Breakcore glitch drums

So back in the 90’s Aphex Twin and others popularized a certain frantic style of drum programming. While some artists continue down this path(Venetian Snares), I feel like it has largely fallen out of vogue. It was very novel but the customary criticism level against it was quickly degenerated into a kind of pissing contest over who could micro-edit the most complex drum sequences.

Recently artist like Richard Devine have begun to revisit this technique but using a more generative approach based on modular synthesizers. It has gotten to the point now where it is not uncommon to see threads like this(Essential modules to eventually create aphex twin beats? - MOD WIGGLER) on muffwiggler discussing which exact modules can be used to easily get these results.

Gear aside, I was curious to get people’s musical perspective on this.

How did you initially feel about fast paced glitch drums? Do you feel like they have aged poorly as time has marched on? In general, I find they can only invoke one very specific kind of mood, but are excellent for creating chaos and causing the listener to experience both confusion and excitement. And if its only a matter of time before a series of pre-built boxes can produce this effect, then what will that mean for any novelty the used to offer?

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Stutter Edit has been around for a long time (and contains many many presets made by Richard Devine).

Also from Izotope is a drum machine specifically for micro-edit effects (and also includes Devine patches)

I still like the effect if used sparingly to slightly humanize programmed beats.

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I was suuuuper about listening to and producing breakcore in the early aughts.

I still listen to a lot of music from the [imo] “golden era” of this style, but tend to prefer folks that managed to actually maintain a “groove” [which the best usually did].

That said, I find myself more drawn to jungle and drumfunk style edits these days than the straight up breakcore stuff.

For my own music, I’ve mostly gone hardware these days, and doing this style of drum programming is way too much work :stuck_out_tongue:

Breakcore is still quite popular in Japan it seems. I know a couple artists from Vancouver (Hitori Tori, Lootcanal) who still tour there and put on the occasional show locally as well.

Personally I’ve always liked the style but I’ve never attempted to make any breakcore drums. I guess the reason being is it’s not one of those things I really hear in my head so it’s hard to decide on a direction to explore.

The most I’ve done is doing some fast repeats with the Octatrack or Rytm.

I’ve been meaning to look into BBCut in Supercollider, which can automate some of this.

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for somebody who never listened to AT or VS and doesn’t know how he feels about breakcore…any recommends of an iconic/classic track?

forcing you to do my research, I know :grin:

This is probably Aphex Twin’s most intricate breakcore track:

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In addition to the products from Izotope I mentioned above (the quickest “canned” way to get this effect) there are numerous tutorials online for doing similar things in Ableton or any other DAW, by simply cut/pasting audio snippets.

It’s tedious, but not very difficult to do. What is difficult is keeping it artful.

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reminds me of the soundtrack to an old dreamcast game I had which was probably influenced by his style

with no real context there were some great passages midway to the end

I always have been.

My whole musical life from early 90s through early/mid 00s seemed about drum and bass…jungle…hardcore, etc. I felt very srongly about this then, and I suppose I still do now inasmuch as I think about it at all: the conceptual pinnacle of this stuff was decidedly achieved by drum and bass artists. The stuff that got done with it by people having a look in from outside–Aphex, Squarepusher, the mZik or whatever his name guy was (Mike Paradinas?)–was a bastardization and appropriation of something that could not be bettered, not conceptually anyway. Most of what followed that lost me completely.

I actually felt the same about that first DJ Shadow record as well. People on the public radio/demi-underground praised that shit to the skies for its revolutionary beat editing, and all I could do was shake my head in astonishment and wonder if these people had not ever listened to Omni Trio, DJ Crystal, Photek, Rob Playford/Moving Shadow, Goldie, Source Direct, Mark & Dego in all guises + Reinforced and imprints, Dev Pandya, Danny Breaks, everything first couple dozen Metalheadz (Adam F, Hidden Agenda, etc.), Dillinja, Krust, Die, Suv, etc., etc., etc.

Put another way, when you had people like Max Roach famously praising your music for its rhythmic invention, you knew you were on to something.


i have been loving fractal beats, not sure if that counts but i think i spent like a solid year on programming BBCut in Supercollider2/3 from Nicholas Collins. Renick Bell is killing it with fractal beats galore and i think he’s using Haskell/Tidal Cycles which is another mindsuck awesome extension for SC3

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That sounds really cool. Do you have links to anywhere where I can read more?

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that said, probably not admissible to breakcore purists.

maybe for some of the ragga-breakcore crossover that was happening

I think bomb 20 is pretty “trueschool” tho not a fav of mine.

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I just discovered rennick and uiq recently via twitter
looks like he might use his own library similar to tidal (conductive also built on Haskell/SC synth engine)


[quote=“shreeswifty, post:10, topic:5102”]
i spent like a solid year on programming BBCut in Supercollider2/3 from Nicholas Collins
[/quote]I’d like to hear some of your experiments with this

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A lot of breakcore still sounds good to me, but in addition to being an electronic music fan, I also listen to a ton of metal, and I guess I like the crossover of the two things-- an emphasis on a kind of precision and aggressiveness appeals. My own drum programming is greatly influenced by it, (I have a ‘thing’ for generative or at least very off kilter beats) but I use slower tempos (the average Toaster song clocks in at 90 bpm).

Interestingly, the Squarp Pyramid offers several tools which make this fairly ‘easy’ to do on hardware; a ‘euclidian sequencer’ with their midi effects is capable of fast ‘snare rushes’ (a key part of Aphex Twin’s ‘crazy’ sound), and I can make slow breakbeats with ease.

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i have always dug this aphex twin track


Yeah, back in the 90’s micro-editing was the only way to go. I didn’t realize he was using a Kyma though for the processing. That is interesting…

AE, i feel, takes a very different approach. They basically use slower electro style beats and fuck with those. Often times with generative + lot of clock manipulation to take things on && off time. I actually prefer this style because while it still the keeps the listener off kilter, it does so without having to resort to high tempos.

In fact, the entire AE sound has had much fewer imitators and as such I would argue, never exhausted itself. You can’t really brute force it. They are nothing if not very clever.


to me those beats are very soothing.
not very different than listening to free jazz.

I feel it should be hand made in a tracker (or any timeline, but trackers seem the tool of choice here). Generating those things programmatically requires fine control to avoid becoming abstruse imho.

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I friggin love those sliced beats. My two favorites are Aphex Twin’s Vordhosbn and motherf***ing Chris Clarke’s Herr Barr. This one’s less hardcore but I love the subtelty of the arrangements and the “never 2 bars are the same” style.


There’s a great demo song included in Renoise that has some crazy glitch drums. But man, that tempo is SOOO high!

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