Critique my rack! Heavy ambient, industrial, dark techno

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NaiveMelody
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Critique my rack! Heavy ambient, industrial, dark techno

Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:06 am

Hi everyone!

I've just got my second Arturia 6U case, after having (virtually) filled my first one and am looking for some tips on what to get next, what to change or improve about my current rack.

I make / want to make music that combines weird, dark techno, industrial and ambient that's in the vein of:
  • Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement
    Ron Morelli
    Alberich
    Vatican Shadow
    Andy Stott
    elements of DJ Stingray
    etc...
Here's my current rack https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/855285:
Image

I currently use a Beatstep Pro to sequence.

From this, the above I have questions over are:
  • The Complex Oscillator as primary oscillator. It definitely can sound cool, but I think something else or additional might be more appropriate.

    More envelopes maybe? I can use Maths for this, alongside Pam's if I patch it right, so may be enough.

    Pam's and Maths give me lots of LFOs. Not sure I need more at this stage?
Here are the things I'm currently looking at https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/1054855:
Image

From this, the notes I have are:
  • I've got Piston Honda MKIII as king of gnarliness, but have considered E352 as well. I went with the Honda as it sounded dirtier. Hertz Donut an option too.

    I'm pretty happy the Belgrad will provide a good range of sounds. Considered Ritual Altar but didn't seem as flexible.

    The Instruo Arbhar is my primary GAS at the moment. I did have Morphagene in as well, but wasn't sure I would benefit from both and the Arbhar seems more immediate for what I need
Any and all feedback welcome! Anything I've not covered, do let me know.

I should add, I use this in partnership with a Machinedrum and Analog Rytm, a Blofeld and an Analog Keys currently.

Wasn't sure if there is a better place to post this, so i went with what seemed like the most suitable place.

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Post by phantommovement » Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:20 am

Wish I had the space for the Lyra Fx... Do you use the Mimeophon as your reverb?

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Re: Critique my rack! Heavy ambient, industrial, dark techno

Post by cowboyelectronics » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:15 am

it seems to me like you have more than enough here for making music in the vein of the artists you listed. if i were to suggest adding anything it would probably be utilities, logic, more cv creation/processing modules

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Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:29 am

phantommovement wrote:Wish I had the space for the Lyra Fx... Do you use the Mimeophon as your reverb?
Yep, it's performing quite a bit of that kind of duty at the moment. It's so flexible as a module though, I use often as part of the core sound rather than an dded effect if that makes sense. The Halo reverb type effect is brilliant on it's own too.

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Re: Critique my rack! Heavy ambient, industrial, dark techno

Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:30 am

cowboyelectronics wrote:it seems to me like you have more than enough here for making music in the vein of the artists you listed. if i were to suggest adding anything it would probably be utilities, logic, more cv creation/processing modules
Great! I agree I've got some really appropriate stuff already - more info on utilities and logic would be great.

Any suggestions?

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Re: Critique my rack! Heavy ambient, industrial, dark techno

Post by cowboyelectronics » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:54 am

NaiveMelody wrote:
cowboyelectronics wrote:it seems to me like you have more than enough here for making music in the vein of the artists you listed. if i were to suggest adding anything it would probably be utilities, logic, more cv creation/processing modules
Great! I agree I've got some really appropriate stuff already - more info on utilities and logic would be great.

Any suggestions?
On second thought, Maths can probably take care of more logial functions than anything i can think of. you may look into something like the mutable instruments kinks for logic.

more function generators certainly wouldnt hurt

you might want a dedicated module for the signals you wish to attenuate, scale, polarize, etc.

personally next I'd probably spring for the pexp-1 expander for PNW so you get more gate outs, or a disting mk4 so you can try different module functions and see how they work with your rack.

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Post by lordymosh » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:10 pm

I have the Piston Honda Mk3 and Belgrad in my 6U case. Both are great modules.

I haven't tried the E352 but if you want something that's more gritty, you can't go wrong with the PH Mk3.

Also you can use it as a waveshaper.

The Belgrad can produce very gritty stuff. I've had it for a year and it still surprises me.

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Post by b9 » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:12 pm

You should check out some of the youtube videos of the PH going through the new Bionic Lester. If I had a Piston Honda, The New Lester would be on my short list for making heavy sounds.

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Re: Critique my rack! Heavy ambient, industrial, dark techno

Post by man_hands » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:29 pm

NaiveMelody wrote:
cowboyelectronics wrote:it seems to me like you have more than enough here for making music in the vein of the artists you listed. if i were to suggest adding anything it would probably be utilities, logic, more cv creation/processing modules
Great! I agree I've got some really appropriate stuff already - more info on utilities and logic would be great.

Any suggestions?
You might want to take a look at Cold Mac. That has a variety of utility-oriented circuits, including crossfading, panning, AND/OR logic, waveshaping, signal inversion, an envelope follower, and probably more that I'm forgetting.

It's got a bit of a learning curve, though. At least, it took me a while to wrap my head around it, and if it weren't for Martin Doudoroff's excellent Patching Cold Mac, I'd probably still be poking it with patch cables while screaming "do something!"

