It seems that the conversation isn’t getting as technically minded as the opening post (and title!) suggested.
I wonder if this has something to do to how the subject is being constructed – that is, broadly. Creative sound design (esp. in music) is (at least partially) self-taught more often than not, and so outside of the “big” and obvious techniques (FM, side-chain, feedback – those words we all know), it can be really hard to tell what someone is doing. Further, just because the results are similar, or the songs might end up on the same playlist, doesnt mean the same techniques are actually being deployed. These two factors taken together make it really, REALLY hard to talk about a broad topic with regard to its sound design.
Ex: lightbath and cool maritime: similar gear, totally different techniques, definitely operating in the same “genre” (constructed as broadly as the one discussed in this thread).
Ex 2: william basinski and r beny: totally different gear, similar techniques, definitely operating in the same genre (and the same genre as above, even though basinski is using different gear AND different techniques from the first pair).
Opportunities I’ve had to sit down with the real sages have gone best when I’ve had a specific question or example in mind like: “what is this snare thing at [timestamp]?” Learning it like one learns any kind of music – hearing something specific, naming it, finding examples, and replicating it.
TLDR: maybe we’d have a more productive time going at this deductively rather than inductively?
Meta meta: it might be cool to have a “how’d they do it?” thread where people post tracks with specific time stamps and ask things like “what’s this chord change at [timestamp]?” or “why bass hit like that?” or “tf is this instrument?” Then thorough replies would include not only an answer, but a sound example, and we could all be little sound detectives together. The trick would be engagement from more experienced users – this sort of thing can be pretty challenging and tedious, and I get the sense most adept+ users have done a good deal of it in private (just like any other kind of music student – it’s called transcription).
I’d also like to point out that the gear-fetishist bent of the hobbyist electronic music community is often actively exploited by the market, as in – how many people saw that video of KAS with a bunch of Euro and heard Ears or The Kid and built a case, only to find out years later in her tapeop (I think that was the publication) interview that she didn’t own any of it and only consistently uses like two Euro modules lol. IRL it’s a lot of subtractive, Buchla, and software. What people are doing is often not what we as consumers are encouraged to believe they are doing.