not a fan of "woobly pitch modulation", are you talking about the really random pitch mod that you get out of things like Wogglebug or the kind of BOC / my bloody Valentine "I like to stick my finger on the spool sometimes" effect?

Also, has anyone used the ZVEX Instant Lo-fi junkie?
twincities
flabby wrote:

@twincities - When you say your not a fan of "woobly pitch modulation", are you talking about the really random pitch mod that you get out of things like Wogglebug or the kind of BOC / my bloody Valentine "I like to stick my finger on the spool sometimes" effect?


it's mostly the first one that bothers me. either random, or extreme to the point of the changing the note you're playing and knocking parts out of key.

i'm a big fan of tape delays and the subtle warble it has though smile BOC always does it with taste to the point where it feels natural. that stuff i love!
flabby
twincities wrote:
flabby wrote:

@twincities - When you say your not a fan of "woobly pitch modulation", are you talking about the really random pitch mod that you get out of things like Wogglebug or the kind of BOC / my bloody Valentine "I like to stick my finger on the spool sometimes" effect?


it's mostly the first one that bothers me. either random, or extreme to the point of the changing the note you're playing and knocking parts out of key.

i'm a big fan of tape delays and the subtle warble it has though smile BOC always does it with taste to the point where it feels natural. that stuff i love!


Ahh cool! Yeah that's something I'm not keen on myself, especially when I've heard demos of random modulators.
suboptimal
Man that afx vid is a beautiful thing.
limpmeat
Do like William Basinski! Make tape loops and forget about em for a couple of decades, til the tape starts to disintegrate.
flabby
^ You could also record to tape/cassette and leave it out in the sun for a couple of hours.
stk
I just finished an album that is very much based around decaying, broken sounds. It's not out til december, but in my experimentation I found some useful techiniques;

Roland space echo - I've had mine forever, it is old, decrepit, noisy as fuck, nothing comes out the other end without being coated in a liberal dose of dusty hiss, and filled with dropouts, wow and flutter.

Old casettes. I bought a half decent cassette deck a while ago with the view to release limited tape editions of my albums. Never got around to that, but did subsequently pick up a case of 30+ year old tapes from a yard sale. Bouncing various individual recorded tracks throug these instantly degrades them in interesting, subtle and nonlinear fashions. Repeat as required, each tape is different.

Bad gain staging. As I mentioned in another thread, simply ignoring good gain staging practice and amplifying the results opens up a whole world of ghostly hiss and crosstalk.

Sherman filterbank. Everyone knows this thing wil tear your head off given half a chance, but treat it gently, starve it of signal, and a totally different level opens up, where the sound of the machine is as prominent as the source material. Tasty stuff.

Cheers
Carl Hungus
I'll probably be dead or deaf in the 2 decades it will take to wear out those tapes Basinksi style. But it would probably sound great SlayerBadger!
Possibly even an oven instead of the sun, but i think that's more to rescue the coating instead of peel it away.

Thanks stk, good tips there. I might have to find an old box of cassettes. Never thought of the Sherman as a subtle beast, but I've never owned one for that reason. Mostly been focusing on resonators or filtering.
Look forward to hearing your album.
stk
Cheers. There's one prerelease track if you follow the album link in my sig. Probably not the best track to demonstrate what I'm talking about, but still some decayed minicassette colouration there.

I reckon just burying some tape for a single winter, or leaving it in the sun for a few days over summer, would be worthwhile. I reckon I'll try that.

Another thing I experimented with was transcoding repeatedly to mp3 of various bitrates (encod to mp3, then encode that mp3 to another mp3, and so on). The encoding artifacts build up with each pass. I quite like the frequency/transient smearing and warbly effect.
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