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Post by Halfgeleider » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:41 pm

Mutes, switches, mults, and/ or combiners......

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Post by oudplayer » Tue Nov 19, 2019 1:02 pm

I'd say you definitely need more things to modulate all the parameters if you're opting for complex oscillators. I don't see much in the way of LFOs, unless you're using Pam's in LFO mode? And Zadar is much more fun when you send LFOs (or external envelopes) to the CV inputs.

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Post by subliminal drew » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:23 pm

If you aren't using a separate outboard mixer with muting/panning/etc. functions, you might want to look into those functions as either separate modules or all-together as some some other folks mentioned. I feel like a big element of the kinds of music you're describing relies on mixing dynamics, and it looks like you have plenty of sound sources and filtering/manipulation options, just need a way to pull them together or move them in and out of the mix.

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Re: Critique my rack! Heavy ambient, industrial, dark techno

Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:29 pm

cowboyelectronics wrote:
NaiveMelody wrote:
cowboyelectronics wrote:it seems to me like you have more than enough here for making music in the vein of the artists you listed. if i were to suggest adding anything it would probably be utilities, logic, more cv creation/processing modules
Great! I agree I've got some really appropriate stuff already - more info on utilities and logic would be great.

Any suggestions?
On second thought, Maths can probably take care of more logial functions than anything i can think of. you may look into something like the mutable instruments kinks for logic.

more function generators certainly wouldnt hurt

you might want a dedicated module for the signals you wish to attenuate, scale, polarize, etc.

personally next I'd probably spring for the pexp-1 expander for PNW so you get more gate outs, or a disting mk4 so you can try different module functions and see how they work with your rack.
Ah I've been wondering when the Disting would be the next thing to get.

The expander is a good idea too. I really rely on Pam's so makes sense.

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Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:31 pm

lordymosh wrote:I have the Piston Honda Mk3 and Belgrad in my 6U case. Both are great modules.

I haven't tried the E352 but if you want something that's more gritty, you can't go wrong with the PH Mk3.

Also you can use it as a waveshaper.

The Belgrad can produce very gritty stuff. I've had it for a year and it still surprises me.
That's really good to hear! Is your rack on MG?

I spent agggeeesss watching filter videos, and Belgrad just seemed to have so much depth. I wondered if it was too smooth at first, but it seems to growl well.

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Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:34 pm

b9 wrote:You should check out some of the youtube videos of the PH going through the new Bionic Lester. If I had a Piston Honda, The New Lester would be on my short list for making heavy sounds.
Will do this. Bionic Lester is something I've not really done much reading about... but the IME stuff all seems sick.

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Re: Critique my rack! Heavy ambient, industrial, dark techno

Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:40 pm

man_hands wrote:
NaiveMelody wrote:
cowboyelectronics wrote:it seems to me like you have more than enough here for making music in the vein of the artists you listed. if i were to suggest adding anything it would probably be utilities, logic, more cv creation/processing modules
Great! I agree I've got some really appropriate stuff already - more info on utilities and logic would be great.

Any suggestions?
You might want to take a look at Cold Mac. That has a variety of utility-oriented circuits, including crossfading, panning, AND/OR logic, waveshaping, signal inversion, an envelope follower, and probably more that I'm forgetting.

It's got a bit of a learning curve, though. At least, it took me a while to wrap my head around it, and if it weren't for Martin Doudoroff's excellent Patching Cold Mac, I'd probably still be poking it with patch cables while screaming "do something!"

I've never looked at Cold Mac... wow that thing looks CRAZY. I'll check some videos out... see if I can get my head round it.

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Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:41 pm

Halfgeleider wrote:Mutes, switches, mults, and/ or combiners......
I've got a couple of buff mults, and a sequential switch - love them!

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Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:46 pm

oudplayer wrote:I'd say you definitely need more things to modulate all the parameters if you're opting for complex oscillators. I don't see much in the way of LFOs, unless you're using Pam's in LFO mode? And Zadar is much more fun when you send LFOs (or external envelopes) to the CV inputs.
I do feel like I could do with more modulators for sure.

Yeh, I use Pam for LFOs all the time. I'm a sucker for all the XAOC stuff, so Batumi has been in the back of my mind, but I get a bunch of LFOs from Pams.

I'm not sure whether to stay with Complex or not, but that's where I am for now.

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Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:49 pm

subliminal drew wrote:If you aren't using a separate outboard mixer with muting/panning/etc. functions, you might want to look into those functions as either separate modules or all-together as some some other folks mentioned. I feel like a big element of the kinds of music you're describing relies on mixing dynamics, and it looks like you have plenty of sound sources and filtering/manipulation options, just need a way to pull them together or move them in and out of the mix.
Yeh, I think that's a good point - I use envelopes for some dynamics, but mutes / panning would be great.

Any recommendations?

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Post by NaiveMelody » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:51 pm

NaiveMelody wrote:
subliminal drew wrote:If you aren't using a separate outboard mixer with muting/panning/etc. functions, you might want to look into those functions as either separate modules or all-together as some some other folks mentioned. I feel like a big element of the kinds of music you're describing relies on mixing dynamics, and it looks like you have plenty of sound sources and filtering/manipulation options, just need a way to pull them together or move them in and out of the mix.
Yeh, I think that's a good point - I use envelopes for some dynamics, but mutes / panning would be great.

Any recommendations?
I guess Cold Mac fits some of this bill!

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Post by lordymosh » Tue Nov 19, 2019 4:02 pm

Rack here. I've bought and sold a few modules but the PH, double andore, belgrad, batumi and 3xmia have been a constant in my rack since the beginning.

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/743784

Thinking of ditching the bassline and getting a tyme sefari mk2/fusion vco 2 along with a lpg, wavefolder, distortion, envelope generator and a vca. Perhaps a few utilities. Too many choices!

NaiveMelody wrote:
lordymosh wrote:I have the Piston Honda Mk3 and Belgrad in my 6U case. Both are great modules.

I haven't tried the E352 but if you want something that's more gritty, you can't go wrong with the PH Mk3.

Also you can use it as a waveshaper.

The Belgrad can produce very gritty stuff. I've had it for a year and it still surprises me.
That's really good to hear! Is your rack on MG?

I spent agggeeesss watching filter videos, and Belgrad just seemed to have so much depth. I wondered if it was too smooth at first, but it seems to growl well.

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Post by VM » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:07 pm

There's plenty of very interesting and compatible sounds available in your rack, so that's 80% of the battle done. I also own the Lyra-8 FX but it's not in my rack, I use it to create samples.

I just think you need a good mixer. Praga or WMD PM would be the dream. Partly what makes Alberich, Lustmord, Lussuria etc. sound so good (apart from the fact they have expert production skills) is they seem to create this incredible dense soup of sound but retain the ability to pull stuff out of it and examine different groups of sounds, and this is where a good mixer really shines.

Not to be too prescriptive or anything but just as a data point - I make very similar music to what you listed, and this is my current case:

Image

The key thing is the Performance Mixer. It's essentially a panning/droning/morphing monster once you patch LFOs and envelopes to the left hand side VCAs over level/pan. Other than that, ZADAR and Triple Sloths modulate almost everything, and QPAS and Cinnamon create the light and shade.

Again, not trying to turn this into a 'everyone admire my setup' post, but it just so happens we are into really similar things so it can be useful to see specific examples of things that work for others.
Current curator of Perth Ambient.

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Post by phantommovement » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:25 pm

VM wrote:
The key thing is the Performance Mixer. It's essentially a panning/droning/morphing monster once you patch LFOs and envelopes to the left hand side VCAs over level/pan. Other than that, ZADAR and Triple Sloths modulate almost everything, and QPAS and Cinnamon create the light and shade.

Again, not trying to turn this into a 'everyone admire my setup' post, but it just so happens we are into really similar things so it can be useful to see specific examples of things that work for others.
Very cool setup :twisted:

I think one downside of the Performance Mixer is that there's no eq so it might not be the perfect tool for final mixdown. If I'm not mistaken the Aux sends are mono only too?

Btw do you use the internal 'FX' or LFO in the Nerdseq? I have this module too but am still exploring it. It's really deep.

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Post by VM » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:32 pm

phantommovement wrote:
VM wrote:
The key thing is the Performance Mixer. It's essentially a panning/droning/morphing monster once you patch LFOs and envelopes to the left hand side VCAs over level/pan. Other than that, ZADAR and Triple Sloths modulate almost everything, and QPAS and Cinnamon create the light and shade.

Again, not trying to turn this into a 'everyone admire my setup' post, but it just so happens we are into really similar things so it can be useful to see specific examples of things that work for others.
Very cool setup :twisted:

I think one downside of the Performance Mixer is that there's no eq so it might not be the perfect tool for final mixdown. If I'm not mistaken the Aux sends are mono only too?

Btw do you use the internal 'FX' or LFO in the Nerdseq? I have this module too but am still exploring it. It's really deep.
You are correct re Performance Mixer. The lack of an EQ doesn't bother me, as during a performance the last thing I want to be doing is fiddling with downstream EQ - I find it better to modify the sound at the source and keep it in that zone throughout the show.

I don't use the internal FX or LFOs in Nerdseq, no. I'm happy to have those duties outsourced so it can just focus on pumping out tonnes of CV and gates.
Current curator of Perth Ambient.

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Post by Tumulishroomaroom » Wed Nov 20, 2019 4:06 am

VM wrote: The key thing is the Performance Mixer. It's essentially a panning/droning/morphing monster once you patch LFOs and envelopes to the left hand side VCAs over level/pan.
Agree with this completely. Lack of EQ is really not a problem if you filter/EQ your sounds at the source; which I feel like is a good idea to do anyway, give each sound it's own space. I have a ALM PE-1 and a Shakmat Hipass for this purpo, very useful. The PM just brings everything together, helps to try creative stuff with amplitude, panning, sends etc...
You can get one stereo return no problem if you use the mix in and even a second one if you dedicate a stereo channel to the return (then you can also stack both FX). I'd recommend the channels expander which has CV over send & Gain as well.
This + a MSCL on the master bus has really brought my stuff together I feel.

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